This flash fiction is a love story to my wife, who passed away suddenly almost three years ago. She was a huge fan of Fall Out Boy, but passed away before their newest album, Mania, was released. She would have loved the album, so I wanted to include snippets of my favorite lyrics to pay homage to a band that inspired her so much.
The first words I remember telling you are branded in my memory. The fire of youth burned in us both, but the flames only licked at ashes around us. You understood what I meant. The light in your eyes was the brightness of stained glass.
I’d learn another day, another month, another year later as we lay in bed, curled under throw blankets and heads drowning in your soft pillows, that you felt it then. When ‘I’ had become ‘we.’
“I knew it had to be you then. You’re just the last of the real ones.”
That’s how memory goes, isn’t it? We remember the moments, but the whole, like a forest, is lost in the trees.
I remember the first time I knew I was in love.
“You drain the fear from me,” I had thought as I walked at your side.
That was before. Before I wondered about the things that you do in the name of what you love. What happens when together becomes the one that was lost and the one that was left behind.
In truth, some princes don’t become kings. Some fairytales are never told, and others quake in the face of life and tragedy.
Those days after you died, all those who loved and supported me concrete pillars around me, it all felt dim. There’s nothing more cruel than to be loved by everybody but you. To know that tomorrow will rise without you in it.
But you only get what you grieve. To love, be loved, is to have and lose.
As the years went on, the distance between us, it sharpens me like a knife. The world tried to burn all the mercy out of me. I became hardened and cold, and for a while, everything felt like thorns in my chest. A frosted glass instead of the beautiful rose windows I’d come to love when you were with me.
I’m struggling to exist with you and without you. I can’t bear the memories, but their absence would leave me empty, and I can’t stand the idea of losing what little is left of you.
It’s like I woke up on the wrong side of reality. Like there’s no discernable explanation for how you could exist one moment and not the next. How there can be a world where you’re there, and then one where you’re not.
I’m looking through pieces of broken hourglass, trying to get it all back. Put it back together but the shards cut at my hands, and as the sharp pain raches my nerves the pain leaves me shaken.
The only comfort is the certainty that if I can live through this, I can do anything.
If I can take the broken pieces of glass, bend the metal of my nerve and determination into some semblance of a frame, I can make beauty from broken glass.
If I can only.