It was a Friday morning that felt much like every other day. Or, so I thought. However, this Friday would be the one that changed my life forever. If only an angel would have stepped from the sky to wrap her wings around my heart and prevent the hurt from the devastating blow that was about to irrevocably change my world.
I shimmied around on the towel, hoping I’d find a cool spot and feel more comfortable. The heat was scorching and my pasty white ass wasn’t getting tan, just more and more burnt with each passing minute. I plugged my ears with my headphones and turned on some music to pass the time. Mitch would be here in a couple of hours and I wanted to spend the rest of my alone time enjoying the solitude.
Mitch was a ‘grade A asshole’. I’d never understood why I stayed with him. I pictured him pulling up in the truck, honking his horn, and yelling at me for lying around outside in my bikini. Somewhere along the line, someone convinced him that women were made to be slaves. We were meant to please the man, feed the man, and take care of the man. Apparently, I wasn’t living up to his expectations. We fought more times in a day than most couples do in their lifetime together. My knight in shining armor never rode in and saved the day. I was only blessed with bad sex, in the back of Mitch’s truck, on a clay road near the woods. I laughed, realizing my life was even shittier than it sounded.
When I could no longer stand the sting of the sun against my skin, I jumped up, grabbed my towel, and jogged towards the house. I’d spend the rest of my time enjoying popsicles and movies. I flipped the switch on the radio, turning on whatever sounded the most upbeat. My lips curved into a smile when a classic roared through the speakers. I danced around the kitchen pulling out whatever felt cold to the touch from the fridge. I pressed a cool pickle jar against my cheek.
I danced my way to the bedroom, pulling out clothes to slip on over my bathing suit. Mitch would be home and the last thing I wanted was a reason to argue. I felt a tightening in my stomach at the thought of him coming home. No one should live that way, no one should dread the time they spend with another person. I almost blamed my life on my mother, she convinced me true love didn’t exist and that Mitch was as good as it would get. He paid most of the bills since my job at the doctor’s office barely bought groceries and a phone card. I tapped my foot on the floor of my bedroom, piddling around, smelling my perfume, and organizing my makeup bag. I’d have to talk to my boss about picking up more hours, having a day off a week never really made sense to me. As if the weekends weren’t boring enough, I had to endure more time alone on Friday’s.
“Come here, Gizmo.” I whistled to my poodle who was curled up in a ball next to my nightstand. Gizmo lifted his head, acknowledging me once with a faint whimper. “Come here, you lazy old cow,” I demanded. “Damned old lazy dog.” I pouted and turned back around to look in the mirror. I pulled the hair bow from my long blonde hair, letting it fall back onto my shoulders. It had been a long time since I’d had a cut and from the looks of it, it needed it terribly.
More classics blared over the speakers, making movies seem even less interesting. I was far too caught up in the sound of the music and the way it lifted my spirits. “Shit!” I fussed when I noticed the time. Mitch would be here in an hour. “Gizmo?” I tried one last time before leaving the room.
“Left over spaghetti it is.” I grabbed the bowl from the fridge. I sat at our tiny little kitchen table and stuffed my face. I dabbed the corners of my mouth to wipe away the red sauce when I heard my cell phone vibrating across the room.
“Hey, Dad!” I answered.
“Hey… Hey, honey. How are you?” He hesitated speaking for a moment. I could hear in his voice that something was wrong.
“What’s up?” I swallowed back the fear that was rising with just the sound of his voice. His breaths were fast and I could hear him fighting back a cry.
“Listen, Sam, I want you to take a seat. I… I didn’t want to be the one to call you but I knew I had to.” He could no longer hold back the tears, he was sobbing, and I felt tears puddle up in my own eyes.
“Sam. Adam…” He trailed off, letting Adam’s name linger a little too long. I knew before he spoke the words that something was wrong.
“No! Please tell me he’s okay!” I begged.
“He was driving home and he was in an accident. He didn’t make it. I can’t talk about this right now. Call your mother.” I dropped the phone, no longer able to listen to his cries or hear another word about Adam. My chest tightened so much I could barely breathe. The whole room started to spin. I watched the picture frames on the wall pass by me over and over again like I was on a merry go round. I was nauseated from the lightheadedness.
“Adam’s dead…” I spoke the words aloud. Those were the last words I remembered saying before the world went black. I must have passed out for three or four minutes. I awoke to find myself lying on the ground. Lifting my head up as slowly as I could, I tried to focus on the clock in an effort to steady the spinning of the room. Once I was stable enough to again feel the stabbing pain in my chest, I reached for the phone. I couldn’t be alone. I punched through the contacts on my phone, stopping when I found Mitch’s name. I almost questioned whether the ringing in my ears was the sound of the phone or the sounds that my mind had created upon hearing the news.
“Yes, Sam, I’m working.” Mitch barked into the phone.
“I need you. If you love me at all you’ll come home now. Adam… Adam died!” I was frantic, screaming the words louder than I expected.
Mitch was silent for a moment. He stuttered a bit as he tried to speak “Look, I’m… I’m sorry but I’m working. I’ll talk to you when I get home.” I gripped my stomach, noticing the pain was even more intense. I was alone and the only one I was ever able to rely on was gone. I counted on Adam to be here. He was supposed to be here. The world couldn’t continue to spin if he wasn’t in it, not my world anyway. I dropped the phone back at my side, shoving it away.
“My God, this isn’t fair!” I screamed and pulled my knees up to my chest. The pain in my stomach was excruciating, I’d never experienced a pain quite as unbearable as this. I hugged myself as a last resort to sooth my aching need for comfort. I’d rather have come face to face with my worst nightmare than to feel the pain and emptiness that came along with a loss as great as this. As I lay there shivering from the chill and the agony, I heard Adam’s voice whisper in my ear. I questioned my own sanity.
“Adam?” I whispered.
More uncontrollable sobs echoed through the living room. His voice had been all in my mind; that’s the only place I’d ever hear or see him again. I closed my eyes as tight as I could to allow the image of his face to become clearer. I thought of him so hard, as if studying his features with my eyes closed would forever etch his face into my mind, where I wanted it. I never wanted to forget one single thing. Not his crooked smile or his bright blue eyes, or his pale skin that turned bright red from five minutes of exposure to the sun. I thought of the last conversation I’d had with him, which had only been days before.
“Hey, Bitch. Just calling to see what in the hell you were up to?” followed by pointless chatter and jokes. Most people who saw how we expressed our love to one another would have sworn we hated each other and that all our conversations were nothing but insulting remarks. But that’s just the way we were. Since we were children, we’d had a language of our own. It was different to ponder upon, weakening me in every way as I did. I struggled to my feet. Life would carry on and I would have to learn how to go on with it. Death didn’t grant you the ability to stop time to allow your mind and body a period to grieve. If I believed Mitch was the only person in my life ruining my chance of a happily ever after, I was in for a rude awakening. Life without Adam would be a living hell on earth. The next few hours— days really— seemed to trickle by in a blur. I attended the funeral. I remember cries that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Weeks passed. Mitch rarely spoke to me. He instead carried on with his normal routine; football and beer. Depression was setting in. I didn’t go to work and couldn’t eat anything. My life was upside down. I knew I had to pull myself out of this funk before I spiraled out of control. Lying down and giving up wasn’t an option. I decided to get the hell up and shower. I lingered in there for a good thirty minutes, trying my best to think of something positive. And then, it came to me… I’d write a poem for Adam and put it in the newspaper. Just a little something about how wonderful he was. I hadn’t prepared a eulogy or anything of the sort for his funeral. I just wasn’t myself enough to even think about it. It felt fantastic to have a good idea for once. This idea made me smile. Adam loved being the center of attention.