Five weeks ago, I was one of the most important people in her life. Now, a near stranger is the most important person in her life, and I’m barely a part of it.
It feels like death. It feels, inside, exactly the way it felt when my father died.
I know that, one month ago, she left, and she’s never coming back. She’ll go away and be part of someone else’s life, and we’ll see her now and then, but she’ll never really be back.
After all the years of stress and frustration and countless hours of worry and talk and tears, someone else gets to have the almost adult we created, and we get an empty hole.
It’s not fair and it hurts, and all anyone else sees is the angry whining selfish old man. Someone is taking one of my most precious possessions, and doesn’t even seem to care how I feel.
I’m scared and sad and lonely. I’m heart-broken over the projects we’ll never finish because she’ll go away and be part of someone else’s life instead of mine.
It’s not anger. It’s pain. That sound in my voice; the look on my face.
That’s my heart breaking.
He’d said he’d leave his old life, settle down, marry her. She wanted to believe him, wanted to be his wife.
It had taken time. He’d said it over and over. As they walked in the meadow at the edge of town. As they sat by the fire at Mrs. Wilson’s cafe on damp days. As he’d walked her almost all the way home.
She’d finally believed that he’d changed, that she could marry him and be happy.
Her pa was another matter.
“Men like him don’t change, Lacey.”
“You did.” She didn’t make it a habit to challenge him, but since her mother’s death she’d grown bolder. Her pa pretended not to notice, just went on as if she hadn’t changed.
“I was never like him. And you’ll never marry him, I’ll see to that.”
She had wondered why her pa could change but wouldn’t allow it in another man.
And now, standing at the front of the little church where the town nearly spilled into the meadow, she wondered where he was; where they both were.
# # #
Meanwhile deep in the woods, two men stood, guns drawn, in a level place at the edge of the stream.
Their guns were not aimed at each other.