Dust to dust a broken fa.., p.1
Dust to Dust: A Broken Fairy Tale,
Dust to Dust
Copyright © 2013, S.P. Cervantes
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents, are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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For anyone who has ever felt broken. Remember, it is the cracks that let the light in!
I sit on the dock, letting my toes skim across the cool wakes of waves below. I’ve spent endless nights staring out into the lagoon that ran like a watery street along the back of my house, but it’s been years since I’ve actually done it. For the first time in a long time, it is nice to be home. It is an uncomfortably humid night, making the cool water more welcoming as it splashes little drops up my legs. I loved sitting here late at night growing up. It was a place to be alone and reflect, a time away from my parents’ questions and intrusions on my life.
I lived in a quiet beach town that most people only used for summer vacations, but my family lives here year round. The houses in my town ranged from rustic New England style mansions, to smaller summer cottages, all with a homey warmth that induced relaxation. Most of the homes are covered with weathered shingles, giving the beach town an even cozier feel. Ours is a one-story, ranch-style home that is perfect for the three of us. My parents never had any other children after me. They said they knew they couldn’t ever do any better than me. I know that wasn’t true and that my mom had a hard time carrying a baby. But we never talked about that.
Mantoloking, New Jersey had been the only place I’d ever lived before moving to Brooklyn, and I now come back only when I have to. This place has held such sorrow for me for so long. It held too many painful memories, and I do everything I can to stay away—until now. Fear is always in the back of my mind when I cross over the Barnegat Bridge, but today, the fear isn’t suffocating me like it usually does. As the memories that I so desperately try to keep locked away threaten to wash over the peaceful feelings I have, I try to focus on the water, splashing my toes across the cool waves, trying to disrupt the flow of the water, as if these actions could also change the direction of my thoughts.
I know it is him the second I hear the crunching of stones at the side of my house. There is no question who it is; his voice still haunts me in my dreams. Hold yourself together, Cam, I tell myself, not wanting him to know the effect he still has on me. My palms are instantly sweaty, but I know I can blame that on the humidity if he notices. I try to pull back my long brown hair that is blowing wildly behind me and fumble, trying to put it back in a loose braid.
“Hey Cam, mind if I join you?” Holden asks nonchalantly. My heart skips a beat at hearing his soft, husky voice again.
“Of course not,” I answer all too willingly. Be cool, Cam. Be cool.
I adjust myself on the dock, trying to look calm and collected, rather than the bundle of nerves I have turned into. I wonder if he can tell that I am sucking in my stomach?
Holden sits silently next to me, rolling up the dress pants that he wore to the funeral this afternoon, and slips his feet in the water next to me. He places a six-pack of Stella between us, pops one open, and hands it to me. I take it freely, hoping it will help calm my nerves. I remind myself that it is only Holden, my very best friend in the whole world, not Ryan Gosling for God’s sake. One look at him, and I realize that he could possibly be even better looking. No he’s not. He’s an ugly, bad, bad man.
His eyes are dark and tormented, somehow making him look even sexier. His brown hair is unruly, as always, which of course makes him even more attractive. I quietly gasp as I watch his perfectly full lips wrap around the tip of the bottle while he takes a long, sensual sip. I instinctively lick my lips as if they can taste the drips that slip down the corner of his mouth. Pull yourself together, Cam! Picture old men in underwear—anything but what it would feel like to have his lips on yours.
As much as I want to, I have no control over my feelings for Holden. He and I have been inseparable since we were in the second grade. He was my neighbor and instantly became my best friend after he was adopted. Holden had spent all the years before he moved in with the Patricks shuffling between abusive foster homes. Holden said that being adopted by the Patricks was better than winning the lottery. He felt like they saved his life—and they probably did. I have overheard stories over the years about his abuse while our parents didn’t know I was listening. As a child, I noticed there was sadness behind Holden’s eyes and it broke my heart when I knew why. I wanted to be the one to change that…even back then.
Holden transitioned from my best friend to boyfriend at the end of my sophomore year in high school and my whole world changed. Our first kiss is something that I will never forget. We were sitting on a wicker bench that was on the side of my parents’ house. We always sat there after parties or when we wanted to be alone. That night, Holden’s always playful flirting turned serious.
We were having one of our usual debates over music, when I noticed how he was staring at me with a look that I didn’t realize was love while I passionately defended my love for ’N Sync. I still get butterflies in my stomach remembering how he hesitantly took my face in his hands, forcing my gaze to meet his. The sincerity was the first thing I recognized. Without a word, he kissed me softly. It was innocent and perfect. He pulled back and looked at me in the eyes again as if he were checking for my approval. I remember looking at him in shock at first. It was surreal for me to be kissing Holden back then because it had never crossed my mind that we would ever be anything but friends. His eyes pierced my heart with Cupid’s arrow that day. I can say now that it was the first time that I realized that I loved him.
“I guess this changes things for us,” he had said quietly as he pressed his forehead against mine with his eyes looking up at me through his long, dark eyelashes.
“I guess it does,” I answered, knowing I didn’t need to say anything more.
Holden smiled his killer smile and kissed me again, but this time so deeply that I could feel his kiss in my toes. We kissed on that bench for the next hour before finally saying good night. From that moment on, I was hooked. My heart weaved into his, making an unbreakable bond…or at least I thought it had.
You see, the summer after my senior year of high school was when my life shattered. My innocence was stolen back then, and I was broken. Holden had no idea why I changed; he just knew something had changed in me, and had no idea why. I was too terrified to tell him or anyone why I was pushing everyone away. At the time, I didn’t realize I was pushing Holden away, but I do now. I stopped letting him touch me, or even hold my hand. What nineteen-year-old boyfriend would have stayed? The only way for me to deal with the pain and shame I was feeling back then was to turn my emotions off. I became numb to everything and everyone.
I remember Holden trying to break me down and tell him what was wrong with me. He had no idea if it was him or me, and I could see that I was hurt
Holden went back to college in Connecticut; we began to drift even further apart, and I was slowly dying inside. One night while he was home on Christmas break in my freshman year in college, he tried to get me to tell him what was wrong, why I had changed from the happy-go-lucky girl he fell in love with to a dark, depressed young woman. I was still too scared and confused to admit what happened to me. I knew if anyone found out who had hurt me, I would be putting those I love in danger. So I held tightly to my secret, letting it slowly eat away at me like a slow moving parasite. I knew deep inside that Holden would not be able to keep my secret, and knew it could possibly tear him apart as much as it has me.
That night when he asked me one last time what happened to me, it was as if his heart disintegrated before my eyes. He knew someone hurt me. He knew it in his heart, he said. He always protected me, and thinking that something had happened that he couldn’t protect me from seemed to tear him apart inside. But I knew knowing could possibly destroy him.
Holden had a tortured childhood, and right then I realized that loving me was going to be too hard for him. I knew him too well, and knew being with someone like the person who I’d become—someone broken—would be too much for him. He counted on me to be the strong one, the stable one in our relationship. He had always said I was his rock. To him, I was the one constant thing in his life. Now I was nothing but a skeleton of the person I once was, and it was tearing him apart.
Holden and I tried to make it work for a few more months, but two days before we both were to return home for the summer, he broke up with me, and that was it. At that point, I felt like I was slowly losing my mind and the only thing that was going to save my sanity was to turn everything off. Even though I felt like he was the only person in the world who truly knew me, I knew we could never be together. Not like this. His rock had turned into a spiraling whirlpool of despair, and I wasn’t the person he fell in love with anymore. I knew that every time he looked at me; he saw that I was broken, and it killed him to know he couldn’t fix me.
From then on, we saw each other occasionally when he was home visiting his parents, and always kept things awkwardly platonic. We would grab a bite to eat, talk late into the night on our bench, go to parties, but never got back together. In time, we both moved on. Holden seemed to date most of the East Coast. My best friend, Jess, would lace each conversation we had with the dirty details of his weekend escapades at the shore. With each phone call, my heart froze over a little more, still unwilling to feel anything close to love. In my junior year, a handsome, smart man named Marcus Hamilton asked me out. He seemed to be just what I needed. Marcus was from a prominent family from Upstate New York, and made it easier for me to start a new life away from Mantoloking. We both went to NYU, and seemed to have all of the same interests. He never questioned my distant physical relationship or the nightmares that assaulted me every night. He just accepted me for who I am.
Marcus was devastatingly handsome, standing at a masculine six foot four with hypnotizing brown eyes and light brown hair. He was always affectionate towards me, but not pushy. His ability to ignore what was right in front of him seemed like the perfect fit for me. Everyone I introduced Marcus to loved him. He was always so calm, cool, and collected, that people seemed drawn to his confident exterior. Fact is, his confidence is what attracted me most to him. I needed someone to take control of my life that seemed to be spiraling away from me. The only hesitation I ever felt with Marcus was that for me, there were never fireworks and heart-stopping moments. The truth of the matter was that I don’t think that could ever happen for me again. Marcus always makes sure I know he loves me and will always be loyal and protect me, and that is what I need more than dizzying, passionate love…I need safe.
When I told Holden about my relationship with Marcus after things became serious, he never questioned my decision or asked me to be with him. He just let me go, and never looked back.
Now here we are, together again after years of hardly speaking. All of the nerves of being so close to him again are waning with each breath of our silence. Holden and I were always good at just being together. And just being together is what he needs right now. Holden knows he never needs to explain himself to me. I will always be here for him, no questions asked.
We continue to stare ahead at the lagoon, sipping on the ice-cold beer in silence as my heart breaks for him. He has lost the only real family he has ever had. All I want to do is reach over and take him in my arms and tell him he is not alone. He is like family to me, and I know I am the same for him. I can’t imagine what he must be going through, losing both of his parents at once.
It was only a week ago that they were flying home on a private jet from a trip to the Poconos when their plane crashed. Now Holden is all alone, with no other to turn to. He doesn’t have any other family member that he knows of and no matter how much I tell him my family is here for him, the truth is, he really is alone now.
Holden guzzles another beer and slams the bottle down on the dock. I am startled at first, but then he tilts his head towards me, with his hair falling carelessly over his forehead, and gives me a mischievous smile. I can’t help but smile back and just pray I’m not blushing. He always calls me out when he catches me checking him out, so I look away, hoping to avoid his taunting comments. The calmness I was feeling moments ago is transformed into a giant mess of lust and inappropriate thoughts.
Sitting so close to Holden after so many years apart is making my head spin all of the sudden. Get a hold of yourself, Cam; it’s just Holden.
I swear there’s a chemical reaction that happens when he’s this close to me, and it pisses me off that he can still have an effect on me after all this time. Holden needs a friend right now, but his sad, brooding self seems to be screaming for me to hold him.
I force myself to think of Marcus and stop with these ridiculous thoughts, knowing that nothing good can come of acting out the visions that betray my conscience. Marcus and I have been living together for three years now and things are great. Thoughts like I am having could ruin the safe life I have built for myself. My life with Marcus is comfortable, and predictable, and safe, and that’s what I need. I don’t love him in the same way that I love Holden…I mean loved Holden. But that’s because I can never love anyone that way again. I don’t think I could even love Holden that way again. Holden was my first love and I will always have a special place just for him in my broken heart.
I remind myself that I wasn’t Holden’s first anything, hoping it will keep me from doing anything stupid. He had other girls before me…and Lord knows how many girls after me. I always had to remind myself of this when I thought of him in bed at night, or wanted him to hold me in his arms when we are together like this. Right now, I have to remember that we are best friends at the heart of it all, and he needs me to be here as a friend for him now. I can do this.
I decide to break the silence before more inappropriate thoughts of Holden take over.
“How are you doing, Holden? We haven’t really had a chance to talk since everything happened.” I continue to stare ahead, knowing what looking into his dark green eyes again is doing to me.
Holden’s voice is hoarse when he finally speaks. “I don’t know, Cam.” He rakes his fingers through his disheveled brown hair. “It still doesn’t even seem real, ya know?”
I lean back onto my hands and decide I’d be strong enough to look over at him. Damn it, I was wrong.
His eyes are sad and empty. I know that feeling all too well. I want to be able to take it all away, but I know I can’t. I’m not that person for him anymore.
“You know I’m here if you need someone…a friend,” I clarify.
I really have missed his friendship so much over the years. I wish we could go back to the way things were when we were ki
He shakes his head and half smiles at my comment. “Friends, huh?” He lets out a stifled laugh. “When is the last time we hung out and didn’t hook up, Camryn?”
He takes me by surprise with his sarcasm. It isn’t like him to bring that up. Holden always seems to forget about our past, and goes along with life like it doesn’t affect him at all. For me, every time we are together is like another piece of my heart being locked away. I know I would never be able to love him the way he deserves.
“Um, I believe it was the last time you were in town, when I drove you to Used to Be’s and you hooked up with Katrina right in front of me.” I pat his back playfully, trying to lighten the conversation. “Yep, I think that was the last time. But I am sure I could think of many other times over the past several years that had the same outcome. Maybe that’s why you’ve stayed away so long.” I try to play it off like I don’t care, ignoring the ping my heart feels at the memory. I have Marcus.
He smiles slightly and shakes his head. “Okay, point taken.” He pulls at the ends of his hair, something he always does when he’s frustrated. “The fact is, you’re the only person I want to be with right now. I don’t want to be anywhere but here with you.” His sad eyes meet mine, his honesty taking me by surprise. “You knew my parents as well as anyone. You know me better than I know myself, I think sometimes.” He bites his bottom lip as if trying to hold something back.
Why does he have to say things like this to me? Think of kittens and butterflies, anything but kissing those sexy lips. I am trying not to read too much into what he’s saying. All I have to do is keep our boundaries clear in my mind. We. Are. Friends.
Holden takes another long pull off his beer, placing it aside and opens another one, clearly wanting to try to erase the pain with the numbness that alcohol can bring. I rarely feel pain anymore. I don’t need anything to help me shut out the world; I do that just fine on my own these days. Some would call me an expert at it. Now I am just numb to everything. Everything, apparently, except Holden.