January 8, 2011
Prompt: Exorcise - to free (a person, place, etc.) of evil spirits or malignant influences.
Storyline: New Beginnings
The fire in the fireplace was burning with as much rage as Leah felt. As she threw things in, watching the embers jump into the air, she felt the bitterness and pain dissipate ever so slightly. The pile of objects, things that supposedly meant something to him, to her, were nothing but a painful reminder of what she'd lost, what Emily and Sam had taken from her.
She looked at the picture in her hand and felt tears prick at her eyes. She refused to cry, to give them the satisfaction. How could he have done this to her? They were supposed to get married, have kids, live out the American dream together, and now she was alone, angry, and so full of hurt and pain she could hardly see straight sometimes.
She had been lashing out at everyone in the nine months since they'd broken up, and eventually, her friends had an intervention. They told her she needed to pull herself together, get some help, or go away. They loved her, but they couldn't stand by and watch her self-destruct in this cycle of misery and anger. At the time, she'd told them all to fuck off, but in the weeks that followed, she saw they really had meant it. They couldn't watch her do this anymore, and after a drunken binge and a run in with the law, Leah had decided they were right. Countless sessions with her therapist, Zafrina, later, she found herself here, in front of the fireplace, trying to rid herself of some of the pain she had bottled up inside.
This purging ceremony was supposed to make her feel better, help her close the door on this painful chapter in her life. Zafrina had given her the idea to get rid of some of the things that reminded her of him, to figure out a way to let go of some of the hurt and disappointment, and betrayal she felt. As much as she'd relished the thought of watching his stuff burn and wither into ash, it felt like a piece of her was burning away too. Maybe that was the point: Let go of who she was with him… and that meant letting go of him… completely.
Her eyes watched the firelight dance and flicker as her rampage slowed and she sank to the floor, feeling exhausted and broken. She stared at the photo album on the floor and leaned over to pick it up. He had given this to her on their second anniversary. He'd said it was his way of showing her how much every moment with her had been one more piece to the puzzle of his life. Too bad he finished their puzzle and decided to move on to a bigger, better one, she thought bitterly.
The album felt heavy, and the silver engraving, Sam and Leah, on the black cover taunted her, beckoned her to open, to relive it all. With trepidation, knowing what she would see, she slowly opened the book. The first image was one of her favorites. It was the day after her eighteenth birthday, and Sam had taken her out for a picnic and "playtime," as he called it. She looked at the way her hair waved in the wind as she floated through the air on the old tire swing, her bare legs kicking wildly as she laughed. Carefree. That's the only word she could think of to describe the moment. She smiled as the memories washed over her – the way he fed her as the basked in the sun on the old quilt he'd brought with them and then made love in the open air. Yes, that was one of those timeless moments she'd never forget.
The next few photos were of the two of them together, mostly just hanging out and being silly – chugging beers, making dinner, and snuggled up on the couch. The further she went, the more emotional she became. Tears had somehow started to leak from her eyes and were rolling down her face. Her cheeks felt hot, and the misery and emptiness she felt inside were staggering. How had it come to this? She didn't want to be this angry, bitter woman. She wanted to be the old Leah – vibrant, full of life, and quick to laugh and smile – but she didn't know how to get there. Zafrina had told her repeatedly that it would take time and patience to get there, to find herself again, and this was one of the steps in that process.
A spark and crackle in the fireplace pulled her out of her haze of self pity. She looked at the last page in the album. Sam was standing behind her, his arms draped around her shoulders. His nose was nuzzling the side of her face and his lips were pressed against her cheek. He was completely enraptured with her; she could tell just by looking at it. She wanted that again. She wanted to find someone who would love her – like that – but differently. It was like a switch flipped inside her, and the decision to let it all go was made. As painful as it was to watch Emily – her best friend and cousin – and Sam fall in love, start a family, and live out the dreams she thought were hers, she knew she had to move on.
She stood up, book in hand, and gingerly walked to the fire. She lovingly ran her fingertips over their silver-etched names and tossed it in the fire. It was time to let go, to be free to live and love again.