Do others, she wondered, cry themselves to sleep? Do they lay there in the dark, listening to the hum of the air conditioner, the faint beat of the music, while big, fat, warm, salty tears ran down their face? Did they, too, mourn a life they always dreamed of, one they’d imagined they’d obtained, only to watch it cruelly snatched from their fingertips? Do they feel like their soul had been ripped from their bodies, leaving nothing but a lifeless shell that everyone disdained because they were no longer the life of the party? Were there others, or was she the only one?

And as she stood in the cool night air, with the balmy scent of pine, smoke, and jasmine, the tears continued to stream down her face. They fell at her feet on the grass below the deck. She cried and cried, her tears forming a pool below her, and when she felt that pool sufficiently deep, she stood on the ledge of the deck and dove in.

The water was warm, formed from the hot wet tears falling from her face. She sank, lower and lower, her hair strands of gold floating around her head. Her blue eyes peered into the murky darkness of the water as she sank to the bottom, and once she reached the depths of the pool, she contemplated why her life was so void of happiness. It had always been that way, always, except for a few brief months. Oh, how she longed to have that back.

But life doesn’t go backward. There are no time machines that magically make everything better; to bring back the magic that had long since faded. Oh sure, there are moments, and there are sparks. There are hours on the phone, yet those are fewer and further between than they once were. The familiarity is still there. The love is even still there, but it was never enough her love. Love was never enough. But she didn’t know how to let go of the only thing that had ever made her happy in her life. The only person. How do you let go of your lifelong dream of happiness?

Slowly, she floated to the top of the pool, her face and head breaking the surface of the water. As soon as she was back to the top, the pool lost its form. The water, her tears, poured down the hill in a sudden gush, flooding the street below. She stood there, now dry like the pool had never existed, tears once again sliding down her face.

She climbed the steps up the deck and went into the house. She was tired; her soul was tired. She pulled the blankets back and got into bed. The hum of the air conditioner and the faint beat of the music lulling her back to sleep. The pillow was damp beneath her cheek. Before she finally fell asleep, her last thoughts were of him and the happiness that always seemed out of reach.

Tina Short Stories

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