Crumbling Embers

The obscenities continued to crash around inside of her head while her heart thrashed wildly as she replayed the chaos of the last 24 hours. The why and the how of it all seemed obtuse and unimportant while the real sadness lay ironically, in the manner in which it ended and not how it began.
Quite abruptly, his image came into view. The anger encompassed the incensed, unrecognizable face which had once held only smiles, love and concern for her. Hatred and disgust seeped from every pore on his body and his anger consumed him, whiles the sky outside, darkened like the bruises on her face. Doors slammed as things were packed and then stacked out on the porch. “Get out!” she shrieked.
“I’m going!” he shouted as he stormed around their once happy little home. Her hands trembled with anger and impatience and without warning, she began tossing the remnants of their 3 year relationship out on the front lawn while their loyal golden lab, Buster, cowered in the corner, unsure of whom to protect and who to respect.
Eventually, he snatched the car keys off the table, slipping in one last scathing “I hate you” as the door crashed behind him. Suddenly, there was silence and a peaceful calm came over the house. Standing there in the middle of the disheveled living room, she looked down at Buster, who stood wagging his tail and licking her hand as if to say it will be ok. Kneeling down to hug him, she wrapped her arms around the neck of the bewildered animal and as she did, the tears broke free in a kaleidoscope of blurred and desolate colors.
Opening her eyes the next morning, she quickly remembered that it was Thanksgiving and she had dinner to make. She turned over and was greeted by only an empty pillow alongside her own and the reality of yesterday’s madness came crashing down upon her. Peering through the blinds which covered her bedroom window, and past the barren branches of the oak tree in her yard, she could see the lavender colored sky and snow clouds approaching in the distance. Lost in quiet meditation, her thoughts drifted back to him, and she wondered what time he would come walking through the front door, embarrassed by his obnoxious behavior and armed with an arsenal of apologies and assurances. Smiling ever so slightly, at this all too common scenario, she pushed herself out of the bed to get ready for the day.
Washing her face in the sink, she winced as she accidentally touched the bruise on her cheek. The water, while rinsing away the eye makeup which had been ruined by her tears, did nothing for the pain and sadness she felt in her heart. Looking up, she paused long enough to make eye contact with the pitiful person in the mirror. The eyes were sad and empty and the easygoing smile was gone. I look so old, she whispered as her eyes traced the worry lines across her forehead, unconsciously dipping down to the gray hair slightly hidden between the chestnut colored hairs at her temples. Shaking her head in gloomy disgust, she grabbed a towel off the rack and wiped away all of the unhappiness from the previous night.
Heading into the comfort of her well organized kitchen, she began the ritual of preparing the Thanksgiving feast; trimmed down of course, since her daughters had both moved away to different cities with their families to begin traditions of their own. They had, of course, each invited their mother to spend the holidays with them, but she had declined, not wanting to leave her lover behind. The girls had never developed any sort of attachment to the man who shared their mother’s house. There was no respect, regard or admiration coming from either direction, so holidays had been rather quiet these past few years.
Sighing, she began to prepare the bird along with her homemade pecan stuffing, as her eyes kept a watch for his car to pull up into the driveway. The hours of the afternoon slipped by as the house filled with the delicious aroma of roasted turkey and hot pumpkin pie and she became increasingly anxious for his expected return. Feeling a bit of a chill, she decided to light a fire in the wood stove and smiled as the seasoned wood began to crackle. She set the table and spread the mini marshmallows across the brown-sugared yams, which were his favorite and then once again, she waited.
Eventually, the feast was ready and there was no more time for waiting. Hanging on to her faith in holiday miracles, she began to place the carefully prepared dishes of steaming food on the table. Settling into her chair, she reached over and lit the white dinner candles and proceeded to wait. An hour drifted past as both plates sat empty and the food sat untouched and cold. Eventually the flames on the candles winked out as the logs on the fire crumbled into crimson embers; and still she sat, staring at the empty chair across from her. As she sat in total stillness, she felt the pieces of heart crumble inside of her chest and just like that, she knew it was over.
She stood up, pulling her sweater over her shoulders, she walked over to the frosted window. Casting her warm breath on the glass, she cleared a spot and stared at the perfect moon, surrounded by a thousand twinkling stars and watched in total silence as the first snow of the season dusted the trees in her yard. Unexpectedly, a sense of peaceful gratitude encompassed her and as a final tear slid from the corner of her eye, she realized that seasons changed and people changed too. Endings lead to new beginnings and so is the essence of life.
Realizing there would be lonely days, and sleepless nights, she knew that she was about to embark on a brand new adventure and she would be ok. After all, she had weathered worse storms. The years had blessed her with strength, bravery and resolution but most of all the courage to travel the journey ahead.
Tonight as she lay alone in her king size bed, drowning in its sheets, she would take a deep breath, close her eyes and dream about all of the intense possibilities of tomorrow as she allowed her fragile heart the time and space it needed to mend.
~Alana Marie

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