Chasing Ghosts

(Another edition of Fragments of Fiction)

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone.
It's not warm when she's away.
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
and she's always gone too long
anytime she goes away.
Ain't No Sunshine- Bill Withers
It was a little after midnight and the house was dark. Or maybe it was the middle of the afternoon. Since I had installed the blackout shades I really couldn't tell. There were no clocks flashing green numbers at me. Hadn't been near the computer and the cellphone was stuffed inside a pair of jeans that lay crumpled on the floor.
I think that it had been about three days or so since she had given me the news that she was leaving me. The signs had been there for a long time. The happy-go-lucky girl hadn't been around in a long time. Instead there had been some other person that bore some resemblance to the person that I had falled in love with. Every now and then glimpses of that woman surfaced and I remembered that we had a history of far more good times than bad.
It wouldn't be fair to say that the changes were all her fault or that I had played no part in it. She had been asking me to do a little bit more, to give her a sign that I wanted more and I had been reluctant to do so. It wasn't a lack of desire to take the next step, just fear. Fear of the unknown and memories of the pain from the past. That was what had made me drag my feet.
Still she had stuck by my side and tried to be patient. Eventually I had come around and decided that she was right. It had taken me a while to get there but I had indeed made it.

But by the time I got there she wasn't there any longer. Life had gotten in the way. Things had changed, external forces had impacted our world in ways that I should have anticipated but had not.
Suddenly it had become apparent to me that losing her was something that I really didn't want. It wasn't going to be an ordinary breakup. Not this one, not this time. This was going to have a deep and profound impact that would resonate for a long time. I knew that if I didn't fight to keep her that I wouldn't be able to live with myself.
There are people that you have a good time with and people you live a life with. She is someone to live a life with and that I think is part of what made me drag my feet. It might not make sense, but when someone knows you so well that your soul lies naked before them there is a certain fear. It is hard to be stripped bare, to be so vulnerable.
It is not something that men deal with easily. We who have grown up with messages that men do not show emotion or weakness. We who have been taught that the way to handle pain is to do so alone and apart have a hard time accepting that someone could help us. And not just someone, but a person who is willing to love you unconditionally. She who is capable of moving you in ways that no one else can or could.
Well she is someone worth fighting for. And so for a long time that was what I did. I fought and fought to keep her by my side. I was armed and ready for battle, but the fight was not what I was accustomed to. Had I been attacked by a horde of Mongols or a Roman legion I would have been ready and equipped to deal with it. But this was a different sort of fight and it was far more challenging.
And as I chased the ghosts of the past and tried to reconcile them with the present I thought of myself as undertaking some of the same challenges as Hercules. I was fighting my own Hydra, but unlike Hercules I was unable to devise a way to keep the heads from regenerating. At least in the beginning I was.
After a time I came to the realization that this sort of fight was different. And the difference was that she had to go off and figure out some things without me. She had to take some time to see about dealing with things and people that I couldn't be a part of, at least not then.
That was hard. It was a challenge to know that I was still her hero, but that this time the hero wouldn't ride out from the castle to save her. This time the hero would stay behind the castle walls and watch as she ventured out on her own quest.
And so this is how I had come to find myself in this state, brooding and frustrated. She told me that she loved me, said that she wanted me and then kissed me goodbye. And for the past however many days I have had nothing but my thoughts to keep me company.
Alone in the dark I have sat and stared off into the black. Alone and apart I have missed her. At times I have compiled a list of faults and reasons why it was better that she was gone. But at the end of the day I came to the same conclusion that we are better together than we are apart.
My heart and my head are in agreement on this. My gut tells me that given time she will concur and we'll start the next chapter, but I'll be damned if there isn't a dark and empty place inside my chest now.
I gave myself a few days to lie around and be sad, but I am about done with it. It is time for the hero to get a shave and a haircut, not to mention a decent meal.
(Side note. I hate writing these stories and getting interrupted. Totally blew my train of thought. I'll have to revisit it later.)

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