If Only… The failure of the heart
It seemed like a lifetime ago, he knew her as a young man and broke her heart. Three words he never said, the phrase withheld with a hesitant heart.
She once looked him in the eye and used her willpower to get him to speak his heart, and then he changed the subject. In the months that passed, they began to see less of each other. Then school, career and the end of innocence came after that
Then came separate lives.
Years later, after a friend (now no longer such) played mind games with the knowledge that friends share in matters of the heart and served only to increase his guilt while he kept her in the front of his memories.
Thoughts of a life that could have been, a smile never forgotten, a sad look that never rose above the pain of his immaturity.
Often he could look back and recall her expectant smile. The words she never heard in life he now whispered as he knelt at her headstone. Another victim of domestic abuse that could have had her path changed for the better with but a single expression of emotion from a college-bound ex-boyfriend. A phrase that could have changed their lives.
Could he have changed the world with three words?
“I love you.”
Silence. Granite and bronze are as unresponsive as the teenage heart that has plans of school and career. Could this young man have saved her from the pain and years of domestic abuse?
Then again, perhaps not.
With a heavy sigh, the ex-boyfriend stood and walked away from his agony of failure. The weight of ten-thousand nights that he relived his choice that condemned them to separate lives.
Could their lives have been different? The the world will never know.
But the answer was known, deep in his heart.
The deepest wish of a simpler time, the teenager, now aged with white hair and a slight limp from a long-ago accident that also left him widowed had come to visit, just fifteen-months too late.
News in the way of gossip around a school reunion came to him of her current address on this quiet lane, lined with headstones. Only an apology on his lips and the sob that escaped his soul.
As the salt and pepper haired man held hands with princesses and left the lane, the curious voices of the grandchildren echoed among headstones. Soft sounds of life were all that they left for those that slept the forever slumber.