14 February, 2011

East Coast Dreamer

New Short Story. <3

I stood in front of my vanity mirror staring at my reflection. My long, chestnut brown hair was hanging loose around my shoulders.
This is it.
The last of my belongings sat packed away in a bag at my feet. I was leaving the only house that I grew up in. The home that my parents thought would be perfect to raise their growing dreams in.
I put on the brown sweater that was laying on my bed over the white dress I bought earlier that week. This was the dress that gave me the final push. Yes, a little white dress that was once hanging on a rack in a Christian thrift store downtown gave me the idea to road trip. Alone.
No one knew I was leaving yet.
Mum and Dad knew half of the truth. They thought I was leaving our small North Carolina home to visit some colleges in New Jersey. What they didn’t know was that I was chasing my own dreams. That I needed to find my path.
My reality.
I grabbed the bag off the floor and made my way to the kitchen to say goodbye. Mum was sipping her afternoon tea out of her favorite blue mug. She looked up and sighed.
“Are you ready to leave for New Jersey?” I nodded and looked at her. “Your dad just came back from the gas station. He filled up the car for you.”
“Why did he do that?”
“I guess he wants to feel like he can still take care of his baby girl.” Mum put down her mug and pushed her oversized reading glasses on her nose. “Do you want anything to eat before you leave? You’re going to have a long ride, you know.”
“I know, Mum. But, I’m fine thanks. Me and the guys can always stop somewhere and grab a bite.”
They also thought I was picking up a couple friends along the way. So they wouldn’t worry about me traveling alone.
I tossed my bag in the passenger seat and closed the door. “So, I’ll call you guys when I get to the motel, okay?”
“That’s fine, Tilly. Just be careful and don’t do anything stupid.” Dad squeezed my shoulder and Mum hugged me.
“Bye you guys.” I got in the car and drove away, daring myself not to look back. If I looked, I might not be strong enough to keep going. And I had one more stop before I could hit the open road.
He was my last stop of the old path.

I sat outside of the last coffee shop at the edge of town with Caleb. We were recently engaged. But, our relationship really wasn’t going anywhere. How could it? He gave up on himself, and in turn, gave up on me. Our paths just don’t meet up anymore. I still have dreams that need to be tracked down and lived. He. . .didn’t.
“Caleb. . . Are you going to miss me?” He looked up from his coffee.
“Yeah, I’m going to miss you. But, you’ll be back in a few days, and I’ll be here waiting.” He took my hand and held it up to his lips. He smiled at me, the smile that always kills me, and kissed my hand.
I never realized how tiny my hands are compared to his.
Shit. This is going to be the last time.
Don’t cry.
Not now.
“Tilly, what are you talking about?” He let go of my hand. I looked down.
“I need to find my path, Caleb. I need to find out what I have to do.” I took the ring off my finger, and slid it across the table to him. He went to reach for it, and bit his lip instead. I looked away from him when I saw a tear escape his eye.
“If you’re sure.” He slipped the ring into his pocket, and I had to get up. I had to leave. Now.
I nodded and started walking toward my car.
“No, Tilly. Take this, please.” He took my hand and put the ring onto my palm. “I want you to know I’m in love with you. And I’ll be here for whatever you need. Even if it’s just a best friend. I love you.”
I hugged him as hard as I could.
Don’t let me go.
“I love you, too.” I pulled away from the hug, and stared at his loving face. Every feature about him told me how much he really loved me and cared for me.
Maybe this will give you a dream to chase.
I got behind the steering wheel and started down the road. Before I could stop myself, I looked up in the rear-view mirror. He was still standing on the sidewalk where my car had once been.
I was watching myself leave my dream.
My path.

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