The Right Side

Here is a short story I am working on. There are a few variations and I am not sure what I make of this just yet.

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The day will always remain raw in my memory. I feel like I should be moving on but something is stopping me. I relive it every morning I wake up through to when I switch off the light. People say it gets easier and that time will heal but I am not sure I want this pain to end, not just yet.

Do you remember when we met? I was walking along the shore collecting shells. There were not many about, only pebbles and broken stones.

Then you swept in and I practically crushed you, falling over myself and pushing you into the sea. You were running down the beach and I had stopped for a moment to tie my shoelace. As your clothes were soaked through I invited you to my home to dry off.  The first thing I noticed was your rusty coloured hair and when you smiled it was disgustingly delicious.

I have to be honest, some people thought you were a little bit ugly but that is not what I saw. Every time I caught your eye it sent a wobble down my spine and a bone deactivator to my knees. My chest would pound heavily and I had to often walk to another room so you wouldn’t see me go red.  In those early days you made me feel so much like a teenager that I was at times unable to talk to you as an adult should.  Words would come out of my mouth in completely the wrong order and were usually followed by a barely audible nervous giggle.

You on the other hand kept yourself remarkably together.  When you caught my eye your spine stayed in place and your knees remained intact. It did not mean that I did not make you feel the same way or have a profound effect on your emotions.  You appeared calm and content and there were moments I would have traded in an earth shattering spine wobble for peace and clarity.

Every day felt completely new. At times my house you shared with me did not feel like my own, sometimes for better, other times for worse. Remember that day I came home from a rough day at work? I asked politely what you were doing, to which you replied with a smile. ‘Watching footy babe’

I knew you were watching the football but that was not the point. What you were actually doing was kicking me out of my home. I threw a tantrum and acted like a child, I know that. After all what is wrong with playing football? After the amount of hours I watched rubbish TV with no acknowledgment or complaint from you. But I was entitled to watch my TV as it was my house and my rules.  I was the one working, bringing in the money and paying the bills. It was times like that when you made me feel like an animal circulating its territory.  Even when you offered me the TV without fuss or bother, out of principle I refused, saying I had things to do.  Important things like, washing, cooking, cleaning, hovering and ironing, all those important things you had not done in the day. Of course I did not do anything of those things that night.  I sat on my bed updating my iPod with ‘you are so inconsiderate’ songs. When I emerged from the bedroom you had made the kitchen sparkle, the dinner was being kept warm in the oven and my clothes were all ironed ready for the next day.

We crawled into bed that night together and you did not want to cuddle me. It felt wrong going to sleep without that ritual but listening to your soft snoring I somehow drifted off into a deep sleep.

The next evening you went out to see a friend at the pub. I waited for you and you never came home so I had to go to bed without you. I woke at 7am and you had left the right side of the bed cold. I moved my hand over the crisp, undisturbed sheets and I knew that you had left. I did not know why but I felt enraged.

I phoned you again and again redialling your number willing you to answer but you never did. By the time 10am arrived I had completely lost my mind. A part of it was probably rotting away on your answering machine.

At 11am I considered calling the police. I heard a knock at the door and there you were holding a bunch of yellow roses, my favourites. Your eyes twinkling but they were also ever so slightly foggy. You never came home the night before, because your mother was taken to hospital.

“Why didn’t you call?” I asked.

“Hard to call when there is no signal.”

“Payphone?”

“Hard to find one when your mother won’t let you leave her side”

That night you slept on the right side, you stroked my hair as we fell asleep. I awoke in the middle of the night and I could feel you breathing on my neck. Turning over to face you, so that your nose was touching mine, I felt nothing but peace and happiness. I played with your rusty coloured hair, covering the crystal white pillows. Your eye lids flickered as you swam around in a sea of dreams. It was at that moment I started to feel settled, calm. For the first time I knew that I would not have to look for you ever again because you were with me, here to stay.

Morning came and as the birds chirped the sun played with dust particles dancing in the atmosphere, marking the start of the weekend. Turning over I knew you had gone. The right side of the bed was cool but disturbed.

Your wallet sat next to the lamp but your phone was missing so I assumed that you had rushed to the hospital to visit your ailing mother. That was the kind of person you were. There was nothing but kindness and warmth, lighting up even the bleakest of rooms with your rusty coloured hair and diamond eyes.

Ticking clocks did not plague me like they used to. Time did move slowly but it did not feel like a sentence. It felt more serene and therapeutic creating a feeling that time was on my side. I occasionally glanced at the clock and considered calling you. No phone signal, I remembered.

It was not until later on that day when I started to feel a pinch. Restless feelings started to emerge from the cracks. Time was almost coming to a complete stand still and the tick tock of my small clock had all but been reduced to a faint whisper. All I could hear was white noise.

Not calling you was testing my patience.  So I called my mother, which I instantly regretted as soon as she picked up the phone. One hour later I checked my mobile and there was not even a text message. It was 4pm and I started to feel feckless with nothing able to keep me from going to the hospital myself. In fact by 6pm that is exactly what I did, I got my coat and shoes, jumped in the car and went straight to the hospital you had specified the night before.

I drove with little speed making sure that I was not hasty in my approach. Parking caused me nothing but trouble and I had no change so I had to park half a mile away on the corner of the street.  The day was beautiful and on my half a mile walk I passed a florist displaying the most beautiful flowers. I imagined on that day you had also parked half a mile away having forgotten to pick up change for parking.

Arriving at the hospital I didn’t know where to go. So I just went to a reception area asking for your mother’s name. I was not expecting her not to be there.

“She was discharged at 9am yesterday morning.”

I felt a sickness in my stomach, a gut feeling not to be ignored. I dialled your number, hoping you would pick up.

“Hello?” said a deep voice I did not recognise.

It has been two years since that day your car crashed into the lake. You had been out to buy me a pain au chocolate, flowers and a paper. I assume you had loose change as your wallet was at home. On your way back a child chased their ball into the road and you served to avoid him, going through a fence and into the deep water.

When I walk along the beach and see someone with rusty hair it sends a wobble down my spine and I pray it is you but in my heart I know it will never be.

Every night I dread climbing into bed. You haunt my thoughts making it hard to rest, when I do fall into a provoked slumber you play in my dreams and I never want to wake up because I know when I do, you will never be on the right side again.

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