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Mark Alan Townhouses
East Pea Ridge. Great Location! Swimming Pool. 1 Bedroom $500, 2 Bedroom $620. Includes W/D hookup, Laundry facilities on site. Kitchen Furnished. Cable and trash included. Deposit and lease. Sorry, no pets. (304) 555-8641
My warm sheets invite me to lie still until I don’t feel tired anymore. Achy. That’s how you get when you’re old, I guess. It is 7:15 and I am not ready to start my day just yet. My days are full of eager young couples ready to start their lives together, and old widowed women looking for an easy roof to live under. Anywhere but a nursing home, they always think. And I don’t blame them. As I lay thinking about the day that awaits me, I realize I have more to do than usual. Well, better get started, I think to myself. I roll out of bed, quickly regretting the decision as soon as my feet hit the cold floor of my townhouse. Being the landlord for over 20 townhouses, it is necessary for me to live close. And I don’t mind it much. Naturally, I keep busy. Keeping customers happy is a chore, but I can’t complain. After all, I do what I do so I never have to relive 10 years ago. Unable to forget, unable to forgive.
* * *
The wedding bells still filled our ears as we began our honeymoon journey.
“Did you know you make me really happy?” Allison said with a smile as she began taking the pins and veil out of her hair, looking to her left from the passenger seat. She always made my stomach squirm when she looked over at me like that.
“Did you know I love you?” I said as I looked over at her round face and green eyes.
“No, I had no idea!” She replied sarcastically. She always joked with me like that. We laughed as I continued to drive down the road to our final destination: the beach.
It was a long drive, about 9 hours from our townhouse in West Virginia. But I didn’t mind driving the whole way. As long as she was next to me, I could do anything. The soothing sun made it difficult to stay awake. Warm and inviting. But, she did her best to keep me from falling asleep.
With only two hours to go, we stopped at a gas station. The air was cooler and the moon was hiding as I pumped several gallons of gas into my Jeep Cherokee. I wasn’t aware of the middle aged man who pulled up behind us. As I fastened the gas cap, I turned to get into the car and I saw him staring at Allie. He had a look of horror on his face, as if she were bleeding from the inside out. Flustered, I got in the car and started to leave. Before we could leave, he threw himself in front of the car. He began screaming, begging me not to leave. He said something terrible is going to happen to Allie. He just knew it. But he couldn’t explain. Thinking he was full of bologna, I accelerated forward so he had no choice to let us pass, and we were on the road again. I will never forget the look on his face last night. If only I would have listened to his warnings.
Shaken by the encounter, Allie sat in the passenger seat, paranoid and worried that something was going to happen to her. I tried to calm her and convince her that he was crazy, but I must’ve spoken half-heartedly because she couldn’t believe me. I don’t even know if I believed me. She finally calmed down and fell asleep. Staying awake on the road soon became a chore for me. I should’ve gotten coffee or something, I remember thinking.
That’s the last thing I remember.
I woke up in a hospital bed 18 hours later. Confused, my mind felt disheveled. My mother’s hand lay on top of mine; she smiled with tears as I opened my eyes to see her face.
“What is this? Where am I?” I question her, groggily.
“You’re safe in a hospital. We think you fell asleep at the wheel, sweetie.” She consoled. Still, I could tell something wasn’t quite right.
“Where is Allie?” I asked. The tears began to overflow her eyes. It was as if they were waiting to fly out.
“Oh no, please don’t get all upset,” I said in disbelief. “It’s okay, we’re safe now, mom,” I comforted her.
“Baby, Allie isn’t okay. She’s not here at the hospital. They never took her in,” she blubbered.
“I don’t understand,” I said, blankly.
“She…died at the scene,” she squeezed out, tightening her grip on my hand.
Numb. Blackness. Nothing.
* * *
My world flipped sideways, over, backward, and turned in a few circles. The knot in my stomach was still apparent one year after the accident. The scar on my neck is a reminder of my stupidity that day. I will never forgive myself, I kept thinking through her funeral. And I never did.
Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. I am a changed man. Because of the happiness that I once felt with her, it pains me in a way that I almost enjoy. The feelings I get from seeing other couples’ happiness is the last thing I have to hold on to. I live through other people’s lives.