My Personal Superman
Every hero has his kryptonite
I don't enjoy the cold; instead, I avoid it. Not a snow bunny with cute pink snow pants and a fluffy white jacket with matching earmuffs on the hills or in the chalet drinking hot chocolate. I avoid the cold as much as humanly possible. And now, with everything delivered, I practically hibernate.
I have a specific aversion to winter as a whole. And winter, to me, is anything below 8 degrees Celsius. You might think I pulled a random number out of my ass, but I assure you, I've been sitting since I began writing this story for you.
Anything less than 8 degrees Celsius, and I have a tough time being outside. I only know this because I began paying attention to the temperature many years ago, probably after science in elementary school. If it was plus 8 degrees or higher, I could handle it. Below, and my ability to function decreased drastically. I suspect I know why, but that story isn't why we are here.
Today the cold is the only thing keeping me alive. It's enough of a shock to my system to bring me back to reality and enough pain to stop me from drawing my own blood. I haven't had any thoughts of self-harm or suicide in over a decade. Despite all the shit I've been through, I could always find a silver lining, even if it was only a thread, barely visible in the dark clouds that constantly surrounded me. There's no silver this time, only darkness.
I found him in a Facebook group for atheists. The goal was to find someone with a similar mindset who could help me break the cycle of abusive men I had most recently endured. He passed all the tests and checked all the boxes, and my gatekeeper, more than approved.
To add to his charm, he was tall, handsome, and for some reason, impressed by and attracted to me. I never understood what people meant when they said a touch was like a bolt of electricity through them or whatever that saying is. When he touched me, my whole body stopped, and the skin where he felt or pulled me in seemed to become its own entity, dancing and tingling, sending waves throughout my entire being, electric.
Even now, when I think about it, my heart stops, and I can't breathe. And that was before our first kiss. With these gentle touches, I would get nervous about what I said and worried about how I behaved. No one had done that before. And then the eyes, how he looked at me, looked into me, was so intense. Even more so when we kissed and he wouldn't let me look away. It was as if he was seeing me as a whole.
He didn't see how broken I was; if he did, he accepted all the pieces. No judgment, no inquiry into my past, only acceptance, dedication and longing. No one has ever looked at me like that before. It was a new feeling I can only describe as hurting so good. I wanted more all the time.
When he first told me he loved me, I was confused. It had only been a few weeks. I had been looking for red flags and didn't see any. Through conversation with the gatekeeper, I tried to determine if this was one and decided it wasn't. There was no expectation for me to say it back. No harmful consequences, emotional or otherwise, towards me for not rushing, just his eyes stating, "I love you."
Then we continued on with our conversation. I am trying to remember what we were talking about, but I only remember that fleeting moment. My head was in his lap, and I looked at him while he ran his fingers through my hair.
I was so afraid, of nothing, for nothing. I still don't understand why he loved me, of all people. And I tried to explain that to him.
The last message I wrote to him follows:
"Speaking of broken people, I have been shattered and incorrectly put back together so many times; it feels like all I am is dirty blue sand and broken glass with tiny letters from the disclaimer littered throughout.
You keep doing these little things that are sweet and considerate, and it's strange to me. I'm getting all sorts of strong feelings for you, and it's terrifying. I keep waiting for the other foot to drop like you're too good to be true.
I'm very fearful you'll see all my damage and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. That or I'll self-sabotage and ruin us before we have a chance at anything great.
I'm trying to be aware of all the broken, so I don't react according to how it has been in the past. It's very difficult. So I apologize in advance if I can't stop myself from ruining things, and I hope I'll be able to communicate what's going on for me and that you won't hate me. Reconditioning takes time."
I hadn't heard from him at all other than early morning when he said he didn't get murdered. He slept in his car the night before at a rest stop, and I was concerned, as I'm sure anyone would be.
At 4:35 pm, precisely five hours since I had sent my lengthy message and had been agonizing over what I said, I got a response:
"Hi Amber, Plz call."
It took me a few minutes to dial. I was confused and anxious, and scared. What an unusual way to respond. And we hadn't spoken so little since our first interaction months prior.
When I finally got the courage to call, something I have always struggled with, it was his son I had never met on the other end.
The would-be love of my life, the man who treated me better, understood me better and appreciated everything about me, was gone. Just two nights before, he had promised to always take care of me, but instead, he fucked around and died. He had a heart attack. They said he went quickly.
My world shattered for myself and his family. Especially the son I had never met who had to make such a call and deal with this loss.
I cried for days. I forced myself to look at pictures and re-read messages. I sent him messages, knowing they would never be read, hoping it was all a dream or a sick prank.
Now I have nothing to remember him by but a couple of empty whiskey bottles and shared memories. But memories fade, and so much faster when you're the only one keeping them.
Mornings are the worst. After a night spent reliving all the happiness he offered me, I woke up having forgotten he wasn't here anymore. And then reality swoops in like the fledgling superhero with something to prove and smashes my world to unrecognizable rubble.
I want to be angry at him. But he told me. "I'm basically superman, except Diabetes is my kryptonite. That's the only thing that will kill me, baby girl". He didn't lie to me.
I said he was too good to be true. Was he? Did I imagine the goodness in him that he shared with me? Am I romanticizing the memories now that he's gone? No, I have evidence and witnesses.
I am in all the stages of grief at once. Not many people know Mary Shelly's Frankenstein was inspired by the death of her child. I couldn't relate before. I can see now. How to bring you back, cloning, reanimation, all nonsense, of course, but I get it; that's where my thoughts live and die.
So I am writing in the cold. To remind me that I can't leave my family behind and that your goal was never to ruin or hurt me in any way. So I can't let my life end with yours.
I'm not ready to move on. I'm not done loving you. But one day, I will be when I have suffered enough and turned this pain into something beautiful. But I know they will never replace you, and I'm ok with that.
You rewrote the template for the people I let into my life. For that and the time we had together, I am thankful.
About the author
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions