Saturday, January 23, 2016

Guest Fiction Series: I Used To Love Her, Part 6

For a few months, will be taking four guest authors #fromblogtobook. Each week you'll be able to read a new installment from unique aspiring authors. This tale is from Angelica Bryant. Enjoy!

To catch up on all parts click here.


What am I doing?

Nobody wants to hear our story. Our pain. Our fear. Our tragedy.

Nobody wants to know who? What? Or -- the question that leaves us lost, in search of one answer, some way to make sense of it all -- why?

Do you want to know how Chloe broke my heart into pieces all because she was too scared to allow herself to be loved? Fully. Boldly.  Unconditionally.


A love so fluid and so encompassing it stretched past minutes,  to days, to months and finally years; a love that leaves me, here thinking about her, when I should be writing vows.

A love that leaves me...

A love that not only lived, but thrived, while I moved on into an engagement. The kind of love that somehow makes itself especially apparent at the most inopportune times; like tonight at my rehearsal dinner, when my brother asked if I was sure.

Is anybody ever sure?

Or at some stuffy boutique that my fiancée insisted I go to, to have our tuxes fitted. 

God, you sure have a funny way of working things out.

My pride put her out of my head the week after she left.  My heart never really got the memo, even after I ignored its plea.  Told it to shut up & go to hell.  Told it she was dead and the love was too.

I moved on; I played the field. I networked. I worked on building my dream. I dated. I never lacked the company of a beautiful woman.

Just that of the one I wanted.

Seeing her.... Look, I never allowed myself to miss her; never allowed myself the weak indulgence of thinking about her.  I convinced myself I was better for it.

But seeing her... forced me to remember; her face, pained and beautiful reminded me of everything I thought I'd left at the end of a driveway 2 years ago.

I wanted to talk to my best friend.  She was still that, after all this time.

I wanted to hold her, save her from the ground breaking beneath her feet. Tell her it was OK, I forgave her.  Kiss her lips so she'd know.

I had never left.

I wanted her to stop me. I wanted her to tell me that I was right; it wasn't too late. And I get it, I'm selfish for asking for her to give me permission to break Jessica's heart... I'm wrong. I knew it. I know it.

So when Chloe told me to drop it I swallowed the fight erupting from my chest, walked her to her car and watched her leave.

For the last time.

I mean come on, who breaks off an engagement?  Not after 2 carats have been purchased and last minute touches completed.

Not after asking an amazing woman to spend her life with me (even if I knew all along she was just second best).

Jessica loved me... despite my loving Chloe. She doesn't deserve this. I don't deserve her.

But you don't really want to hear my story, right?  I'm the bad guy; the one still in love with a woman I can't forget no matter how hard I've tried. The one who up and got engaged to the next woman bold enough to try & fill the void Chloe left behind. 

But... What was I supposed to do?

I was prepared for all of the I told you so’s.

I was prepared to swallow my pride, nod in agreement, and admit that maybe everyone was right and I should have left well enough alone.

I knew all along that Chase and I could never, would never, and should never be… anything. Our time had come and gone. I’d accepted that.

So why didn’t I feel relieved?

Midway through giving Amali the blow by blow details of my meeting with Chase, I realized something.

All of that freedom and vindication I thought I would feel instead left the familiar sting of disappointment.  Yeah I talked a good talk; about how great it was to finally close that chapter of my life and that we might even be able to salvage a friendship out of it (yeah right). 

How empowering it was to show Chase that I’d been living more than well without him.

How nice it was to see him happy (yep I went that far).

I don’t know how Amali was able to swallow the lies that I spoon-fed, when I couldn’t even bring myself to believe them. Regardless Chase would be married in 2 weeks. I had NO choice.

Get over it Chloe.

Over the next few weeks I launched operation get my life (ya’ll know the one). I worked out. HARD. I drowned myself in work. Production on 2 shows kept me pretty busy and I even returned to my journalistic roots, volunteering to cover a few big events coming up.  Anything and everything to keep my mind from wandering back to old flames and old habits. I was all about me and that left little time for me to think about ANY man let alone Chase (thank God). My sister, on the other hand, had different plans…

With her wedding around the corner, Leslie took up a quest to make sure I'd have a date by any means necessary.  It’s actually kind of funny.  She hasn’t resorted to setting me up on blind dates just yet (I’m sure it’s coming), but she’s taken every available opportunity to introduce me to each single guy she happens to come across.

“Chloe, this is Kyle, he works with Miles”

“Chloe, I want you to meet James, he’s new to our bible study group”

“Hey Chlo, this the 100th man I’ve introduced you to PLEASE go out with him!!!!!!”

Ok so the last one was overdramatized but you get my drift. She was on a mission to find me a man and honestly I was quite alright not having one.  I was just beginning to get Chase out of my system (finally) and enjoying it. Sounds cliché, but focusing on myself, my work and my needs actually seemed to be exactly what I needed to pull me out of my lost love stupor. For the first time in a long time I felt like my old self; the before-I-got-cheated-on-and-started-f’ing-up version.  I felt great and looked better.

After another long successful week of working Chase out of my system, I poured myself a glass of wine, got ready to go over segment pitches and settled in to my favorite spot on the sofa. Nina Simone blared through my speakers as I prepared to spend a quiet Friday night at the house, until my phone began to buzz. I ignored it until I had no choice but to see who was being so persistent...

Carla, my boss, wanted to take me up on my earlier offer to cover events; there was a gallery opening tonight and the who’s who of the indie art world would apparently be there. You know how you make plans, and it sounds great at the time, but then the day comes and you'd actually rather die? Definitely one of those moments. I let out a silent groan in protest, but agreed to go.  I downed another glass of wine, got dressed and dashed out the door. 

The event was beautiful; all taste and no pretense — a refreshing change of pace from the often overdone parties seen regularly here in Atlanta. I stopped by the bar, snagged some tonic water and willed myself to go mingle.  

I walked the space, taking in the art work while searching for familiar faces. The artist chose to use different mediums to capture what it is to be a black man in America. Admittedly, the vision was brilliant. My eyes landed on a particularly captivating photo of 2 little boys walking down a sidewalk, book bags in tow. My thoughts were interrupted by 2 taps to my shoulder. 

"Hello again." 

I turned to see the handsome (albeit irritating) stranger I'd met while waiting for Chase at the café (peep that here). I smiled. 

"I remember you. Newspaper and coffee.  I don't think we've formally met, I'm Chloe." 

Intro the man I'd come to know as Hasaan. He was handsome-- there was no doubt about that.  Tall and bronze with a dazzling smile and dimples that gave his face an air of mischief; but there was something else... something his look gave way to but I couldn't for the life of me place my finger on.  None the less, he peaked my interest.  A little conversation can't hurt... can it?

"So, are you familiar with the artist?" I asked.

"Yes, I am... in fact your looking at him," he laughed.  Perfect! I could chat him up with no qualms, I mean, this is work.  It's my job to find out all about the artist, right? 

We strolled the gallery; Hasaan giving detailed info on how his experiences shaped each piece and me recording/ soaking it all in like a sponge. Before I knew it, an hour had passed and the guest were called to gather for a brief moment with the director of the gallery and the featured artist aka my new friend, Hasaan Callaway.

I began to walk over to the growing crowd when...

"I'd like to thank you all for coming to our opening tonight."

... I'd know that voice anywhere. My stomach dropped. 

No. This can't be happening.

I looked past everyone toward the front of the room to see a proud Chase standing next to Hasaan.

This would be interesting.


Angelica is a creator/writer living & loving in Atlanta, GA.

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