A Year Ago


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Chapter 1

It had never been easy. But then again it had never been this hard before. Usually I could drown it in cheap, watered-down beer at the local pub. Subsequent drunken calls to my sister usually resulted in both a ride home and endless reprimands that cleared my head more than drink ever could. But tonight was something else. Usually that feeling of absence came in waves. Rarely did it swamp me. But tonight I was drowning. While my phone waited tantalizingly across the room.

I hadn't called her number since she left me.

But can you blame me really? Every man has a subconscious fear of his girl leaving him. It had been a year, as my sister kept telling me. A year. She had probably gotten a new phone number by now. 

I hated myself for missing her.

The beach had been her favourite. She didn't really have a thing for sunbathing, or even the waves in particular. She was a creature of touch. Golden hours, holding her close on one of those blankets which was supposed to keep the sand off, but really didn't. Not that it bothered either of us. Quiet, tanned limbs under the sun. When the moon had begun to climb the star-flecked sky, we had only wrapped ourselves closer together. Sometimes we had brought firewood, and kindled flames in the tiny firepit, watching bits of ash mingle with wandering tongues of fire, whose incandescent rhythm mimicked the tides. Sky, sea, and the tiny, mesmerising world we made for ourselves, until the sky lightened from black to the ashy grey which signalled the coming of dawn.

I lowered the phone, the answering system patiently informing me that the number I had called was not available at this time.

The day I found out she was pregnant was one of the worst days of my life. We had been short with each other lately--I only later would find out the reason why. She had been nearly as horrified as I had been. But the overwhelming guilt on her face was perhaps the most telling part. She had always displayed her emotions behind those gorgeous, those hated, eyes. Did she think she could hide this from me? It was one of the things I loved her most dearly for, that depth of emotion. It was one of the things I hated her for. A deep tenderness for the least of these.

I never knew the father.

Is it possible to at once violently love and passionately hate? Is it rational for love to so quickly turn to hate, or for the two to subsist alongside one another? A year ago, I would have laughingly said no. But a year ago, I stopped laughing. A year ago, my girl's fire fled from me. Technically we're still engaged. My sister told me so many times to release myself from the engagement. It's easier this way, they told me. Call it off and you can heal. 
But that would be releasing my girl forever. And I still couldn't face that.

It's been a year. She's had the child, if she kept it.

I need to go get drunk again.


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