Sally pulled her shorts up around her hips, letting them hug the curve of her butt the way they always did. She pulled her sweatshirt over her head, adjusting the hood so that it hung comfortably behind her before she tossed her curled dirty blonde hair around her shoulders, a few strands still drying from her shower. It was a warm spring night, the scent of rain hung in the air, and the street lights reflected off the puddles of water in the road. Her mother hadn’t been home in three days, and the house was running low on food. But Howell was bringing Chinese with him so that wasn’t a problem for the night. The knock on the door caused her to jump a little, but with a soft smile on her face she glided down the stairs and to the front door, allowing the blonde-haired blue-eyed boy to come into the house. “Hey.” She breathed, even though they’d been dating a few months now, she was still uneasy about it all. Sally wasn’t one for relationships, she’d seen too many crash and burn painfully. “Hello babe.” He mused in reply, pulling her in and placing a kiss on her lips.
Her college years were a blur to her, Sally could barely remember anything that happened. Finn Long clouded it all over, he was all she saw when she would think of college. She didn’t mind, not really. She and Finn had been together for five years now, all through college and this past year after they graduated. Sally loved Finn, at least, she thought she did. She was almost impartial to the idea of love, of settling down with one person and having children. The relationship she’d grown up knowing had been a disaster, full of pain that her mother tried to hide. She didn’t want love to rip her apart like it had her parents, even if a small part had already had it happen just watching her parents crumble apart. Senior year of college, Finn had asked her to move into his place, which although small was very peaceful for her. There were two bedrooms in the apartment, one for her and Finn to share, and one for Finn’s cousin Chris, who she’d hadn’t even seen in the time she’d lived here.
Things seemed to be going well with Finn, she didn’t really have anything else to compare it to. They talked, and wanted to spend time together, and they had a lot of sex. That was a good sign, right? She knew the inevitable was coming, she knew Finn was going to ask her to marry him. He wasn’t good at hiding things from her, which was mostly the reason behind the lack of excitement in their relationship, there were no surprises. Sally stood under the warm waterfall of water in the shower for what felt like hours, letting it soothe the tension in her muscles that had risen over the events she was about to endure. Her stare was blank, straight ahead, and her mind was else where, replying the scenes she witnessed of her parents slowly dying, slowly disintegrating relationship. The fights, the yelling, the slapping, the tears on her mothers’ side. Jessica never cried, and to this day Sally had never seen her mother cry except when George left. There were many factors to George’s departure from their lives. Sally being one of them, and the affair that her mother had with one of her fellow doctors being another.
A little girl as fragile as Sally, clutching onto her stuffed animal was so naive, so clean and ignorant about the pains of the world. She dreamed of a life where she would meet her prince charming and fall in love. But standing in the doorway of the living room, her stuff animal in her arms and her perfect dirty blonde ringlet curls surrounding her face, watching her parents fall apart changed that. She was no longer ignorant, no longer naive when it came to relationships. A knock on the door brought her back to reality as the water began to cool from the amount of time she’d stood there. “Sally, baby it’s almost time to go.” Finn’s voice came through the door, as she stepped out of the shower. “I’m almost ready.” She called back, before turning to the mirror and finishing up the process of preparing for the night.
Reluctantly Sally had accepted his proposal. Was it supposed to feel like this? So bland and dull? Love was supposed to have fire and passion. The only time she and Finn had anything near passion was in the bedroom. They’d been engaged for 6 months now, and the wedding was quickly approaching. Neither of them wanted anything fancy, Sally just wanted to go to the court house and sing some papers. But Finn’s mother insisted on at least a small wedding. The simple ring clung to Sally’s petite finger, and it stared her in the face every day. Even now as she stood in front of Finn’s mother in a wedding dress that she had picked out for Sally, the ring was at the front of her mind like always. “You look beautiful! That is definitely the dress!” Sophie mused, pleased with the choice she had given Sally.
Picking the wedding dress was the last thing on her list of things to do before the wedding. She was marrying Finn in two weeks. In two weeks she would no longer be Sally Carrera, she would be Sally Long. Weren’t brides usually ecstatic at this point? Why was there a lump in her throat and a throbbing in her heart. Sally lay awake that night into the early hours of the morning, and it hit her then. The slight excitement, the realization that she was going to marry the man she’d loved and been with for five years. The feeling came just in time to be torn to bits….
Finn came home at nine o’clock that morning, tip-toeing in and expecting Sally to be asleep. But she wasn’t, after the feeling had set in, she had begun to wonder why he hadn’t come home from work yet. “Hey.” She breathed out almost cautiously. “Hi.” He breathed out in reply. Silence. A long pause of silence that for once in all of five years, actually felt uncomfortable. “Do you want to go get breakfast?” She offered after she could handle the silence a moment longer, and he nodded. Breakfast was forced, the conversations, the displays of affection, all of it. His hand was clasped around hers, his thumb messing with the ring on her finger that had actually seemed like less of a big deal to her as they walked around central park. After a moment, his hand slide from hers, and his fingers pulled the ring off her. “I cheated.” He told her, not even a hint of sorrow in his voice. “I love her. And if there’s one thing my dad taught me, it’s that if you love two people, pick the second, because if you really loved the first, you wouldn’t love the second.” Sally’s face gave off no emotional hints as to how she was feeling, but inside, her heart felt like someone had lit a match inside it and it was slowly burning away from the inside out.
I cannot cry, because I know that’s weakness in your eyes.
I’m forced to fake, a smile, a laugh, every day of my life….
My heart can’t possibly break, when it wasn’t even whole to start with.
Sally nodded, and pulled on a smile. “I understand. Uhm, I’ll just clean my stuff out of your apartment…” She breathed out, still not letting him see just how broken she felt. “I’ll stay out of the place for the day, give you the place to yourself to do so.” He folded the ring into her hand and set off in another direction while Sally moved towards the apartment. The apartment, no longer their apartment. When she entered the apartment it was hard to breathe, and she gave into the tears that wanted to fall, letting them slip down her cheeks. “Sally?” The sound of an unfamiliar voice, jolted her back into the here and now, and she wiped furiously at her cheeks. But now that’s she’d let them go, they wouldn’t stop. “I’m Chris.” The kind looking man smiled sadly at her, and pulled her over to the couch. “He. I can’t. I don’t. I. I. He. I can’t.” She sobbed out, her words getting mangled in her chest. “Shhhh. Calm down.” He soothed. “He.” Sob. “Cheated.” Another heart wrenching sob.
Because of you, I am afraid.
Chris spent a good amount of time calming her down, then as he helped her move her things out of Finn’s apartment, he made her feel better. “Look, Sal. He’s an asshole, and quite frankly I don’t care that he’s my cousin, I’ve never liked him anyhow. Now I think even less of him for breaking your heart. You’re a sweet girl, from what I can tell. You’ve got a good aura about you.” He smiled. Quickly the pair of them became best friends. Luckily, the house that her mother had bought for her, and paid off in full was still under her name. Sally hadn’t sold it when she and Finn had moved in together. Granted it was a big house, and she would be all alone in it, it was better than nothing. “This place it huge!” Chris mused, as he moved things into it with Sally. “You’re welcome to stay here if you hate your cousin so much. I’ve got the extra space.” It wasn’t some big commitment, or mile stone in their relationship, because already Sally believed him to be her best friend.
Once he agreed, they moved his things into the place as well, leaving Finn to his apartment on his own. Chris was Sally’s best friend, and her heart refused to let her feel anything more for him.
I’ve learned the hard way, to never let it get that far.
Because of you, I never stray to far from the sidewalk.
Because of you, I learned to play on the safe side.
So I don’t get hurt.
Because of you, I find it hard to trust, not only me.
But everyone around me.
The last time Sally had seen her father George was before her fourth birthday. She was in her twenties now, and had completely given up on having a father-daughter relationship. She could remember the nights where she’d wait up for him to come through the door, she could remember running down the stairs on Christmas morning hoping he would be waiting for her to jump into his arms. Sally remembered staring at the family photo she had of them all, memorizing his face. To this day she couldn’t forget his face, but his eyes no longer seemed kind in her mind, they seemed empty, cruel. She pushed them to the back of her mind, never did she expect herself to come face to face with him, she never expected to find herself staring into his eyes again. But things happen, and shit messes with your life. It was a day like any other, Sally woke and made herself get ready, she pressed on and forced herself out the door and into the familiar surrounding of Scotland.
Fate had to have intervened in her life today, because with her eyes locked on her phone for just a split second she bumped into another warm body. “Oh Jesus.” She breathed out, looking up and stopping in her tracks. She was frozen, her heart seemed to even stop beating, and her lungs grew small and shriveled inside her chest from the lack of air she was circling to them. Those eyes, they were piercing into her, burning a hole in her heart the size of Texas, and causing her mouth to become as dry as the Sahara. ”George…” She murmured, it had been years since she’d referred to the man as dad or father. He seemed confused, his eyes bloodshot, his face still a mirror image of the photo she had, only now it was not the face of her father. It was the face of a horrid man who had torn her life to bits without a care. A man who had pretended that she was his everything and then disappeared the next day. “I’m sorry, do I know you?” He slurred, and even a three year-old would have been able to tell that he was coming out of a bad hangover.
But to not remember your own daughter, how was that possible. “It’s me, Sally.” As she spoke, her heart twisted painfully in her chest, leaving her entire body aching with both rage and sadness. “Your daughter…” She whispered through the pain, finding it almost too hard to stare this man in the eyes. Even with the blood rushing past her ears she heard the one word he mumbled, “Fuck.” She felt vulnerable, more so than usual, standing here with her abandoning father. “I just have to know. Why? Why’d you leave? Did I do something wrong? Was it mother? Why did you abandon us?! Did you even fight for me?!” She could feel her emotions bubbling up inside her, like boiling water rising to the top of the pot, and she was just about to boil over.
“FIGHT for you?” He almost sneered, his voice was like a snake, hissing in her ear and laced with venom. “I didn’t WANT you.” Sally chewed on her bottom lip. “I will never want you, Sally.” With his words came a harsh sting, and her eyes became little pools of tears. He’d slapped her, and with all his strength too. “She was all I had!” He yelled, his face more evil and unfriendly than before. “She was all I had, and then you came along and ruined it all!” His hand contacted her cheek once again, pulling a pained noise from deep within her. Without another word, Sally turned from the man, he wasn’t her father, he would never be her father. Her hand held onto her cheek lightly for a moment before her feet carried her quickly away from the scene. She never wanted to be faced with this man, ever again.
To say Sally’s life had been hard would be an understatement. Most of it had been against her. Every now and then something good would happen, but mostly it was all just a lot of shit. After the incident with the hospital internship she had left the program and applied for college. Determined to get out of this small town that she’d lived in all her life. Things with her mother got worse, as if it was even possible. But she put up with it. She visited her mother at the hospital every now and then, under the impression of some tiny glimpse of hope, that maybe Jessica would love her in the end. It never worked, but the little girl inside of Sally never let her give up. One day it all escalated down past rock bottom…
“Hi mom.” She pulled a smile on, as she came over to the mother, who was scribbling into a patient chart. “I’m busy, Sally.” Jessica’s voice was harsh, in a tone that said she wanted nothing to do with Sally today. “I thought we could go for lunch…” Sally offered, hoping maybe her mother would accept the offer. “Do you honestly have nothing better to do than bother me at work, Sally?!” Her mother fumed, finally looking up from the chart, before Sally could speak, her mother was fuming more. “Oh right. You don’t have anything better to do. Because you’re an ordinary waste of space on this planet. Now if you excuse me, I need to get back to work, to be extraordinary.” Jessica turned on her heels and made her way in the opposite direction of Sally, leaving her there speechless and with tears forming in her eyes. She glanced around, wondering who had seen what had happened, to her dismay, everyone had been watching. Quickly she fled the hospital, it was months before she went back to try and fix it once again.
After quitting the internship at the hospital, Sally applied for college. It wasn’t a surprise to any of her friends that all the college’s she applied for wanted her. Sally was always a good student, mostly to get the attention of her mother. She did extra-curricular’s like there was no tomorrow, and she had the most impressive letters of recommendation. Once she picked which college she would go to, she packed her things and moved into the dorms. To her surprise, she was put in the Co-ed dorm building, and due to request, she was in a single room. Which meant no roommate. She enjoyed her classes for the most part, and everyone gave her the space that she practically demanded silently. Sally was okay with solitude, she wasn’t big on people anyway. But that changed one day, as she sat at her regular lunch table, empty except for her, and her book open in front of her as she ate her lunch, another person sat down next to her. She side glanced at the person, who turned out to be a guy she identified as Finn, who was in all but one of her classes. “Can I help you?” She asked, obviously uninterested as she continued to eat, and her eyes stayed fixed to her book. “Someone as good looking as you shouldn’t be alone as much as you are.” He mused, a playful smile crossing his face.
“You should get a new pick up line if you’re trying to impress me.” She breathed out, taking a sip of her iced-tea. “I’m Finn.” He nodded, brushing off her last comment. “I’m aware of your name, what I’m not aware of is why you don’t get the hint that I don’t want you here.” She sighed, finally closing her book to look at him, expecting him to get the point now that she had been perfectly blunt about it. “I think you’re a sweet girl under this…..guard you have up. I wanna get past this, find the real you.” Sally ran a hand through her hair, biting her lip to hide the hint of a smile that tried to peek out. “Go to dinner with me.” He offered, and unlike her, she accepted as she stood with her things. Turns out, Finn lived two dorms down from her, and had been working up the courage to ask her out since she had arrived. She got ready for their date, allowing herself to be at least a little excited about it. The knock at her door made her jump a little, but she gained her composure and opened with a soft smile. “You look great.” Finn smiled, and held out his arm for her. Two and a half hours later they returned to her dorm room, and Sally was all too aware that she’d smiled more in the past hours than she had in long time, and she could feel herself starting to give into Finn.
“I had a good time tonight, thanks.” She nodded as they came to a stop in front of her door. Finn pressed his lips to hers in a swift but gentle movement, catching her off guard. But once she gained her composure again, she kissed him back, smiling when they surfaced from each other. “I’ll…..see you later then.” She smiled and went into her room before anything more could happen. Finn and Sally ended up dating for their entire college years, they were the “it” couple on campus, everyone knew about them, and everyone wanted a relationship like theirs. Sally was happy, at least, for Sally she was. She believed that she was getting back into the grove of things. Back into the Sally that liked being around people, and the Sally that smiled all the time. Graduation rolled around, and to celebrate their achievement of making it through college, Finn took Sally out. Not to dinner at a fancy restaurant, to a private place, one where they could be alone. It was romantic, way over the standards that Sally had set for romantic gestures. Halfway through the night, Finn got on one knee, and poured his heart out. From his pocket he pulled a little velvet box, which held a beautiful but simple ring. Sally’s heart raced the whole time. She had never pegged herself the marrying type, and she was sure this thing with Finn wouldn’t last. But it had lasted.
The only logical way to go about was to say yes. They’d been together for 4 years, Sally was sure that anyone else would leave her. “Yes.” She breathed out, and let him slide the ring onto her finger. Plans for their wedding came out of thin air, and Sally was sure that she hadn’t made a single one of them. She left it all to Finn, in all honesty she wasn’t into the wedding thing. “If you loved him, it wouldn’t matter if you were into the wedding thing before, you would love planning to marry him, Sal.” Her friend told her, but Sally ignored it, and the wedding day grew closer and closer. Out of the blue, the wedding planner stopped coming to their apartment, and the planning binder that Finn had all the plans in disappeared, and slowly her things started moving from the apartment and into boxes. “What’s going on?” She question one day, Finn stopped for a moment, then moved over to her, standing abnormally far from her. “I called off the wedding.” He didn’t tip-toe around her feelings, but it wasn’t necessary either. She should have broken down, she should have fallen to pieces and asked him why he was leaving her. But she let him finish packing up her things and she left without another word.
She tucked the ring away, not wanting to go back and see him to give it back. It was a simple ring, there wasn’t a diamond, it was a band made to look like an intricate pattern of leafs on a branch was woven around her finger. Once the ring was plucked from her finger, she put it in a little box and buried it at the bottom of her closet. She hasn’t touched it since.
“Like I said, disappearances happen. Pain goes phantom. Blood stops running. People people fade away. There’s more I have to say. So much more. But I’ve disappeared..”