Do you remember the time we held hands, laughing with one another as we walked along the rolling meadows beyond Mr. Charles’ farm? Do you remember that beautiful white sundress I saved up all summer to get you, complete with a matching hat? Whatever happened to that hat? I really liked the way that hat looked on you. Times were better, and you seemed so happy then. Where did we go wrong?
Times haven’t been the same since the war; it seemed like the whole town changed after it was over. There were casualties, yes, but it seemed as though our quiet little town lost its innocence. People stopped trusting one another like they used to. We came together as a nation to defeat the enemy, but seemingly at the cost of local peace and unity.
I miss those happier times. You weren’t the same after your dad came home. Something he must have seen over there changed him forever, and I saw how it tore your family apart. Soon your brother got arrested with a few other youths dealing drugs on the other side of town, your mom started abusing painkillers, and with your dad unable to let go of the bottle, you started to acquiesce to the lifestyles we both vowed to rebuke without a thought.
Soon, even you turned your back on me and skipped town for a while. But even before then, my steadfast love for you remained through it all. Maybe you had to leave, I don’t know. But I stood by your side through all the domestic situations and police visits. You meant the world to me, and I refused to let you slide.
But you had other plans. You stopped coming to bible study with me. Soon, you even stopped coming to church altogether. On Sunday afternoons, when we always had our special weekend lunches at Wentworth’s Diner, our table for two eventually became a table for one. It reached the point where Mr. Wentworth himself, who knew everyone in town, started to frequent my table and ask questions when I started having those lunches by myself, even offering me meals on the house after witnessing how haggard I became without you with me. I even cried there once, all alone in the little corner of the café.
It was a bitter day. You had just finished unleashing a tirade of angry words at me, concluding with the words “pathetic wimp,” before departing from our booth to meet some new friends outside who were heading to the football game that evening. All I had done was warn you about the company you started to keep on the side. By then, your whole appearance had changed.
Your hair had by now become bleached blonde from the beautiful brunette curls I once used to tussle during our play-fights, your clothing choices had darkened significantly—possibly as a reflection of your soul—and the modest, humble Jeannette I had loved so dearly my whole life had seemingly vanished into the heartbroken memories of years past. It had reached the point where you finally stopped returning my calls and messages after you had finally gone away.
But imagine my surprise when, one dark and stormy night in September, I found you at my doorstep bearing the marks of a vicious beating, the culprit long since gone. Why, after all those years of radical change and social abandonment, you came to me that day, I will never know.
But do you remember?
I took you into my home, washed and bandaged your wounds, held your now strawberry-red hair back as you vomited for hours in my recently-purchased new toilet. I cooked you a meal I had learned to make during a long-forgotten Paris vacation, found you some clothes to wear, and even gave you my bed to sleep in, while I happily took the couch.
I remember hearing you crying yourself to sleep that night, and with every tear that escaped those beautiful hazel eyes of yours, it was as though a small dagger was driven into my heart. But I was just happy to see you again, even if it would be but for a brief moment. The next morning, I arose with the hope of a thousand Early Christians awaiting their Lord’s return, in order that I might cook a royal breakfast for the one whom, even after all that time spent apart, was a princess in my still-waking eyes.
But this budding happiness would be short-lived and soon put to rest—when I brought your breakfast to my room, I found, sadly, that you had escaped through the window and into the wind while I slept without so much as a “thank you.” For all I cared that morning, the window may as well have been shattered—at least that way; my glass heart would have had some company to share in its metaphorical misery.
Gone, you broke my heart again, and all I could do was weep as the Lord turned his ear towards my soul again, this time hearing yet another one of my mournful prayers for your safety. Those old wounds, long since finally engaging in the healing process, would mercilessly reopen, and nothing could shield me from the pain that accompanied their reintroduction into my world. So time marched on; I graduated college, finished law school, and passed the bar before your name even came up again.
I had become a prominent member in the community through my practice, making enough to where I was able to move into the city and still claim title to my childhood home. I even purchased the now-abandoned land upon which yours once stood. Someone had to—the banks had begun invading our small town, buying up lands and trying to evict its residents to develop modern shopping centers. I led the fight to defeat these unwelcome invaders, and once successful, the acclaim I would earn as a result propelled me to City Hall, completing a thirty-year journey in which I first arrived in town as an outcast among children, to Mayor.
But as Superman has his weaknesses, so did I. You still lingered in the back of my mind, invading my dreams and plaguing my weak heart with the possibility of a return, only to repeat past sins against my heart when the sun raised—dreams deferred. Under my leadership, our town saw an era of peace and prosperity not seen or felt since those wonderful days before the war. Men worked as men, women as women, and our schoolchildren performed mightily in school. Many of them became famous scholars in other lands, often returning home to the praise and adulation deserved of them.
And then everything changed. A familiar storm blew in from the ocean and attacked the land once again—it was September, if I recall it correctly. I had just finalized preparations with the newly minted Emergency Response Division of my administration as the storm neared, and retired to my home for the evening. Late that night, the storm’s rage had reached its zenith, unleashing its merciless fury upon our town and knocking out power throughout. I was seated in my study when this happened, silently drinking a ginger ale out of a chalice given to me by after the completion of a successful fundraiser.
I remember being mid-sip when I heard a familiar knock on my front door. It must have been done with the assistance of the Lord himself, especially with the thunder continuing to boom endlessly outside among the battering wind and rain. Upon hearing the familiarity of that sound which shook me to my core, I spilled my ale. It was you. As seen in a past episode, you were drenched in rainwater, but this time around, I was led to the conclusion that this fierce storm was not born of the sea, but of the endless wellsprings of a broken heart, long since numbed to the elements of love and affection.
As you stood there with a look of total defeat upon your countenance, it was clear now that you were drowning in the tears you demanded of me with your repeated acts of heartbreak. It was within my power to have you arrested and thrown into prison for trespassing on my land and violating the emergency curfew I instituted throughout the town, but my heart said no; I could not act as the enforcer of our town’s laws on this night. No, I became that little boy that used to laugh and run across the meadow with you all those years ago. The time for reckoning had finally come, and the sword of sorrow I had long held in my right hand was taken from me upon seeing you again.
Your march, across the battlefields of a life devoid of protection, support, comfort and love, had finally come to an end. You collapsed in my arms and I carried you inside, laying you once again on the bed I once gave to you many moons ago. Returning from my closet, I tended to your wounds once again, washed you clean, and brought you the same change of clothes I always kept—saving them for a moment like this.
As you rested, I prepared a supper for you, doing so with a growing peace that stood bravely before a still-raging storm outside, and watched you eat as though you had never eaten in your life. Soon, your body could not take anymore, and you passed out, exhausted from more than just the return home—it was enough.
Watching you asleep, I knew that something was different that night; I placed you in my arms and carried you gently to my bedroom once again, tucking you in and making sure that everything was as comfortable as possible for your broken body and mending soul.
Departing from that room, a final tear escaped my eye as I prayed for peace, and when I arose the next day to find you seated at my breakfast table with that beaming smile on your face that I had fallen in love with so many years ago, I knew that after many years of languishing in the private pits of emotional anguish, God had finally heard and answered me.
It was though the storm never happened.
We were married seven months later, and today, we celebrate our tenth anniversary. Our two sons and one daughter are as healthy as can be, and with my recent gubernatorial victory, the future is ours again—just as I had declared to you as we sat among the grass as children.
Wait…did you just say you were pregnant!?