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A Time: A Short Story

by Lydia Hulshizer

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun: a time to be born and a time to die…

I repeated it in my head, the poem the therapist had given me. It was the only thing keeping me together at this point in time. The only thing keeping me from bursting into flames and crumbling into ashes on the cold pavement of this desolate city street.

…a time to plant and a time to uproot…

It was a problem I had. A problem of trusting people, always looking for the best in them. My heart loved the idea of second chances. And third chances, and fourths, and infinites. Redemption. That was my problem, my fatal flaw. Believing in people. Horribly flawed people. Because when I had first looked into those blue eyes of his I had thought I had seen the sky swirled all together into one beautiful vortex. And now I realize…I realize they never were the sky, never were the waters that could cleanse your soul and make you whole again. They were ice, cold hard ice. Eyes that would pierce you through to the heart, numbing you to their painful intentions until it was too late.

…a time to kill and a time to heal…

I stared at him standing there on that dark, rain soaked street.  There he was the glow of a single street light at the far corner illuminating his figure. There he was. The boy that had my heart and had thrown it to the wind. The boy that had kissed me with deceitful lips, and then stabbed me in the back. The boy that wouldn’t apologize. The boy that had lied straight to my face. The boy that told me I was the only one he wanted, but would not give up any part of himself to have me. The boy stuck in his ways. The boy who was slowly destroying me, and yet all I wanted to do was save him, keep his head above the waters I was drowning in. There he was. The boy who I would let do it over and over again if I could just keep him as mine.

…a time to break down and a time to build up, a time to weep and a time to laugh…

“I think I liked the idea of you,” I started. My voice tried to catch in my throat, claw its way back down, as if afraid of the wind dancing dangerously around us, but I dragged it upward and onward forcing it to march on into the storm.

“I think I liked the Brexton I had in my head. The Brexton that was so perfect. So perfect that he was unrealistic. So perfect, but so flawed.”

…a time to mourn and a time to dance…

He wouldn’t even look at me, just stared at the raindrops bouncing off the cracked pavement.

…a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…

“I love you,” I whispered. It was so quiet I didn’t know if he had heard me over the faint patter of rain. I was scared; scared to say those words because they are dangerous words. Words that could both heal or kill. They are like throwing all the cards of your soul out on the table, and asking to have all the hearts tour to pieces as you watched helpless without an ace to defend yourself.

…a time to search and a time to give up…

He looked up then, stared at me, and I saw fear well up in those blue gems. Those stormy eyes. Eyes that held so many memories. So many tragedies.

“I love you,” I said again this time without holding back. I almost expected the world to shake in shock of my proclamation, but the rain just kept pouring down without interruption.

“Annable please…” he begging, “Please don’t…”

…a time to keep and a time to throw away…

“But I need to love myself too because it was me. It was me that my heart beat for first, and if I stay with you then I don’t know how long it will keep doing that.”

… a time to tear and a time to mend…

I could see it there. The oceans were forming behind his crystal blues as the ice slowly melted into raging waves.

“I love you. I will always love you, but I can’t do this anymore.”

“Please don’t. Annable we can try again please…”
“This isn’t what I want!” I screamed. My voice echoed down the empty street bouncing its way down and around all the abandoned residences as if trying to find a home. An open door. Somewhere safe. I couldn’t tell if it was just rain running down my face anymore, “Do you really think this is what I wanted?! This was never what I wanted! I just wanted you! That is all I ever wanted! But look where we are now Brexton, look where we are now! And whose fault is that?”

He opened up his mouth to say something, but nothing came out, and for the first time I saw the boy that always had answers, absolutely speechless.

…a time to be silent and a time to speak…

“We are cursed. We both know it. It’s like the whole universe is against us. Every time it seems like it will be fine the world hits us with another sucker punch.” It was so true, but a truth neither of us wanted to fully except.

“Annable please. You can’t. I need you,” he was grasping at straws, “Annable I…”
“No!” I screamed, begged, “Please. Please don’t make this harder than it has to be. Don’t tell me you need me, that I am the only one for you. That we can make this right again because we can’t. We never could. Don’t tell me. Don’t…don’t tell me you love me too,” my vision was blurring, “You have already hurt me enough. Brexton, you broke me. All this…” I threw my hands up in the air waving at the dark world around me, letting the rain pelt my upturned face, “…all this madness broke me, and if you did ever truly love me you would realize this is the only way. You can’t fix me. You never could fix me. Never could make me complete. I have to do that myself. Alone. You have to let me go.”

…a time to love and a time to hate…

He stared at me then, dropped his head and stared at the ground again. The rain droplets ran down his hood, racing each other, only to fall to their deaths at the brim.

“Then go,” he said, his voice quivered ever so slightly, “Just go. Goodbye Annable Dane.”

…a time for war and a time for peace…

“Goodbye Brexton Beers.”

And that’s when I turned and ran into the darkness before I could see the boy I loved, the steel wall I had known, crumble into a storm of tears after I had broken his heart to save him. To save all the people I loved. To save myself. You must understand, I was a time bomb ticking on to my own destruction one second at a time. And if I was going to blow to smithereens I would do it where I couldn’t hurt anyone else. Where I could do it on my own terms. I let the tears come as I ran, let them mix with the tears the sky was crying for us, because if we are honest fairy tale endings are in story books for a reason because that is what they are. Stories. Fantasy. Fake. Reality hurts. Good doesn’t always win. You don’t always get your answers. The prince doesn’t always save the princess. People die. Good people. True love gets broken because sometimes people are made to fall in love, but never be a forever. True love has its roots in time and time is unforgiving. So here we all are. Broken children running through time lost in its never ending chaos. All broken hearts and shattered memories fashioned into one beautifully terrifying mosaic.  

Sometimes you have to end one story of your life and close the cover on it. Sometimes you have to begin writing a new story hoping that fate has pity on you, and, perhaps, this time, in its pity it will give you an ending worth the time it took to get there. An ending that leaves your soul at peace. There is a time. A time for everything under this brutal sun.

Image by Morgan Hanna