The Book, pt 3

PART 1    PART 2

The overlook is a little parking lot at the summit of a hill that previews the entire city. Nine years ago I’d taken Corinne here for our first date. Three years ago I married her here. I park my car and step out into the passing sunlight, squinting as I gaze out over the city. The sunset drenches every building in gold and casts heavy shadows over the streets. My shoes crunch over pebbles and twigs as I walk to the edge of the lot, revealing a steep drop nobody could survive. I consider it.

“You take all the girls here?” Corinne’s voice cuts in and my memories take over. I was standing just a few feet closer to my car. I always parked in the same place. She wore a dress with a floral pattern and raised an eyebrow over her thick-rimmed sunglasses. She was chewing a piece of gum – a promising gesture of what I had coming for me. Her footsteps were light and weightless, like she was waltzing over the clouds, and her dress danced over her legs in hypnotic waves.
“No.” I responded. My heart was racing. Dinner and a movie had been the original plan, but nothing original ever satisfied Corinne. No, when I picked her up from her parents’ house, she hopped in my car and hijacked my date. Instead we stopped for ice cream at the pier, played tag in a gift shop (we got kicked out), and drove two hours to get to this summit. Her question, therefore, took me off guard.
“But I’m guessing you take all the boys?” I added smugly. I wouldn’t admit it then, but I was desperately hoping she would reassure me.
“No, no.” She chuckled. She stepped around me and gazed out over the city.
I will never get that image out of my head. Seeing her golden hair glimmer in the sunlight. That moment could make me believe in God.
“Only one boy, ever.”
“Who’s that?” I asked, harshly defensive.
“My little brother.” She said. Her voice carried the trailing of a story, but I didn’t dare ask then. I was too selfish. I’ve always been too selfish.
“Nobody else then?” I asked.
She paused before turning back to me. The look in her eyes summoned me closer.
“Kiss me?” She asked.
My heart tore through my chest. My hands reached for her jaw and I pulled myself into a kiss; her soft lips surrounded mine and I tasted, smelled, and felt tender passion.

When I pull away, twilight turns to dawn and Corinne is wearing a wedding dress. Applause sounds all around us and I stare at her with unbearable longing. Her green eyes look back at me with so much love I don’t know what to do with it. It’s so foreign to me now. I never realized how she looked at me.

The memory wafts away and I’m alone on the summit, my eyes strained from the light. Why can’t I have her back? I fidget with the note in my hands. My eyes begin to tear up and I bite my lip to keep it from quivering.
“I miss you…” I sob into the sky. Whispers to ghosts.
Her little brother, Max, died when he was eight. She always credited him for her outlook on life.
“I was so blind.” She had told me once. “All I cared about were looks and opinions. When he left, I realized his opinion was the only one that mattered to me. I realized what I looked like to him was the most important.”
That’s how I feel now. Nothing matters anymore. Not my work. Not my look. Not my life. Everything just feels so pointless and I feel so lonely. I would do anything to have her back.
I walk back towards my car, nearly forgetting to look for the next clue, and find a small envelope tied to a branch hanging over our wedding spot. There is a red ribbon tied around it, like a bow, and I wonder in amazement that it’s still hanging here so long after she passed. I’m almost reluctant to open it. How much longer is this going to go on? How many more memories am I going to have to live through? I decide quickly that I’m not ready to forget her, and so I grab the envelope. On the back, in Corinne’s handwriting, it reads: Jacob.
That’s me. I gently open the envelope and unfold the piece of paper – I’m careful, like I’m commencing a surgery. The note goes as follows:

Not all paths are clearly laid,
In cobblestone or weeds refrained,
Some are winding, filled with twists,
So many turns for an opportunist.

Not all paths are clearly laid,
Jacob dear, don’t be afraid,
Sometimes all you have to do,
Is see things from a different view.


The Book, pt. 2


“You look so sad.” Her voice was like auditory sugar.
I remember looking up from my hands and seeing her peek up at me over her shoulder. Her hair shown like gold in the sun, and she sat cross-legged on the bleachers with her guitar over her knee.
“Yeah.” I mumbled. Why was she talking to me?
She chuckled, and I took it like an insult. “Poor boy.” She mocked.
Half of me had energy to fight her – to express how miserable this day had been. Luckily the other half won, and I simply shrugged and returned my head into my hands.
“What’s wrong?” She pressed.
Every word she spoke tickled my senses.
“Nmn.” I mumbled into my hands.
The metal bench creaked and I guessed she stood up. Suddenly nervous, I peeked up from my hands and saw her standing awkwardly and facing me. Her beautiful face was strewn in pity – like she was watching the end to the Titanic and I was Leo.
“Bad day?” She asked. This time she tugged at the bass tones in her voice, and she sounded almost sincere. Corinne always had problems sounding sincere. As if God accidentally spilled a whole bottle of sarcastic into her DNA.
“You have no idea.” The corner of my mouth twitched with the intention of smiling.
“What happened?” She set her guitar down and walked up to me. Her body looked like it was carved from wild thunder; flawless skin and perfect rounds and edges in every which way. Her lips were plump and pink like clouds at sunset.
“I overslept.” I sighed.
If ever there was a moment in life that perfectly celebrated the collaboration of sound and vision, it was right at that moment as Corrine burst into laughter. For the briefest of moments, I forgot about all my concerns and became concerned instead with Corrine. Corrine, with her perfect face and body, as if she was sent down from the heavens to laugh at my feeble attempts at success.

That was ten years ago. Now, instead of watching Corrine laugh, I’m clamping on to a little note she scribbled on graph paper before she committed suicide. I’m standing at the foot of the bleachers, squinting to keep the sun from stealing my vision. I’m no longer concerned what people will think of me for being here – at a school after school hours – I only care to know why. Why did she leave me? What was so horrible about her life that she could find no other way to salvage it? I’m having a hard time withholding my tears, but I succeed in the end. Everything is as it was. Every dirty stain and every etched proclamation of permanent love is still on each perspective bench like it was when I had gone to school here. It even smells the same. The only thing missing is the slight hint of pomegranate from her perfume. Hopeful, I pull the note to my nose and sniff it. Nothing. She’s gone, I remind myself.

As she hampered off her laughter, I smiled. It’s hard trying to step into your flirting shoes when you’re miserable (ten years ago, misery was oversleeping and missing an exam), but you can bet your ass my brain was scrambling to get its shit together.
“You think that’s funny?” I asked.
“Oversleeping is hardly worth ignoring a girl for.” She bit the corner of her lip mid-smile in a way that sent my blood rushing.
“Someone else’s misery is hardly fair to laugh at.” I rebutted, but I laughed.
“Fair.” She shrugged.
I forget what else we talked about. But as the sun ducked beneath the clouds and the stars swarmed the skies like a mad game of four-in-a-row, we were still sitting next to each other on the bleachers. She taught me how to play a song on the guitar. I remember my hand brushed over her exposed thigh and her skin felt like soft marble. She was a goddess. We talked about school and life and our plans.
“I’m not sure.” She responded when I asked her what she’d do after high school.
I had just told her my plans for Harvard and what kind of job I’d be working and what kind of money I’d be making. She never waivered in her engagement – everything I said seemed interesting to her.
“You’re not sure?” I repeated.
“Yeah. I’ll probably just continue playing guitar.” She smiled.

I grunt as I sit down on the same bench we had sat on ten years ago.
Continue playing guitar. She’d said. The cool breeze brushes through my hair and I look out into the field. I’ve seen the note a thousand times so I resist the temptation to look at it again. Bleachers, it said. I miss her so goddamn much I feel like tearing apart the very fabric of life. I feel like reaching into space and crushing everything with a giant black hole with the off-chance that I might be warped back in time and be reunited with her. I would do anything to feel her skin again. To brush my hand over her thigh like the first time I met her.
Why did she send me here? What was I supposed to find? I feel underneath the bench but find nothing. Maybe I should’ve brought the guitar… I look down to the bench she had sat on when I met her, about three rows down. It’s empty now.

Is it?

I stand up and move over to the bench, where I eagerly feel under the seat.
“Yes…” I mutter to myself as I feel the folds of a piece of paper taped to the bottom of the bench. I pull it and waste no time opening it. My next clue: The Overlook.

I look up from the note and smile as memories flood over me.