Originally, the plan had been to do the ritual at sunrise. I’d watched the Weather Channel’s “Local on the 8s” because with the time change I’d been arriving at school in the dark once again. Around 7:03 a.m., it said. Saturday morning didn’t work out; I’d been working up a sleep debt all week and needed to lounge around until 8:30.
Maybe that wasn’t totally true. I’d been putting the whole thing off. I wasn’t even sure how I’d pull it off—how to do it. I was afraid to start, mostly out of fear of breaking down into a sobbing mess and being unable to finish. I thought about one friend who might kind of hold my hand, but I didn’t want to wait until I saw that friend later in the week. It had taken me until Friday night to sit on the living room floor with one of those note cubes and a hot pink gel pen (which later proved useful).
Thirty-five negative things from the failed relationship, the horrible break-up, the fallout. I threw in five things that sucked about being single in general just to make it an even (significant) forty. Each little square folded up and over and tucked into one of those tiny department store bags for transporting. With “Silence” playing in the background.
Tomorrow, I promised myself. I could get up and take care of it at sunrise, and then go back and get ready for
If I’m letting go, leaving behind. . . the sun should be setting on all of it. After 7 p.m. it would be, then. Sunday night.
Daylight started to fade. I waited until I no longer heard the cries of children playing outside. If their parents had called them in, then it was sufficiently dark to carry out the rite. I gathered the tiny bag stuffed with notes along with my keys and, armed with a lipstick called Willingness and an Aim ‘n’ Flame, walked out the front door.
Community rules: No barbecue grills on patios or decks. No burning anything close to the buildings.
There’s a little strip of grass on the far side of the parking lot that I guess one could call a park. It’s got official signs and some picnic tables and benches. Not to mention a couple of charcoal grills. As I made my way in the street-lit darkness, the wind started to pick up. It felt cold and damp. I considered the lighter in my hand and decided to stand with my back to the wind once I reached the grill.
The streetlights’ distance made reading difficult, but the neon pink gel ink gave the words a faint glow. Unfold-read-drop on the grate had been the plan. Forty times.
- The checking-hand-for-ring ignominy. A few more papers in, a pair of teenagers cut through the so-called park from the adjoining street. I ignored them. Their conversation never faltered, so I guess they ignored me, too.
- Not knowing WHY. A prickle in my left eye.
- People were happy to see me hurt. The breeze swelled up and I wondered if #1-30 would be flying across the lawn before I got to #31-40.
- Confidences broken. A thought that I might touch the lighter to that one first. (I changed my mind about that a few more times as the pile grew.)
- SHAME. Definitely a tear in my left eye; the cool wind made it sting.
Finally, #40 landed on the grill. A couple of clicks and the fire was going, about eight inches above the grill in a matter of seconds.
Just about as quickly as they had taken on flame, the papers shriveled and disintegrated into a fading red glow and then a pile of grey ashes.
I turned away and walked straight ahead, my shoulders back, my pace quick in order to escape the air that had grown in dampness and cold. It seemed pointless to look back at the ashes sitting in the grill.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing. (Ps. 126: 5)
P.S. Thanks, Amy. Keep cheering me on.
P.P.S. Anybody who thought I was going to burn somebody's house down. . . hee.
It’s time for the giveaway!
- I am raffling off my prize copy of Amy Spencer’s book, Meeting Your Half-Orange, because I already have a copy I purchased (and am dog-ear-ing to death).
- I’m not sure I have a ton of single blogreaders—unless certain people need to de-lurk, *ahem-ahem*. . . if you’d like a chance to win (and non-singles and/or fellas, maybe there's a sister or friend you think would enjoy it), mention it in the comments. Send your single friends and blogreaders over.
- Non-prize-related comments welcome as well, natch. And thanks for all the comments so far!
- Deadline for entry is Thursday (3/25), midnight, my time.
- Winner announced Friday (3/26).