The cookies you bought are still in the cabinet. I kept them for you just in case. I like to pretend you’ll be coming back, but I know you won’t. They’re probably stale by now. I want to remember your smiling face, your beautiful laugh, and the way your eyes beamed when you looked at me. But all I can hear is the sound of your crying. Truth is I was just as scared as you. All the screaming, the yelling, and name calling, even the biting and punching, they were just your cries for help. But I couldn’t hear you. I know it doesn’t look like much but I tried my best. I guess my best is pretty pathetic. Turns out I failed you in every possible way.
Remember that time at the lake, right after we first started dating? We walked around the beach and scared away the pigeons. We sat on the picnic table and took a selfie picture of the two of us. You smiled at me and I melted. I was in heaven. I still have that picture. We look so happy. I wish I knew where those two love birds went.
I fucked up. I’ve always been a fuck up. Having a one true beloved, that’s always been my most honest dream. And I just can’t seem to get it right. I’m so arrogant I don’t recognize just how ignorant I am. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. I always had to be right. Ridiculous considering just how much I don’t know. It was hard for me to understand you sometimes. Not because of your adorable and sexy accent, but because I couldn’t empathize. I guess I didn’t try hard enough.
We went dancing a few times. I hated dancing because I am so bad at it, but when I danced with you, everything was fine. Doing even the most mundane of things didn’t matter, because we were together. I never wanted to take over your kitchen, I just wanted to help. I know I’m a lousy cook, but it was an excuse to be near you. Every moment away from you brought up images of your face, even now. I don’t just love you, I adore you.
I was a terrible husband. Neither of us is perfect, but I guess you needed something more. I wish I knew what. When you needed me most, I felt out-matched, unprepared, lost. Like when you said you just didn’t want to live anymore, or when you listed all of the people you lost. I know that kind of thing is terrible, but I lack the words to show it. Stupid me, even though I’m not up to the task, I always feel like I can help; like anti-superman, completely powerless.
You told me of a dream once. About us as old people, sitting in rocking chairs on our porch, waiting for our grandkids to come by for a visit. That image stuck with me, us as old people, holding hands, slowly rocking as the day passed. I wanted that so bad. I want that. But now it’s not a dream of what will be, it’s just a dream of what won’t.
We could have been happy, but we just made things worse. So devoted to our own ways, we were more married to our single lives than we were to each other. I guess I was just too scared to be hurt again, even though I took the chance on us anyway. Would it have killed me to buy you a few more flowers, more earrings, a locket with our picture in it? No. I just overlooked the simple things, all the while patting myself on the back for what I thought was caring. I still know nothing. Will you ever forgive me? I hope so, but it’s probably more than I deserve.
It would be fitting if I myself alone could suffer for my inadequacies. Trust me, I hurt all the more knowing my failures not only obliterated all hope of our future, but that it hurt you as well. I swallowed my pride more often than I can remember, but I kept saying the same things over and over, expecting you to finally hear me, I put pressure on you when you needed space, and made you feel alone, even though I laid right beside you. But I still couldn’t find a way to really help.
I sit in our house, your things are gone, and I feel your absence. I know you’re not here and it echoes through the halls. I desperately want to hear you calling my name from the other room. I hear nothing but the ringing silence. Now I’m alone with the pieces of a broken life and bittersweet memories. There are no sweet cookies to eat and I’m left with nothing but the crumbs.
Doug Clark is a writer, an editor, and a sometimes artist. Also a blogger, a novelist, a short story writer, and a poet. After going to college, traveling the world thanks to the navy, and being a single parent, he learned to appreciate life and what it has to offer. He’s am not perfect; he make mistakes, but he’s always trying to improve on the person he was yesterday.