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The sun stung my eyes when the light reached the bed.  They still felt closed, although they were opened.  I placed each hand over my eyelids until the burning went away.  Before I even rolled over, I could feel that his body wasn’t lying next to me. If it had been, his legs would have been entwined with mine and our skin stuck together from the sweat.

Last night it took hours to finally shut off the worries that restrained me from drifting away.  I closed my eyes in hopes to find  more time in my cotton sheets alone.  As soon as I began to dream, the sound of the lawn mower awoke me.

I groaned and dragged my wasted, bare body from the old wooden bed that creaked as I stood.  I walked toward the window and watched as Thomas pushed the lawn mower across the front lawn.  His shirtless body was dripping with sweat as the sun sat on his back.  I wanted to beg him to wait until later, but the summer heat would only get worse as the day went on.  I couldn’t help but smile as the muscles in his back flexed with each push.  I felt embarrassed as I glanced down toward my frail body.

I went to Thomas’s side of the closet and pulled out the worn University of North Carolina t-shirt that he was wearing the first time we met.  It was Freshman year at UNC and I’ll never forget the image of my hands, sliding the shirt over his head while he shifted his body against mine.  It was when I met him that all the broken pieces of my life started to join together.  I stopped indulging myself in drugs and alcohol.  He was focused on law school and pushed me to pursue my love for writing, even though it went against my father’s wishes for me to go to medical school.  Thomas was the light that guided me from the darkness I had been trapped in for so long.

My parents weren’t around during my childhood.  My father was an Orthopedic surgeon who never came home and left my mother pilled up so that she wouldn’t notice he was gone.  I was forced to raise myself and make my own decisions.  With no one to guide me, I learned mistakes the hard way.  Money didn’t buy me happiness; instead it bought me an alcohol problem and a cocaine addiction before I even entered College.

It was easy to change after meeting Thomas. There was never a moment when he judged me; instead he inspired me to want to be something, something more than the poor little rich girl.  It didn’t take long to find that writing was what I loved.  I stopped accepting money from my father after college.


I walked outside while Thomas was still mowing the lawn.  The sound of the machine silenced once he noticed me.  He pulled a dishcloth from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his forehead as he walked toward me.

He kissed my cheek and said, “Put some pants on, you’re outside.”

I laughed and said, “Oh, since we have so many neighbors? I’m sure the cows aren’t checking out my ass.”

We were living in Thomas’s family farm house outside of Chapel Hill.  It was a cattle farm with fifteen thousand acres of land and a small brick house.  Thomas’s father renovated the house as a wedding gift.  With Thomas in law school at UNC and me writing for the local paper, we didn’t have many other options.  It was all we needed, though.

Thomas kept pushing me to work on my novel.  It had been a slow process since college. The novel was based on the troubles I endured growing up.  Eventually, every sentence I wrote began to feel like a big cliché.  A rich girl who lacked the presence of a father so she compensated with drugs and alcohol wasn’t very original. The time I spent in Oxford, England, during College was where the real substance was for my writing.  I went the summer of my Junior year of college to attend a creative program at the University of Oxford.  Thomas had broken up with me because I allowed my father to pay for the trip.  My professor gave only me and two other students the opportunity, and I couldn’t bear to turn it down.  The only way I could afford it was if my father helped, but I knew it was the chance of a lifetime so I went.  I knew Thomas would forgive me eventually, and I didn’t blame him.  He only wanted the best for me, and to him that meant staying far away from my father.

Unfortunately, there were things about Oxford that were too hard to put in words.  A lot of things happened that my husband didn’t know about. Things that I only kept from him because I knew it would hurt him too much.

We lay in bed for the remainder of the day, while Thomas studied and I stared at my computer screen. When he could see my frustration, he curled his body around mine and rubbed his hands through my hair to try and coerce me to sleep.  I’d lay there all night considering the obstacles restraining me from finishing my novel.  I contemplated starting something new, and digging out my journals from Oxford but I couldn’t face it.

I was still awake that morning when Thomas removed his legs from between mine.  I stayed quiet, but watched as he moved around the room to get ready for class.  His mouth tasted of baking soda as he kissed me before he left.  I pulled him in to stay, but he couldn’t.  My body was limp when I pulled myself from the bed.  I was working from home that day to finish a deadline.  I made myself coffee and sat down at the kitchen table to edit my article.  Writing for the paper was a simple task compared to my novel.

I heard a car coming down the gravel driveway toward the house.  I figured maybe Thomas had forgotten something.  When I stood to look out the front window, a black Porsche approached.  I tugged on an old pair of cut off jean shorts and prayed it wasn’t my father knocking on the door.

I opened the door and for the first time in two months, I thought I had finally fallen to sleep.  Or maybe I wanted to be dreaming, because if I wasn’t, then everything I was a afraid of was standing before me.  Everything I was afraid to put on paper was now there to confront me. The memories of Oxford that I had tried to drown so many times had surfaced on the porch of our farm house.


When I first met Jack, I’d hated him.  Unlike the other girls in the Oxford summer course,  I wasn’t impressed by his trust fund and the number of novels he’d published.  Although he was not much older than the students in his course, Jack had already published five novels and was incredibly smart once he stopped talking about himself.  He was charming, yet pompous.  Handsome, but not my type.

There were rumors he slept with students, but I never indulged in conversation.  I kept to myself in Oxford, writing journals and walking around the city.  I spent the beginning of my time in Oxford missing Thomas.  It wasn’t like him to stay mad at me, but it had been three weeks since we’d spoken.  I got caught up in my own self pity and it had begun to show in my work.

Jack called me into his office one day after class to discuss a paper I had done poorly on.  He lifted his eyes from his desk and watched me as I walked into his office.  His eyes trailed my body each step I took toward the chair before him.  I regretted wearing the slightly see through, white dress as his stare made me feel naked.  Even when my cheeks became red he didn’t stop.  Instead, his glare became more intense.

He continued to take me in as he spoke of my paper.  The feeling of discomfort started to fade as I became fixated on him.  I had never realized how handsome he really was.  His lips were full and surrounded by the most perfect jaw line.  I don’t remember the criticism he gave about my paper, I was too lost in his charming english accent.  He must have noticed the way I was staring back at him.  My breathing intensified as he stood up and walked toward me and sat in the chair beside me.

He leaned into my ear and placed his hand on my knee and whispered, “Do you feel it too?”

Of course I felt it too, but Thomas’s face entered my mind and I stood to leave.  Jack grabbed my wrist as I walked to the door and pulled me into his chest.  He held my face in his hand before he pressed his lips to mine.  In that moment, I didn’t want to leave or walk away.  I wanted to be right there.  It was the beginning of a lot of crazy.

We fell in love before I had time to figure it all out.  Everything was out of my control and it felt good.  But it wasn’t long before everything started to spiral out of control.

Jack was young and had more money than he knew what to do with.  There were fancy flats and restaurants, something that wasn’t so new to me.  He didn’t understand that I didn’t need those things to be happy with him.  I only wanted him.

I had told him to stop seeing other students, and he did.  It was difficult not to be jealous when he had one on one meetings with them.  One day I threw every piece of fruit from our fruit bowl at his head after finding out a girl had come onto him during a meeting.  He let every piece of fruit hit him and then went out and bought a diamond tennis necklace.  I threw that too.

Jack would drink a lot and I started drinking again.  Oxford turned me into the person I had left behind when I met Thomas.  I was in love with a man that I had run away from long ago, but I was crazy about him.  It was different with Jack, there was a passion between us that was undeniable.

When the summer came to an end, it was time to return to my senior year of college.  Jack and I spent the last week together lying in bed and kissing every part of each other.  He begged me to stay, but I didn’t like the person I had become with him and I still loved Thomas.  I left Oxford and I never told him about Jack.


Jack walked through the door of the farm house and held my face in his hand.  Tears ran down our faces, but there were no words.  We lay on the couch, and for the first time in a long time, I fell asleep.





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