800 Days

Dear Bennie, 

It’s been nearly 800 days since you’ve been gone. I never truly thought you’d go before me…I’d hoped that you wouldn’t. You always loved life much more than I do. It just doesn’t seem fair. 

I feel guilty for living here, in Mayberry…in the little house on the land you loved so much. Even though I’m broke, life isn’t bad…it’s really good. I wake every morning feeling grateful to be in this place. But, every time I look at the trees I love so much, I see you walking out of the woods, rifle under your arm, the girls right behind their daddy. They’re gone, too. You passed, then Pepper. Then, one day, Jezebel just laid down under your truck and died. I think she died of a broken heart, as she never stopped looking for you. The last time she saw you alive, you were in that truck. That was the last time I saw you, too. 

We parked the truck right next to the house so I could see it. It made you seem alive, somehow. We’re going to move it soon. I’m ready to be free of that reminder of you. Nowadays, it makes me feel so guilty when I see it. I can’t escape it…this guilt. It should’ve been me, that’s all. 

Everybody thinks I should be over you by now because you were such a bastard. You were, that’s true. But I barely remember you that way anymore. I remember you like every day is the first time we met. We made so many good memories, you and I. They outweigh the bad ones more with each passing day.

I’ve always owed you a debt of gratitude for you saving me from the life I had when we met. I remember how your mom thought it was terrible that you were dating a girl from ‘the other side of Palmer’. She never let me forget where I came from. But you did. You loved me like I was good enough and I loved you more than anything. And that remained for twenty years. I don’t remember what it was that changed things so much. All I know is that, one day, life was Heaven…the next, all Hell broke loose. I guess we burned out. Just like that. But I don’t care about that anymore, I just want you back here with me. 

I remember the last time I held your hand. It was swollen, stiff, and freezing cold. I knew you were long gone. I can still feel your hand in mine and it kills me inside. I just never thought this could happen. And I never dreamed it would hurt so much after almost 800 days. 

All my love, L. 

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