The jet touched down.
My heart remained in the clouds. A ragged kite fighting my grip. Above, it flew. Thumping. Nervous. Afraid.
Nervous about the extended weekend. Afraid of what might come out of it. What it might signal. An aircraft marshal directed the jet. I closed my eyes, saying a prayer to my heart. To my brain. To my soul. Nerves calmed, allowing me to slowly reel in my emotions. Emotions that fought against the current of time and odds.
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A chime, and my eyes fluttered open. People began moving. We began departing the plane.
"Enjoy your time in Atlanta," the flight attendant said as I exited.
"I hope so," I thought. I told her, "Thank you."
Above the exit gate, an information sign outlined the date and time. February 13. The day before Valentine’s Day. The last Valentine’s Day I’d spend with my wife.
Before the holidays, my wife returned home to Georgia.
I told siblings and friends she wanted to be around her family for Christmas. I don’t know if anyone believed me. After three months of her absence, I knew nobody believed me.
Our home felt larger without her there. An echo never there before came in her absence. Not as I walked, but as I thought. Bouncing through the walls of my mind, always there. Always present. I hoped for things to work.
I prayed for things to get better.
It felt colder in the home. I never adjusted the temperature. The bed felt menacing as it sat, watching me. Judging me. It remained perfectly made. Perfectly made because I slept on the couch. The fear of falling asleep in the bed, only to be consumed by the emptiness of the other half all too real. It couldn’t swallow me whole if I took up residence on the sofa.