The River was Once Me

December 18, 2007
By Kyle Bylin, Minneapolis, MN

There was piece of her that seemed to complete my puzzle and from above the table I could look down and see the bigger picture. She was so quiet and self-reserved. Those features of hers filled my voids; you know those personality traits we all wished we possessed ourselves. I couldn’t imagine her looking any better. Her red hair fell just past her shoulders and she wore my heart on her sleeves. Her eyes were powerful, deep blue in color and inside of them was an ocean of ideas that I couldn’t understand. When she was mad it was I who was left treading water. She had unbelievable lips, I’m not sure exactly what it is about them that made me passionate, but I loved to slowly kiss her and feel her squirm beneath me. She was really sensitive in that way, rather ticklish, but not to my emotions. I loved her dearly; at least I thought I did at the time. Maybe I really did, but that freshness slowly began to spoil, her sugar like sweetness tasted like salt, and her touch felt cold as ice.

Motionless, she laid there on the floor with thoughts so heavy they kept me from going anywhere. I felt sick in my stomach yet there was no hint of hurt on my face, just a blank stare which was locked onto the ceiling. Inside of my head, it was like a slow motion day dream. Pictures, memories, poems, songs, and his words flashed though to create a collage of events only needed for someone who was dying.

I was absolutely petrified; I didn’t know what to do, because she wasn’t saying anything. How was a supposed to know? It’s not like there was an article in The Rolling Stone titled “Top Ten Steps to Take In Order To Prevent Your Life from Falling Apart.” Was I so blind that I didn’t see this coming or was there a trail of clues leading to this stage? Where was my life preparation when I needed it? Our history wasn’t long enough to evaluate, I’m way to terrible at math to know if things added up, our chemistry seemed perfect, and whether or not I could mutter the next couple sentences with perfect grammar seemed like useless junk.

Her head was in my lap, hair draped over the top, covering her face while she let it all go. Mascara bled black from her eyes as if her inner soul was burned by me. My heart sunk like a rock thrown over a bridge into troubled water. Except that stone was real, it represented everything that I worked so hard for, but the weight of the problems I ignored had sunk it to the bottom. I watched it tumble downstream, piece by piece cracking off, eroding in the abyss below with little to be salvaged.

I was lost; I simply didn’t know what to say. I kept replying with what seemed to be the most logical questions. I became a desperate physiologist, throwing out a line repeatedly, with hopefulness that I could snag onto the obvious and capitalize on my discovery. Nothing I found was concrete; the new territory I tried to travel had a trail of eggshells already broken from what looked like a previous walk. Did I forget something? Did I finally stumble over the very thread I used to weave everything back together again?

The words I thought she could never say to me finally escaped and a wave of relief pulsed through her body. They all told her that it wouldn’t be this hard, but just like me they bent the truth until she became naïve enough to take it as fact. She wanted to forgive me so badly. I wanted him to say exactly what I knew he was capable of. Instead I sat there, perched over her in silence as if there was something for me to figure out. I gripped her hand firmer than before as if this would allow me to hold onto her that much longer. We both slowly got up and neither of us knew what to do. It was so awkward, I felt like I was a horrible person. She had this look in his eyes that I had never seen before, but I couldn’t undo the damage I had done. I motioned toward her and slowly put my arms around her.

She smiled for a moment as I pulled her closer. My emotions had no release, trapped inside a bottle that I didn’t think could be fashioned in situations like this. I swallowed my pride and walked slowly down the walkway from her porch. The ground beneath me resembled the rock bottom that I had sunk to under that trouble water. After spending months fighting my way upstream, it was strange to see that this river was once me.

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