I was digging through my Work in Progress folder, and came across this short story. I vaguely remember writing it, and I think the prompt was “Disappeared.” This is a previously unpublished piece. If you enjoy it, please share.
by Mitch Lavender
Hello everyone. My name is Trey.
It’s been three months, and today was pretty hard for me. I got out of bed. Showered. Dressed. I… I even ate breakfast. I was going to go downtown, you know? It was a pretty day and I thought it would be good to go outside. I started to… I mean… I saw… Saw…
It’s at this point that I start to cry, and not just a tear down the cheek with my voice cracking a little. No, I start blubbering – water works going full blast – right there, in front of the whole support group. I just stand there and bawl, holding a snotty Kleenex up to my running nose, and I do a full-on, gut-wrenching sobfest.
After it’s clear I’m not going to get it together anytime soon, Ned, my sponsor, helps me off the podium, past the folding chairs and crestfallen faces, out of the classroom where the group meets. The fourth branch of the Let’s Love Again (LLA) support group – this bi-weekly meeting is all that is standing between nine people and self-murder.
The dimly lit hallway is empty of people. Rows of lockers line the walls, punctuated by a bulletin board, here or there. A poster printed in marker hangs on the wall across from me.
“I’ve got spirit! Yes I do. I’ve got spirit. How about you? GO COCKS!” with a picture of a rooster. The high school football team is called the Cocks. Unfortunate.
Ned stands with me. He doesn’t say anything, just stands there while I cry it out, my sobs echoing back in the empty hall. He lets me go on until I run dry, drained. Exhausted. I’m like a baby; he’s patently letting me cry myself to sleep.
Ned drops me off at my apartment and tells me that tomorrow will probably be better. Not a lot better, but better. Some better. Maybe. Probably, even.
I watch the taillights of Ned’s Buick tool down the street and make a left, motoring out of sight. Standing there on the sidewalk in front of my apartment, the chill of the May evening causing my breath to fog, I feel like I’m still crying. I’m not. I think I depleted my tear ducts – they are empty. But, so help me, it still feels like I’m crying.
I throw my head back to scream, and I want it to sound brutal and angry. I want it to frighten children and send cats scampering for cover under the bed. I want it to bleed with the anguish, pain and hopelessness – to sound inhuman. Nothing comes out. I have no mouth and I must scream, I think, relating to the gelatinous Ted in Harlan Ellison’s tragic story.
I can only conclude that love is a mental illness. You are afflicted with love for someone, so much that – at times – it hurts, and in the troughs of succumbing, surrendering totally to be devoured by it, harsh reality comes in and tries damn hard to knock you out of it, but some people can’t be cured. They are chronic. Incurable. True. Faithful.
But some people can be cured. Ellen was cured. One day, she told me she no longer loved me. She stopped, just like that. She said she hadn’t loved me for a year or more. The love just disappeared. Gone. Poof. Magic.
After she left, I realized what I had lost, and how I begged and pleaded for her to come back. She didn’t hate me – she was indifferent. With no love and no hate – I was ineffectual in her eyes. I didn’t matter to her. Nothing could have wounded me more.
Maybe, someday, I’ll be able to see what I did – or did not – do that resulted in her love disappearing. Maybe I will see there was never anything to do with me at all, and I could never have changed it, even if I had known. Or maybe I’ll see it was exactly what I deserved. I don’t know right now.
All I have is: tomorrow will probably be better. I’ll keep it to that – tomorrow. Maybe it will be better. I won’t worry about anything past tomorrow.
I’ve got spirit! Yes I do. I’ve got spirit, how about you? GO COCKS!
© 2013, Mitch Lavender