This story is by Ralph Askenazi and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
In the midst of the night, I took my car, and just drove to the spot where it all happened, remembering the day from so many years ago. It was a rainy December day, but the rain that caused the accident was long gone.
It all started with teenage lust in the Winter of ‘04. I never really fell in love until Elin on that Snowy January day, and I thought that meant that it was true love.
It was the summer that I remember by description. The wind blowing into my pale face, blowing my blond hair up into the air, both of us being ready to live the rest of our lives together, me as Carly, and Elin.
But like a lot of teenage love, this closeness was doomed from the start. Just by the fact that we were young, and dumb. Neither of us wanted to accept that what was between the two of us, was fading, slowly disappearing. Fizzling away into nothing from what it once was. From the link of a snowflake, with the beginning of the relationship to the collapse of rain at the end. Like many chains binding us together, to just one weak link. One weak link that neither of us would or could let go of.
We were like star-crossed lovers, in my head thinking that we were designated to be together forever. Love at first sight. Like Romeo and Juliet. Except we lasted so much longer, until the point that we fell apart.
The problem might have been that since we thought our relationship had to be perfect, we never thought to argue, and let it all out. I guess we thought that we weren’t supposed to, and that it wasn’t okay.
It was a late December day, a rainy one when everything finally broke apart.
It was Elin who was driving the car. We were supposed to go on vacation together for the holiday. In a split second that all fell apart. We started talking about where we were going to go and what we were going to do on the trip, and we got into another argument. The kind of ones that just started to show up with the stress of the relationship of the last couple of weeks.
The fact that we wanted to be together forever plaguing our minds.
I got scared for a second and screamed at Elin for causing the accident since he was using my car and I could already see the damage, and he screamed back at me for choosing this highway to go on.
Luckily, we both only got mildly bruised but it was enough to set our closeness, our connection, on fire. United, once, now never again.
All my dreams and hopes were no more. Our relationship now just what remained from all the arguing that had burst out in the past couple of weeks. It was something I tried to avoid at first, but now was unstoppable.
The magic we once had was now gone. When the relationship ended, I moved back into my parent’s extra apartment. The one I had lived in before I moved to Elin’s house.
The first year by myself was the worst. I was alone from everyone else. It felt horrible, and I felt empty inside. As if there was no point of existence. As if there was no purpose for me being here. As if the world was a horrible place, and there was no good. My brain and body felt empty but full at the same time.
Empty of love and kindness but full of thoughts, what if’s, and whys? Why am I here? What if I kill myself? Will anyone even care? It was a while before I was ready to move out of my parent’s apartment, and ready to go back out to the world. Ready to live my life again. Ready to forgive or let go, or maybe I wasn’t ready.
It took me years and a lot of therapy after the end of the relationship. It took a lot to get rid of my anger about Elin.
Falling into my old habits of being lazy, moving to my parent’s extra apartment and running out of money to pay for utilities, and so I had to turn a lot of utilities off.
Sometimes while I was at my parent’s house, I saw the snowflakes and rain coming from the sky, and down to the world. They all scared me, the snowflakes reminding me of my naiveness in thinking the relationship was going to be so great, and the rain reminding me of the end of my relationship.
We used to be like one snowflake for so many years, but as time went on, we started to melt away from each other, into two separate raindrops. My feelings for him were still there, but as year after year went on, it all started to disappear like how long after it rains, there’s no remainder of the rain long past.
It also reminded me of how I used to think that everything was good, and learning that it wasn’t true. Maybe that was what broke me. I looked around my dark apartment, and reached for the lights, turning them back on. Not caring how much money I wasted because I decided that I was done. I was going to get a job. I was going to change my life. This was it, I finally had to break my old habits and get over Elin.
Fifteen Years Later
It was a rainy day at the park, and I had brought my children to the park to play. I turned around for a second to see my children playing with some other kid. It was only drizzling, so I didn’t mind them playing.
I turned around again, even more shocked to see Elin at the park. He looked at me first, as I said,” Elin?! What are you doing here? This is your kid?”
He nodded, and it seemed like he had changed from all of those years ago.
I felt a surge of anger for what he had done to me, looking up to still see that he was there, even though it really wasn’t his fault. Not really knowing what we were doing. The anger came and went, and I was glad I was able to control it this time. Years ago, had I seen him, I would have screamed. I would have yelled, still not recovered, still angry, still not ready to let it go. Not ready to forgive the fact that I had lost the connection that we once had.
It was like reality had rewarded me in a way, because once I fully got over the relationship I was able to find my husband.
It was a gift, in a way. Without the rain on that fateful day, I might have been stuck with Elin so much longer, and not found my true soul-mate and the snow. Showing how the whole relationship started, didn’t scare me like it once had.
I wasn’t sure how to start a conversation, and so I didn’t, and we both stood there, silent.
He seemed to have the same expression on his face that I had. Confused and weirded out that we ended up together again. It was like the world had asked for us to be together again.
All of a sudden, I knew what I had to do to show him that what happened all those years ago didn’t matter so much. I reached my hand around his neck and hugged him and he did the same, after a second of awkwardness. It was a little weird but it was the only way that I could think of how to say that I finally forgave him.
The mood seemed to change right away.
Before he left, he looked at me and said,” Friends,?” like we were still kids. It started raining harder and I needed to go.
I took my hand out of my pocket and shook his hand back, and then he left, the rain chasing us back home.
Things change throughout the years. Everything changes until we can’t recognize who we are. I changed from being isolated to being in love. I changed from hating the world, to once again becoming an optimist. I changed, despite how much I wanted to stay angry.
If years ago, I couldn’t imagine being his friend, I might as well change it now.
It took me years to start liking the rain and snow, and it took even longer until my feelings for Elin were gone. It was still raining when I arrived home, when my husband came home from work, and the next morning when I woke up.
That was when I decided to face the rain, running outside, letting each raindrop bounce off my skin, like I was still a little kid.