This Novel Life

"Live the life you dream." -Henry David Thoreau

Category: The Story


She thought about him often, he was the question constantly in the back of her mind, drifting around without answer.

It wasn’t that she didn’t love him. It wasn’t that she didn’t spend hours picturing their life together. She kept moments from their adventures scattered around her house, a quiet nod to the kind of happiness she could have had. The simple truth was she was motivated by a picket fence fairy tale that he never wanted to give her. He wasn’t the Noah to her Allie, he was the Dawson to her Joey, a kind of story that was great on paper but she knew they could never make it off the page.

She stood at the gate, waiting for the flight attendant to scan her ticket and the years flashed before her eyes. She could turn around now, and maybe he would be there, waiting at security. The opportunity grabbed at her heart strings, leading her down a path of what ifs. Her hazel eyes gazed out the windows onto the runway of planes, carrying people to new chapters in their stories, knowing that her true adventure was behind her.

“Ma’am, your ticket?” the flight attendant asked, and suddenly the ticket felt like a heavy weight on her chest, pressing her with the age old choice of following her heart or her head…


Their Story – Part I

The blare of a truck horn woke her from an already mediocre sleep. Emily rolled over and read the neon green display of the alarm clock. 3:18. She closed her eyes again, only to be disturbed by the horn again a moment later. Throwing off the soft cotton quilt, Emily stumbled out of bed and over to the bay window, peering out into the front yard. Oh, what is going on now, she thought to herself as the horn pressed on. She walked into the hallway and threw open the front door, coming face to face with the headlights of a silver Chevy truck. His truck.

“What are you doing?” Emily yelled into the yard, covering her eyes and watching as the driver side door swung open and Tyler stumbled out.

“You weren’t just going to leave without saying goodbye to me, Emily!” he yelled back at her, stumbling as he walked closer to the front porch of the beach house. The house was dark, illuminated only on the front by the headlights of the truck. In the distance, waves crashed against rocks.

“Are you drunk?” Emily yelled back as he got to the bottom step.

“What does it matter? Are you going to leave, or not?”

“You’re so drunk! How did you get all this way without getting into an accident?” the worry came out in Emily’s voice and she regretted asking. Why, she wondered, was he here now, caring if she left after the way she had treated him the day before on the basketball court of the high school they both were seniors at.

“I asked you a question! And you just walked off! And now you’re just going to leave! Are you really going to do that?!” Tyler yelled. He was a foot away from her, and she could smell the whiskey on his breath and hear it in his voice. Every bit of her urged her to lean up to him and kiss his anger away with a promise that she would never leave, but in her head Emily knew she could never stay, not after everything that had just happened. She looked from the truck to the man standing in front of her, wishing that the crack down the middle of her heart and spirit could be erased by love, but it wasn’t that easy.

“Answer me!” Tyler yelled, moving closer to her. They were inches apart and Emily stared into his blue eyes, as he put his hand on her arm and looked down at her, willing her to open up to him, to tell him she would stay. But he would never be able to fix this, and she knew that well enough. Emily ran her fingers through her brunette hair and covered her eyes, shaking her head and trying to put the words into sentences.

“There’s nothing left for me here, Tyler,” she whispered, “you know that now. Everyone is gone and I can’t bare another second in this house filled with nothing…”

“But Em, I’m here, and I don’t think I can go on with you eleven hundred miles away until you realize what kind of mistake you’re making by leaving. I love you and I’ve always loved you and I should have said it sooner. I need you, Emily Tucker.” The words stabbed into her heart, splitting it into a million tiny pieces. She felt the tears burning her face as he landed his hand gently on her cheek, wiping away tears. The anger was gone and there was nothing but the pain of a life together that could never come into fruition. She reached her hand up to cover his and looked at him desperately.

“I have a future there. I can’t stay here. I’m going to love it there, that’s just the way it has to be, Tyler,” she said, swallowing tears that burned her throat. She leaned forward, the dull throbbing pain making her stomach churn. Tyler let go of her and pulled back as she watched him take a long look at her. He turned to walk away, but stopped, looking back as their eyes met again. His green eyes burned into her soul, and she begged them to take her away.

“One day you’ll realize what a mistake you’re making,” he said. Tears streamed down her face, and words caught in her throat. The pain was unbearable, but the pain of staying would be worse. There would be no winning in the situation. The only option was to leave.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, but Tyler was already at the truck. He slammed the door, and tore backwards out of the yard. Emily grabbed her stomach and fell to the ground in a heap of tears and sobs.

Old Memories

When she saw him in that parking lot, she knew that there was not going to be a way for her to leave again like she had before. She remembered standing at the airport, having already gone through security, and watching him look at her desperately, begging her to fight her way back through the line and promise him a life she wasn’t ready to commit to.

“What are you doing here?” he asked her, walking up to the window of the black sedan, the car she had driven during high school. It was the same car where they shared their first kiss, spilled Dairy Queen on the console and created endless memories. When she had pulled it out of the garage, everything had come flooding back to her as if it had just been the previous summer. The car was a time capsule of true love, hiding under a tarp in her childhood home garage, an unavoidable photo album to which she held the keys.

“My parents died,” she said, looking up to meet his green eyes. They were the same eyes she had looked into as she broke his heart and forced herself to let go so long ago it felt like a different lifetime. The pain flooded back into her heart, but as she had trained herself to do a thousand times over, she choked it down and shrugged, “I have to be here for the funeral.”

“I’m so sorry… nobody told me. Is there anything I can do?” he asked genuinely, still deeply and hopelessly in love with her. Time had done nothing to change his feelings, and he couldn’t imagine that a love as real as they had would be one sided. He knew that she was in love with him, too, and he just wanted to heal the pain that she must be feeling. He knew that since she left, she hadn’t been back.

“Can you just get in the car, and we’ll just drive? It doesn’t matter who we’ve been or who we’ll be, all that matters is who we are on some back road in this black car.”