a flash fiction piece by Janushkaa
It wasn’t your fault, my dearest Parker…
That was the one prominent line from her letter that you can remember. That was the only line she had written over and over and over again in her curvy print.
As if somehow these seven words could heal the shattered pieces she’s left behind.
As if these seven words could define her rationality, her choices, her thoughts.
Like the vase that she might have pushed while hovering in the living room with her bulky travel bag situated over her delicate shoulders.
Like the picture frame that held the photo of you and your once lover from the night of your memorable twentieth birthday that is lounging on its side with cracks running its surface.
When you picked up the frame, tears almost flooded your cheeks. Almost.
Her grin full of mirth and light no longer complimented your own smile.
Instead, the jagged edges of torn paper line the right side of your face; her smiling face looked like it had been hastily ripped from the shattered picture frame.
It almost makes it seem like you were at fault.
And you were, Parker, and you hadn’t even noticed.
The letter, where is it now, Parker?
It’s buried deep within your trash bin, the one that is laying on its side after you kicked it.
Because you were too stubborn to admit that Alaine, your Alaine, didn’t want the forever you craved.
Because you were too stubborn to admit that your precious Alaine, the one you have dated since high school, took back every detail of her, every smile, every whisper, every hollow emulating her.
Because you were too stubborn to admit that your precious Alaine, the one you have dated since high school, was flawed.
In more way than one.
But, aren’t we all, Parker?
We’re all flawed.
You, for example, Park, you always let people take advantage of you.
You let your parents do it.
You let your sister do it.
You let your brother do it.
They all ran away from you afterwards without a single glance back. You were lost in a sea of hatred without any way out and was dragged down with them.
And, now, with Alaine.
It is almost facetious how you remained so ingenuous, Parker. And these flaws, as vicious as they are, they’re what make us human.
That is what makes you as human as they come, Parker, is it not? Do you know why that frustrates you, Parker?
It is, because you thought you knew Alaine, but you did not. You thought you would marry her in a few years and have a child with her somewhere in the suburbs in a compact house, a chimney made of brick situated on top, with a decrepit picket fence painted a rainbow of colors accompanied with chirping birds that color the morning sky with sounds, but you won’t.
And now your dreams, your future, your love are all tainted by what ifs.
What if you had held her closer to your heart?
What if you had hugged her tighter every morning before work?
What if you had showered her with more love each day?
Would she have stayed, Parker?
And the letter, why is it there, Park, in a trash bin?
Because you had acted on your whim when the mud-colored ink had softened, and her curved handwriting turned white, bleeding into the paper like a second skin made of nothing more than the base layer. It was difficult to decipher where her lies began and the paper ended.
She had managed to take every shred of blissful memories with her, hadn’t she, my dearest Parker?
The dated music she listened to – that even your vintage cellphone could not register – no longer whispered through the living room from the classy radio that garnished the television.
Only the radio remained, all her records probably sitting in the crook of her arms as she deserted your flat and took the first bus to wherever. Away from here, of course. Away from you, of course. Away from her misery, of course. The shackles of commitment she escaped from were left for all to gawk at on the doorsteps of your flat.
She took off flying to the bus that waited for her at the lobby.
And the Trader Joe’s bag that usually sits on the kitchen counter – filled to the rim with apples, oranges, and lemons – was no longer there.
And her laughter, like wind chimes by the door, wasn’t as vociferously sounding as usual.
And the living room, oh the horror.
It was like a stampede of elephants had used the living room for the past eight hours or so, not your Alaine.
The settee cushions lay sprawled about. Pages plucked from the aged bindings of hardcover novels you both enjoyed.
Halves of some decrepit birthday cards littered the rug, the halves with Alaine’s name adorned on the bottom with curved penmanship are gone.
All you can do is sigh and run a hand through your tousled hair, rub your alarmingly red eyes, and stare at the empty walls. The walls that were once lined with smiling faces, now only look down upon your disheveled home and body with pity.
They say that everything you run away from is in your head, Park, because your head – specifically, your mind – is the most dangerous place to be stuck in, she had said the night prior. It was the last conversation you had had with her.
Why, darling? You had asked in return. Your eyebrows had knitted into a frown on your forehead.
Because, Park, the mind kills. It destroys. It burns. She had sighed after an eternity with that glossy and faraway look in her eyes.
And you had replied, Scars are the road map to the soul. That’s the harsh truth of reality, Alaine.
The look on her face when you had said that was indescribable.
Her eyebrows were sulking on her forehead, her nose twitching in angst, her lips puckering into a soft, sad smile, and her eyes… her eyes were never looking at you, Parker.
Alaine’s hazel eyes were fixed past you.
Don’t misunderstand me here, Parker, but her eyes were looking through you as if you were a mere obstacle on her highway to freedom.
In her eyes, she sought you as a temporary problem. And problems, they were always solved.
Alaine solved hers had she not, Parker?
You had pulled her into an embrace, but her hand had not wrapped around you, pulling you close to her. Her face did not rest on your chest. Her nose refused to gulp in your scent.
She had been bitterly cold as possible and you let her be that way with no retaliation.
You let her silence engulf you both.
No matter how many times you tell yourself otherwise, Alaine was as cowardly as they come, and now, you know, and now, you understand.
It’ll hurt, Parker. Pain hurts, but you will get used to it, that’s life.
You don’t get over pain, you just get used to it.
Maybe, one day that band of commitment that clinks with the keys in your front jacket pocket might find its way onto the ring finger of a deserving woman. One that deserves your trust, your patience, your kindness. One that empathizes with you while you are broken to pieces, so she can pick you up – inch by inch, part by part, shard by shard – and make you whole again.
In the end, Alaine will always be Alaine West.
And you, Parker, you will just be the same Parker Williams.
Janushkaa is a junior. She says, “I was inspired to write this story for an assignment during freshman year.”