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The Sympathy of Love This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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He sank in the recliner, holding on to the bottle with just his fingertips. His skin was like leather and filth covered his hands. Maybe he thought it would help, maybe it would make life better. Maybe he liked to have a good time so much, too much, that he couldn't stop. I'll never know why, all I know is that it started to spin out of control.
It became a usual event, for him to stumble in the door late at night. I’d hear things that I never heard before, words that didn't understand. Of course, I was too young to know. Fire, fire burning in her throat like vodka. Anger and pain brewed together to make a mother turn into a monster. She was tired of bailing him out, tired of being bound under God and their vows. Eventually, her finger showed a pale strip of skin that hadn’t been exposed for over a decade. There was no going back.
It was an engagement that was looked at with disgust, and love made them not care. They moved where the grass was never green, and where snow never fell in hopes of an undisturbed beginning. His parents never wanted this life for him. Another girl may suit him better. They talked about my mother with vinegar on their tongues and acceptance only came when I was born. I was their first grandchild, their only grandchild and for that, they were grateful.
For the next six years, I’d wait for him, sitting on the swing my papa built for me. He was supposed to come, it was his chance to visit me, but sometimes it’d be months before I would see him again. That phone call is what I longed for; I’d try to listen for the song the phone would sing. That ring would give me a burst of energy and I’d fly through the air on my little wooden swing. He would ask me what I wanted for breakfast and come with what my stomach desired in the matter of minutes. I’d run into his arms as his eyes would sparkle with happiness. He’d play any game my childish mind could come up with, even if it meant being a monster in the hallway, chasing after a helpless victim. Although he was my best playmate, he was still always sure I finished my homework, helping me with every struggle.

The leather skin began to fall, the skin was burned by the fire of the sun until it laid dead on his body. The desert sun had taken everything from him. Each visit there was something new. Less hair on his head, a brace on his leg, a cane to help him stand. didn't understand. He still managed to find enough strength in his body to play basket with me outside. Aim. Throw. Hit the rim. My father would stand there, taking a drag off his cigarette, and compliment my skills even though I was missing nearly every try. That was the last time I saw my father.

At his funeral, the thought that he was gone would not process. I was off arm wrestling two boys, but was forced to sit down and behave. The next few days of his funeral my playful attitude diminished. The final day of this tear shed pool, I spent the day picking off the sparkles on my black dress, watching them fall to the floor and disappear in the sand colored carpet. I was drowning in the sadness and no one pulled me out.
He died so long ago. Every facial feature, the tone of his voice, the sparkle in his eyes and his aroma- I cannot seem to remember. I stare at the pictures, and I try not to forget. The water in my eyes create a screen showing me memories of the games we once played and how we laughed, but like every tear, it fell and shattered.
Time passed in the despair I was left in. Cars would sigh by, the train would grown through it's long journey and life would go on in it’s heavy, mysterious ways. I was lost in a perquisition of a silhouette for something that may be found only in a dream. Triumph overwhelmed me when that very silhouette pulled me out of the deep blue pool of sorrow and brought me back into a life that I had forgotten.
The contour revealed eyes so piercing green, it was like an emerald in a cart of coal; rare, natural and pure. A smile so paralyzing that, when directed towards me, I was forced to look away with my face flushed with happiness of the heart. Bumps forming like snow covered mountains all over my skin from an inevitable passion. Her presence alone was so tender and healing that I was free, for the first time, from my acid tears that used to burn inside of me. I had fallen inconceivably in love.
My mother talked about her with vinegar on her tongue. She thinks another may suit me better. A taste so revolting to endure that that I was left frozen into a statue from my own steaming anger. Acceptance was far from home. For my love, sour bitterness was second nature, it was a transformation that left her alienated. Coal fueled machines judged the way they were programed. A beautiful girl, a handsome young man and fate falling into place as it was written to be.

An engagement kept in secret because otherwise, it’d be looked at in disgust. Love made us not care. My eyes sparkled when I see him as I am held in his arms. Two summers spent with him and the sun has been the brightest that I have ever seen. A feeling in my heart gave me comfort, pushing towards this path that I need to pursue. So, we will move where the grass is always green and the snow is up to our knees, in hopes of an undisturbed beginning.



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