Smoke & Ash

I didn’t want to end up here. I didn’t want to talk about it or write about it or do anything else that would make it real. But as we know, you can’t always have what you want.

Two years ago I was at my worst, absolutely annihilated by the departure of someone I loved. Someone who used to say we would build a life together. We’d had a million adventures in barely any time at all. Everything with him made me feel so much. I’d gone from numb to blazing fire, and I liked it. I was his easy and he was my nudge. We made each other better – everyone said so.

He left me despite the stars and fireworks, and I collapsed in on myself. The broken promises could have been arrows through my lungs. The crumpled up love notes may as well have been coals in my gut. I didn’t know what I’d done to deserve being torn to shreds and left to die. All I ever did was love him with every ounce of me.

It was only our 86th day when he grinned and told me he couldn’t wait to marry me. We held hands as we pushed our way through an overgrown woods near his parents’ house. I grinned back and told him we didn’t have to wait.

He never gave me a reason, or maybe he did and I forgot what it was. The part I remember best was the way he choked saying, “I can’t say I love you back right now.” I remember the calm. I remember needing to cry. I remember that I couldn’t.

Time, of course, revealed all. He did love me then, but he loved her too. I was the perfect match for him, but she was someone he could grow into. I was his easy, she was his prize. I remember the first time I said it out loud: “He left me for another woman, and that is not my fault.” I remember saying it over and over again and slowly beginning to believe it. I remember the first time I looked at another man and didn’t immediately wonder which way he would find to hurt me. I remember one day feeling better and realizing I’d lost months of my life to that sadness. His sadness. I remember the anger that followed, and then the forgiveness. It hadn’t been easy for him to hurt me the way that he did. Could he have been kinder in his ways? Absolutely. But I know now that he was in a bad place, too, and the darkness inside of him made him do some of those terrible things. If he thought about it now, he wouldn’t be proud. He wouldn’t shrug it off. He would hurt, too. 

It was only our 86th day when he grinned and told me he couldn’t wait to marry me.

Yesterday, he dropped to one knee and shakily held out a ring that I would have adored. The weren’t in the woods, but out in the open where nothing could hide. He choked up as he fumbled over the words, trying to be poetic. She cried at the things I think I would have giggled at, and he cried too when she said yes. Happy tears, though. The good kind.

He found someone else that he couldn’t wait to marry. And I’m happy for him.

So why am I here? I didn’t want to be, remember, but I needed to get it all out. Right now, I’m happy and I’m loved and amazing things are happening. Life is grand. It’s a hell of a thing though, to know that I was the last person he kissed before this woman who will become his wife. I was that last step to get him where he was going. I was that almost enough, that one who just missed the fairytale. It makes me feel things, things that I’m not sure what to do with.




Perhaps you’ve noticed I’m not around as much as I used to be. Or maybe you haven’t – that’s just as well. These days, I open blank documents and can’t even look at them long enough to get frustrated. I’m distracted and distanced, and the need to spill my guts to a handful of strangers on the internet just doesn’t strike me like it has before. I’m no longer faced with the ache to wring out my feelings in order to acknowledge them. I’ve run out of metaphors and words that rhyme with hurt.

I don’t know how to write about love that doesn’t hurt me.

Worth It.

Poking and prodding, nudging and shaking, pressing my icy cold feet into your legs in an effort to stir you. “It’s already past 5:30,” I whisper. You groan a response but fall immediately back into soft drifting snores. I continue. More alarms go off. There’s only one left now – the real thing – and I’m determined to be on time this morning whereas your slumber-drunk self is only determined to fight off consciousness.

“Wake up, babe. It’s Friday, it’s our early day.” More grumbles. I throw a leg over your hip and tap my fingers along your once-broken collarbone. “For real. We can’t keep sleeping.”

“Yes huh,” you argue, shifting onto your stomach and stretching your legs. Then you fall onto your left side and pull me into your chest. We both know I can’t pass up a chance to bask in your body heat. Continue reading “Worth It.”

Gone by morning

What if we ran away? I mean it. What if we packed up the dogs, loaded up the trucks and your trailer, and just left this town in the rearview? No trace of us beyond a cloud of dust. Wouldn’t that be something?

It scared me at first, hearing that thought squeeze past your lips, but now it sounds better and better every minute. West Texas. New Mexico. Arizona. Somewhere far and somewhere warm. A place away from the only home I’ve ever known. Away from parents and pasts, finally free from so many of the things we wish we’d never been. Just us and a new start together in a place where people will only know us together and never as something before that. Yeah, that’d really be something.

I wish I’d say so

I want to apologize. I know you’d rather I didn’t, but I can’t keep keeping this to myself. So please, just this once, hear me out.

I’m not good at this yet. I do love you – tremendously, recklessly, endlessly – but I struggle when I try to say so. As wordy and poetic as I can sometimes be, love just isn’t sure how to pass my lips. And I could rattle off a reason – hell, he even has a name – but it sounds like an excuse that way. It sounds like I expect you to deliver that same kind of pain….and I don’t.

You’re not like him or any of them who were once standing in your place. You’re better. You’re kinder and stronger and more certain. You’re wiser and wittier and more fun. I can’t even count all the ways or reasons that I adore you. Continue reading “I wish I’d say so”

Nowhere Else To Be

He watched over me, made sure I was eating and sleeping and smiling enough. He coaxed me out of the house from time to time and even introduced me to people who mattered. I don’t know what I could have done to deserve his affection or even what it was about me that ever captured his attention. But here he is, and he seems to be staying.

And you know what? I’m glad he is.

For every gentle kiss he’s planted on my forehead, I’ve breathed a little easier. And for every fervent kiss he’s planted elsewhere, he takes another breath away. This man is bringing balance into a life that’s never known it before. He’s the push and pull, the give and take, the want and need. I may not be gifted in the language of romance, but I’ve got a strong intuition, and I can tell you that this is important. Either it’s forever or it’s the worst-ever ending waiting to happen – no one is escaping unscathed.

Hours into days and nights and weeks into months. The beginning feels so far away now. I’m not so nervous anymore – I almost enjoy feeling his eyes on me. I sleep curled into his chest, and I slide my icy feet between his knees. We share plates of mac n cheese in the middle of the night while he talks over a movie that he picked out. I fight back when he tickles me in bed, and he teases me for my comic book underwear.

If he turns out to be the greatest thing to ever happen to me, I won’t even be surprised. Fingers crossed that he stays.

Wildflower Lungs

“You bring out some kind of storm in me,” I told him, ashes still dancing from the fires he set in my eyes. “I like that you didn’t run from it.”

“Run?” he repeated, startled. “Angel, I couldn’t turn away from this if I wanted to. I don’t think this is really a runner’s sport. Not anymore at least.”

“A walker’s sport then?” I asked, suggesting he might already have one foot out the door. I was only half-joking.

“No, a stayer’s sport.”

I smiled into his bare chest and felt relief soothe the itches of doubt that had crept into me and threatened to get in the way of everything. What a man, to stay and love me in the midst of all this. What a man, to ever claim me at all.

“I love you,” he whispered, and I almost couldn’t hear him. Rough fingertips softly stroked my spine. “Taylor, I love you, and that’s that.”

Wildflowers erupted to life in my lungs. Fires rekindled in my eyes. My beat-up tattered heart sprouted wings and floods of those feel-good drugs washed over everything else, wiping away fears from a long history of hurt. History doesn’t have to repeat itself, you know. Not always.

“That’s that,” I sighed audibly. “I love you, and that’s that.”