Authors: Abbey Lincoln
Copyright 2013 Abbey Lincoln.
This is a work of fiction and
entirely a work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
I’d been in love with Ryan Scott for as long as I can remember. I think I loved him even before I knew what it all meant. For most of my youth, he was everything to me, though looking back now I realize I didn’t understand the significance of it, or how it would affect the rest of my life…and every relationship I’d ever have. It seemed Ryan was my own personal love barometer; the person every other man would have to measure up to, and none of them ever did.
Back then, he was the first one I’d turn to when anything happened; it didn’t matter if it was of any significance or not. In fact, there isn’t a memory I have where he isn’t there beside me, holding my hand, wiping my tears, or sharing in my laughter. For so long, he was my best friend, the person I’d confided in and sought out when I needed advice or simply a shoulder to cry on. Given all we shared, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone, least of all me, when our relationship turned from something so innocent to something filled with so much passion.
Even I will admit that we were both a bit shocked and overwhelmed with how much passion we felt for each other at such a young age; how desperate and all-consuming it was.
Our transition from best friends to lovers was such a seamless part of my youth that I can scarcely recall the exact moment it happened. In my mind, one minute we were a couple of kids texting each other stupid photos of ourselves making weird faces and then the next, we had crossed that bridge into adulthood, exploring each other’s bodies with reckless abandon and curiosity that can only be associated with young love.
Ryan, whose seventeen year old body was full of hormones, had the sexual appetite and stamina of most teenage boys. Luckily, he had a partner who was more than willing to experiment with anything his hormone-driven mind could come up with. My memories of that time are nothing more than a series of hushed whispers and a tangle of limbs as we tore each other’s clothes off in our attempts to discover more and more ways to pleasure the other. A smile comes to my face and a gently throb pulses inside of me as I recall the feeling of Ryan’s skin beneath my fingers. I shudder, thinking of him naked and on top of me, the look of desire in his eyes as he moves in and out of me, and finally, the look of sheer ecstasy as he reaches his climax, arching his back to bury himself deeper within me.
My youth had been filled with curiosity as well. I’d spent countless hours stroking his penis while watching his expression, determining which caresses he preferred. I’d take him in my mouth and bring him to brink over and over again until he was begging to be inside of me. There were no secrets between us, no parts of our bodies that weren’t intimately familiar to the other. In fact, I knew Ryan’s body perhaps better than I knew my own. From his light brown hair that he kept cut short and neat, to his green eyes that could look at me for an instant and tell me his desires. I knew where he liked to be kissed, bitten and caressed. I’d covered every inch of his body with both my hands and lips and knew that if blindfolded, I would still be able to feel my way around a room of naked men and find him.
And Ryan, I knew, could say the same of me.
Even at such a young age, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that the two of us would be together always. I realize now it was a stupid thing to believe in, given our ages as well as the fact that neither one of us had any control over our lives. It was a lesson taught to one afternoon three weeks before my sixteenth birthday, delivered both swiftly and ruthlessly.
We are not, nor will we ever be, in control of our destiny. I learned that the day Ryan was ripped from my life, taking with him my heart and leaving me with a gaping hole in my chest that no man has since, and I suspect, will ever, be able to fill.
It took some time, but I have succeeded in finding him once again. I had to find him, given all that has happened in the past few months. I had to see him one last time before I began the rest of my life.
Oddly enough, he didn’t stray far from our home town of Springfield. In fact, right now I stand on his doorstep only thirty minutes away from where we both grew up, though I am certain Ryan did the bulk of his growing up during the time he spent in that juvenile detention center.
The story of Ryan and his father was something that rocked our small town to its core. It isn’t every day that a teenage boy shoots his father in what appears to be cold blood. Though Ryan never said anything in his defense, he and I both knew he hadn’t shot his father in cold blood. I knew him better than anyone else; we were two parts of the same whole. I knew how tender his hands could be, how gentle he was with my body. It simply wasn’t possible that he could have done something like that without being provoked and feeling like there was no alternative.
Nothing even close to that had ever happened before and I recall with utter clarity how swiftly everyone’s opinion of Ryan was altered. It was as though their emotions were linked to a switch they had no control over. A switch linked to the town paper that told the story of a seventeen year old boy who’d shot his father with a hunting rifle, but didn’t bother to ask what might have driven a polite, respectful, honor student to pull that trigger. It seemed no one wanted to hear Ryan’s side of the story. Perhaps our small town was afraid of discovering something sinister had lived undiscovered beside them. Perhaps it was much easier to believe that Ryan, a “volatile teenager,” - if you were to believe the local paper -had simply turned on his father, an upstanding member of society. In any event, the crime had been committed and the perpetrator has been sentenced. There was no need to dig any deeper, not that they could have, since the rifle took the life of the only witness to what happened in their small house.
But I never believed a word of it. It was incomprehensible to me that the same hands that were so tender with me could pick up a rifle and kill the only family he had without being provoked.
Needless to say, I was alone on my beliefs.
Ryan never told me much about his relationship with his father, or what had happened the night he took that rifle in his hands. I had my suspicions, of course, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my twenty three years, it’s that the truth is often much more horrific than anything our minds can imagine.
Almost overnight, Ryan had become “that boy,” someone to be feared, instead of the sweet, polite teenager who’d taken care of his father ever since his mother had died of cancer when he was only nine years old. Even my father’s opinion of Ryan had become jaded. He’d forbidden me from ever seeing him again during breakfast one morning over a ham and cheese omelet we shared, something we did every weekend for as long as I can remember.
It was also something we never did again.
My father banned me from ever seeing Ryan again as though he were asking me to clear the breakfast dishes. He mentioned it casually, as if the thought had only just entered his mind and was some sort of afterthought after reading the story of Ryan’s arrest in the morning paper. I think it was his indifference and complete lack of understanding of just how painful his decision was that really knocked the wind out of me. How could he not have known how much Ryan meant to me? How could he not know how much pain it would cause me to not see him every day? Didn’t he know Ryan was a part of me? That without him, I was simply not whole?
But I was not yet sixteen, and entirely dependent on my father for everything. I could not defy him, not that I even tried to. It is because of my own inability to stand up for myself, my own cowardice, that I stand on Ryan’s doorstep now, scared to knock on his door and alert him of my presence, knowing with absolute certainty that he will slam the door in my face the moment he sees me because I abandoned him so long ago.
But then it occurs to me – what if he doesn’t even remember who I am? What if his memories aren’t as vivid as mine? What if he no longer has any memories of us? Of what we were together?
Truthfully, I’m not sure which would be more painful – Ryan not remembering me or seeing the recognition and anger in his eyes moments before he slams the door in my face.
I take several deep breaths, steeling myself for seeing a man I have not seen in nearly eight years. What will he look like? Will his eyes still be as green as they once were? Will the scar on his chin have faded or will I still be able to make it out and want to caress it as I had done so many times before? I imagine he will be different, hardened somehow, given all he has been through, given all who have abandoned him and, in essence, cut him from their lives. It saddens me to know that, for the most part, Ryan has been alone for many years now and I wish with my entire being that I could have been there with him, despite how difficult it might have been. I wish I would have stood up to my father and told him I would rather chew off my own arm (or something as dramatic) than stop seeing Ryan. I wish I would have told him that Ryan needed my support, all of our support, especially now. But of course, I was too young and too fearful of my father’s hold over me to ever take a stand like that.
I raise my hand up to knock but find it stills, almost as though it has a mind of its own and isn’t ready to face the reality of what may happen. After all, for nearly eight years, I have imagined what it would be like to see Ryan again, the possibility of being in his arms just once more is still as overwhelming as it once was. In my fantasies, not once has it entered my mind that Ryan might have moved on or forgotten me, but now that thought is the thought I can’t seem to shake. Always in my mind, time has stood still for him as it has for me.
But what if time has moved on for him?
My arm drops to my side and I take a step back. Is this what I really want? Do I really want to know how this ends or should I turn and run and spend the rest of my life living in my perfect fantasy instead of facing what may be the biggest jolt of reality I’ll ever experience?
I turn away from the front door and lean my head against the wooden frame of the front porch. For the first time I notice the chipped paint and the warped floor boards I stand on. At first glance, the house seems nice enough but as I take a closer look, I see the wear and tear. My heard clenches knowing this is not the life he had in mind for himself. One mistake, it seems, has altered the course of his life forever. Will he ever be able to get back on track? Will he ever be able to live the life he’d always wanted?
I should not be here. I now feel certain I am a part of a past that Ryan no longer wants to be a part of; a past he does not want to remember. After all, who wants to remember what might have been? Who wants to remember dreams that may never come true? I feel stupid and immature, something I’ve not felt in some time.
As I take a step down off the porch, I hear a sound behind me. Turning, I see the wooden door pull inward and then, Ryan is there. My heart lurches in my chest and suddenly, all the emotions I felt in my youth come rushing back with a force that nearly knocks me over. I place a hand on the railing to steady myself as I look at the man I have loved all my life. Even through the screen I can see his piercing green eyes that are now focused on my own.
For the first time in my life, Ryan’s green eyes are not looking at me with desire and love; they are looking at me with confusion and hesitation. This in itself is bizarre and foreign to me. We’ve never held anything back from one another and the fact that he is doing so now tells me without a doubt, everything has changed.
“Ryan?” I ask, suddenly afraid of him, which startles me, because the one thing I have never been before is fearful of this man.
“Becca,” he replies. There is no question in his tone and no longer do I doubt that he remembers me.
I smile. I can’t help it. The fact that after all this time, he remembers me makes me happier than I’ve been in some time. “You remember me.”
Then, the tiny glimmer of happiness I felt fades, and the worry returns. Will he slam the door in my face? Does he hate me? My chest tightens as I realize I simply cannot bear the pain of knowing Ryan might actually not want me here. That he might hate me and detest all the memories I hold so dear.