This Novel Life

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

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.

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Empty

You’re nothing more than an image in a photograph,

Over processed and under exposed.

I wonder if it hurt to smile that time,

That old Leica caught the truth in your eyes.

I cropped you out of the frame

Knowing how bad you wanted to get away.

I wonder if you’re still hiding from the lens,

Hoping nobody finds the truth in your lies.

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Work In Progress

She hides in her car with the heat on high,

The radio blasting memories through speakers

While the rain pounds on the roof,

And tears stream down her cheeks.

There’s nothing but memories left

And questions that can never be asked.

She looks to sunsets for solutions,

But buries her mind in heartbroken lyrics

Hoping for some sunshine between the clouds.

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Limerence

She loved the way she remembered them

They were infatuated with each other

That summer by the beach,

Laughing

Playing

Enjoying life.

Her memories were her solitude

Reminding her of a time when smiles were endless

Like the ocean,

Limitless

Fearless

Beautiful.

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The Amie Project

We all lose people we love, and in my experience, there are so many things I wish I could have asked but never got the chance to. So, I dedicated an afternoon to asking my grandmother – who raised three kids, saw a good chunk of the world, was a military wife and then found herself raising me in retirement – some questions that I can cherish forever. I also took the opportunity to take some pictures of her house, a time capsule that has barely changed in my life. It turned out to be an incredibly emotional moment for me when I sat down later on and listened to her answers. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into her life.

What in your life are you most proud of? I’m proud of graduating college, and teaching.

Do you have a favorite thing in life? My dogs, and Abby the cat. Animals are very, very special.

What’s your favorite animal? Dogs.

If you could hold on to one memory, what would it be? My father. He was a wonderful person. He was a kind person, a smart person, a very hard working person, and he loved us kids.

Do you have a favorite childhood memory? Yes! At the farm we had an archway to go in the back and you could climb to the top of the archway. There was an opening at the top and one day I was throwing a ball back and forth, and I went down with the ball one time. It was a long way down.

Do you believe in love at first sight? No, no. I don’t think you can fall in love at first sight – it just doesn’t work. I mean you have to know a person before you can love a person, really.

So you didn’t see Papa (my grandfather) and think this is it? No! He came looking for my roommate.

But you went? Because he couldn’t get a date with her, and he says “how about you?” so I went out with him. I guess I wanted to go out with him. I wanted a date, really. He was a nice looking guy.

What’s the first thing you remember about him? That he came to date my roommate. I don’t know, I had seen him up at the campus… I was teaching and he was teaching, but after he went out with me, he called me at work all the time.

Do you have any relationship advice? Don’t fall too soon. Get to know the person.

How do you think he wants to be remembered? As a smart guy, intelligent.

What is your favorite memory of him? When he came back from Vietnam. I was glad to see him.

What about him made you smile? Just seeing him.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A dancer, and I taught dance [at the University of New Hampshire].

So you did what you wanted to do. Yeah.

What was your favorite family tradition? Thanksgiving when I was growing up. My mother always cooked. And Christmas… seeing my kids faces when they opened all their presents.

Do you have any regrets? Probably quite a few. I don’t remember one, though.

How do you want to be remembered? As a sweet grandmother. A kind person, I guess.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life? Be yourself. Be honest, and be good to people.

A Life In A Moment

She clung to her memories because they wore rose colored glasses,

To let her see the moments where she blossomed

And loved relentlessly and laughter was abundant.

He was the beach and the sun and the salty air

He smelled like home

And his smile was her weakness

When he put his arm around her and the world was safe.

It was easy to pretend that they would always exist for one another,

In a candy coated bubble somewhere high in the clouds

A place where she was entirely his and he was entirely hers.

What broke her heart was that moment couldn’t last an eternity.

But even in a world that was messy and imperfect

She could always climb into her heart and exist in one day

Where his words and his smile would play on repeat.

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Crash

It stayed tucked in the confines of her heart

A memory of the winter when she found herself

In collapsed words and broken promises.

She was going to be the girl to safe herself

From an implosion of feelings and tears

But she couldn’t find a future in the aftermath

Until he saw the spark in her eyes

And helped her light the flame

So she could burn bright in the midst of the storm.

Forgotten Dairy Farm

Somewhere in Tennessee…