Scenes of a Crime

It is said that lovers, like murderers, always return to the scene of the crime.

The heart tortures the head, shaking loose memories long forgotten that have the power to sear.

It was many years since I had returned to my hometown. I’d left in my twenties, seeking the life I’d seen in stories.

Like many, I envisioned myself walking into adventure, finding romance along the way as a rightful reward.

Life, of course, had other ideas, and as the years went by I struggled to see the the meaning of its messages.

I suppose it would be easy to blame life itself, or fate, for my lack of success, but the truth is I was simply broken.

Success was fleeting, adventure scarce, and the love I sought as elusive as the Lands of Faerie.

So many chances, shattered by pride and a misguided belief that something better was just around the corner. Waiting.

Almost helplessly, I watched my dreams fade like ghosts in the morning light, whispering farewell in voices to soft to hear.

Obviously, I needed a change.

Coming home was supposed to give me a chance to recharge my batteries, and perhaps do a little soul searching.

I sought safety in its familiarity, a womb away from the world where I could be reborn as something new.

But within a few weeks, life brought the past into the present, and and a wound I had thought healed was re-opened.

I had gone to movies, partly for entertainment, but mostly to live a life outside of my own, if only for a moment or two.

The film was enjoyable, and I had accomplished my goal, but as I walked through the lobby I recognized a familiar face.

Amy looked exactly as I remembered her, with strawberry blonde hair that caught the light just so.

Her eyes still shone with the same mischief I knew as a kid, and her smile struck me in the chest like a hammer.

She was walking arm in arm with another man, and as I looked I noticed how closely they leaned into one another.

They were obviously in love, and a closer look revealed the rings upon their fingers – married, it seemed.

They continued past, neither noticing my presence, and as they exited the theater, they linked fingers tenderly.

As I watched them go, my heart chose that very moment to seize my brain with memory.

In an instant, I was sixteen again, standing outside the same theater waiting for Amy to emerge.

It was a warm spring night, and we had gone to see some romantic comedy whose title I couldn’t recall.

Amy loved these films. She was captivated by their promise and believed in their magic the way some believed in Gods.

For me, however, they were a torture; a constant reminder of how empty my life was. I saw no magic. I felt only a call.

Something, I knew, was out there. Something different than what I currently had. I was restless. And stupid.

By the time Amy came out of the theater, I was long past ready to leave. I took her hand abruptly.

“Come on,” I said, “I want to get home.”

“Didn’t you like the movie?” she asked, “I know it wasn’t all that great, but I thought it was very sweet at times.”

I muttered something non-committal in return and continued walking; my mind on other matters.

Sensing something was wrong, Amy hooked her arm through mine and asked, “Is everything OK? You seemed bothered.”

I looked at her, at the concern in her eyes, and for a moment thought I could tell her anything.

That all I had to do was open my heart and let her into my secret world of hopes and dreams for the future.

I thought, for just a second, that maybe she would understand. That she was the one to share it all with.

But as my silence persisted, I saw the shine in her eyes replaced by a sudden nervous fear.

“What’s wrong?” she whispered, “Is it something I did?”

I stopped and turned to face her, looking down into her eyes and glimpsing a possible future.

All I had to do was take her hands in mine and open my heart. All I had to say were simple little words.

Such a small thing to do, to make another person happy. A word, a look, either would grant peace to a troubled mind.

But a troubled soul knows nothing of peace, neither for itself or others.

I said nothing.

For many years I’ve played that moment over and over in my mind.

Each time, the pain she must have felt is transposed upon my soul; bringing fire to my eyes and an ache that never soothes.

I have never forgiven myself.