He

*Runner up in Love Is In the Air competition* A cold night, with cold memories and a coldness from within... (Cover by Secrets Unfold)

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1. He


It's the last of the dying embers


Of a fire that burns so slowly

 

My lips collide with the cool red liquid. My throat burns as the alcohol slides down it. My heart starts beating, for the first time since Thomas left. I shiver as his name crosses my mind. The sweetness of the wine dulls the memory of the salty waters. He left for the seas months ago, could be years ago for all I know. Yet anything that regards him in any shape or form brings back memories of love and adventures, tears and pain. There were lots of the latter two in the few months that followed his departure, I can tell you that. But then again, there also were lots of the former two in the years before his departure. And that is the thing that gets me.

 

I'll never forget the day I first went into the village, which was also the first day I met Thomas. I was miserable for one reason or another when I first arrived. But fate has it's way, I guess. My fingers find themselves fiddling with the blanket draped over the armchair. It's beautiful: embroidered with delicate daisies, on a background of meadow green.

I can't lie, if was the first thing that awakened my senses for a while. I had gone into Mum's shop to see if I could help around, maybe tie up some flowers. Maybe mop the floors. Something. This blanket changed my mood completely though. It didn't even have daisies on it to begin with. Just the colour made my heart beat. I could feel my cheeks flush as I turned to the nearly heartbeat next to me, to ask for the price (forgetting that my mother could've probably at least given me a discount).

“Are you happy to see me or are you imaging us draped in that blanket, on a cold winter's Eve?” Although that has to be one of the corniest lines ever given to me, his sense of humour and his cheeky grin instantly drew me to him. I responded straight back, flinging a corner of the blanket onto my arm and raising my eyebrow.

 

A giddy giggle slips out of my throat as I snuggle under the blanket by myself. His mould in the silky material lies mournfully next to me. I gulp and take another swig. Trying to distract myself, I frantically search around the room for something that isn't related to Thomas...

 

No. A picture from last Autumn peeps out at me. I can tell the season from the auburn shades of the leaves that match his hair. The red tinged match his rosy cheeks and smiling lips. His lean posture is propped against a battered red bike. Just a village boy with a glimmer in his eye, I suppose. That'd have been my first impression of him, if I hadn't met him in person first. However, somehow during the time I'd spent with Thomas, my perspective of him, the world around me and a hell of a lot of other things changed, drastically. The real stuff started with that day.

 

It'd been about a month into our little encounters in the shop, which involved me falling in love with charming objects and him coaxing me into buying them.

 

He'd made a good salesperson. Shame his talents are being wasted out in the sea.

 

This persuasion, though, somehow managed to have me find myself in the woods very early in the morning. “A wildlife tour, courtesy of my captivating self! You'll love it,” Thomas promised, with a sly wink. I did. Sure, I didn't get many pictures of the wildlife, yet I did get a great variety of pictures of the wild life I was about to be awakened by.

 

Somehow, he gently taught me to be grateful for the little things as he spotted blue birds I never managed to capture on camera. He picked me up whenever I fell, even when it was the silliest thing to fall off. Specifically, that bike from the picture. The little hiccups made the day even more special, and sparked a flame that felt like it could never go out.

 

Sighing to myself, I lift the little candle next to the armchair. Then, I lean over to the fireplace and light up the wooden logs. It's amazing how such a little flame can light up so much more, so quickly. Reminds me of what a roller coaster it was riding the flame with Thomas. It went so fast. How on earth can a year go by so fast? How can feelings blossom so quickly?

 

My body slumps as I throw myself back, drowsily pouring another glass. I know how. It was kind nature...his perspective of life...his perseverance no matter what...they humbled me. He humbled me. A pain throbs through me, and I place my hand to my throat. A cool sensation of silver, crafted into an intricate design on a heart. The locket he gave me. I'm pretty sure he even loved me. So, no matter how hard I try, I can't forget how much he has opened my eyes to, how much he's done for me. My memory can't block him out.

 

Luckily, it seems that alcohol has the power to. It works for the homeless people on the streets, who probably have worse problems than heartbreak and longing. Why couldn't it work for me? Today is definitely the day to test it. Valentines Day. On the day of love, I'm need to block out my love. I moan softly into the crimson wine. Why did he have to go? He had so much here for him. A living, a life, a...love. What was it that he said to me? “You know how much you mean to me, but I have to do this for myself.”

 

I reach for the green bottle. Screw the glass. I might as well drown in the stuff. My breath catches on the rim as I tip the bottle. A deep sound echoes. I laugh manically. Music for the miserable. "Here's to the pain," I mutter, as I start to drink more alcohol. God, I bet Thomas wouldn't approve of this. Drinking to ignore the problems, instead of taking them on the chin and doffing a hat to them. Ah well. He's probably drinking it up with the other sailors now, but out of joy instead of sorrow.

 

Just then, another sound briefly fills the room. I lower the bottle, cocking my head to try and hear what it is. Nothing. My imagination. See, at least I have an imagination. I just learnt to block it out. Better to focus on the reality that the daydreams. And if I can't manage that, the alcohol does it for me. Even so, I look out of the window. A figure is standing on the doorstep. It should be Jehovah Witnesses at this hour. Ugh. I decide to open the door anyway, even though I don't really like them. Thomas doesn't either, but he'd bring them out of cup of tea for them and spared a few minutes to listen to them, because that's how he is. Sweeter than a bag of sugar.

 

I stumble down the hallway, and open the door. I stare outside. No one. My imagination again. Damn, that alcohol has really got to me. Then again, I'm pretty sure that's a good thing. I hear something tapping on the living room window. My hand clutches the door handle, steadying me. Jesus. There aren't hallucinogenic drugs in alcohol, are there? You can tell how experienced I am with the whole getting myself wasted thing...oh God. Oh God, I can now hear footsteps. The sweat off my palm loosens my grip on the handle. I feel myself falling.

 

Suddenly, two broad hands steady me, gently lifting me back up, onto my feet. I dare myself not to look. Could it possibly be Thomas? No. It can't be. Well. Who else has the physical and mental power to save me when I fall? Giving into myself, I scan the figure, whose hands are now circling my narrow waist. All I can make out are a pair of clear blue eyes and fiery flicks of hair. My fingertips shakily trace the jawline and cheeks of the figure's face, finding the lips I'd once found so familiar. "Is it you?" All the sadness of these past months drips out of my voice.

 

His minty breath strokes my skin, and his grip on my hips tightens ever so slightly. “You betcha.”

 

I clumsily stutter as I gabble, “But you went to sea...you had to find yourself...”

 

“I didn't find anything whilst I was there. I only lost something.” He sheepishly kicks the gravel on the ground.

 

“And what was that?”

 

Thomas tilts my chin towards those lips. They softly graze my own as he says the single word: ‘You’. Our lips melt together, the feeling familiar yet new. Simple, yet the most desirable thing in the world to me. We hold onto one another, clinging as if we could never bear to let go. I certainly don't want to. I certainly can't. Eventually we tug ourselves apart, even though our hearts are still tangled. Thomas tucks a stray strand of my long, erratic hair behind my ear. “It's true what they say, you know,” he smiles. “You never know how much you love someone until you let go.” I'm sure he pulled that one from another romance fiction...or actually maybe a song from a while back...but to be honest, I don't really care. I laugh, and turn towards the door.

 

“Come on, let's get you warmed right up...” I smile blearily, reaching out my hand to find his own. Instead, I grab thin air. My eyes frantically scan the front garden, but there isn't a trace of him. The brown lawn reminds me of the blanket, dotted with the fresh daisies on the dewy grass-like fabric. The trees with the dead branches remind me of that day in the chestnut woods. Thomas has gone. Thomas hasn't even been here. Oh. Tears trickle down my face. Of course he wasn't there. He is sailing on the sea. Floating on the sea. Drowning in the sea. I collapse in a heap on the porch. The cold slab sinks into my body and sends a shiver down my spine. I'm falling apart. I'm falling down. Not even Thomas can save me now. Especially not Thomas.  

Sometimes you just have to walk away


Wishing that today was yesterday...

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