Friday, August 20, 2010

Heartache on 14th Avenue.

As the breeze blew down 14th Avenue, it ushered in rumors of the coming winter. Surrounding trees braced themselves for the cold, letting go of amber leaves one at a time. On a small park bench weathered with rust, David Maxwell sat and reflected on one thing in particular: Nancy. Nancy, the girl who had bothered him so much when he first started working with her. Nancy, the girl who always forced him out of his comfort zone. Nancy, the girl who liked chocolate when he much preferred vanilla. Nancy, the girl who he felt had trapped him.

Nancy, the girl he loved. Nancy, the girl he lost.

Today marked the six-month anniversary of the day she left him. He had arrived home from work, so tired he could barely see straight. Before he could turn the knob and let himself into the apartment he noticed the note on the door.

“David,” it read, “I’m throwing in the towel. I hope that you find happiness somewhere else.” He laughed at how impersonal and immature the medium was- a note on the door, next to a flyer from Pizza Hut- but even so, the message had gotten across. And when he looked around at the now-empty apartment, it had a much more lasting impact than a coupon for pizza.

Now, six months later, he still missed her. He still missed her socks lying around the apartment. He still missed stepping in puddles on their walk to the coffee shop on rainy Sundays. He still missed the way she would clench her teeth when she told him something she knew would anger him, with an apologetic look in her eyes. Hell, he even missed her stupid little canary, Larry.

But David realized he had wasted half a year, far too long, wishing for something he could never retrieve. His thoughts turned to Allison, the cute little redhead he had met at the bar the other night. Sure, he probably only had her number thanks to the liquid courage lent to him by Captain Morgan. But if he wanted to move on and start his life back up again, he had to be bold. With this, he pulled out his phone.

The night went even better than the night at the bar. Dinner was delicious, and between bites they shared stories about the times when they had been happy, times when they had been afraid, times when they had been embarrassed. David couldn’t help but think that he would love to be part of a whole new series of stories for Allison to tell. After the movie, they didn’t say goodbye as he let her out of the cab. She took him by the hand and led him up two flights of stairs, where they stopped outside of her apartment.

“Wanna come inside?” Allison asked in a low, inviting tone. David mirrored her smile, but his eyes wandered, and rested on a small piece of paper. The note taped to the door said: See you at Wild Notes Karaoke Bar. It was signed by a Katie, whom he assumed was her roommate. All of a sudden, it didn’t matter who signed it. All he could think of was Nancy, and the little green dress she wore that night at the karaoke bar. All he could think of was Nancy, singing a Third Eye Blind song broken by giggles, while he watched from the audience. All he could think of was Nancy, taping a similar-looking note to his door before carrying her last box of things to her car. All he could think of was Nancy.

“I do, I really do,” he told Allison. “You’re adorable and I would love to come inside. But I can’t, and I don’t expect you to understand.” Before she could respond, he turned around and walked back down the two flights of stairs. While the cool autumn breeze blew crunchy leaves across the street, David walked back toward his empty apartment, avoiding every puddle along the way.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this piece. It was packed with so much emotion. I could understand the overwhelming pain David was experiencing. The setting seemed to mirror the sadness in his spirit.

    I especially liked the line:

    "Surrounding trees braced themselves for the cold, letting go of amber leaves one at a time."

  2. Very rich, beautifully telling. Your prose is wonderful here. I love the details: the socks, the canary, the puddles. Very fun to read. Awesome job!

  3. So full of detail and emotion! Very smooth flow and nice to read.

  4. The impact is in the detail, especially with the notes and the last line about the puddles is awesome.
    Adam B

  5. I think this week you are unique because you used the prompt as your punchline ... and boy did it work! It's such an incredible truth that the smallest detail can escalate into such a chain of associations that bang! you have come undone. A wonderful piece thank you.

  6. Thank you for the feedback, guys.
    I wish Friday weren't such a busy day, I didn't have time to reciprocate.

  7. I'm late in responding but that was just beautiful! You have a true gift for story telling, and truly I felt like you were telling me about this poor guy's real life. So vivid and...sad. Honestly. I hope this fellows finds happiness one day. Just like Nancy wished for him. :)

  8. I get easily distracted when reading, but this kept my attention the whole time. All the details made me feel I actually knew him.