by Meg Brodeur '24
Every few months she finds herself by the hearth, feeding the last of their shared memories to the dwindling embers. In exchange for the pages in her leather-bound journal, the red bricks give her bare knees a fresh coat of ashen soot. Her trembling fingers graze over the russet-colored leather and break open the spine. Tentatively, she skims for joyous words and accounts of his shiny false promises. Like when he said the name reappearing on his screen every night belonged to his “friend from work.” The same “friend” who was supposedly helping him hunt for a picture-perfect engagement ring. He had answered her questions without skipping a beat. “Only women have the knack for that sort of thing and asking you would’ve ruined the surprise.” She rolled her eyes at the memory of him sealing the lie with a wink and phony grin. Chastising herself for thinking she’d see him down on one knee for her.
Shuffling through the contents of her journal, she grows more and more anxious to watch them burn. She allows the flames to strip away joy from jollier times and gives their light to the fire. One by one she watches every serendipitous moment turn to ashes and fights back a brewing downpour of hot tears. She chokes back the urge to break, focusing on the mirage of crimson swallowing up the days she yearns to forget. Like their last day at the beach together. When she’d noticed how his smile revealed two sets of dimples. Back when she’d savored every sweet word from his arrogant mouth until her stomach began to turn. As those silver linings burn, she can clearly see the purpose of those charming dimples. They were a mere distraction from the vacancy of his lifeless stare. By the end of the night, all that will be left is what she can live without. And as she steps away from the hearth, a slight grin will take shape on her lips.