During our final forum for the semester, the talented Rosie Dunne presented her short story titled Loop. It’s a story of love and pain and the necessity of keeping your head up in times of trouble. Read it below.
I like to trace my fingers in circular motion. A loop, a routine, a habit of making everything in life repetitive, constant, non-stop. Something about going around, and round, and round, relaxes me.
In the morning, I begin my day submerging myself in the smell of washy coffee as I trace the perimeter of the cheap plastic lid on a travel cup, looking outside the coffee shop’s cloudy window at the people running in circle, chasing the ticking clock. My wretched mind would pick a memory, a time, years ago, to start my day off with, just in case I let myself feel too happy on a vacant Monday.
Years ago, I let the last person I ever loved inside my lonesome space the day I kicked him out of it. We were sitting face to face, both had one foot out the door. My sweaty finger nervously traced the edge of a wine glass, and, having been a too tipsy for a Monday night, I seemed like I was about to flick it flying over the other side of the bar. I kept on trying to trace the line anew, still, so that the loop would continue, though it was then already an imperfect loop. The two of us, however, we have crossed the end of the line. I’d always known that we were too perfect to last. The loop never existed at all to be missed. When there’s no conflict, there is no reconciliation and growth. We grew apart faster than we fell in love.
“I really am sorry,” I broke the silence. And he looked away, with his crystal clear eyes shattered by tears. I broke him – a kind, warm and smart man, and a man who put me first mentally, physically, in every way he could. All I felt was drunk and bored. I was one of those people who were addicted to flaws and broken-ness, of others’ and of my own. He was just an average boy who fell for a girl who was offbeat. I tried convinced myself that his love for me was logical and enough, but that only made the moment I realized it was not broke me even more.
“No, you’re not,” he whispered. I loved his voice, the warmth in his presence and the way he looked at me with endearment and admiration as if I was magic. Then I found imperfection in that perfection, somehow, to flee from the fear of being loved. Looking up at this obnoxiously wholesome person, the sunshine and rainbow all flickering out of his ass and his pointless devotion to this wholesome girl he wanted me to be, that moment, I hoped so badly that he would choke on his own happiness and die so that I wouldn’t have to become a criminal.
After breakfast, I drive to work, my hands drawing invisible circle around the steering wheel. What a feeling it is, to just be with yourself, when the silence speaks the loudest. The wind from my rolled down window drives my hair insane. I haven’t felt this free since a sweaty summer from a few lives ago. It was high school. My friends and I circled our small town’s coastline in our flat bike tires, climbed up a large rock by the shore, cutting ourselves on its sharp edges and our ignorance. As I looked at these people who I thought I could never go a day without, a sense of hope washed over me, and I wished we could stand here forever, to be young and be happy in our own terms. But the progression of time yields the quiet terrors that are change and separation. I could still hear their going-through-puberty voices when I’m alone – the boys who have now grown up to be fathers, soldiers, sad, alcoholic, dead. A time when all we ever wanted to be was together in that recurrence of time, wobbling in our bikes going about the sea – it replays in my head, each time like a karate chop of reality reminiscing the day I chose to leave them behind. The friends who had shown me loyalty, who surrounded and adored me, kept me company, protected me from my own self, rushed to my side like fairy godmothers, I wish I could have saved them.
One day you could be walking along the pavement of the small town where you grew up, where no one cares who you are now or why you’re here, and you’ll realized that something inside of you is missing. The people you once knew and treasured, you no longer do. The places where you were once happy, they break you down instead. That is when you begin to see how important nothing is. Not in the sense that nothing is important, but that having nothing reveals the value in the things you do not have the moment you have them. That, is when you realize you’re older, or worse, that you were young once.
I have always known since I was little that things end, that eventually, the kiddie ride will run out of coins and we will soon forget what happened at that one defining moment, how we felt and why we remember it at all. I don’t talk or think about the person I was because it scares me how the life I lived before now has become a fiction piece written by someone else and not me. Still, the cotton candy has melted, the damage is done. All we can do is tell and retell the stories until they become different ones, so that we can learn and accept the changes within. When I think back at the people in the past who have left me with a depth of compassion and love I would never admit that I deserve, I am reminded that reaching the end unlocks the door for something new. We are not to be limited by any aspects of our lives that we have left behind, or even the ones that have yet to come. Life goes on a constant loop and not on replay. It is waking up in the morning knowing that there is not one thing that you can not be, or one thing you can not feel. It is change. It is opportunity, knowing that spring comes after the snow has melted, and that you can always find a chance to start anew, to live boldly, to love and be loved all over again.