Summertime in Bliss, Nevada was a nightmare. Being surrounded by sand, cacti, and mountains was another reminder of the desert-like, barren wasteland that surrounded the apartment complex.
The parking lot was filled with fifty dollar specials—clunkers. They were cars that had seen their better days, and were more appropriate for the junk yard than the road.
As a light breeze swept by, I turned, barely missing an eyeful of sand.
"It never changes."
My vision adjusted to the mailboxes and then to the thermometer outside. It was nearly a hundred degrees out and it was barely ten in the morning. I knew I'd hate to find out what the temperature felt like at noon.
Clearing my throat, I sucked in air. It was thick and humid, and it hurt the lungs to breathe, I noted miserably. Beads of sweat were already trickling down my flushed face. I used the back of my hand to wipe the perspiration as I glared up at the blinding, unrelenting sun.
"It's brutal out here," I murmured, quickly grabbing the mail out of the box, and darting back inside. I made it into the kitchen before I came across one piece of mail that made me drop everything else. "Oh my god," I whispered, my hands trembling, as a memory surfaced.
"I can't do this anymore, Winnie," he cried, his face buried in his large, rough hands. "I can't."
My lips trembled, and before I could hold it back, a stifled sob escaped from between my lips. It ripped through my body, painfully, bringing me onto my knees. A crowd was gathering around us, but their voices were muted as I sobbed the loudest I ever had.
Somehow, I looked up at him. "Why?"
It didn't sound like me. This was a broken me. Pieces of my heart was scattered across the sidewalk. The convulsions didn't stop, not even when he got to his knees.
"You're beautiful," Seth murmured, his shaking hand touching my red cheek. "I'm twenty three, you know. I'm getting older. I need to settle down. My parent's demanded it if I ever wanted to see my trust fund money. I took us to the next level, but I can't pretend anymore. I…I don't love you. I don't think I ever could."
Bystanders gawked, whispering amongst themselves. Suddenly my business became everyone else's. I wished I could disappear as they pointed and stared.
Seth's face darkened, and he gritted his teeth together. "Damn it, Winnie. This is why! You always need an explanation for everything. You can't let something go. You're like a three-year-old that's curious, but you're nineteen. You need to grow up. I could never marry so recklessly. Who was I kidding?"
"What?" I croaked out.
"Yes," he snapped impatiently. "I thought you could've been the one, my soul mate. You're not. I'm sorry. The engagement is off."
"I hate you," I finally cried. "I hope you die."
The memory faded as I stared at the crisp, white envelope on the kitchen table. It was that stupid invitation that had resurfaced an unwanted memory. I bit down hard on my lip to stifle a sob as a stream of tears flowed from my eyes.
You are formally invited to the holy union between Seth Sampson and Amelia Porter on August 22nd of two thousand and eight at three p.m.
Seth and I had a long, successful relationship. We started dating halfway through middle school, and we never separated. Coming from very traditional families, we believed that we'd grow up, get married, and start a life together. Maybe we'd live in a suburban neighborhood with the white picket fence. Maybe we'd have a little dog or drive a mini-van.
Both of us always knew that we wanted to have a family, and that we wanted to be together for an eternity. Our dreams were small, but they were still ours. And even through the worst of times, family pulled us through our relationship slumps. We fought and argued and sometimes threw things. But the morning we broke up for good was not one that I could easily forget.
"Baby, you're my world," he murmured, nuzzling my neck. "I can't envision a life without you."
My cheeks turned a vibrant cherry red. "Seth, you're adorable." I laughed, running my hands through his thick, soft, beautiful hair. "The world just lights up when you're here. You make me feel things, and because of that, I want forever with you—through the good and the bad."
"You're cute when you rant."
We walked hand-in-hand down the sidewalk, eagerly to church service. It was Sunday, and while we didn't go to services every week, we both made a conscious effort to go as many times as we could. But between our jobs, showing our faith had taken the passenger seat. Bills needed to be paid, and I knew that God would forgive us. He'd still love us when we couldn't make it to services because he'd knew that we'd carry his faith no matter where we were. And being at church or not wasn't going to change that.
"I love you," I whispered.
We turned the block to the church when Seth finally spoke.
"I know, baby. Oh I know."
My heart died a little. This was different. Seth was affectionate, and he always said what was on his mind. Something was holding him back. I saw the dark look in his eyes.
"Why didn't you say you love me?"
"It's time for church, Win."
"Seth Thomas Sampson, do not use the lord as your excuse. He can wait until you answer me."
"Baby, you're my world. You know that. We don't have time for your doubts. Come on. Everyone's staring."
I frowned. "Fine."
"Good girl," Seth grinned. "Follow me."
The past fizzled away as anger swirled in the pit of my stomach. Maybe I had been a little too forceful on him, but he had been acting strange for over a month. And I could see his feelings were changing, but I didn't know it'd lead to the engagement and soon-to-be wedding of another woman.
It wasn't even two months after our official break-up. How could he even dream of marriage? Or even engagement? Wasn't his heart supposed to ache as much as mine? But maybe it didn't. Maybe my love ran for him deeper than his love for me. Of course I couldn't help but think that he had gotten back onto the horse awfully quickly—only to find himself a fiancée.
I supposed his quick rebound wasn't what stung the most. It was his future bride, Amelia Madison Porter. Even back in pre-k we argued before prayer time. God taught us to love everyone, but we were two people that could never co-exist happily together. We became mortal enemies. We'd tug hair, scribble all of each other's papers, and even call names. It was embarrassing to admit that we never grew out of that phase. In fact, we got more vicious towards one another once we reached high school.
Not even time or our faith could help us.
And as ashamed in myself as I was, my faith started to waver.
How could I possibly attend their wedding? God wouldn't think of me poorly for skipping it, would he? He cared about me too much to see me hurt, and I knew what I had to do with that wedding invitation. I had to throw it away, and get out of town.
I had to rediscover my faith and find the missing part in my life. The hole needed to close, and I needed to move on. Maybe Seth had sent me the invitation out of spite, but I couldn't retaliate. If I went to his wedding, I knew I'd do something I'd regret, so the only option was to run away.
Problem was: what did running away ever accomplish?