Saturday, May 16, 2015

HAVE YOU EVER BURIED THE HATCHET?

Bury the Hatchet
Chapter Thirty

If you want to read this from the very beginning, please CLICK THIS.
Based on a true story

    The great thing about time apart is that you find out how much you miss—or don’t miss—someone.
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    The time spent away from Mark was excruciating, albeit for the best. After all, when it comes to big issues, like having children, if you don’t agree, it’ll never work out.
    Mark pulled up to my house around 9am the next day. His lips hung in a frown. “This whole thing sucks,” he said. “You really think we should quit dating over this?”
    I nodded.
    “But we could keep dating; and not worry about things that aren’t affecting us right now.”
    “And all the while, I’ll grow closer and closer to you; by that time it’ll nearly kill me to let go.” I couldn’t look into his face. I turned away slightly. “It’s best to say ‘goodbye’ now. Unless you want to stay friends?” I hoped he’d say ‘yes’--with everything in me. 
Instead Mark shook his head. “Gina, that would be too hard, watching you date other people, knowing we’d never be together again….”
    I completely understood--this was a cut-and-dry break-up. "Okay," I said. "But just do one last thing with me?”
    “What?” he asked. "You want to go to the place we swung in the hammock?"
    “Yes! But first, you wanna go to The Dollar Store with me?”
    “Ummmm…. What?”
    “You heard me.”
    So we drove to The Dollar Store, and the whole while I felt Mark’s mood changing from completely sad to curious.
    “I wanted to come here because I'd like to make a time capsule with you!” I said.
    “Seriously?”
    “Yep. If we bury it today, we can meet in five years and go dig it up together. Then I can hear about your life.” And his kids. “And how happy you are.” And his beautiful fertile wife-of-the-future. “It’ll be good.”
    “Five years?! That’s way too long. How about six months?”
    “You can’t bury a time capsule for six months. That’s silly. Time capsules have to stay buried for at least a year.”
    His eyebrows raised quizzically. “Okay. A year.”
    “That doesn’t seem like very long”—for him to find a wife and have babies, and see how good it was that we were breaking up—“but I guess it’ll work."
    “What does all of this have to do with The Dollar Store?” he asked.
    “I’ll get a mason jar, two notebooks, and pens. We can write stuff to each other. But I also thought it would be fun to buy a dollar item that reminds us of each other. Imagine how cool it'll be to dig everything up next year!”
    He laughed in spite of the situation, then sounding robotic, said in the monotone, “Who kn-ew brea-king up could b-e so fun.”
    I slapped him on the back. “I’m gonna find something that reminds me of you. Don’t be cheating and trying to snoop on me!" I smirked. "Meet you at the truck in fifteen minutes? Oh and don’t forget, whatever you’re getting needs to be able to fit in the mason jar.”
     I looked everywhere throughout the store. I could buy some soap—‘cause he smelled nice. Or some gum—‘cause he’s refreshing. I went from aisle to aisle thinking about how each freakin’ item could remind me of something good about Mark. At one point tears filled my eyes momentarily before I shook them off, remembering if I had to say goodbye to this man, I would do it with dignity—and it’d be hella fun. Maybe then Mark would look back and remember--even this moment--fondly.
    It wasn’t until the last couple minutes that I finally found the simplest thing that still had profound meaning: a candle.
Mark already waited in the truck. I handed him the mason jar and he quickly shoved in the item he’d purchased, still wrapped, into the sack. I set mine in as well.  “What did you buy?” he asked.
    “I can’t tell you yet." I giggled. The mood had lightened up so much. We were both starting to have a little fun, and I was excited to bury the thing. “can we still go to where we swung in the hammock together? That's where I'd like to bury this.”
    “Okay. We’ll hike in. It’ll take some time though.”
    “As long as I’m back before the kids get out of school, then I have time.”
    “We’ll make it work.”
    So we spent the first half of the morning hiking to the same area we’d visited before. After arriving, Mark sat down on a rock and gazed at me. “Now what?”
    I pulled the two notepads and pens from my pack. “I want both of us to write where we want to be next year—even if it sounds outrageous or we know it would never happen.”
    “Like winning the lottery?”
    “Exactly! Whatever comes to mind.”
    He ripped a tiny piece of paper from her notepad and quickly wrote, then stuck it in the jar.
    “That was fast. Apparently you know what you want.”
    “Maybe.” He looked away.
    I thought for a moment and wrote the first thing that came to my mind. 
    –Next year, I wish I could be engaged to Mark, and that I could have a job at a hospital—
    It would never happen—let alone within a year—and I had no idea what he’d think about it next year, but I was being honest if anything else.
    “Should we also write a note saying why the dollar store thing reminded us of each other?”
    “Sure,” he said.
    We each ended up writing on another small piece of paper. I wrote something about how candles are illuminating and bright. How when burning they provide inspiration. How Mark seemed to make life better, clearer, brighter while in my life.
    After stuffing the wadded papers into the mason jar, we both just sat side-by-side for a long time gazing at the nature around us. Wind rushed past our faces over and over. I remembered his words from the last time we’d been there:“I always want to be in your life. To be your guy, the one person you'll lean on throughout life. But...I have always wanted to have a kid, just one."    Life with me was a dead-end of his biggest dream.

    I finally moved near him. “I wonder… Where do you want your life to be in a year?”
    He laughed mischievously. “You’ll find out, when we dig this up—in a year. Maybe we should wait five years!”
     I gave him the stink-eye.
    “Should we put anything else in here?” he asked.
    “Heck yes. We haven’t put the most important part in.”
    “What's that?”
    “Well…”—this would sound weird—“I figure since we’re breaking up, I want to tell you how much our time together has meant to me. I heard of a couple who did this exercise in counseling and it was really neat; they imagined that their significant other had died, then they wrote them a letter saying everything they’d wanted to say, but never had.”
    He looked like he’d swallowed a live bullfrog—whole. “Oh, wow,” he croaked.
    “Yep.” I tapped his notebook. “So, imagine I’m dead, baby. Let’s do this.”
    He flipped to a new page in his notebook, and said, "YOU are a character!" That's when both of us started writing.