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If I’m Up and Gone

When love dies

By Shelley CarrollPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 4 min read
If I’m Up and Gone
Photo by Autumn Mott Rodeheaver on Unsplash

Fiona curled up in her comfy chair by the bedroom window, her legs covered by her favourite afghan. She clutched her pen in her right hand and her notebook in her left. A cup of peppermint tea steeped on the end table beside her. She already regretted that she had not poured herself a glass of red wine instead.

She glanced outside, admiring the colours of the leaves and then considered how nature is so sneaky… making death look so beautiful. The way the leaves turn from green to red, orange, yellow and brown is just a pretty way to make a lack of oxygen look appealing, she began to write. Perhaps that is the reward for a season well spent. To quote Jim Morrison, “no one here gets out alive”. Why should leaves be any different? At least they achieve their richest beauty before they are cast upon the wind, drift towards the ground, soon to become mulch or shelter for little animals. Ah, the circle of life.

Jesus”, she said aloud. “What the hell is wrong with me? This is supposed to be a journal entry, not an obituary or an ode to death”.

Then again, perhaps it was.

She had been feeling rather alone as of late. Even in a room full of people. Yet all she really wanted to do today was precisely what she was doing right then – curl up comfortably, think, write, wonder, dream… analyze, worry, conspire, and maybe have a good little cry. Mom used to say that sometimes we all need a good little cry.

She missed Claude. Even though he still slept beside her each night. Even though they shared most meals. Even though she washed his clothes and folded his laundry. Even though she kept the fridge stocked with his favourite beer and made sure to buy his favourite snacks. He was still here in the physical sense. Nevertheless, he was long gone in all of the other ways that mattered.

She thought about that night, so many years ago, as they drove home from a lovely dinner at the golf course. They had opted to drive down a dirt road out in the country, just so they would have a better view of the stars. Her favourite song played on the radio, James Taylor’s Carolina in my Mind. Claude pulled the car over to the shoulder of the road, walked to her side of the vehicle, opened the door, and asked her if she wanted to dance. She giggled until she wept; the gesture had been so spontaneous, so romantic. So they danced. They danced when the music stopped playing. They kissed beneath those bright country stars and she felt then that THIS, this feeling, would last forever.

But it did not.

When had it happened?

Where had it all started to change?

Why? What had she done wrong or failed to do? When did the feelings, once so intense she could almost see their colours, just seem to dwindle… never to reignite.

When and why did they veer off course? Moreover, when did she finally notice?

Claude now had his life and Fiona, hers.

As such, all these years later, they maintained a coexistence of sorts. A silent and benign regard of what was.

There were times when Claude would ask about her day. There may even have been times when he almost seemed to pay attention when she told him. More often than not though, it was just quiet.

In her mind, Fiona would travel back to that country road. Though it pained her to grasp at that feeling for the dance, she would still yearn for the starry country sky. She would watch the leaves on the trees. She would recognize the hole in her heart, as the oxygen slowed, smothering the chlorophyll.

Now, as she sat in her comfy chair and sipped her lukewarm peppermint tea, she knew how empty she felt. It was not his fault. It simply just… was the way it was.

There was no animosity. There was no malice. There was simply nothing left.

While they never spoke of nor acknowledged it, the air in their home was permeated with a perpetual sense of grief… coupled with acceptance.

Claude would awaken soon. On the other hand, perhaps this time, he simply would not. She’d ground up the pills and fed them to him in his lunch in the hopes that he’d just drift off to sleep and just keep on following that path to eternal light, far away to a world with no pain, no confusion, and no more heartbreak for those in his circle.

She wished him peace with her whole being.

Just as earnestly, she wished it for herself.

And it's with a holy host of others standin' around me/Still, I'm on the dark side of the moon/And it seems like it goes on like this forever/You must forgive me/If I'm up and gone to Carolina in my mind

(Carolina in my Mind, James Taylor)


About the Creator

Shelley Carroll

Ms. Carroll is a 40-something year-old veteran public servant and mother of three adult children. She and her partner Hal live in Amherst NS with a sweet, anxiety-ridden rescue dog. Shelley loves running, red wine, and laughter.


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