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I'm Coming Back
He can’t be gone, he can’t be gone. He was here just yesterday, and suddenly he’s gone. I didn’t even know he was leaving. I never got to say goodbye.
I was in a whirlwind, my thoughts tangled up like a ball of yarn in my head. I remember random funny moments with Shawn. Like the time we snuck into the library at midnight because their security sucks and Shawn happened to be fantastic at picking locks, and we read poetry books all night long to each other. Or the time we walked along the crappy beach ten minutes away, holding hands because it was winter and snowing, but there’s nothing more beautiful than a beach in the wintertime with your best friend. Or when Shawn came over and stayed with me while I cried when I found about my parents’ divorce and I couldn’t understand what I did wrong. He was always there. For everything. But I never got the chance to be there for him.
Everything felt numb and cold and sterile, like the vinyl chairs and faux wood tables in a doctor’s office. Before I met Shawn, I was in a bad place. I didn’t know who I was. I was lost, and he found me. He brought out the best in me. He was the best friend I ever had. And while I loved him as a friend, there was always a spark between us. Like getting that shock when you rub socks across a fuzzy carpet. That was us, all the time. He was the window to the real world, but suddenly, the window was shut.
I got in my car and drove to the beach, even though it was only late March. I pulled my sweatshirt over my hands and sat down on the sand. It hit me, Shawn was gone. And I wouldn’t be able to find. Then, I cried.
A couple hours later, I was at Shawn’s house. I had never been there before, but it was the only Howard residence in the neighborhood. I walked up and rang the doorbell. His dad answered the door.
“Mr. Howard, I’m sorry to bother you, but do you have any idea where Shawn could be?” I asked.
“Shawn? Shawn who?” Mr. Howard stroked his handlebar mustache.
“Your son.” How could this guy not know who his son was?
“I think you’ve got the wrong guy, sweetie. I never had any children.”
“Oh.” I was stunned. “Sorry for bothering you.” And I turned and ran. He didn’t have a family. Or he was lying to me about his last name. I never remembered him saying anything about his father or mother. How could he not have mentioned that to me?
I drove to the airport. I went to customer service and asked if Shawn Howard had boarded a flight today or last night. The crabby attendant lady said that the airport didn’t have time to look up that kind of useless information. Discouraged, I sat down in one of plastic chairs by the customer service and hung my head in my hands. I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach and a pain in my chest. Shawn was gone, and he didn’t want to be found. I had to accept that and move on.
I stood up with all the dignity I could muster and turned to leave. I had only taken a couple of steps when suddenly I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned around to see the crabby lady from customer service.
“Are you Janie Cooper?” she asked urgently.
“Yes, why?” I replied.
“Well, I was instructed by a young man to give this to you if you came here.” She thrust a letter into my hand and walked away. I looked at the front of the slightly crushed envelope. It said one word in a tight scrawl – Janie. Hands shaking, I tore open the envelope and pulled out a letter.
I know you probably won’t understand why I left or why I didn’t tell you. I promise it’s in your best interest not to know where I am right now. But I simply couldn’t leave you without saying something first. Before I met you, life was passing me by and leaving me behind. But you showed me how to live life how it was meant to be. You taught me how to appreciate simple beauty and life. You saved me, Janie, and I can’t thank you enough for what you did. You are the most beautiful person, inside and out, that I’ve ever met. Wait for me, because I’m coming back for you.
I love you,