Drunken with dusty feet, I stumbled to the rooftop with my shoes in hand. The wind whispered, “Jump & you will fly!” To which I replied, “Jump & I’ll surely die.” The cool summer rain soothed my burning skin.
I raise my glass to the people with full resumes & adequate experience yet lack the sheet of paper that exempts them from inferior pay. To Those of us actively hunting for our purpose under the umbrella of others. It’s time to dance in the rain.
There’s something so inviting in the wind. The way it rustles the leaves, kisses my skin, and beckons me to follow its patterns in the sky. Chimes jingle in the distance, reminding me of the twilight sneaking into my window as we cracked our eyes after a night of passion.
If what they say is true, 'Home is where the heart is.' And every time you look around, he's with the same someone else, his heart is not with you.
I want my sobs to be replaced with moans.
You can’t fix me but you can distract me.
Can I tell you a secret?
I am damaged goods.
So much so that I have no self esteem.
I understand that lacking a strong support system will do that to you.
The real secret is that I feel empty and destroyed.
My spirit was broken by the hands of another.
I wasn’t paying attention.
And now I want to be fxcked until the pain in my chest subsides.
I want to be fxcked until the tears of despair transform into tears of pleasure.
I want to be fxcked until it’s no longer my pleasure being pleased, it is my pleasure pleasing you.
Fxcked until 6 years of heartache becomes
A short story compiled of life lessons.
Fxck me until I remember who I used to be.
I should want more than a good fxck.
More comes with more children and more heartache. More finger pointing.
I am desperately seeking to fly away.
Paralysis. I’m so hurt and angry that I just want to scream. Scream from the bottom of my stomach at the top of my lungs. I want to scream until my throat burns and my ears explode. While the rest of the world mourns the death of many, I am still mourning the death of one. Constant sickness. Inexplicable nausea and dizziness. Sometimes I can feel my heart rate sky rocket and my knees get weak. There’s no one to talk to. Who can I talk to about the burning and aching in my chest? How am I to explain to my children that sometimes I have a hard time moving?
I was driving along the highway with y hand draped out of the window. I was fine. I was lost in thought but I was okay. Then in the far right lane, there were two men. Each were riding their own motor cycle. My mind flashed to you. I remembered the last time I saw you with your bike, you were wearing some sort of armor. You were riding safely. These men, however, wore nothing but loose, short sleeve t-shirts, and small bucket helmets. There was no doubt in my mind they would make it to their destination safely nor was there any desire for otherwise.
It did cause me to question everything. The questions rolled into consciousness faster than I could attempt to answer. My head started to spin. I had to pull over. In the blink of an eye, I went from trying to discern the different ways to describe the air I’ve been breathing knowing that I can’t share it with you to trying to discern why some people make it to old age and others do not.
I thought about your funeral. I thought about the many lives you touched and why it was decided in such a short time, your job was done. What did we all learn? I sat on the side of the road and thought for what felt to be a very long time. What did I learn? What did you leave me with? My mind quickly navigated our memories together like fingers through a rolodex or an infinite scroll on someone’s social media website.
My mind streamed and my chest caved. In February, we talked about spending the entire week together because we would have the time. That was what triggered our last disagreement. Before that, I was short on my rent. Or short for my car note. I can’t recall but you came by and gave me what I needed. Before that, you helped me bring boxes upstairs to my friend’s house. I had just moved in. All of these occurrences were great but not life changing.
I started to panic. He wasn’t finished with me so why was he taken so early? So my mind kept sifting. I had an insatiable desire to know what your purpose in my life had been. My mind flashed to the beginning of us. I was thirteen going on fourteen and you were eighteen going on nineteen. I had a boyfriend and I have no idea what you were up to. You were funny and cute as hell. I had fallen in love. I left my boyfriend and we were officially together.
The difference you made in my life transpired long before my adulthood. You were my angel, my caretaker, my light. Around the age of fifteen, I was always getting put out of my mother’s house. And if I wasn’t being kicked out, my mother wasn’t home. Whenever I found myself with nowhere to go, I was welcomed into your home and whenever I found myself home alone without any food or water, you were there to supply it.
There are people that would argue that you were just taking care of the person you were involved with and this may be true but it was you heart that made the difference. It was your desire to see me grow. At fifteen, my life could have gone either way. I could have started taking drugs or become someone’s property. Under your watchful eye, I became neither. You were my home.
At a time in my life where I was the most malleable, you allowed me live and grow in a safe environment. While I know we spoke of our teenage years often, I don’t believe I’ve ever formally thanked you. This is how you touched my world. This is the difference you were here to make in me. For you to make such a significant difference in my life, what did you do for the other people you met?
My heart constricts when I think of the possibilities. The dizziness resumes. The silence is deafening. I’ve entered the state of denial. I’ve concluded that your difference is so great, that your time could not have been concluded so soon. I can recognize the denial but it feels so much better.
A love story that started when I was thirteen has officially ended. My mother assures me that it’s not over because the resurrection is near and I will see my love again but I haven’t found any comfort in that. We were two ships passing in the night; the moon chasing the sun and now the ship drifts alone and the moon ceases to glow. I feel weak. I feel like my world is shattered and for the past eighteen hours, I’ve only wanted to join him. I want to die but it’s not what I need and it’s not what he wants.
Shortly after I learned of his death, I fell to my knees and cried out. I kicked over desks and tossed my office. I laid on the floor and stared at the ceiling. I kicked and flailed my arms as I screamed to the heavens. This can’t be true. There must be some sort of mistake. He wouldn’t leave me behind. All selfish thinking, I suppose.
I am trying to discern what I am supposed to feel. What am I supposed to think? How do I process his death? I’ve prayed, I even spoke to him. I could hear him reply, “It’s okay, Stank. I’m okay.” His large brown eyes blinking and his nose nestling my cheek. I turned my music off so that I could hear him clearer. And I did. His raspy voice kept repeating his soothing words, “I know, Stank. I’m okay. It’s okay.” There was a coolness on my belly and right arm as I heard his words.
So I said, “Do you know I love you? I was mad at you but I’m sorry. Do you know? Will you remember?” The coolness increased and I could hear music playing. My music was cut back on and coming through my headphones.
“There’s somethin’ bout ya love that makes me weak and knocks me off my feet. There’s somethin’ bout ya love that makes me weak and knocks me off my feet. I don’t wanna bore you with it oh but I love you, I love you, I love you. I don’t wanna bore you with it oh but I love you, I love you, I love you.”
I cried but this time with peace and replied, “I love you too.”
I thought that I’d found my answer for what to do. He came to me and he told me that he knew how much I loved him despite the fact that my last words to him were a sarcastic “Really….?”
I laid down on the floor and tried to rest. My head was pounding and even after feeling like I had one last conversation with the first man I have ever loved, my heart was still broken. I had a restless sleep. I could feel his rough hands on my back and his lips on my skin. I dreamed of his visits to me after he got off work. Seeing him in his motorcycle armor and his blackened hands. In my dream, I playfully complained about his dirty clothes as he threw his arms around my shoulders to give me a hug. I tossed around in my sleep and the dream started to feel real.
We hopped in my car and went for a drive. He had to drive because I was too sleepy. We stopped at Wendy’s and I ordered a crispy chicken and a double stack and proceeded to pile one on top of the other. I smiled at him and said “Bigger sandwich for like $3.”
For the first time in this dream he said, “I will be getting that from now on,” and we laughed. The rest of this dream was flashes of us on my friend’s front porch, us at Eagle Rock Reservation, at my job, and then back on the porch. That’s where it ended. When I work up it was about four hours since I’ve heard the troubling news that my love is lost forever. I opened the message he sent to me on Friday and saw all of the messages from our argument about 4 months before. I could have done better. His visit during his postmortem rounds did not give me the peace that I had hoped for.
Why is this so hard? We spent our entire adult lives in an on and off relationship. There would be months of no speaking and then we’d be speaking everyday. I guess this is because I know he’s not coming back. This time it’s different. There has never been a death in my life that I was not prepared for. My uncle and even my grandmother were on their death beds for quite some time but this, this is different. I was ready for their passing because I know that you sometimes get sick and then, you’ll pass away as a result. This is life. But that’s not what happened to my love so when I think about how he’s gone, I feel like it’s not possible because dying from an accident is not a part of life. Especially not for my love. He was supposed to grow old, watch his kids grow up, watch my kids grow up, we were even going to have another baby. We had a plan that I wasn’t sure I could stick to because there were too many lives involved and now I wish that I did. This is the worst possible way to learn that life is too short for “What if.” I want to tell him that he was right but I can’t. I can only put it out in the universe with hopes that my message is delivered.
How could someone so wonderful in every aspect be taken away from the people that love him so soon? He was out, presumably having a good time and then there was some sort of accident. I was baffled because he told me that he would no longer be using his motorcycle because he was getting a truck. We agreed this was safest so why was he on a motorcycle again? I would know this if I spoke to him sooner. All of these thoughts are killing me slowly but then when I get into a quiet space and I see him. I feel him. A coolness on my arm, my hair moving like it’s being blown softly. That’s when I ask him, “Do you know I love you?” and the sensation on my arms gets colder.
Twenty hours, that’s how long it’s been since I learned of his untimely passing. I got in my car and drove home from work yesterday and I passed my house to go to Eagle Rock and I waited. I waited and I cried. I knew he was never going to show up and I’m going crazy because why would I be looking for a man that has passed away? I left. My hands were shaky on the steering wheel but I’m strong. I’m still alive and so I have to operate as such. But how could I? I drove to the liquor store and bought wine and whiskey.
I spoke to his mother in the parking lot and she said “I’m sorry for your loss.” That’s the kind of person he was raised by. The kind of person we were raised by. Here she was, grieving her son and saying sorry to his friends because they had lost someone too. That made me realize that I need to pull it together. His parents were being pillars of strength so that his friends didn’t need to be. That was my answer. I need to be strong and remember that even when a life is lost, I have other lives to be concerned with. My children need me. My mother, my job, I still have books to write and stories to tell. I can’t crumble.
So I went home. I thought I would drink myself to sleep but I was already tired and my kids were already in bed. So I tried to sleep too. I dreamed about him again. I saw flashes of our old photos from our late teens and early twenties. I recalled our never ending conversations. Smoking sessions with friends, drinking sessions, and cook outs. I don’t even remember the bad times. When I woke up this morning, it felt like any other day in the weeks that we aren’t speaking. Then it hit me that he wasn’t coming back. That’s what made this day different than the others. All morning I’ve been finding split seconds of peace until I realize that the moon will no longer chase the sun and that my ship would no longer pass another in the dead of night. Our story has ended.
Sixteen years we spent being lovers, best friends, distant lovers, and finally forbidden friends. He was my care taker, my inspiration, my guardian, my balance, my support team, and so forth. Before I was diagnosed with acute bipolar disorder and right after I was diagnosed with clinical depression, he was there and never left. He never left when everyone else did. He didn’t need to understand what was wrong in order for him to stay around; to stay near. I know I am not alone. I know that I now have people who support me and who cope with my ailments but he was the original and longstanding cheerleader in my life. I would not have survived without him. And now I have to survive without him.
I don’t know what that entails. I don’t know what surviving means. Do I live in sorrow, because I never want to forget him or do I forge ahead because he and I lived in enough sorrow already? Maybe I can pretend he’s still out there somewhere thriving. Maybe our ships do not have to stop passing as long as I believe it’s still possible to cross paths. That would be delusional. He’s gone but still in my heart. He watched over me while he was alive, so why would it be any different in death?
Two lovers that will never be together until their death. Only in death will we get a do over and I am eagerly awaiting that time. Why lie? How can I lie? I love you and you love me and even if it takes the afterlife to get it right, then that’s when we’ll get it right. As friends, I was able to share everything with you. You saw my growth and not a stone has been upturned. I must be grateful for that.
You read my first published book, saw my new car, saw my first apartment, and even met my beautiful little girls. I grew up right before your eyes. As you journey into the afterlife, I am realizing that we had closure. I’ve done everything you said I can do and by stopping now, I would be doing you a disservice. So the afterlife it is…whenever my time comes, I know you will be waiting for me like you always have.
Stephen Francis Riley Sr., I love you so much. I don’t expect anyone who didn’t know us to understand what this all means. Furthermore, I don’t expect everyone to be receptive of what they can’t understand. I will carry you in my heart forever. Rest in peace, light, and strength. Until we meet again.
I have to see him today and I am oddly calm. I don’t know what that means. When he chatted with our oldest daughter this morning, I took note of his backgroud. I could see he was home, with his other children. I think I am coming to the conclusion that a two parent home is better than one.
There are so many thoughts running through my mind. I don’t want to be an example of how women are strong and they can make it alone. I know we can. I think this can end one of two ways, my daughters will see what a dysfunctional relationship looks like or they will see what a functional father looks like.
People are always saying that if he’s a good father, he will stay around anyway. But why should I put a man to the test?
This is the first morning since I’ve discovered his double life that I did not call him. Instead I put on some music and sped to work. And still the silence is extracting my energy.
What’s the point of all of this when I will likely go back anyway? I hear it when people say “you deserve better.” I’m sure I do not know what “better” is.
There was a moment when my sister said to me “Why does he like you so much? He must not know you.” My mother said she was just doing what sisters do. I didn’t think I was so bad until the moment she said that to me. So if my sister doesn’t think I’m worth loving and yet he loves me then why should I leave?