Haunting Memory

From the Writer’s Digest creative writing prompt “Doomed Love”

The bustle of the city streets was almost comforting as I was easily able to lose myself in the crowd and numbly go about my commute. Five blocks from my flat to the subway, across town then three blocks to my office. The daily grind was definitely boring and repetitive, but it was a balm for my broken soul. I never thought I would enjoy or even be able to survive in such a huge city, but I found I was able to melt into the shadows. In such a city as this, nobody pays attention to the one.

Every day I woke hoping that this would be the day that I would truly smile again, that the pain constricting my heart would leave. I had wasted years on him. What had started out casual had become serious; what had initially been sweet had become controlling; what had been endearing had become sinister. It had taken me a long time to reason with myself, to convince myself that given his domineering, manipulative nature it was for the best that he had stormed out after our final argument. But still, every day still felt like the one before, the despair just as thick as the day he had left.

I turned toward the station, took the stairs at a leisurely pace; the man who took my coin was surly and rude, but then he always was. The train arrived shortly and I found a seat on an empty row. I zoned out during the commute, my mind going back to him. So many times we had argued, and I would beg and plead for him to forgive the offense I had committed only in his mind. Even the last time I had begun to write him a letter I planned to leave on his truck. The beginning words were still burned into my memory.

“I wasn’t planning on this. Falling in love with you was the last thing I wanted. Because I know our time would have to come to end. Yet, here I am, begging you not to turn the page.”

I hadn’t been able to finish it. I finally reached the point that I was done grovelling and apologizing for who I was and the way I behaved. For too long I had let myself be used by him, let him drain my accounts, and I was finished. I had packed up and left, used what little remained of my money to take me as far away as I could get.

The train slowed at the next station, and I gazed out the window across the faces of those waiting on the platform. One caught my eye, and at the same time made my blood run cold. It was hard to miss him as he stood above very nearly everyone else. That had been one of the things that attracted me to him initially all those years ago. I don’t know if he sensed that I was staring, but I saw him look up. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me when his eyes met mine.

Suddenly he moved, weaving between people to reach the train. I got out of my seat and moved to the second door. I clutched the shoulder strap of my soft leather briefcase so tightly my knuckles were white, but even that didn’t stop my hands from trembling in shock. I looked back over my shoulder. As he stepped on, I stepped off. The doors closed behind me, and I turned to see the disbelief in his eyes as the train pulled away, carrying him away and leaving me behind.

My gait was unsteady as I left the station, and it took me several deep breaths to gather myself together. As my hands quit shaking, I laughed. Looking around I saw that I hadn’t even made it to the halfway point of my commute, but that didn’t matter. A huge weight felt as though it had lifted from my shoulders…from my heart. It felt rather ironic that I had needed to see him again before I accepted the truth.

I didn’t need him.

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4 thoughts on “Haunting Memory

    1. Yup. Based around the line in the center that I’ve got in italics. It went perfect with one I was already working on based on the prompt: you see a former love at the subway.

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