Life doesn’t always start with once upon a time.
Love doesn’t always end with happily ever after.
After spending five years with the love of my life, I did nothing to stop her from walking away. She had her reasons to leave. I had my reasons to stay. But a year later, the realization of loss hits me, and I’ll stop at nothing to fix it. I leave everything behind to drive across the country to win her back, and I refuse to accept anything other than fulfilling old promises.
But the only certainty in life is: nothing is as expected.
The most valuable lessons don’t often revolve around a fairytale ending—frequently, they come from hurt and healing. They come from the kind of personal growth love offers. The mending of your heart, your soul, and your life. And every once in a while, you find the greatest gifts in the packages you never expected to open.
I woke with the image of Layne burning hot in my mind, just as I had every morning this week. My dreams were so vivid, so clear, as if I’d relived that night all over again. The warmth of her palm heated mine, even now, nearly six years later. My hand burned as though she had actually held it while I slept, not in my dream. Like she’d been in my bed with me. But I knew that wasn’t the case.
It was nothing more than the never-ending remorse eating away at me.
I grabbed my phone off my bedside table and unlocked the screen. I knew not to expect it, but I still couldn’t let go of the hope she would return my call. However, my phone showed no missed calls or unread messages.
Layne was a fighter, stronger than anyone else I knew. She never gave up, no matter what her odds were, and it had become something I admired most about her. I couldn’t think of her without imagining the strong person I knew her to be.
I guess I never expected her to give up on us. To let me go.
Until she did.
As I gripped the phone in my hand, I thought about my dream, and then about that actual night. I remembered the easy laughs we’d shared, and the immediate connection we’d made. I’d never been so comfortable around someone so quickly before. I’d grown so used to staying focused, I’d hardly noticed anyone unless they were in my classes with me.
But I’d noticed Layne.
It was impossible not to.
I stood in front of my sink, holding my toothbrush as I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. I couldn’t remember the last time I looked at myself, truly took in my own appearance. I barely recognized who I was anymore. My life had been separated into two parts— the person who Layne had fallen in love with, and the person who had been left behind without her. The guy she loved had taken more pride in school, working toward a promising future, and making her happy. He’d cared about all that— mostly about her— more than he had his physical appearance.
I’d never been a scrawny guy, nor have I ever been overweight. I loved to exercise, but when I was with Layne, workouts typically included walks and hikes— anything I could do with Layne by my side. After she left, I found myself with more time on my hands. And so I’d spent that time in the gym.
The end result stared back at me.
To others, I probably seemed fit, ripped in the right places. Although, to me, I saw the truth beneath the surface. Behind layers of muscle was a man who had no one to come home to. Layne’s presence still occupied my heart, although her absence from my life had grown to the point of unbearable. Left without a reason to rush home after work, I passed the time working out. Instead of spending a lazy Saturday morning in bed, wrapped up in the sheets and Layne, I’d hit the weights. I had acquaintances, people I hung out with outside of work. Though I didn’t have the happiness being with Layne provided.
I shook off my dismal thoughts and squeezed some toothpaste on the wet bristles. If I didn’t stop obsessing over my past, I’d never make it to work on time. Picking apart and analyzing every aspect of where it all went wrong wouldn’t do me any good. It wouldn’t bring her back. It wouldn’t make her forgive me. Instead of changing the past, it would only feed the growing contrition.
I had to find a way to either fix it or let it go.
Memories of Layne had a way of squeezing me, choking me, leaving me unable to breathe. She hadn’t been just another person from my past or some ex-girlfriend to add to my list. She’d been someone.
I didn’t know if I could ever let it go.
About the Author
Leddy Harper had to use her imagination often as a child. She grew up the only girl in a house full of boys. At the age of fourteen, she decided to use that imagination and wrote her first book, and never stopped.
She often calls writing her therapy, using it as a way to deal with issues through the eyes of her characters.
She is now a mother of three girls, leaving her husband as the only man in a house full of females.
The decision to publish her first book was made as a way of showing her children to go after whatever it is they want to. Love what you do and do it well. Most importantly Leddy wanted to teach them what it means to overcome their fears.
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