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Timelines of Apocalypse

These Old Visions: The Betrayal Pt. 2
As I'm writing, I'm remembering. I think he had flown home to visit family- California? Supposed to stay for two weeks? But extended his stay. Started flying out often. Called me, and asked me to come to a get together. A bar he'd rented for the night.
I stayed in his guest room, like usual, we rode to the bar together. He'd seemed excited, his eyes sparkling, and it made me happy. My stomach had butterflies in anticipation of what the event was. I can't see what I'm wearing. I don't know the people here. I'm in a dress, sitting at a small table. He brings me a drink, attentive as always.
And then he brings her to the table. A fresh faced, sweet blonde. He is proud, and happy. I am polite, but confused.
He introduces her, {Beth?), as the woman he's going to marry. I freeze. My face turns to stone. I try to lift my lips in a smile, but they are numb. To say Congratulations, but the words stick in my throat.
She had flown in for the event, and had to fly back immediately for work. The girl is soft, and casual, looking around. But Michael's eyes are like a hawks. He has frozen, his arm around her, almost scenting the air for the threat. His eyes are narrowed, calculating, and I have to escape.
My heart breaking was audible, I can still feel pieces falling away. My face contorts into a grimace as I lurch to my feet.
I manage to set my drink down, and now what must look like a maniacal smile spreads my lips. "Excuse me," I manage to say as I stumble away. Single minded focus on the door that looms in my vision from across the room.
I hear him say something to her, bringing her attention back from wandering. "Oh, OK," I hear her say, easy, simple, no idea that they're stepping on pieces of me.
I shove open the double doors, my breath starting to see-saw out of me. had I carefully done my hair? I am ripping out pins, barrettes, until it falls around me in a silken cloud.
I veer towards the road I know will lead me to the beach, the ocean. I hear the roar, her call as I stagger away from the well-lighted bar. Mama help me.
The sound of laughter, and tinkling glasses begins to fall away, and all I can hear are my harsh breaths. I am snapping off the necklace from around my neck, and it tumbles from my fingers to the street behind me, just another piece of broken detritus.
I feel the wails building up inside of me, a keening sound breaking free. I force it down. Shhhh, we're almost there, I tell myself. When my feet hit sand, I am crawling, scrambling up the side of the dune, cool sand on my feet. Where are my shoes? They are gone.
I'm hyperventilating as I stagger to my feet, looking out at the black ocean. I reach down, and rip my dress in the front so I can move freely. A small smile on my lips when I remember Michael's face the first time he saw me in it. I wore it for him. Everything for him. Anything for him.
And my arms are wrapped around me as I come down the dune, holding the pieces together. But I have fractured, and the grief, oh, the grief.
I walk a few paces onto the beach before my legs give out, and then the darkness, a tsunami of tortured pain breaks over me, and my last thought before I'm claimed is tiny in the vast expanse.

oh, I've lost him

I come to when I feel myself lifted off the sand. I had curled into a little ball. Thoughts are whispers on a black background. I know it's him. His presence is like a wind, bringing warmth, comfort, safety. My eyes are heavy so I keep them closed, recognizing sounds: gravel under his feet as he carries me down the road, the beep of his car as he unlocks it. "I'm going to set you down, so I can open the door," he says softly, and when I open my eyes, his is the only car in the parking lot.
My gaze is on the ground as he opens the door, my mind stuck in time like a skipping record, seeing him turning to her with pride, and...love. He loves her. Oh, dark is this day.
I am getting in the car, fastening my seat belt out of muscle memory, and then curling towards the window in a ball with my eyes closed. I am an empty shell. Who would've thought empty would feel so unbearably heavy. I hear him get in the driver's seat, and his breath catches as he takes me in. But he doesn't say a word.
I can feel his worry, and his gaze flicking to me again, and again. But it doesn't matter. He is hers, whispers through my mind. When we park I open the door, arms around myself. It hurts. My God, it hurts. It's not just my heart that's broken, I've cracked like a piece of porcelain, pieces of me turning to dust, and blowing down the driveway.
He is still sitting in the car when I open the front door, and go inside. The rest of that night is a daze. I went to my room, took the dress off, and threw it in the trash. I am covered with sand. My arms have bloodied scratches- from my nails?
Standing under hot water in the shower, staring, trying to bring life back into dead flesh. I hear Michael pounding on the door at one point, asking if I'm okay. I can't speak. Anything I say would be a lie. No, Michael, I'm not okay. Not okay. not okay.
I get out, and dress in a white t-shirt with black writing on it. My mascara has made black circles under my eyes. I have men's underwear on. I look like a waif. My eyes. It hurts to meet my eyes in the mirror. I don't want to see my own pain reflected back at me.
I crawl into bed, and turn on my side in the fetal position, just staring. I can't seem to do anything else. I hear Michael knock softly, then come stand beside the bed. He turns on my bedside light, and flips off the overhead.
Then he's getting into bed turned towards me, his head on the other pillow. His face lines up with my field of vision. His face is open, wondering. He brushes a piece of hair out of my face, putting it behind my ear. His hand lingers, and he moves closer, taking both my hands in his, kissing them, watching me. This.
How could he not know? My heart has been his for so long now. It beat only for him. He is searching my gaze, moving closer. I can feel his legs against mine. "Shannon?", he whispers tentatively. I close my eyes, and a tear slides out. "Please talk to me," his voice cracks. But I don't. And, eventually, I sleep.
When I woke, I was alone. My necklace was laying on the bedside table, chain broken. Michael had gotten it for me for Christmas. I stared at it woodenly for a moment, before going in the bathroom. I look tan, and healthy. But the eyes I can't hide. They look like the person I loved most in the world had been taken from me. And they would be right.
And now, here we are. Both of us so fucking desperate to get close. Drowning men clutching a raft. His lips are on the top of my head, and then he is kissing my forehead, by my ear, tiny kisses raining down on me, and my parched heart soaks them up. He stops, and, feeling him struggling, I open my eyes.
There is pain in his eyes, and they are bright with unshed tears. "Shannon, if we do this, there's no going back." His voice is hoarse, and uncertain. I see hope warring with agony in his eyes. I tilt my head. My hand reaches up, following the shape of his face. He closes his eyes briefly, and when he opens them, the fire there...
He sees me. I think he finally sees me. Having already professed my love, there is no reason to hide. I let it fill my eyes, overwhelming to overflowing. My lips part, and I'm holding his face in both hands, looking at his pain in wonder. "How could you not know? I'm yours. I've always been yours."