Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Stolen

Wrapped in a faded beach towel, I sit by the lake for the last time.  The lengthening shadows of the trees behind me creep beyond the point where shore and small waves meet, spilling onto the surface of the water, and I realize that I've been here, on this patch of grass, for quite some time.  I’m cold, and a shiver presses through my wet hair, all the way down to the tips of my toes.

The thoughts I am lost in take me back to a certain summer, the memories still so vivid in my mind.  Like black silhouettes against white paper.  It was the summer after my second year of college.  The summer  I met him.  Liquid blue eyes and a straw colored crew cut.   Ocean and sand.  I’d singled him out from the group of other swimmers who were gathered at the lake, and shyly I realized that I had been noticed as well.  By late afternoon we  were sharing  ice cream and holding  hands. 

Several nights later, I began to get the phone calls.  A voice over the line, her voice, whispering the warning I would come to know so well.   Stay away from things that don’t belong to you. Followed by a click, and then silence.

I knew her, even though we’d never met.  She was the girl who had been his girl, and had been replaced-and she was devastated.  She’d made plans for the two of them, sketched out a future that she saw as their destiny.  Baked him cookies, and knit him sweaters.  I was nothing but a thief.  All  summer long, she continued to call me.  The same whispering voice, and the same warning.  The same pitiful attempt to stake a claim on a heart that was no longer hers.  I felt sad, more than threatened.

I  stand up and brush off my bare legs, polka dotted with small bits of dried grass that have stuck to my skin.  The surface of the lake has grown dark, and in the fading daylight I see the glint of a silvered trout as it jumps, as though suddenly afraid of the deep, cold depths of its home.  I’m urging myself to leave this place as well.   I’ve done what I came here to do.  Swim one last time in this water.  The same water that was so deeply shadowed the last time he swam in it that it swallowed everything.

And fate decided he would belong to no one.

 

 

La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have.

I wrote this last summer, and decided to repost it for this prompt because it fits so well.  While I’ve taken a few artistic liberties with the facts as they were, this is based on a true story.

When I was a college student, my group of friends included the music majors, and there was among us a very gifted young bass player named Jeff.  At the time I met him, I learned that he’d ended a long time relationship months earlier, and that his former girlfriend would not let him go.  Jeff was frustrated both by her inability to move on-and at the same time, continue to act as though they were still together.  Sadly, the summer after my sophomore year I was stunned to learn that Jeff had drowned in a nearby lake that students often frequent on warm weather days and nights.

I’ve wondered, from time to time, what became of that girl-how she could possibly ever come to terms with the reality of truly never being able to have Jeff.  I ‘m sure she was devastated. 

It’s also sad that I can’t remember her name.

writing prompt

28 comments:

  1. This was so sad! But I think it is a fitting tribute to a boy of summer. Well done!

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  2. I thought I had read this one! Glad I'm not crazy. I loved it the first time and again the second. Though sad there is a real feeling that she communed with him here, that she was able to say good-bye. How dark we both were this week.

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    1. We were, my friend, weren't we! I'm so glad to be an admirer of yours:)

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    1. Lisa-I was so shocked at the time. I couldn't believe he was really gone either.

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  4. Oh I LOVE your writing, it ripped my heart out reading your explanation. That is the power of the pen for me. Sad and true:( B

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    1. Hugs B. I'm so thankful for you and your sweet comments:)

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  5. What a touching, powerful, gripping story. I was hanging on your every word! I am very sad to hear that it was rooted in truth. That must have been such a hard time for his friends and family, especially the girl in love who couldn't let him go. I've never heard of the French term La Douleur Exquise but it's something many people (French or not) know all too well at some point in their lives.

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    1. Tammy-you are so right. I bet everyone has experienced heartbreak at some point. I hope this girl (and I wish I could remember her name!) found happiness:) Thanks for your touching comment:)

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  6. This was heart breaker, both the fiction and the story behind it.

    I liked how you presented the other girl. You did a good job of making her slightly creepy, but yet also showing her own feeling of despair. That shows good character development to me. You didn't give me the "jealous woman;" you also gave me the bereaved woman who was losing someone she loved.

    Well done AGAIN:~)

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    1. Sara-thanks so much-and well done back at you! I'm still giggling over your wonderful story:)

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  7. How very bittersweet... a man wanted by so many and swallowed by the sea. (And I hope that the real life ex finally managed to move on... )

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    1. I hope so too:) Thanks for commenting each week-I appreciate it!

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  8. This story is so tragic, but you tell it beautifully. This: "The same water that was so deeply shadowed the last time he swam in it that it swallowed everything."

    Perfect.

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  9. the boys of summer. We never forget them, do we? Lovely tribute, lovely post.

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    1. SKD-thanks! I appreciate your comments too!

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  10. Awh Valerie! What a lovely story in that you have the wisdom now to see it in it's fullness. Thank you for MMD!!! [making my day] That was so sweet to read that you look forward to my info/posts. BIG HUG FOR YOU!!!! (( BIG HUG )) I too was busy yesterday. But I shall be here a ton today. I need my blog-bug high!!!!!!/fix!!!!!!

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    1. ooops, not bug - bud! as in buddies. not bug! dang it!

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    2. Renae-we can be blog bugs! It's cute:)

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  11. I read this last year, and the second reading is even more poignant.

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    1. Dawn, thanks! I always love your thoughts on my writing:)

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  12. How tragic -- and so much more so because it was based on reality. The image of the darkening lake is haunting.

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    1. Annabelle-even to this day that lake scares me. Thanks for your comment!

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  13. First off, the fact this was based on a true story is so tragic. Second, you once again did a fabulous job drawing a picture of a world - a nostolgic, simple world - filled with complex people I'd want to meet.

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  14. I remember this one, but I didn't remember there being a true story woven into the fiction! Thanks for sharing the backstory, Valerie!

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  15. I thought this was very well done - very understated. Gentle but sad.
    The backstory was a good read too!

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