CREATIVE CORNER: “We Parted at Dawn,” by Jennifer Crawley

Jennifer Crawley, Guest Writer

We met at dusk, passing by on the street. The imprint on my inner wrist began to tingle as we brushed past each other. Simultaneously, we paused, halted in our tracks, and whirled around to gaze into each other’s eyes. 

Her shimmering golden hair cascaded like a twisting waterfall over her shoulders, shading her eyes with side swept bangs. I swallowed thickly, my heart pounded so hard in my chest, I felt as though it might jump completely out. I looked down to the initials on my inner wrist, and then back up to her

“KWJ, is that you?” I said, my voice barely above a whisper, nearly drowned out in the bustle of the city. 

As if frozen in time, we only saw each other, tunnel vision to what very well could be my soulmate. Looking back, we were just two crazy teenagers. Pausing in the middle of the sidewalk, holding up the foot traffic, glares filled with disdain being cast our way for interrupting the flow of the mob. All I could see was her, and those beautiful, icy blue eyes. A grin split across her face and she nodded eagerly. 

“KWJ.” She confirmed. 

The air of maturity she exuded melted away in an instant as she sprinted to me, crashing into my lanky form, each of us wrapping arms around each other in a sweet embrace. 

“LVN?” She questioned. 

It felt so good to hear my own initials from her lips. Her voice was sweet, addicting honey as she murmured in my ear. We pulled back, holding each other at an arm’s length. 

“In the flesh,” I chuckled nervously, and we were drawn back into a tight hug once more.

As we got to know one another, our love swelled. This wasn’t some shoddy, forced relationship that was built upon the belief that we were “soul mates.” We weren’t clinging to some obligation that we were fated for one another, this was real love. Something that in my nineteen years of experience, I had never felt. 

First came the wedding, and then the painfully expensive honeymoon, then we had our children. We had a little girl named Amelia, and two boys, Charles and Levi. They were as beautiful and vibrant as her. We cared for skinned knees, elbows, heartbreaks and tough school work. As time passed, silver began to sneak into our hair, wrinkles creasing our faces, our backs gradually beginning to bend into a hunch over our matching mahogany canes. 

Our children grew before our very eyes, as if time was briskly moving on without us. Our children found love, little grandbabies running rampant as we chuckled raspily, leaning back our chairs. We watched over the sprightly little things until they’re seemingly endless amounts of stamina finally ran out. A storm was brewing beneath the glittering facade of endless happiness. Time crept slowly forward, slinking back in the shadows, a predator that lie in wait. Bearing its ugly, gnarled fangs, it lunged.

She was sick. Deathly ill, as the warm hues of her cheeks began to fade into a dull, chilling white. In her old age, it was inevitable, but harsh winter also contributed. As I patiently knelt by her bed, her body wrapped in various blankets to combat the constant cold she was plagued with, I talked with her, receiving no answer as she slept soundly. 

I told her, “My love, your calm, soothing voice… Can I hear it one last time? You must pull through, dear, prove the doctors wrong. They say– They say that you won’t make it to see the spring iris flowers that bloom at our cottage.” I drew in a breath, my angular body trembling ever so slightly. “Don’t leave me, dear, not yet.” I cupped her bony, freezing hand in my own, pressing my forehead to the back of her hand, mumbling words of prayer that I had hoped would reach God, any god. 

Desperately, I hummed to her, I sang to her, I read stories to her, I would tell her of family news, of the tree that sprouted in the front yard against all odds. She listened, sporadically nodding understandingly, with a weak, deteriorating smile lining her cracked lips. The kids would sparsely come to visit, each trip becoming less and less frequent. 

In the early hours of the night, the slight shuffle and shifting of covers being adjusted woke me. She requested that I draw near, and I complied. Her outstretched hand loosely cupped my cheek, a shaky, melancholic smile on her features. 

“LVN?” She called, voice hoarse, her empty eyes searching the room for my figure. 

“I am here, my love,” I mumbled in response, a pang of pain shooting through my heart, a lump forming in my throat. “You are as beautiful as the day that I met you,” I leaned into her touch, tears threatening to spill over. 

There was a hint of a smile in those pale lips, and haunting blue eyes. The familiar flame in the gleam of her expression began to sputter, the last of its fuel slowly flickering as it sizzled into nothing. Her eyes fluttered shut, as she drew in a deep breath, letting it out in a grave sigh. Her ice cold hand slipped from my cheek, limply dropping to her side as the tension in her body finally relaxed. 

As the sun began to shyly peek out from the horizon, I stood, the chair scraping, wood against wood. As I watched the sun rise, a solemn tear fell down my cheek; my body looked comparatively calm to how tangled my mind was. 

By the time the sun was fully out, a river of tears were travelling down my ashen cheeks, the only outlet to my immense sorrow were the sobs that wracked my body. I watched as the life had drained from her very eyes, and as my deadened, empty gaze settled on my inner wrist, I watched as her very existence was erased. The blocky letters that read; “KWJ” were growing faint, fading into the background of my skin, melding into the flesh, taking away any sort of evidence that we had ever been connected. 

The sun climbed higher, its unwavering heat mocking me. My lip quivered ever so slightly as my cries slowly ceased, fading into silence. 

Evening fell, and my heart, in tandem. The mellow light radiating off of the sun stretched across the fields, dappling the trees and bathing the foliage in warm light. Splashes of brilliant hues, red, orange, and yellow, lit up the world, my eyes searching for some sort of comfort on the horizon. 

All too suddenly, we were plunged into night, a chilling darkness eating up everything in sight. 

We met at dusk.

We parted at dawn.