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The Summer of Heartbreak

September 15, 2011

This was inspired by the Red Writing Hood writing prompt over at Write on Edge this week. The topic: romantic heartbreak using a fictional character or non-fiction experience.

*****

While I was never one that believed in “love at first sight, ” something drew me to this guy the first time I saw him stand up in a crowd on a spring day in 1996. He was cute, funny and I loved that he was so comfortable speaking in front of a crowded room. He was wearing a green polo shirt and jeans. I have to get to know him, I thought, as I made my way back to the punch bowl (literally) where he was standing.

A mutual friend introduced us and immediately we clicked. After that spring day, we saw each other on campus; met for coffee; and had amazing two-hour phone conversations. He helped me move into my new apartment and offered to grocery shop with me. He even hung out with my roommate and I to watch Reality Bites.

This guy was different. I liked him … really liked him. And I knew he liked me too. Although we were not even dating (just hanging out), I felt – for the first time – this relationship was like no other. This would go somewhere.

And then things changed.

He went to visit a (female) family friend out of town for two weeks and upon his return, the phone calls were few and far between. Messages I left him were not returned or returned with a slow pace. He avoided getting together.

What happened? I wondered every day. What had I done?

I was dying to see him again, as I truly missed our wonderful conversations. We finally agreed to meet on campus for a smoothie during summer school (so romantic, I know). We talked, but the conversation was strained and different. Something was missing.

He gave me a ride home and I found in his car’s stereo a cassette tape. When I asked about it, his reply was, “It’s a mix tape from a friend.” I later visited him at his apartment where I saw on his bedroom wall several photos of him and some new friends (one of which was a girl that appeared in several of the photos).

I was so sure our relationship would lead somewhere. So what went wrong? It was later that night that all the pieces flooded into my head and came together in front of my eyes, a la the ending of The Usual Suspects.

The photo of him and his “new friend” on his apartment wall.

The mix tape she made him in the car.

The fact that he seemed distant and not willing to talk much.

And the fact he stopped calling when just a few weeks before he couldn’t stop calling.

My stomach lurched and my heart sank. And I knew. He was dating this girl and I was old news.

The next morning I woke up and that first ten seconds upon awakening felt like everything was normal and okay in the world. And then I realized, it’s not; and the loneliness came flooding back. This was sorrow. This was heartbreak.

*****

A lot has changed since Bryan broke my heart that summer day 15 years ago. So much so that we’ve been together as a couple 12 years and married 10 with a nearly 4-year-old daughter. I guess the heartbreak was worth it after all!

63 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2011 10:38 pm

    Oh YAY! I did NOT expect that ending, I was just thinking how sad, all those “What if’s”
    None of those for you! What a great story!

  2. September 15, 2011 11:50 pm

    Luckily for him he realized the error of his ways.

    • September 18, 2011 7:31 pm

      Exactly, Anastasia! It took a few years, but he did.

  3. September 16, 2011 12:47 am

    Wow, I had no idea. How was it you found each other again, and how much time passed?

    • September 18, 2011 7:31 pm

      It’s a long story; many stories. Kinda like my own Road Taken. But nearly three years.

  4. September 16, 2011 1:43 am

    Your ending caught me by surprise too!! Yay for a heartbreak turning into forever.

    • September 18, 2011 7:32 pm

      Thanks. It’s nice when it does have a happy ending.

  5. September 16, 2011 3:25 am

    I liked the twist, and I bet you did too! Thanks for sharing this piece with us :-).

    • September 18, 2011 7:32 pm

      Yes, Allison, I did like that twist. Thanks for reading!

  6. September 16, 2011 3:34 am

    Nice job- I wasn’t sure if it was fiction or non-fiction til the end. I’ll have to check out the site.

    • September 18, 2011 7:33 pm

      Thanks, glad you liked it. The site is great and has lots of ideas and ways to link up with other writers too.

  7. September 16, 2011 4:07 am

    Oh, thank goodness! I LOVE a happy ending πŸ™‚

  8. September 16, 2011 5:16 am

    Oh yay for the twist at the end!

    I loved this at first: “What happened? I wondered every day. What had I done?” because it’s so very relatable.

    But seriously I love me a good love story!

    One more time: Yay!

    • September 18, 2011 7:33 pm

      Ah, thanks Galit. Haven’t we all uttered those words at some point? I’m glad it had a happy ending too.

  9. September 16, 2011 6:04 am

    Lovely. Very well done Leah, beautiful twist at the end that no-one saw coming. You’re good!

    • September 18, 2011 7:34 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth. This was the first time I’ve written this way. I may have to keep it up!

  10. September 16, 2011 6:04 am

    I did not expect that ending. It reminds me of a saying my mom told me once “Jewish woman will forgive you, but never forget why she forgave you!” Great story, but the ending even greater!!!

    • September 18, 2011 12:09 pm

      Love your mom’s quote!

      • September 18, 2011 12:11 pm

        Reply from “MOM” was directed at Adriana.

    • September 18, 2011 7:35 pm

      I love that quote, Rada! I may have to frame it. And yes, the ending was a good one.

  11. Lena permalink
    September 16, 2011 6:29 am

    Wonderful piece Leah, very week written and you sucked me right in. I loved the ending, as I’m sure you did, too!

    • Lena permalink
      September 16, 2011 6:29 am

      ok, meant to say “well” written – not “week”” — uugh. Sorry ’bout that.. anyhow applause!

    • September 18, 2011 7:35 pm

      Thanks, Lena. Glad you liked the ending. And yes, so did I!

  12. September 16, 2011 6:41 am

    What a surprise and pleasant ending, Leah. I immediately started thinking about how many others had experienced this same sort of situation, and then bam, happy ending – love it!!

    • September 18, 2011 7:36 pm

      Thanks, Susan. It’s probably so relatable to people. We’ve all said those things and wondered why. Glad it worked out for me too!

  13. September 16, 2011 7:10 am

    Yay for happy endings! I’m glad you got back together and are happy!

  14. September 16, 2011 7:14 am

    As everyone has said, love the ending of course! And I can totally relate to that feeling in the morning after a relationship heartbreak — for a second you think everything is the same and then it comes back to you and you have to relive it all over again. Ugh, I hated mornings after a break-up (I am getting all worked up just thinking back to them now!).

    • September 18, 2011 7:37 pm

      I HATE that “morning after” feeling too. And it’s the same feeling for any kind of tragedy or problem. You wake up in the morning and have that split second of joy and then, BAM, it hits you!

  15. September 16, 2011 7:23 am

    I love a sad story with a happy ending!

    • September 18, 2011 7:37 pm

      Thanks, Shary. I’m glad this one had a happy ending too.

  16. September 16, 2011 7:40 am

    I am very happy for you and your family… Glad things “righted” themselves.

    • September 18, 2011 7:37 pm

      Thanks, Amy. Worked out very well for my family, I’d say!

  17. September 16, 2011 8:10 am

    You’re good. You had me right up to the last moment. I’m so thankful it all worked out and you and your family. ~applause~ πŸ™‚

    • September 18, 2011 7:38 pm

      Ah, thank you! Glad you liked the twist ending too!

  18. September 16, 2011 8:51 am

    Nice! I’m so glad it worked out for you… There I was, nodding my head, sure the heartbreak was around the corner… But happiness was, instead πŸ™‚

    • September 18, 2011 7:38 pm

      Yes, I was sure too. And it was for about three years. And then happiness!

  19. September 16, 2011 9:08 am

    Wait… what?! Ok, so how did things turnaround? Did you hold up a stereo outside his bedroom window playing your song?

    Loved the Usual Suspects reference. I’ve had those “coming together” moments as well.

    Great post!! Glad it had a happy ending.

    • September 18, 2011 7:39 pm

      Ha Ha … it was exactly that — me with a stereo! But seriously, it took about three years and lots of stuff in between. I’ll have to save all that for another post. Thanks for reading!

  20. September 16, 2011 9:10 am

    I thought for sure the story ended with heartbreak. What a great story. Thank you for sharing!

    • September 18, 2011 7:39 pm

      Thanks for reading, Amber. I’m glad the heartbreak turned to happiness too (for my sake).

  21. September 16, 2011 10:15 am

    Yay! But yea, I want to know how you got back together?? Thank you for sharing this!

    • September 18, 2011 7:40 pm

      I need to write those stories up for future posts! Seems like I now have a following. Thanks for reading!

  22. September 16, 2011 10:17 am

    Yay! But yea, I want to know how you got your man too πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing!

  23. September 16, 2011 10:18 am

    Ok, Leah. Waiting for the follow-up story. Waiting for the sequel.

    • September 18, 2011 7:40 pm

      I need to work on the sequels, don’t I? It took nearly three years. I’ll write more later.

  24. September 16, 2011 3:20 pm

    Yes, now I want to know how you two got back together!

  25. September 16, 2011 8:12 pm

    Love the happy ending!

    • September 18, 2011 7:41 pm

      Thanks, Terry. As you can imagine, so do I!

  26. September 16, 2011 11:02 pm

    *sigh* I was TOTALLY thinking “butt head” I’m glad he realized what a GEM you are! I love a happy ending….

  27. September 17, 2011 9:07 am

    Oh, my goodness! I was so not expecting that ending! You two have a great story.

    • September 18, 2011 7:41 pm

      Thanks, Lizzie. It’s quite a story. But I’m glad it turned out well in the end!

  28. aig63 permalink
    September 18, 2011 10:10 am

    Wonderful post! Maybe someone will make a song of it! Thanks for sharing!

    • September 18, 2011 7:42 pm

      Thank you! You know, since I was a little girl, I loved the song “The Search” by Survivor. And I feel like that truly epitomizes Bryan and my path.

  29. September 18, 2011 12:15 pm

    Again another beautifully written post, Leah πŸ™‚ I love you,daughter #1 β™₯

    • September 18, 2011 7:43 pm

      Thanks, mom! And you were there to witness it all!

  30. September 24, 2011 8:25 pm

    How wonderful that it turned out well (and the added bonus is you get to hold it over him forever) LOL.

  31. Becky Sue permalink
    September 30, 2011 7:35 pm

    YAY! A happy ending. :)))

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