Her warning still echoed in my mind. He’s the kind of man that pulls wings off of butterflies. The faceless man had haunted me for as long as I could remember. I shuddered and clenched my eyes as tightly as I could, but the admonition refused to be silenced.
Glancing at my desk, I noticed Jace’s library book peeking from beneath a pile of discarded notebook paper. I hope he didn’t forget his report too, I murmured, as I reached for the book and flipped through the pages. The final words of the novel had been highlighted and the florescent yellow caught my attention. “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” Ann Frank had lived through hell but despite her suffering, she remained adamant that people were innately good. The diary had been her solace, but ultimately it had inspired hope in millions of people. I closed the book, lay it back on the desk and shuffled toward the kitchen. My life struggles paled in comparison, but I shared her passion and kindred spirit.
Drawn to the refrigerator, I opened the door and stared at its contents. I wasn’t hungry, but the fridge seemed to hold some fascination when my mind was searching. What was wrong with me? Why did I once again find myself at the bottom, struggling to look up? I’m educated, thoughtful, honest, kind … I shook my head in disgust and closed the fridge door empty handed. My description sounded like a girl scout. Perfect, a 45-year-old girl scout! Surely I had more substance. He had the affair but I was, once again, left to deal with the fallout, alone, broken and defeated. I just had to face the facts; I was a “jerk-magnet ” !
I reached for my empty coffee cup, filled it, and wrapped my hands around the steaming mug. The rich aroma of the strong, nutty brew filled my senses and the hot liquid almost burned as it slipped down my throat. Its warmth comforted me and the effect rippled through my body. As I ambled back towards my chair, I paused at the sight of the somber image in the mirror. My God, how did I ever get this way? I barely recognized the frumpy figure staring back at me. Pathetic, I whispered as I pulled the long, stringy, dark hair away from my face and grimaced at the aged reflection. What had happened to the determined, vivacious young woman who wanted to conquer the world?
Collapsing into the chair, I noticed the empty journal that had been strategically positioned on the table beside me. Josh, the older of my two boys, had given it to me a few months earlier in an attempt to encourage me. I used to love to write. Humph, I used to love a lot of things, but life had devoured my passion and swallowed my dreams. I opened the cover of his insightful gift, stared down at the blank pages and ran my fingers across the pen attached to the binding of the diary. Maybe writing could help, I said aloud, in a distinctly persuasive tone.
The wind whistled as it swept around the chimney and I shivered, feeling the chill of the autumn morning as it stole through the open flue and into the room. Curled up in the overstuffed chair, I tugged at my robe and tucked it neatly around my feet. As I picked up the pen, my mind began to unveil forgotten memories.
I am me. I can’t change who or what I am any more than I can move the moon or the stars. I feel deeply, think far too much and have dreamt of passion and love beyond the scope or fantasy of ordinary people. I, Casi McLean, was society’s child, daring to dream but only in the solitude of my bedroom in the dark of night. Something deep inside held me captive and sabotaged my ambitious aspirations.