AN: Well, hi. For the last time, I guess. So this is officially the SECOND story I have ever finished. Crazy stuff, right? And while we're on that subject, the prequel-sort of sequel (that's what I'm calling it now) to Any Time at All will come out sometime this upcoming week. So there's that for me. And for you guys, if you've read that story. What else did I have to say…oh! I was thinking about how this story was written throughout the course of my entire freshman year. Isn't that funny? I started it one of the last HOT days in the fall, and I ended it the first HOT day this spring (it was 83 degrees over here in Chicago today). As per usual, I won't have an ending comment, because I want you to get the last words. They've been carefully planned since Day 1.
Before you guys read, I just want to say thank you. For putting up with my constant hating on John, for dealing with my more neurotic moments, for still following this story even through the rather long breaks I took between chapters in the end. Your reviews have literally made my days at various points, and that means the world to me (and the people who have to deal with me daily, trust me). And on that note…here is the last chapter of I'm A Loser.
For me, goodbyes have never been easy.
I think that all stems back to my brother, Henry. I was in first grade, just seven years old, and the details of that week are sharper than any other memory I have. Henry was a year older than me. He was brave, protective, and the kind of funny that the adults just eat up. He loved me more than anything, I realize that now more than I did then. Me and Henry, we never fought. We hung out like we were best friends. When I got things and he didn't, he never complained, and when I forced myself upon his little group of friends, he never said a word. My mother always said that Henry was taken from us because he was too perfect, too good for the world. She said that he already had life figured out, so God chose to end his life, knowing it was more fulfilled than anyone else's. In a few years, my mother would lose that tremendous faith, instead blaming God on her more drunken nights.
Henry's one weakness was his allergies. As much as we knew he could handle himself, everyone always had to work hard to keep him from wandering too far from the house. We didn't want to lose our little, precious gift, and in the end it was out of our hands. The beehive that roosted just under our front porch wasn't visible to people above five feet, and none of us kids wanted to go near it. Henry was always the brave one. Always adventurous. Always naïve about the things he could and couldn't do.
I never got to say goodbye to him. I was upstairs, recovering from a tantrum and having just turned down Henry's offers to go outside and play. It was then that I heard the screams, the blare of the ambulance, my mother's muffled sobs. And before I could register it, he was gone. Later that week, at the wake, I looked down on his face and I saw the same old features that I always saw: short, curly black hair; pert little nose; scarlet lips; ears that stuck out a little too far. I didn't say anything, my entire day weighing down upon me as I stared at him. All I could think about was how lifeless he looked. I couldn't think of what to say, so I turned and ran out of that place, crying my eyes out.
It only registered to me later that the perfect thing to say would have been goodbye. The one thing I could never say.
So, when I left for America, I couldn't face John. I didn't know what to say to him, other than what I already had. I was confident that I still loved him, wary on the fact that I might never love another more. But I knew that he couldn't feel for me how I might eventually feel for him, so I didn't try and change him again.
Happy endings are, in my mind, perfect fantasy. They just don't exist. All I could hope for in those first few withering months abroad was that he wouldn't forget me, or how he once felt for me. That maybe he would make beautiful, heartbreaking songs about the girl that played with his heart so badly. And, like most times, John didn't fail to surprise me.
I remember exactly where I was when I heard The Beatles playing for the first time. They appeared on one of my favorite shows at the time—Ed Sullivan—and my jaw literally dropped when I saw their lead singer. He looked taller, his frame more filled out. His hair was longer, straighter, and from the black and white of the television I couldn't see the auburn I so vividly remembered. Nor could I smell that scent that I still held in the back of my memories. But there he was, smiling and singing and strumming and doing what he loved, just like he'd always dreamed.
From that day on, I became an avid follower of those four lads from Liverpool. As screaming fangirls threw themselves upon them, I laughed and remembered the dirty looks John and his strange-eyed friend Paul got from girls at school. As they grew older, more mature, experimenting with drugs and all that peace and love shit, I remembered John slapping my friend, the way she fell to the ground, the cold look in his eyes. And when John met Yoko Ono, saying that this love was the only true one he had ever come upon, my heart broke in two. Not because I was still hung up on him—by then, I was married and a mother—but because I remembered his book of poems, all professing his undying passion for me. Passion that, apparently, died.
Now, I'm an old woman. I'm not that girl I used to be, falling in love with dim-witted, blue-eyed, soon-to-be-gay jocks. I have grandchildren, a big house with a fenced in yard where my family often joins me, and my last name is not Lennon, as I once foolishly thought it would be. My days are spent in my living room with my husband, sitting before the TV and trying to find something too modern on it. Or in the kitchen, finding new ways to fix potatoes for my ever hungry grandchildren. Sometimes I even venture out into the world, marveling at how fast everything changes.
But the real place I find solace is next to my fireplace, looking up the only A+ project I would ever get in an Art class, three framed, slightly yellowed charcoal drawings, imperfect yet quite a talking point whenever someone enters my house. On each paper, right in the lower right hand corner, is a name messily scrawled, familiar to what is basically every single person who knows me. And that's how I remember him, up there on my wall, no shame at all. And yeah, I do think about him, as everyone always thinks about their first love. It would be impossible to forget him.
And through it all, I believe that he has finally let go of those demons that silently tore us apart, whether he realized it at the time or not. He seemed to die a happy man, although when I heard about it I holed myself up in my bathroom for a week and scared my children to death. And when I go to sleep at night now, I always say a little something to him, purely for our amusement. Normally it's a comment on how I still refuse to eat bananas or anything that contains them, how the smell makes me sick. I like to think he listens to me, even awaits our nightly banter, even if it is strictly one-sided. It may be crazy, irrational, even a little sad. And yeah, I know…
I'm a loser.
Of all the love I have won or have lost,
There is one love I should never have crossed.
She was a girl in a million, my friend,
I should have known she would win in the end.
And I will never forget the things she said to me,
I'm a loser, that I can see.