Always Here

By: J.J. Cheesman

“I was always there for you.” She said with a look so harsh it made me look away.

“I know.” I replied.

The conversation we had was strange. Absurd even, there in such a public place. I felt vulnerable and a little ashamed. The mall was alive with throngs of people rushing this way and that, any one of them could have been listening.

“Every time your heart was broken, I was your shoulder to cry on.” She continued.

“I know.” I whispered, fighting back the well of tears that threatened to spill over from my eyes.

“When you had your accident and ended up in the hospital for months, did she comfort you? Was she there by your bed every single night?” A voice like nettles asked.

“No.” I choked.

“Who was?” She demanded.

“You were.” I said, my voice as unsteady as waves on an ocean under an encroaching storm.

“That’s right. I was. I was always there. Even when you were young. Without question I’ve stood beside you all this time. So, when I ask you to do one thing for me, and you ignore me, can you understand how that makes me feel?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.”

I couldn’t look at her I was so ashamed. I just stood in front of the department store on the second floor of the mall, staring at my shoes and repeating that I was sorry. For a long time, there was only silence.

“Well, are you ready to go?” My girlfriend, Jessica, said.

I nodded, and without looking up or speaking, I turned and walked with her toward the escalator that would take us down from the second floor.

“Hey, are you okay?” Jessica asked.

I looked up at her and smiled.

“Yeah I’m fine. Sorry.”

She seemed satisfied and smiled back before stepping onto the escalator. I took one moment to look back at the department store. The mannequin was standing there, but she no longer wore a harsh expression. Now her face was warm and smiling.

“Just do this one thing for me Allan.” She says, her voice like honey.

I nodded, and turned back to Jessica, placing my hand on the small back of her denim jacket. With a gentle push, she tumbled all the way to the bottom floor, her neck snapping as her head made contact with the white tile below.

“Remember Allan,” A voice from behind me called, “I’ll always be here.”

Always Here

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