TRAIL OF DISAPPEARING-Story 1: Random Stories
I don’t know where the trail goes and if there is even an end to it. The trail goes on for a bit before vanishing around a bend, that much I can see. The trees and foliage are thick here but abundant sunlight manages to get through to fall upon the pathway. It is scenic, magical, definitely alluring. Is its beauty continuous, or does it stop somewhere on the other side of the bend? Standing at the mouth of the trail, a sense of comfort, and of fear, descends upon visitors. I feel it. Others have said they have experienced the sensation.There is a definite pull on the one staring down the pathway. Its beauty tempts and provokes a longing to journey down the path, especially if a loved one has succumbed and gone around the bend. It’ll steal your soul and run away with it, if you allow it. So far I’ve managed to resist its temptation but the longing is heavy. The trail has become my rival. It called to her. She went. I want her back. I’ve wondered if the trail goes on forever or does it cease at some point? Collective imaginations claim it ends at the gate of eternity. Some say it leads into another dimension. Does it? Are there unexpected dangers along the way? Is fear a companion? Or is the sense of comfort with the individual who takes the trail with them to the end?
I know she won’t be coming back. They never do. All I want to know is if her journey is good. And warm. She deserves goodness and warmth. I deserve to suffer the heartache I inflicted on her. She loved me. I love her still. But like so many other, I hurt her. I betrayed her. I have no excuse. Only a shitload of bitter self-condemnation and painful regret.
The jock and ghost girl, that’s what the idiots at school started labeling us. Okay, the jock title fits me but ghost girl for Abbie? Why? Because she had to take on two jobs when cancer took her mother and then her father who couldn’t cope with the loss and took to drinking and losing his job. She worked to make sure her little sister had lunch money and decent clothes. She worked so Ranni could participate in sports and go on field trips. Taking on two jobs didn’t leave her much time for socializing. Abbie Lynn Waith, the love of my life, wasn’t always so tied down. Prior to her mother’s death, she was like all other teenagers–absorbed in school, with partying, with me. But she had always been a responsible girl and that trait took over when her home life drastically and abruptly changed. She never grumbled about the responsibilities that fell to her. I did. Abbie didn’t. I missed our carefree days together. High school had been fun for us, right up to the day death stole it away and her father sunk deeper and deeper into the bottle. The change in our relationship was gradual. We still loved each other but Abbie was a working girl now and my time with her was limited. I grew resentful and provoked petty fights, but I steadfastly refused her offers that would end us. I did once try to help out a bit but that went sour. I slipped a hundred dollar bill into her locker. She returned it to my locker the next day with a note written on a Post-it. “Appreciate it but please don’t.”
Ranni died almost a year to the day their mother had passed. Drunk as usual, Mr. Waith chose to drive Ranni to a school function and right into the path of a delivery van. Abbie was working that night but she had made arrangements with her next door neighbor to drop Ranni off at school. Abbie would pick her up when the program ended. But something happened that prevented the neighbor from taking Ranni and it was Mr. Waith who ended up driving her. Ranni lingered long enough for Abbie to get to the hospital to hold her and to kiss her goodbye.
Abbie called and texted me many times from the hospital. Much later, when I listened to her voicemails, I heard the desperation and overwhelming grief in her voice and in her words. Would I ever get over the guilt and shame her voice carved into my heart? I was at a party being pissed off at my always absent girlfriend. I didn’t want to hear the same old excuses from her, so I turned off my phone and gave my attention to a girl who had been stalking me at school for weeks. I needed a diversion, an outlet for my petty anger, so I gave into her advances. No harm in that, I thought. My pants would stay zipped up, and they did, until the girl placed an E tablet on my tongue and I chose to swallow it and not spit it out. I recall what happened next. It’s forever embedded in my wretched soul. Abbie came looking for me. When she found me cheating on her with another girl, she fled, but not before I saw absolute devastation etched on her face. Life had betrayed her. I betrayed her. I shattered her. I saw her at Ranni’s funeral, not once before that day. I hunted all over town for her, burned up her phone and mine with calls and texts, but she hid from me. She hid from everyone. At the service, I stared at the back of her head, wishing, hoping, she’d feel my touch and would turn to look my way and see how desperately sorry I was. She didn’t. She listened and watched but as far as I could tell, she didn’t shed a tear. When the service at Ranni’s grave concluded, she quickly left. Alone.
She didn’t leave a note. Not for me. Not for her father. Her car was found parked at the Trail of Disappearance. They found two empty prescription bottles written for Mrs. Waith left in her car. They were prescribed for pain. Abbie was gone and so were the pills. I tell myself that coming here is not helping me, that I should stop. But my girl took the trail and I want to go get her back. I want another chance. I want a chance to beg for her forgiveness, to tell her I had made a colossal mistake, that I love only her. I know that chance is gone forever. The Trail of Disappearance does not relinquish what it has gained.
***The beautiful picture is not mine. I could not find a name to credit.