Driving through the street-ways with sweaty palms, I didn't care about the calming blue of the overhead oceanic sky or the yellow warning signs along the road. I was ANGRY, and angry at so many things that my life and loss had to meet at the accelerator petal. I drove like a Nascar veteran, winding down precarious slopes into the central straightaway plains, where I could concentrate and vent my feelings without pretending to pay attention to the road.

She'd left me--just rolled a torn-out wide-rule spiral-bound notebook page into my hand and asked me to leave. I'd ticked my head and quizzed her silently, but she just gave me an icy half-smile that said, smugly, "I don't like it any more than you do." My hand gently crushed her missive. Then she'd turned around and pranced back, barefoot, into her house, walking on her sharp gravel driveway past her unkempt, wilted flower bed.

By the time I'd sped through the only green light on the main flat stretch, I'd shredded the sheet of paper for the four winds to read. She'd scribbled with a ball-point ink pen, probably while listening to her pop punk mood music, that she wanted more out of me: she wanted a doer, not a thinker. She wanted to be swept off her feet, for sparks to fly each time we touched. She wanted the impossibly romantic moment--and, reading between the lines--she needed to try with someone new. I should have watched the flowers dying.

If love's what keeps you waiting, I'd loved her. She'd played coy. Everything, from how she swayed to a song her folks once sung to the way that she would grab my hand and pull it to her ribcage, had pulled me closer. She would sigh when she stretched into me. My heavy tears tugged out, but I refocused. It was only three more miles to my house.

The tires squealed and marked the road when I slowed and swerved into my driveway. I blew inside and up the stairs, rushed to my secret compartment in the bottom dresser drawer. I took all our mementos, and shook them into a box: the negatives of our first trip to the shoreline, our traded notes and poems, all her gifts to me. My journal went, too, and it all went up in smoke outside when the sticks of incense she'd bought me kicked the lighter fluid I'd soaked over the pile.

A few of the ashes, I've kept, in an old film canister marked "fragile." They've helped keep me away from her when the pain is too powerful, when I would be ready to reach for her the way a daisy bloom stretches for light.

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