I need more friends.

I’m way too into my relationship with my boyfriend, especially given our situation. There are things I think he deserves  things that I don’t necessarily want and denying him those things isn’t fair on my part. But I am so in love with him. Maybe I need to distance myself from this man so he can find someone who is everything he wants, not just most things. He is everything I want and a couple of things I don’t want, and that’s what we’ve been fighting about.

Maybe I just don’t give him enough time away from me to allow him to see if it is really me he wants?

Has anyone else been through this before? What did you do to go make new friends? My finances are severely limited while I save up to move, or I would go to a dance club in town and make a fool of myself.

There isn’t much in this town that I haven’t explored already, but I suppose people watching is always something new.

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What’s a girl supposed to do when she feels like she’s more into her relationship than her man is?

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Horsies

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I was hugged by a horse. I think that was the moment that I really knew I wanted to raise horses when I grow up. This was several years ago, but I was having a conversation with a friend and it came up, and I had to blog about it, because random. But seriously, being hugged by a horse is great. Animals are definitely preferable to people, in …. a lot of cases.

“Lina”

        

 

       I can still see her standing near the shore, a giant tropical printed towel tied under her arms and her feet buried in the sand. It was the end of summer, and we were just twenty two years old. Twenty years of knowing each other thanks to our parents meeting at AA and making friends and setting up “play dates” because they were so excited to have children who shared a birthday. We knew how hard it was to have parents who struggled with an addiction, and we helped in every way we could, but the beach was our escape. We had a standing date every Saturday since we were fifteen to go to the beach in our hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.

               She always walked right next to me, sometimes holding my hand, sometimes wrapping her arm around my waist, sometimes trying to reach up to wrap her arm around my shoulders. But once we hit that warm sand, she took off, dropping her things anywhere there was an open spot on the sand and practically belly-flopping into the shallow water to let the gentle waves wash over her. To me it always looked like she was trying to give her soul a running bath, head first. Maybe she was. Because every time she did that, she wouldn’t say a word. She wouldn’t look back at me, wouldn’t yell back to me, wouldn’t even acknowledge that I—or anyone else for that matter—was there for at least a half hour.

               And as she bathed her soul under that south Texas sun, I watched her and I watched the waves and I went back to watching her as I breathed in that salty air deep in my lungs. I suppose that was how I mirrored her soul bath. When she was done, she would crane her neck trying to find me around the other people who shared the beach with us, and when she found me, she always got the biggest smile on her face. Everything bad in my life disappeared when I saw that smile. Her light hazel eyes glistened with reflected sunlight as she looked at me, and she would give me a salty wet kiss on the cheek when she reached me as she grabbed her towel. She would always go back to the brink of where the waves met the sand, just far enough back so her towel didn’t get wet.

               She buried her toes in the sand to keep from burning them and spent a few more minutes just staring out at the water, even when it wasn’t all that beautiful because of debris or grime or whatever ended up in oceans and seas. I found it so difficult to keep my eyes off her. She was the one for me. I had dated other girls every once in awhile as I got closer to my twenties and she had dated other guys, but I knew that she was The One. But I never wanted to bring it up to her.

               But one of those days, I did bring it up. While we sat on the beach snacking on shredded chicken or fruit or whatever we happened to bring, there was a quiet moment. And my heart pounded as if it wanted out of my chest, but I asked her.

               “Lina, can I ask you something?”

               “You can ask me anything.”

               “It’s a serious question.”

               “So I’ll give you a serious answer,” she said, turning her whole body to face me. God, she was gorgeous.

               I swallowed hard and took a breath. “Have you ever thought about us dating?”

               She just sat there and stared at me for a few moments, blinking those long eyelashes. Her eyebrows pulled together in the center like they did when she was about to cry. It made me feel horrible that I had asked a question that might have made her cry. But then she answered me.

               “Sebastian. I’ve loved you since I was seventeen. I mean, I’ve loved you all my life, but I fell in love with you when I was seventeen. But you dated those girls and I didn’t think you were into me. I thought you wanted to keep it like I was your sister or something.”

               “Really?” It was my turn to blink at her.

               It seemed like she couldn’t say anything else, because all she did was nod. And then she tackled me, having the courtesy to make sure my chicken sandwich didn’t touch the sand. She laid me down on my back and she actually laid on top of me, her breasts meeting my chest, the inside of her thighs spread around my hips. She kissed me long and deep, slipping her arms around my shoulders to hold me tight. And that was what I had dreamed of since I was thirteen. I knew I didn’t love her until sixteen, but I knew that this was how I wanted it. As she kissed me, her light brown hair with its natural blonde highlights fell over her shoulder and tickled my neck and I couldn’t help but move it.

               She laughed and sat up, then took her place next to me again and crossed her legs. As perfectly as that bikini fit when she was standing up, it was a bit loose when she sat down, and I could almost see what she looked like under that bottom piece. She saw me looking at her and pulled her towel over herself, blushing.

               “Lina?”

               Her eyes met mine again. “Yeah?”

               I took her hand and kissed her knuckles. “Will you be my girlfriend?”

               She smiled that huge, beautiful smile and nodded. I could tell she wanted to tackle me again, but she didn’t this time. I leaned over to her, letting go of her hand so I could reach up to stroke her hair, and I kissed her.

               “I think there’s something you need to know, though,” she said when I pulled back.

               “One of the guys you dated gave you herpes.” I teased her.

               She punched me in the arm, shaking her head and smiling. Then the smile faded and she said, “No. Actually, I was never intimate with any of those guys. I’m a virgin.”

               I was so surprised when I heard the V-word come out of her mouth. “Seriously?”

               She nodded and hunched in on herself, like it was something to be ashamed of. “Sweetheart,” I said, “I’m sure those guys wanted to, and that it was your decision not to. You’re too beautiful for them not to have wanted you. And I think it’s awesome that you didn’t just give in.”

               She relaxed a little when I said that. “Do you want to know why I didn’t give in?”

               “You’re a lesbian.” I joked again.

               She punched me again and laughed. “Noooo. It’s because I wanted it to be special. And I wanted my first time to come from you.”

               “Me? Really?”

               “Yes, Sebastian. I told you, I’ve loved you since I was seventeen. None of those other guys would have come close to how I would feel if you were my first.”

               “Baby, I’m not a virgin though.”

               “That’s okay. As long as you’re clean, that’s okay.”

               I smiled. “I’m clean. I wrapped it every single time.”

               “So you don’t have any kids I don’t know about then?”

               This time I laughed. “Not a chance.”

               She moved, bringing her left hip right up against my right hip, and I couldn’t help but put my arm around her shoulders. I didn’t have a clue as to what she was thinking, so I kept quiet and gave her space to think.

               “We’re twenty-two years old,” she finally said.

               I nodded.

               “Let’s go get a room at one of these hotels.”

               “To cuddle?”

               “Among other things. I want to give it to you today, Sebastian,” she whispered in my ear.

               There was no way I was going to be able to walk to the street, much less to a nearby hotel without someone seeing the tent that was the front of my swim trunks. Lina giggled, delighted at the reaction she caused. I didn’t want to walk around like that, but I didn’t want to deny her, either. I wanted to love her like she fantasized about, and then tell her that I loved her. And then I was going to make her dreams come true for the rest of her life.

               So I decided to see if telling myself to go limp just for twenty minutes worked. And it actually did, for the most part. Well enough to hide, anyway. We got to the hotel without people staring at me with disgust, and I paid for a one-bed suite. I told them to bring up a few choice drinks from the bar as well as a dessert for each of us. She insisted that that was too much, but I was going to romance her. She deserved nothing less than the best.

               So we got up to the room and set our things down in the corner. I pulled the curtains that were really thin, but left the thick curtains open so we’d have good lighting in the room. She was putting the rest of the food in the mini-fridge. I turned the TV on to find something good to watch until the room service came and went and we had our privacy. Surprisingly, it didn’t take very long for the waiter to get there, and I tipped him well.

               I set things up on the little end table and sat in front of Lina on the bed. I had the brilliant idea to feed her her dessert, and she loved it. After a few bites, she stopped me, stood up, and faced me. I wasn’t sure what was wrong and I was about to ask her what happened until she reached behind her and pulled on one of the strings of her bikini top and released the little bow, repeating with the tie that was around her neck. She didn’t let the top fall for a few seconds, like she was nervous about it, but then she did let it fall.

               I had never noticed how beautiful her breasts were. I mean, I had noticed what size they were, but until that moment I had never noticed how perfectly smooth they were or how perfectly round. And the tips were so cute, small and so light brown they almost completely blended in with the rest of her skin. I wanted to echo her move, but I had had my shirt off since we were at the beach and I wasn’t about to make her think that I wanted to go any faster than she dictated. Especially since I was now sporting a baseball bat between my legs.

               She sat back down on the bed and I smiled at her as I kept feeding her her dessert. But she stopped me a second time and insisted that it was my turn.

               “No, babe, this is for you. I can eat mine in a few minutes,” I denied her.

               She smiled coyly and started to feed me my dessert anyway. And we exchanged feeding each other bites until they were gone. We started in on our drinks and after the first one, she told me she was going to save the other for later because she didn’t want to get too buzzed.

               I stopped with her out of courtesy. She placed her hands on my shoulders and pulled me closer to her on the bed, and I followed her lead, lying down with her and kissing her deeply. She let her hands explore my body and I almost lost it when she started to untie my swim trunks, but my self-talk came to the rescue again. While she explored my body, I explored hers as well, making my hands and face and mouth familiar with her upper body and those perfect breasts.

               She just had one problem.

               “I don’t want to mess up the bed,” she said, and I could hear the nervousness in her voice.

               “We can take a shower together,” I proposed.

               She considered it and nodded. She was about to get up but I stopped her, wanting to make her comfortable with what we wanted to do. I took off my swim trunks instead of leaving them wrapped around my thighs and reached for her bikini bottom slowly, as if I was asking permission without words. She just kissed me some more, so I slid that little piece of fabric off her legs and for the first time, noticed that she was pretty muscular. Not overly muscular, but a perfectly feminine kind of muscular.

               I caressed her as we kissed, and she was more than ready for me. I couldn’t help but bring my face down close to her so I could make my tongue familiar with how she tasted before we started anything, and it wasn’t long until every muscle in her body contracted and she grabbed my shoulders tight and said my name in a breathy, shaky voice. And I loved every moment of it.

               When she recovered, I picked her up in my arms and carried her to the bathroom, starting the water and bringing it to a comfortable heat before we stepped in. We still took it slow, but I made love to her in the shower, ignoring the pink tinted water that ran down the drain.

               That was the moment I knew no one else would ever be good enough for me. And that stands to this day, even though Fate or God or whatever you prefer to call it took her away from me much too soon, at the grill of a drunk driver’s SUV.

               She had been on her way home from the hair salon to get a new haircut and to get her nails done professionally as a treat for her thirty-fourth birthday. It wasn’t late enough for people to be going to bars, but this man was thoroughly intoxicated. Witnesses told police that the driver mistook his turn and ended up on the wrong side of the median, speeding more than twenty miles per hour over the speed limit. The road was busy enough that my Lina couldn’t change lanes to avoid the driver because there were people blocking her, and the drunk driver hit her head on. The police said she died on impact. I sincerely hope that was the case. My Lina was far too beautiful and too sweet to suffer any kind of pain, much less the pain of a severe head on collision.

               I’m sitting here by her gravestone thinking about what we’ve been through and the irony of life. Lina’s and my parents met at Alcoholics Anonymous, recovering from the urge to get drunk all the time. And Lina’s life was stolen from her by someone who didn’t have the strength to recover from his addiction. I’m a thirty-four year old widow and I know I will never court or date anyone else as long as I live. I can only hope I can have the strength to dull the pain by doing something constructive like trying to convince others to quit alcohol and not by getting intoxicated myself. May Lina rest in peace and find happiness, wherever she is now.

Excerpt 3 from “The Hand That Gives The Rose”

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               “Anger suffers as grief withdraws,” Lucy said. “I don’t feel anything anymore. Not toward him.”

               “You’re always so cryptic, girl. What do you mean, ‘anger suffers as grief withdraws?’” Aimee whined.

               Lucy chuckled at her friend’s confusion. “I was grieving my relationship, so I was angry, bella. Anger is a part of the grieving process. As my grief withdraws, anger suffers as well. Anger wants to burn hot and bright but I’m over my grief now, so my anger is also dying.”

               “So why didn’t you just say that you’re over him so you’re not angry anymore?” Aimee said, giving her friend a playful shove. “Why do you have to be so confusing with your fancy words?”

               “Using eloquent words is a dying art, beautiful one. I choose to practice the art and differentiate myself from others who use colloquialisms.”

               “Well, it does make you sound smarter. And more caring, somehow. I don’t know why, but that’s how it feels to me,” Aimee said.

               “I do care about you. Despite the short time I’ve known you, I care about you very much.”

               “It doesn’t seem like it’s been long enough for us to get to like each other so much, but I care about you a lot, too. When you told me what happened with Angelo, it hurt me and angered me almost as much as it afffected Luca. How’s he doing now, by the way?”

               “My father has commissioned both Luca and Angelo to make a deal with a realty company to build a new hotel. It is a big project, so the men will be working together for several weeks. Luca is very much not happy with the situation, but he knws as well as our father does that he and Angelo can get the project finished in good time with great financial benefits.”

               “And do you know how Angelo feels about it?”

               “He knows that he has wronged me. And he knows that Luca now despises him. I believe he regrets his decision, but he has not made an attempt to assuage his guilt by apologizing to me. In fact, he does not even enter my hotel. And rightly so; the employees now know what happened and they would not respect the Almighty’s right to revenge as Luca and I believe. Angelo is not welcome in the hotel.”

               “So he feels bad but he knows no one around here is going to do anything—“ Aimee stopped before she finished her sentence. “Speak of the devil.”

               Angelo was walking toward them with one hand behind his back. Aimee got closer to Lucy, offering to let Lucy lean against her. When Angelo reached them, he stood in front of them, between them and the ocean. The three of tehm remained silent, just looking at each other. Angelo couldn’t seem to hold eye contact with Lucy for more than a second at a time. Lucy stared at him, waiting for him to say something. His hand was still behind his back, but he brought it in front of him, holding a bouquet of blue roses. He knelt down, holding it out to Lucy.

               Lucy raised her eyebrows, not accepting the bouquet.

               “I’m sorry, my love. I’m so very sorry,” he said, still holding out the bouquet.

               “You’re sorry I caught you,” Lucy said, her voice rough with irritation, her eyes steely with indignation.

               Angelo breathed faster, bringing the bouquet closer to his body. Now he looked at Lucy, not taking his eyes away from her. The longer he looked at her, the more pain twisted his handsome features, his eyes brimming with tears.

               “Your tears will not sway me, Angelo. I gave you everything you wanted and still it was not enough. You were all I wanted and more. But it is apparent that you wanted something I could not give you. And I believe this,” Lucy gestured toward the roses and Angelo’s now tear-stained face, “is all an act. I do not accept your apology. And I do not accept those roses that symbolize impossibility.”

               Without another word, Lucy got up and walked back toward her hotel, standing taller than she ever had before. Angelo shifted his weight from kneeling to resting his knees on the sand, breaking down into sobs and hyperventilating, but keeping the bouquet protected from the sand.

               Aimee stared at him as he cried, torn between following Lucy to comfort her and watching Angelo express the pain he deserved. She decided to follow her friend, leaving Angelo to cry alone.

Excerpt from “The Hand That Gives The Rose”

 “The shore is fuming at the waves. Do you see the wisps of smoke that rise from the edge?” she said, not shifting her gaze from the ocean. Her hair was up in a bun on the nape of her neck, but a few shorter strands escaped and got caught in with her long sideswept bangs that moved with the sea breeze.
 
“Seriously. How do you know I’m there?” Aimee asked, stopping next to Lucy.
 
Lucy chuckled softly and replied, “I’ve told you before, beautiful one. Your presence becomes apparent before I can see you. You have a very unique spark in your aura.”
 
Aimee paused, narrowing her eyes suspiciously. “You know, a normal person would have said that it was my shoes on the sand or something.”
 
Lucy remained quiet for a few moments, but finally said, “I know you don’t believe in the supernatural like what I have. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my powers. You should learn to accept what you don’t see instead of shutting it out. The more open you are, the more the supernatural can help you, bambina.”
 
“But that also leaves me open to the bad side of the supernatural, too. So I’d rather not. I’d rather just look out for myself. Thanks though, girl.”
 
“You Americans are so untrusting. That’s why you all hate each other.”
 
“We keep out of each other’s business.”
 
“Except when your government sends your military to other countries to help in their wars.”
 
Aimee winced, keeping quiet after her friend’s comment. She sat next to Lucy, close enough so their elbows touched.
 
“You need comfort again, beautiful one?” Lucy asked tenderly, reaching over to play with Aimee’s light brown hair.
 
“I don’t want to be a burden on you.”
 
“I will go to the ends of the earth to help you, bambina.”
 
“Jeff broke up with me,” Aimee said after a ragged sigh. Tears formed in her eyes, making them shine with the reflection of the ocean. “A month ago. I just haven’t been able to face it.”
 
“Face me,” Lucy gently instructed.
 
Aimee complied, sitting cross legged and instinctively held her hands out to her friend. Lucy took Aimee’s hands, squeezing them gently. Her lips moved, but no sound came out as she said a silent incantation. Thunder rolled form the dark clouds a few miles in the distance and mist floated over on the breeze. As Lucy’s incantation went on, Aimee shivered as the thunder rolled closer and the ocean’s waves seemed to chant Jeff’s name.
 
Suddenly, Lucy’s mocha brown eyes focused on Aimee’s face, holding her attention. “Do you wish him back? Or do you wish to find better?”
 
The American paused, and Lucy said, “Quickly.”
 
“Better.”
 
Lucy nodded and closed he eyes, finishing her incantation. Thunder rolled continuously now, from different parts of the sky, closing in on the two young women. She opened her eyes again, shifting both of Aimee’s hands into her left and cupping Aimee’s face in her right. As soon as the gentle contact was made, an enormous bolt of lightning ran across the sky directly above and between their bodies and Lucy smiled.
 
“”You will find love. The Almighty places His favor in you. You will not know when your love will come, but when you find him, you will feel the echo of that lightning strike in your heart and you will know that he is your beloved.”
 
When Lucy stopped speaking, the thunder stopped and the breeze stilled. Clouds remained overhead, warning of a storm yet to come. “Way to go, Lucy, that was the most generic reply you could have given me… I don’t really feel all that much better,” Aimee said, trying to still her quivering lip and fighting the tears that filled her eyes. One managed to escape, and Lucy wiped it away with her thumb.
 
“I know it sounds generic, beautiful one. But you have to trust me. If you like, I can simply give you a hug and be silent with you if it helps you grieve better?”
 
Aimee sniffled and nodded, moving to sit next to the slender Italian. “It’s hard to hug this way,” she commented with a quiet laugh.
 
“I can make it easier, if you like?”
 
When Aimee nodded, Lucy got up and sat behind her, positioning Aimee between her knees and wrapping her arms around her. Aimee stiffened, but Lucy said, “Just let go. You need this, beautiful one. I just want to make you feel better.”
 
The Italian’s words hit Aimee and she did let go, letting the tears fall down her cheeks and sobs tighten her body. She knew Lucy was saying things to her, because that soft accent comforted her, but all she knew was the tension in her body that eased with each breath that dragged into and out of her lungs. She finally forced herself to take slower, deeper breaths and mopped her face with the sleeves of her pullover. She looked over her shoulder, feeling Lucy’s head leaning against her an enjoying the gentle pull of her friend’s fingers running through her hair.
 
Lucy lifted her head, but kept caressing Aimee’s hair as Aimee’s breathing slowed. Their eyes met, the hazel and mocha focusing on each other. Although there was no more thunder, a sudden lightning bolt sliced the sky, right over the two young women. Lucy smiled gently and Aimee gasped quietly, breathing faster. Lucy could feel the thumps of Aimee’s hard as the beating sped up, but remained quiet.
 
Taking three fast breaths, Aimee steeled her nerves and jumped in– she kissed Lucy’s lips, letting a few seconds pass before she broke the contact. She regained eye contact, surprised at her action.
 
“As I said before, bambina, I’m here to e whatever you need,” Lucy said, kissing Aimee’s shoulder.
 
“I felt the lightning,” Aimee said, feeling like a child stating the obvious. “It was inside, right when the lightning flashed overhead. Did you do it?”
 
“All I can do is pray that you find love, beautiful one. I sense things, I don’t create or change them. If you felt lightning, that’s the doing of your heart and of the Almighty.”
 
“But you said it would be when I saw him. You said ‘him’.”
 
“I said ‘him’ because you told me you are heterosexual. I did now know you could feel teh lightning for a female.”
 
“So I’m bisexual?”
 
“You may be. How do you feel?”
 
“All these things are running through my head, starring you and me… and I like them. I’m tryinig to replace you with a male, but you keep coming back.”
 
“Then you are bisexual. And the lighting was for me.”
 
“How do you feel about it?” Aimee asked, turning her body slightly so she could see Lucy’s expression.
 
“I believed I would be with a male, as well. But when you kissed me, I felt clean inside. My element is water, as I’ve told you before. I feel water where you feel lightning.”
 
“So we just fell in love with each other?”
 
Lucy chuckled. “Not in love. but we formed a bond that could lead to love, depending on how we treat it.”
 
“And if we don’t treat it like romance?”
 
“Our friendship will grow stronger.”
 
“What do you want to treat it as?”
 
“That is your choice, bambina. I have embraced the possibility of being bisexual. It is new to you.”
 
Aimee turned her head to the ocean, bot did not move her body away from Lucy’s. She thought for a few minutes and finally asked, “Would you be open to letting me try? With you?”
 
“I would lvoe to try with you, beautiful one. In fact, I was hoping that you would want to try.”
 
Settling back against Lucy adn putting her head back on Lucy’s shoulder, Aimee said, “I wouldn’t want to start it with anyone but you.” After a pause, she resumed, “I just realized something.”
 
“What’s that, bella?”
 
“When I first met you, I really wanted you to like me. Do you think that was a crush starting, and I thought it was just a thought becaust I didn’t know I’m bi?”
 
“It may have been. I know I felt a spark when I met you, as well. That may also be why I feel a particular spark in your aura. We can certainly find out.”
 
“So are we in a relationship now?”
 
“I leave the decision to you.”
 
“Well I know it’s not a rebound, because it’s been a month since Jeff. And we know a lot about each other. I think it would be good.”
 
“Aimee.”
 
“Yeah?” Aimee said, suddenly feeling dread, as if Lucy was about to tell her bad news.
 
“I would be honored if you would accept me as your romantic partner.”
 
Aimee’s heart beat fast again, and she took a deep breath to try to calm it. She nodded and said, “I would like to be your girlfriend.”
 
Lucy wrapped her arms around Aimee, bringing their bodies even closer. “I’ll treat you as nothing less than a goddess, bella.”
 
“All I ask is that you’re patient with me. This is a first for me.”
 
“I know. I’ll let you tell me what you need and I will do everything I can to meet those needs.”
 
“I need to feel sure.”
 
“Well, I can’t help you to be sure.”
 
“Yes, you can.”
 
“How, love? Tell me and I will do it.”
 
“Love me.”
 
“I already have feelings for you.”
 
“That’s not what I mean.”
 
“You need physical affection?”
 
Aimee paused. “Yes.”
 
“Then let us go back to my room and I will love you.” And remember, if at any point you feel that we are moving too fast, you may tell me no.”
 
“No, I want this. I want to be with you.”
 
Lucy put her hands on Aimee’s ribs and guided her forward to give herself room to stand. She held Aimee’s hand, waiting to help her up. Aimee stood up, tightinging her grip when lucy tried to let go of her hand. “I like holding hands with my significant other.”
 
Smiling, Lucy re-tightened her grip and brought their hands up to kiss Aimee’s knuckles.
 
“I’ve never been to your room before,” Aimee observed as they walked the short distance to the beach-front property. “You’ve always come to mine.”
 
“My room is even more splendid than yours.”
 
“Understandable, your family owns the hotel,” Aimee said with a laugh. “What about your brother?”
 
“He is out of town today through the end of the week.”
 
“With Angelo?”
 
“I believe so. Purely business, however. Luca does not favor Angelo any longer.”
 
“I wouldn’t either. I’m surprised Luca hasn’t killed him in his sleep.”
 
“He has considered taking revenge on my account. But the Almighty frowns upon revenge. We trust that the Almighty will give Angelo ‘his just desserts’ as you Americans say.”
 
“Well, I’m here to help you get over Angelo, too, you know. Now that we’re… in a relationship.”
 
“Thank you, bambina. I believe we will be good for each other. We have both been scalded by the heat of romance recently.”
 
“I love how eloquent you are with words.”
 
“It is the difference in the words Italians choose versus the words Americans choose. Italians have slang words, too, of course, but Americans are always looking for new colloquial ways to speak to eaach other. I am simply more comfortable speaking in a proper manner.”
 
“When I go back home, I hope I will have picked up that habit from you. It’s a big difference compared to how people at home talk.”
 
“When do you go back home?”
 
Aimee stumbled, as if the realization that she wasnt’ staying in Italy forever had become a stone for her to trip over. “I’m supposed to be back in January.”
 
Lucy let her eyes drift to the path they walked on, dismayed at the thought.
 
“Well, you never know. I really do love Italy. I might decide to stay. January is still eight months away, Luce.”
 
“I know, bella. And I will enjoy every moment I have with you whether you stay or go back home.”
 
Aimee stepped closer to Lucy, putting her arm around the Italian’s waist and caressing her ribs. “It’ll be alright. I’m going to put a lot of thought into it, and we’ll see how things end up. For now, you’re right, we need to enjoy every moment we have. Okay?”
 
Lucy smiled , nodded, and reached across herself to cup Aimee’s cheek in her hand again.
 
They reached the hotel just in time before the rain started, fat drops of water falling from the ash-gray clouds and spotting the sand until there were no dry spots. It continued, as if the goal was to create new rivers among the beachside buildings. Lucy’s and Luca’s room was on the top floormore secure than the other rooms in the hotel.
 
“I love hearing the rain here. It’s like it echoes on all the buildings even though the ocean is out there to grab the sound away,” Aimee said, waiting for Lucy to unlock the door and let them in.
 
Holding the door open, Lucy gestured to Aimee to enter the room first, and Aimee smiled shyly and looked at the floor as she walked past her new partner.
 
“I told you, beautiful one, nothing less than a goddess.”
 
Aimee let her feet carry her around the room, noticing the personal effects stored throughout the room, indicating that this truly was their residence instead of a temporary room. Without knowing why, she suddenly missed her dog and wished that furry baby would bound up to her out of nowhere, ready to welcome her home.
 
“I can take you back to your apartment, beautiful one, if you wish to see your dog?”
 
“No, Luce, I’m alright, I can see her later. But how did you know that that’s what I was thinking?”
 
“I felt a change in your aura that indicated missing someone close to you, and I took a peek into your thoughts and saw the face of your dog.”
 
“You can read my thoughts?”
 
“Only sometimes, and only voluntarily. It is a new ability that I discovered only recently, about two weeks ago. I would never do it frequently, love.”
 
“I didn’t think you would. I was just surprised that you can. What else can you do?”
 
“”There are many things I can do that do not come to mind at the moment, and I’m not sure that you are ready to hear them. I think it would be best to let you find out as we go along, so that you are not overwhelmed. Does that make sense?”
 
“Yeah, it does. I think that’s a good idea. Um, so I was just thinking, now that we’re in a relationship, I was wondering if we’re going to use pet names or… whatever. I mean, I know you call me ‘beautiful one’ and things like that, but more intimate things like ‘honey’ or ‘sweetheart’ or whatever.”
 
“You may call me whatever you like, love. Is there something you would prefer that I call you?”
 
“Actually, I’ve always wanted someone to call me ‘querida.’ I know it’s Spanish, but it’s always been a fantasy of mine. Other than that, it’s whatever you like, and I’ll tell you if I don’t like something?”
 
“I can do that, querida. Italian and Spanish share many phonemes, so it isn’t a problem. In fact, I like that word.”
 
“Is there something you would love for me to call you?”
 
“Whatever you are comfortable with, as well, precious one. I don’t want to rush you or make any requests as of yet.”
 
“Okay. Thank you… honey.”
 
Lucy smiled in response.

“The Suicide Note”

I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Jasmine.

In the rear view mirror, there was only blackness. In fact, all there was around me was blackness. That’s how I wanted it. If it had been light, that would have meant that the garage door was open. No, for this, the garage door had to be closed. I had even sealed up the hole through the wall where the dryer vent opened to the outside so there was no ventilation at all.

I loved the car I was sitting in. It was basically the only thing that was truly loyal to me. But even that was because I took care of the machine’s needs. Every leak, every scratch, tires, fluids– they were all meticulously attended to. I wanted the purr of the engine to sound like a plea for me not to do what I had planned. But all it sounded like was the throaty growl of the machine’s need to run. My cell phone was on the console next to me and I kept looking at it, almost hoping someone would call and tell me something that sounded like they appreciated me. But nothing came. I ran my hand over the Challenger’s leather seats and the dashboard, as if I was saying goodbye. I didn’t know how long it would take for the carbon monoxide and other gases to fill the garage to a lethal level, but I hoped it didn’t take very long.

Actually, I lied earlier. There was one other thing that was truly loyal to me besides the car. And that thing’s name was Jasmine. She was so beautiful, and she always did her best to make me feel better when someone would treat me like garbage. I always had a suspicion that she wanted something out of me, but over time it faded, and I knew that she really cared for me. I almost felt guilty for wanting to go through with…. I couldn’t even think of what I was doing. It was just… The Plan. I couldn’t bring myself to think of what I was about to do. I was just going to let it happen now. But a part of me felt guilty for doing this to Jasmine. I didn’t know how much she loved me, but if she loved me at all, this would hurt her. A lot. She seemed like she honestly did love me though. But even all the love she gave me wasn’t enough to soften the full force of the pain I felt from how the world treated me.
Then the phone rang. It was Jasmine. I picked up the phone and hit the “send” button. As always, she didn’t let me talk much, but it was so good to just hear her voice. When she finally stopped talking, I realized that she was waiting for a response.
“What?”
“Pay attention, crazy boy,” she said, and I could hear the smile in her voice. “I asked if you wanna go to get a McFlurry with me, I’m craving one so bad!”
I turned off the car’s engine. And sat there for a second in silence. I was… actually relieved that she called.
“Helloooooo?”
“I’d love to. Pick you up in twenty?”
“All riiiiight!”
“See you soon, beautiful.”
I hit the button on the remote to open the garage door. Got out of the car and went into the house to shower really quick. I couldn’t smell anything on me, and as far as I know, the gases that come out of a car’s exhaust are odorless, but I couldn’t have Jasmine thinking that I was trying to do anything. So I went to pick her up and when we got to McDonald’s, I bought her the McFlurry. I owed it to her for almost leaving her today. I know she didn’t know what I was doing, but I owed it to her. While we sat there, she leaned against me and I could smell her vanilla body wash, like she had just gotten out of the shower, too.
She talked about a bunch of things that were going on with her other friends, and she knew I was only half paying attention, but that was how it always was. She and I both knew that she just liked to vent about what was going on and that I was only supposed to listen and cuddle her when she stopped talking.
“The sun’s starting to go down,” she said, pulling her feet up onto the seat as she cuddled in closer to me. She leaned her head back so she could whisper in my ear, “Let’s go out to The Spot and make out while the sun sets.”
I smiled and nodded, gently pushing against her so she’d get up. She took my hand, like she was leading me back to my own car. We drove out to a somewhat remote spot and I made sure there weren’t any cars close enough to us to see anything. She loved to sit in my lap in the car, with her knees bent over the center console and her feet on the passenger seat. If it had been anyone else, I would have been furious about shoes on my seat. But Jasmine, she could get away with murder.
That night was amazing, even though all we did was make out. She and I had lost our virginity to each other already, but we didn’t do anything much that night. When I dropped her off at home, she wanted me to come in and put her to sleep and just leave through the garage, and I did. I cuddled her and ran my fingers through her hair and kissed her shoulder until I felt her body relax and her breathing even out. And I left when I knew she was asleep deep enough that I wouldn’t wake her.
I drove home in complete silence, remembering the feeling of her body on my lap, her hands on my face and then arms around my neck and how soft her lips were. I couldn’t help but smile.
My phone rang again the next day, which was the day before yesterday. I was scared that something had happened with Jasmine like she got sick or someone broke in to her house or whatever. But the number was one I didn’t recognize. I picked up, curious as to who had the wrong number this time. But it was actually someone I knew. I knew her very well. Her name was Carina. She was one of the popular ones at school. And she always gave me a hard time, but she had left me alone after we graduated.
But she called that night, thinking that I could laugh about all the things they did to me. All it did was remind me that people are cruel. And I made up my mind.
I’m going to call Jasmine and have her come over tomorrow, even though I wish I could do it tonight. But she’s busy tonight. I know it’s going to kill her, but I want her to be there when I do it. I don’t want to die alone. JASMINE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR MY SUICIDE. I’m doing this because I can’t handle being here anymore. I love you, Jasmine, but I can’t stand to live anymore.

John
16 June 2011, 6:49 pm
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s obviously hard to hear when someone commits suicide. You just think about how bad things must have seemed for them to see no other way out. Only the most morbidly curious ask how the deceased person committed suicide, but I find myself one of those people. I won’t go out of my way to find out, of course, but I do like to know when it was someone I was close to. somehow I always find myself wondering how the next of kin finds the guts to clean up the mess. I mean, if the deceased used a gun or slashed their wrists, there’s a huge mess to clean up. Same possibility with pills I guess, if there was vomiting before the death. I can’t imagine walking into a room expecting someone to be going about their usual activities but finding them with half their head missing, brains on the wall, and a gun in one hand. Or a body’s worth of blood all over the bathroom or their bedroom. Are there cleaning companies that specialize in cleaning messes that dead people have left behind, to take the emotional burden off the kin? I can imagine that there should be… I’m sure thousands of suicides and murders happen every day across the country.

But anyway, I’m getting off track. I got on this subject because I found out the hard way about the suicide of someone I loved very much. His name was John. Actually… he did it right in front of me. I had been close to him for several years, so I knew that he worried a lot. he spent money and then worried about something happening that would require the money he had just spent, like a health issue or something. A lot of people made fun of him because he was born with cleft palate and he had the surgery to fix it, but people still made fun of him. When he and I started getting close, he called me his angel. He always told me that I was the one who kept him sane because I loved him and treated him like he deserved to be treated. Actually… we fell in love. We were dating. Everyone thought I was too pretty for him but I knew that he was the one for me. I would have done…. anything…. to make him feel as special as he really was. He and I lost our virginity to each other.

But one day when he and I were hanging out at his house, he told me this girl had gotten intact with him. I thought he was going to tell me that he was going to leave me for her, but he just kept talking. She had been the one to lead the pack when it came to making fun of him, but she started leaving him alone when we graduated high school. But I guess she decided she wanted to reminisce. she called him and wanted to talk and laugh about all the mean things she and the others did to him in high school. I don’t know how she got his number, but she did, and must have thought he would be able to look back on it and laugh, just like she was able to do.

I was so angry with her. i couldn’t’ believe she had the balls to do something like that. I talked to him, to try to make him realize that some people are just stupid and what they say isn’t worth a listen, much less a second thought. He was so anxious, and when I tried to hug him, I saw that he was hiding something behind his back, but I couldn’t’ really see what it was.

He got really quiet for a few minutes, and I didn’t want to push him. but I could tell that he was replaying whatever she said in his head, feeling the pain all over again. I just knew that’s what he was doing/

I wanted so badly to help him, but this was his choice– to just replay those words over and over again.

Suddenly, he spoke to me. It kind of startled me, actually. He said, “The note’s under my pillow.” At that moment, I didn’t’ realize that he meant The Note. Like, in capitals. I didn’t’ realize what he wanted to do. I got up from where I was sitting to look for the mote he mentioned, and when I turned around, he had the gun’s muzzle up against the center of his head, under his chin. I tried to knock the gun out of his hand, but he was ready for me. He pulled the trigger as soon as I moved, blowing a hole upwards through the top of his head. He had come into this world with a part of his face missing, and he left his world the same way.

All I could do for a minute was stare at what was left. … There was a star-burst pattern of blood, and he had blown his brain to bits. I looked down at myself to see if I had any blood on me, but I didn’t. The force of the bullet took the mess back against the wall behind him,.

I kept staring at what was left, but I got my wits about me and called 911. I couldn’t breathe right, so I had to try a few times before the operator could understand what I was telling her.

The cops and an ambulance showed up pretty soon after I called 911, going by the time I made the call and the time it was when they showed up. I know because I was looking through his phone’s call record when they got there, There was only one unsaved number in the record, and it had to be hers. The one who pushed him to the edge. I memorized her number and his his phone closed and the note ready when they knocked on the front door. I opened it for them and led them to the room where his body was.

I wasn’t surprised when they told me to put my hands up, turn around, and spread my legs so they could pat me down and put me in handcuffs. I told them about the note and his phone, which I had put on his bed. The police put both in evidence bags.

They took me to the regional police station and put me in an interrogation room. They asked me exactly what happened and I told them. The officer who was leading the interrogation seemed to believe what I told the,. He asked if I had read the suicide note. When I said no, he took the iPad that was on his lap and pulled up the picture he had apparently taken of the note.

He brought his chair closer to mine, putting the iPad in front of me. I read the note and I was… to say the least, heartbroken. The first thing he wrote was that he was sorry. Typical of a suicide note, as I understand it. But then he said he did it while I was there because he didn’t’ want to die alone. He also wrote how he loved me, but that he just couldn’t go on and went on to tell why he couldn’t handle life anymore.

He had dated the note and put the time on it, and the officer asked me what I was doing on that day. I was at my little cousin’s choir recital. The officer left, presumably to call around and verify my alibi. When he returned, it was to remove the handcuffs from me and explain that there were pictures of me at the recital that someone emailed to him. they knew that I could not have coerced John into writing the note that assured police that I had not killed him and simply made it look like a suicide. I was free to go, and the officer even offered to give me the number of a local psychiatrist who specialized in grief counseling.

I refused and asked when I could return to John’s house to clean the remains of blood from his room. He told me that the crime investigation team would have the body removed by the next morning and that I could go back in the evening. He asked if I had a key to the house.

I told him I’d had a key to John’s house since high school, and thanked him for his help. I drove home in silence, half conscious because of grief and shock. I made it home safely, and I immediately went to bed. But I couldn’t’ sleep. all my brain wanted to do was replay the image of John’s suicide over and over. I called my boss in the morning and she allowed me to take a sick day. I stayed in ed all day, just… staring at my ceiling.

I decided to call the girl who had called him to reminisce. When she answered, she sounded a little tipsy. I knew what would sober her up. Three words. “John killed himself.” There was so much more that I wanted to say, but I decided it would be better to just keep it at those three words. She didn’t say anything, but I knew the line was still open because I could hear things happening in the background. She asked me to repeat myself, and I did. I told her what he told me, and that it was in his note that thinking about all the things that happened to him were a big part of why he did it, because he felt like things like that were just going to keep happening. She asked me if I thought it really was her fault. I told her the truth– she had a very big part in it, because he had seemed okay up until that call. He was kind of a loner, but he was starting to think that the people who made fun of him were going to leave him alone. It wasn’t all her fault, but she really screwed with his head. She didn’t really have anything to say after that. I’m just glad I got to tell her what happened before she found out on the news or through the grapevine. I hung up and went back to my ceiling-staring.

I didn’t know I loved him as much as I did until he left that gaping hole in my heart. I think that’s how I got the cuts to clean up. I wanted him to be able to move on. Maybe it was my one last act of love for him– to tie up the remaining loose ends in the hope that he could rest in peace.