Frosty Hearts

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
It was always cold weather that put me in these moods. A mixture of dry air and sore muscles put my mind right on the edge between baren and overflowing. Days like these- the ones where everyone is joyfully complaining about the weather, little tasks prove impossible to endure in the inescapable cold, and everything seems to move slower than normal- made all the little, usually surpassable, things more clear.

“When were you planning on telling me?” she whispered, wiping the warm tears from her face.

I looked her over, tracing her slouched silhouette with my heavy eyes, wishing I could go back in time- back before the cold hit, my courage spiked, and my brain grew tired. I sighed, rubbing the warm, nearly empty, mug in my hands. The truth hurts, but it’s necessary.

“I wasn’t. Not really. I thought this would be something I can fix,” I admitted, a tinge of bitterness leaking through my injudicious words, ”I thought if I could- Nevermind.”

She looked at me, though I couldn’t see it as I was trying to focus on the spot being illuminated on my mug. I could feel her eyes, though- the same intense gaze she would give me when we first started talking about life. It was a look I was incapable of falling prey to. One which would light every frail bone in my body on fire with the truest of truth about my feelings. I made the mistake of looking into those dark brown pools of empathy and nearly lost all my sense of control.

“I know,” her sweet voice cracked, stabbing a sharp knife into my spine, “Don’t you think I understand?”

I hate seeing her like this, I always do, and the simple words of affection that would trail my regret would usually be enough to fix it. A simple I love you, or everything is going to be fine, maybe even a please would cure the disparity of nearly every petty fight. This time, though, it’s so much more irreparable, and so much harder to acknowledge. More tears fell from her beautiful and puffy eyes when I noticed the single droplet that fell into my mug. It was mine; the anticipated patronizing tear of anguish- far over-due if I do say so myself- slid down my reddening face.

“I do. I just needed to say it out loud. Thought maybe it would make me realize something,” I mumbled, wiping my scantily sticky cheeks.

I was holding back- oh if she only realized- and it was tearing me apart that I had to admit this. It was necessary, that’s what I told myself when I decided to tell her. It’s necessary for both of us. She needs to know, she deserves better, everyone deserves better.

“I’m still here,” she whispered, taking my warm safe-haven of a cup from my hands, setting it aside as she climbed softly into my lap, ”I’m still here, and I’m not leaving you. I won’t leave you. You’re so much more than what you think. I can’t leave you. It’s not fair.”

The last sentenced rolled off her tongue like a solemn prayer- like she believed every syllable. Her arms were wrapped around me now, face buried roughly into my buoyant chest as I also sobbed. I didn’t want to break down, I resented the dramatics of it all, but I was so drained from holding everything back that it all came rushing out like an avalanche of snot and salty tears. It wasn’t until I was done crying that I noticed she was softly singing.

It was a song I’d told her about before we started dating. I believe it was our 3rd date. She had wanted to know what my favorite song was and I couldn't decide. She pulled out my CD collection and started ringing off titles until I picked one. It was a song by Dashboard Confessionals, a band I’d long forgotten about until she called out the album name. The melody was nostalgic, the lyrics poignantly true, and the memories antagonizing(in retrospect).

“-But I am cleaning up so well. I am seeing in me now, the things you swore you saw your self,” she sang softly, voice cracking ever so often from the strain the crying had done to her soft voice.

It wasn’t perfect, far from it in fact, but it was so heart wrenching, broken, and emotional to me that I couldn’t help but listen to the string of angry words fall off her bittersweet tongue. The words, when I had first heard the song, meant something so entirely different before compared to what they mean to me now.

Now the words are honest, begging, borderline apathetic, and worn down. Before, they had simply been a string of angry and angsty sentences, haphazardly accompanied by a break from reality. Nothing meaningful in the least at the time- but that was before life had come to kick me to the ground.

I knew at this moment that she was just as scared as I. Because the way her nose scrunched up when she said ‘wrong’ made my heart wrench with memories of true regret. She had gone through so much, and I had always been there for her. I picked up all her shattered pieces and helped her put them back together. My waiting for that one phone call I often got, never too far from a landline in case she needed me. I was there when she was going through hell and couldn’t find an escape by herself. I was there.

I knew then, when she sang the words so meaningfully and brokenly, voice weak from the dry winter air and loud crying, that it was my turn to fall apart. It was my turn to let her pick up the pieces, and it was my turn to talk. It was my turn to be brave.

So, that’s what I did.

I told her all my anger filled stories, all the feelings of resentment for what happened to me, all the things that made looking in the mirror an impossible task, all the things that made me want to rip off my own skin and hide. I told her my darkest story, blubbering angrily, so totally filled with fear and trauma. When she grabbed my face and told me to look into those pools of chocolate, I told her the reason I hadn’t let them take me over. I told her the reasons why I had been so scared to tell her what was wrong, and why I was so scared to tell her I wasn’t the person I want to live with.

“It’s you. Honest. And I know how bad that is, to put all my hope into one person, but it’s what happened and now you’re the only thing I can really see anymore. You’re so bright, and I hate how cheesy my truth is, but the world is so dark to me. You contrast it all,” I admitted, sucking in a shaky breath of air nearly every 3 words.

“The world is dark, it always will be. You will always live with this pain, and there will always be a reason to lay awake at night. But you don’t have to keep it all to yourself. I’m always here, just as you were, and I will always love you. You can lean on me, I just need you to stay here with me.” she entreated, boring her chocolate orbs into my broken and glossy eyes with a truthful ferocity that I just couldn’t turn away from; the indignation in her voice was undeniable and I knew those words would never be able to lose meaning to me.

My world is always cold, always dry, always on edge, and always complaining. That’s my reality, but having this reason- this warm cup of tea- made everything worth it. I was tired of letting my mind eat away at my heart, and tired of letting my conscious overpower my will. This was what made me realize the truth about my mind.

I need to cry sometimes to be happy. I need to hurt sometimes to feel things. This doesn’t abstain from the fact that I still have a life to uphold for the people who care about me. It may have taken her years to finally keep all the pieces she dropped together, but she was still here because when all was said and done the pieces all still fit inside her.

I didn’t respond- not verbally- but when I fell onto her, grabbing her soft face with my small hands and kissed her, I’m almost certain it was implied. I don’t know why I thought this would scare her away, it’s a distant memory now, but I was ever so wrong to believe that. To build a snowman, you need to lean the snow on top of each other. Two cold, fragile, and delicate balls of snow need to keep each other stable to build the basis of a snowman. It’s basic science, really.