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©2016 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Every time I hear your name

 He was rather proud of himself. Yes Sir, Isaac Dakota was indeed a changed man and about time too. He had been quite pathetic when she left, but no more. Several years it took, this changing, but changed he was now and for the better.

He finally got over that old song of theirs. He could hear it now without tearing up. He didn’t even bother to change the station on the dial anymore. Stevie Nicks and Don Henley’s could sing “Leather And Lace” til the cows came home. It had ceased to be a source of pain. It was just another likable tune.

Isaac could spot little red sports cars now and not check the license plate for *999-DAS*. He had gotten himself into a bit of trouble when he almost caused a three car pile up chasing a speeding flash of red down the interstate. But no more of that.

He had stopped driving by her house too. Her mother had been this close to calling the police and getting a restraining order on him, but she wasn’t there anymore anyway. He wasn’t doing that either. He was a different guy now.

He had gotten around to their old haunts. All those restaurants and Honky-Tonks were no longer taboo. He recalled they had had such fun dancing and hanging with friends, but those memories caused nothing, not even a twinge of regret. He could go out with friends and laugh. Felt so good to dance again. 

He didn’t even look around anymore when he caught a sniff of her perfume. It meant nothing to him now. He could walk right by her picture in a magazine and feel nothing but happy for her. She had gotten her wish and was now a semi-famous model. No, none of that bothered him.

“Zach went out with her,” Kenny said casually.

 “Really?” Penny said, incredulous.

“She grew up here, went to school with all of us. She and Zach were sweethearts since they were, like, ten or something,” Kenny replied. “Tell her, Zach.”

“What?” Isaac muttered, confused. He hadn’t been listening.

“You really went out with Dina Shaw the model, Zach?” Penny said.

Dina--Isaac’s heart stopped, his brain went blank. This happened every time he heard her name. Dina--like a knife to the chest. Dina--like a punch in the gut. Dina--like a brick in the face. Her name hit him and he was lost. 

“Beer... anybody want one?” he mumbled. He got up and went to the bar before getting an answer from his friends.

Dina--All he had to hear was her name and he was transported back five years, the fifth of May and rain falling out of the blue sky. Dina--He was staring right into her eyes, nothing’s changed and they’re still the same. Dina. He was lost to the innocence of their first kiss and hanging on every word rolling off her lips. Dina. That’s all it took and he was right back there in that place. Every time he heard her name.

His hands shaking, he grabbed the beer and upended it, pouring it down his throat as if dying of thirst. Get a grip, he admonished himself. She’s gone, it’s over and there’s nothing to be done about it. Besides, he had someone special in his life now. Kara was a great girl. Everyone thought she’d make an amazing wife. Isaac’s dad thought she might be the one because she kind of reminds him of Isaac’s mother when she was young.

Isaac knew it was way too soon to be talking about rings though. Neither of them wanted to rush into anything. Kara was getting over someone too, somewhat like himself. She spoke of him every once in a while and he would listen, nod his head and smile. He knew what it was like. He knew exactly what she was going through because he’d been there too.

When the conversation inevitably turned to Dina he would get caught in the “you were the only one for me” thought and her eyes would be all he saw.  He knew he couldn’t go back and still  he would go back. And there they were parked down by the riverside in each others arms making love for the first time. Dina.

Every time he heard her name that's all it took and he would be back in that place. It was torture, pure and simple, he knew. But he would start thinking of all the words he left unsaid, all the promises made and broken. He couldn’t help thinking of how to change that which could not be changed. She had her life, the life that didn’t include him.

In his heart he knew she was gone, gone forever, but his head was a different matter. There was no telling his head. He had his life, a life without the woman of his dreams, his first love, but hopefully not his only love. He just had to work harder.

Maybe he wasn’t exactly the changed man he thought he was. Changing takes time.  Isaac would keep going, keep at it and one day he would no longer blank out at the sound of her name. One day, hearing Dina wouldn’t cause his world to flip over.  It would take time. Changing took time. Changing, after all, wasn’t so easy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

College Students

 Wyatt scanned the huge classroom and frowned. Lily wasn’t here and she hadn’t been in any of her other classes. That wasn’t like her to miss a class let alone all of them. He hadn’t seen her all day either. Something was wrong.

He ran outside and searched the campus for her shiny, black head and there she sat alone at a picnic table under a Sugar Maple, its red and orange leaves swirling in the cold breeze at her feet. There was an open textbook in front of her yet she stared off into space seemingly unaware of the growing chill and the smell of snow in the air.

Wyatt’s heart constricted painfully. She looked so sad. He stood irresolute as he watched her until, of their own volition, his feet took him closer. She had made it quite clear to him time and again that she couldn’t stand the sight of him. She had called him conceited and arrogant and, admittedly, she had been right. He was all that and more or had been back in high school.

It had been too easy for him then. Captain of the football team, valedictorian, homecoming and prom king, voted most likely to succeed, adored and admired by almost the entire school and he could get any girl he wanted. It hadn’t been much tougher at college. Who wouldn’t love being him?

Only thing was, he hardly cared about any of that anymore and he didn’t want just any girl. He wanted only Lily. It had been that way from the moment his eyes landed on her, like a cement ball thrust into an unsuspecting gut. He was lost from that moment on. But try as he might to charm her, as many times as he had asked her out, she refused point blank. She simply hated him. To his friends he shrugged dismissively saying “Her loss.”  But it was he who felt the loss.

He had tried to push her out of his mind. He had gone out with plenty of girls in an effort to dislodge Lily from his head. But it was no use. Lily hadn’t been just in his head. She had firmly and irrevocably taken residence in his heart, a much harder place to remove someone, so they say.

So, here he was practically stalking her. Going so far as attending the same college just in the off chance she might change her mind about him. It didn’t even matter to him that she had a long-time boyfriend. Wyatt’s mother wanted to kill him. His father wanted to have him committed. He could have gone to any ivy league school on a full scholarship and here he was wasting his life at a state school, and not even a particularly good one nor was it close to home. At least that would have been something. He could get to see Missy more often.

He looked down at his tie and smiled wistfully. It was a pale yellow with Lilo and Stitch embroidered on it in blazing colors, his sister’s birthday present to him. Missy loved Disney characters. Thinking of her brought tears to his eyes. Life just wasn’t fair. He got all the brains in the family and she got virtually none. Missy had the mental capacity of a five year old, but she was the sweetest girl ever. He loved her so much.

He made a mental note to write her a letter on the Beauty and the Beast stationary she gave him for Christmas. His mother could read it to her. He would get some stickers for her, too. She loved stickers. Perhaps he could find Aladdin or Lion King ones. He had yet to find those for her.

As he drew nearer to Lily he stopped, his heart constricting. She was crying! His feet took motion again without his consent stopping within a few feet of her. She hated him, after all, and would no doubt hate him more just for being there. Deciding he didn’t care, he slowly straddled the bench beside her. So lost in her misery she didn’t even notice  him.

“Lily?” he said quietly.“Lily, is there anything I could do for you?”

She took a deep breath and slowly turned towards him, but he knew immediately she didn’t even see him. Her eyes were unfocused, her vision blurry and her mind distracted.

“Lily, can I get something for you? I hate seeing you look so sad,” Wyatt said softly, tentatively touching her hand which lay beside her book. To his horror he saw a sparkling engagement ring and the air was sucked right out of him. She was truly lost to him. He wanted the earth to swallow him up.

Suddenly she focused on him with the usual disdainful expression on her face. “What do you care? Leave me alone,” she hissed before turning away from him.

He pulled back his hand but didn’t go. “If you haven’t guessed yet, Lily, you never will,” he said sadly. “I’d do anything for you. Anything to make you happy, if you’d let me.”

To his extreme shock she didn’t yell at him nor walk away in a huff as she had done a thousand times before. Instead she burst into tears. He hesitated for only a split second before enfolding her in his arms. He held her to his chest allowing her to weep as he stroked her hair.

“Lily, it’ll be all right, whatever it is. It’ll be fine. We’ll make it good again,” he murmured, though he had no idea why she cried so. And still she cried, on and on making him feel more useless with each tear that soaked into his shirt. He knew he should be thrilled to finally have her in his arms, but in all his fantasies she hadn’t been bawling her eyes out.

 “How can I help, Lily? Tell me, please,” he desperately said after several long minutes.

“Lily, what the hell?” a harsh voice shouted making them both jump.

Wyatt pulled her closer to him determined to protect her if need be. He looked around ready to fight.

“What do you want, Steve?” Lily said wiping her face with the sleeve of her sweater. Out of his pocket Wyatt pulled out a Mickey Mouse handkerchief, another gift from Missy, and he tenderly dried her tears much to her astonishment. She gave him one quizzical look then took it from him and blew her nose.

“I’ve been looking all over for you. Where have you been? I thought you were hurt or something. Why are you crying and who the hell is this?” Steve said, glowering at Wyatt.

“It’s none of your business who he is,” Lily shouted. She pushed herself slightly away from Wyatt’s embrace, but took his hand. Squeezing it he told her without words he would stay as long as she needed him. He pushed the hair stuck to her wet face out of the way and gave her a tiny, encouraging smile.

She looked at him obviously surprised by the tender gesture, but she said nothing and looked defiantly back at Steve. Wyatt was very used to that contemptuous glare. She had thrown it at him since the ninth grade. It was oddly satisfying to see someone else as the recipient for a change.

“What’s wrong, Lily? Why are you crying? What did this guy do to you?” Steve yelled looking ready for a fight.

“Oh, yeah, what he did!” she shrieked. “I suppose he’s the one that lied to me, huh, Steve?”

Steve blanched, his mouth hanging open. He looked no better than a deer in headlights.

“Busted,” Wyatt mumbled, rubbing her back.

“You keep the hell out of this!” Steve snarled “Lily, I don’t know why you say that. I was studying all night. I swear.”  The shifty way his eyes were moving spoke volumes.

“Lies and more lies,”she muttered.

“Who is this guy and why is he all over you?”Steve asked in an obvious attempt to change the topic.

“That’s hardly your concern anymore, Steve. All you need to know is he wasn’t the one doing Kelly last night, but you know that first hand, don’t you? In future you might want to sleep with girls who can keep their mouths shut,” she said.

“No...” Steve stuttered lamely, his eyes wide in horror.

Wyatt looked from Lily to the imbecile, for surely he must be the biggest imbecile, So, this guy made her cry.  He felt like ripping his throat out.

“Let me see if I got this right,” Wyatt said, his rage only held back by sheer will. “You have this beautiful girl in love with you and you cheat on her? You lie to her and go screw some bimbo when you have this absolute angel engaged to you? You risk losing the only good reason to be alive for a cheap thrill? Congratulations, Bud, you’re the biggest fool on earth. Freaking idiot,” he said. 

He shook his head in disbelief  until he caught Lily’s astonished expression. “Oh, Lily, I’m sorry. It’s not my place to say anything.”

“It’s all right, Wyatt. You just saved me the trouble, is all. Thank you,” she said looking slightly bewildered, but mostly grateful.

“Lily, please, let’s talk about this in private. This has nothing to do with him,” Steve said.

“Uh-huh, sure, going to talk your way out of this one, are you? Think again,” Lily said dabbing at her eyes one last time. “Here,” she said, tugging at the ring. She pulled it off her finger and she threw it at Steve hitting him on the chest. She then stood up. “I don’t ever want to see you again, in case you thought otherwise.”

“Lily, please!” Steve shouted making to grab.

 Wyatt grabbed his hand and crushed it. “Don’t you dare touch her or you’ll have me to contend with,” he snarled.

Steve was half his width and several inches shorter, so, he backed up though reluctantly. “Lily, please, listen to me. I didn’t... I swear it,” he said not yet giving up.

“Tell someone who cares,” she retorted, turning her back on him.

Wyatt stayed between Lily and Steve waiting for a cue. He couldn’t see how to help her or if she wanted him to. That was cleared up almost immediately when she held out a hand to him. Shocked yet thrilled beyond belief he seized it much as a drowning man clutches at a life raft. He  followed her like an obedient puppy.

 “Lily, I’ll call you. We can talk about this when you calm down. You’ll see it was nothing,” Steve shouted after them.

“Stay away from me or I swear I will let Wyatt punch you until you bleed to death. And he can do it. He’s ten times the man you are. Rot in hell, Steve, and take Kelly with you. You deserve each other,” she said, then walked on, Wyatt in tow.

Wyatt tentatively put his arm around her waist and when she didn’t protest he asked, “What can I do?”

“You’re doing it. Thank you,” she replied stiffly.

But simply walking with her wasn’t good enough for him. “You’re better off without him. You deserve so much better,”he said. “He’s not worthy enough to lick the bottom of your shoes. Don’t waste another tear on him.”

“Thank you,” she mumbled, her lip trembling and her eyes brimming with tears.

Dammit, she was crying again! “Can I get something for you? Food, drink? A sledge hammer to use on Steve?” he asked not at all joking. To his amazement she giggled and his heart sang.

“I just want to get away from him,” she said desperately.

“I can take you to your dorm,” he said helpfully.

“Knowing him he’ll come knocking down doors forcing me to listen to his crap,” she said bitterly.

“I’ll stand guard. He won’t get passed me,” Wyatt said.

“Yeah but Kelly will be there rubbing it in. No thanks. I just want to get away from here,” she said miserably.

“We can go for a ride,”he said pointing to where his car sat parked.

She tried to smile, but her eyes swelled with tears again. He gave a gentle squeeze. “It’ll be all right, Lily. You’ll get over that jerk. You know how many guys would kill to be with you? Loads,” he said as he opened the car door for her. She nodded, but after more than an hour riding around in near silence, still she cried. It broke his heart.

After a while, Wyatt grew hungry, but instinctively he knew she wouldn’t want to eat much, not with how she was feeling. But he needed to get something to keep his stomach from growling. So he went to a fast food place, got a couple of large fries, a couple of milk shakes and, stopping at the mini-mart, two huge bars of Hershey’s chocolate. His mother always said chocolate and fries were the cure for any emotional upheaval. He sure hoped his mother was right.

When he told Lily this she actually laughed. “Fries and chocolate? Your mom addicted to junk food or just a bit nutty?” she asked.

“A bit of both,”he replied holding the bag of fries out to her. “Doesn’t hurt to try it.”

She took a few and munched on them. “Wow, they’re really hot. I love fries when they’re super hot,” she said. "Didn't realize I was hungry."

“This shake is for you, too. Orange-vanilla, your favorite,” he said.

She gaped at him a fry halfway to her mouth. “How in the world did you know that?”she asked, incredulous.

“Uh...”  What could he say? That he watched her in the school cafeteria for years and knew she always got an orangecicle for lunch? “Just a guess,” he said shrugging. “My sister loves them.”

She stared at him in surprise. “I didn’t know you have a sister. Did she go to another school?” she asked curiously.

“She did. Missy has Down’s. She’s really adorable. She got me this for my birthday,” he said sheepishly, showing her the Lilo and Stitch tie. “And the Mickey Mouse handkerchief.”  He noticed she still held it clutched in her hand. It made him feel good.

“Oh, I didn’t know,” she said.

“No worries. Disney is her thing,” he said grinning like a fool.

“I wondered why you always wore Disney sweatshirts and stuff, ”she said thoughtfully. “I thought it was strange. Now it makes sense. It’s sweet, that you wear her presents even when she’s not around to see you.”

His heart lept with joy. She had noticed what he wore. She thought it was sweet. That was something. In silence he furtively watched her eat almost all the fries. When she took the shake he asked, “Would you like a sandwich?”

“No, this is fine. I think your mom’s pretty smart. I do feel better,” she said sounding a bit surprised.

“You haven’t even tried the chocolate yet. Mom says that’s what does it,” he replied.

She cast him a curious glance. “You’re different,” she said.


“How you were in high school,”she said.

“You expected me to stay a stupid high school kid? I’m a college student now. I was bound to grow up eventually,” he replied.

She continued to stare frowning slightly. “Why are you being so nice to me?" she asked. "I was never nice to you."

This wasn’t the time for confessions of deepest longing, not so soon after she broke off an engagement. It was bad form and there was nothing saying she wouldn’t take the idiot back. Plenty of girls do.

“Wyatt? Did you hear me?”

“Uh, yeah,” he answered without looking at her. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I like you, Lily, very much. Simple as that,” he said quietly.

“But why?”

He didn’t know how to answer that. He shrugged. “Just cuz,” he muttered.

“I’m sure you can come up with something better than that, smart as you are,” she said. She suddenly frowned. “What happened?"

"What do you mean?"

"I thought you were going to Yale? That’s what I heard.”

“I had that option,” he said.

“Then why are you here? This is hardly Yale.”

Again he shrugged. “Just cuz.”

She gaped, understanding finally dawning. “You didn’t come here because of me?”she shrieked.

He just shrugged.

“Wyatt, look at me. Tell me you didn’t,” she said anxiously.

Once more he shrugged before looking up at her.

“Why, Wyatt, why would you...?”

“Do you really have to ask?”he burst out. “I’m crazy in love with you. Don’t you think I know I’m moronic? Chasing after a girl who hates me. You’ve got a boyfriend. You’re engaged for Pete’s sake! Still all I can think about is you. I would give my right arm for one kiss from you, Lily. That idiot Steve had you and threw you away. I could kill him for hurting you.”

She started crying again. “Oh, Lily, please don’t,” he moaned. “ I’m not yelling at you. I’m sorry.”

“We’re both so stupid,” she muttered.

“Uh, okay,” he said, confused.

“I came to this school to be with Steve and you came here because of me. I want to go somewhere else,” she mumbled.

“I’ll take you anywhere, Lily. Just tell me,”Wyatt said.

“Think I can get into Yale?” she asked.

His heart stopped. “What?”

She took his hand and squeezed it then smiled. “Now that I know what a nice guy you are and how you feel about me I’d like to go wherever you go.”

Surely he was dreaming. “You want to go to college with me?”

“I’m not as brilliant as you, but I’m not dumb. Yale may be out of my reach, but there must be a good college for both of us. We can study together, get to really know each other and I won’t make you give up your right arm for a kiss if you promise not to lie to me,” she said.

“No lies, Lily, never. I’d sooner quit college all together and dig ditches for the rest of my life than lie to you,” he said.

She laughed and lifted his hand to her still damp cheek pressing it there. “You know, I kinda believe you. I guess we better apply to different colleges for next semester. What do you think of Princeton? I almost went there.”

He nodded unable to speak. Princeton would be great. It had been his first pick because it was close enough to go home every once in a while to see Missy. Happiness swelled inside him. He was finally going to enjoy being a college student.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Death Wish

“Timmy, don’t blink,” Henry said as he puffed on his pipe and rocked slowly on the porch.

Timmy paused in  playing with his toy race cars and stared up at his grandfather completely baffled. “Whaddaya mean, Grandpa?”

“Weren’t you listening to the song? It made a lot of sense. How old are you now, Timmy? Five?” the old man asked.


“Just like in the song. You’re six years old,  you take a nap, you wake up and you’re twenty-five married to your high school love. Don’t let that happen to you,” he said, vehement.

“If I take a nap I won’t wake up until I’m twenty-five?” Timmy shrieked in horror.

Henry burst out laughing, but it quickly turned into a coughing fit. “Ah, Timmy, you are good for the soul, but bad for my...anyway.  It doesn’t mean  that.  It means that you have to make sure you make everything, every moment in your life count. It goes by so quick. Look at me. I’m eighty-nine years old and I barely know what I did in all those years. I blinked. I’m on my last leg. Not much more  I’m gonna be able to do before the good Lord calls me up.”

“Why is he gonna call you up, Grandpa? Does God really  have your phone number?” Timmy asked innocently.

Henry laughed again with the predictable coughing following. He sat back with his hand over his heart wheezing painfully. “Have I told you lately how much I like talking with you, Timmy? You’re the reason I haven’t jumped off a building by now.”

“You’ll get hurt if you do that,” Timmy said, anxiously watching his grandfather.

“Yeah, that would be the point. Better than causing so much trouble for your mama and daddy. They shouldn’t have to be stuck with a sick old geezer like me.”

“But we like you here. We don’t like the home where you were living. Mama said they’re not nice.”

“They were nice enough,” Henry said dismissively.  “I like that song. Could you play it for me again?”

“Okay, Grandpa.” Timmy got up, pushed the replay button and Kenny Chesney’s voice came back on telling them not to blink. Henry listened to it humming along. Tears suddenly filled his eyes and spilled over his wrinkled cheeks.

“What’s wrong, Grandpa? Should I get Mama?” Timmy asked taking his hand.

“Come sit with me, Timmy,” he demanded gruffly. Timmy obeyed instantly crawling gently up on his lap. Henry patted his head. “You have to promise  to remember me when I’m gone.”

“Where you going, Grandpa?”

“Well, I can’t stay here forever, you know. Everybody has to go sometime. God wants us to only stick around for so long then we have to keep him company in heaven. Hopefully that’s where I’m going. If it was the other place I wouldn’t be so anxious to get going.”

“But you have to die to go to heaven. I don’t want you to die,” Timmy said starting to cry.

Henry hugged his sturdy little body to his frail one. “Now, now, Timmy. That’s why I want you to remember me. That way I won’t really die. But I want you to do one more thing for me, Buddy.”

Timmy wiped his face with the back of his hand and looked up at him. “What?”

“Whenever you do something great like the first time you hit a baseball or the first time you kiss a girl....”

“I don’t wanna kiss no girl!” Timmy shouted at once.

Henry laughed again.  “Well, you say that now, but there will be one day maybe in ten years and you’ll change your mind.”

“Uh-uh,” Timmy insisted, shaking his head for emphasis.

“Okay, forget that. But whenever you do a great job, Timmy, I want you to stop for a minute, look up at the sky and say “See, Grandpa, I didn’t blink.”  Can you do that for me?”

Timmy stared at him perplexed. “A great job?"

“There’s gonna be many times in your life when you won’t exactly know when those times are, but even if you’re not sure just do it anyway. Just say hello to me. I’ll be there.”

“Like a ghost?” Timmy said, his eyes wide as saucers.

Henry grinned. “No, I don’t think I know how to do that. I’ll be around every time you think of me. You just won’t be able to see me like I am now. Maybe I’ll be a butterfly or an eagle or just a mushroom in the forest.”

“Wow. I better not knock over anymore toadstools. It might be some dead guy I don’t even know,” Timmy said seriously.

Henry laughed, then promptly started coughing. When he could he said,   “So. Now you got it? You just say hi to me whenever something happens to you even if it’s bad or good or just regular stuff like when you first learn to ride a bike.”

“I already know how to ride a bike. Wanna see?”

Henry smiled. “In a bit you can show me. But first I want to make sure you know what I want. This is my death wish, Timmy. It’s important that you do it or I’ll be forgotten.”

“No, I won’t forget you, Grandpa! I promise,” Timmy said.

“There’s my good boy. Now go on and show me how good you are at the bike thing and then I’ll show you how to beat me at checkers.” Henry kissed the top of his head and Timmy scampered off his lap, jumped on his bike and rode around the lawn and sidewalk.

Three weeks later, Timmy stood beside his mother clutching her hand. She had tears streaming down her face, but Timmy stood stoically as the preacher spoke of walking in the valley of the shadow of death--wherever that was. Henry’s shiny black coffin was covered with white roses. Timmy placed on the casket a bunch of daisies he pick in the meadow beside his house. He looked up at the stormy sky and sadly said“ I picked these cuz maybe they’re Grandma and now you can be together.  I miss you.”

A butterfly, yellow and black, fluttered in front of his face and landed on the daisy bunch and Timmy smiled. 

“Hi, Grandpa. See, I didn’t blink. I’ll never blink. But I’m still not kissing no girl,”he said gruffly.  

 Timmy looked all around him, amazed. He could have sworn he heard Henry laughing at him. 

Grandpa got his death wish.