Everything hurt. How could everything hurt?
She was a was a ball of forfeit in the corner of the bathtub. The water was as hot as it would go, and she did not care what the water bill would be. She was pretty sure the only thing keeping her alive in that moment was the steam she continued to breathe in.
“Everything alright up there?” A motherly voice floated past the shower curtain, but it could not have been meant for her. There was not a single chance that anything could ever be alright again, and anyone who knew anything would know that.
But then again, she knew that if the voice went unanswered, next would come the concerned footsteps up the stairs.
“Yep!” She called, her voice cracked. Great, and now they would all know she’d been crying. The only thing worse than being totally and completely devastated was for everyone to know you were.
It had happened so quick. One minute, she’d been packing up her softball gear, watching her boyfriend approach from the football field. The next, she stood frozen, watching her ex-boyfriend walk back to his team.
The rest of her team had jeered at him as he walked away. They consoled her that at least it was done after practice and she could go home. Her coach told her to take it out on the field at the next game for some hard-hit homers. Some teammates told her to go ahead and move on, others offered to wallow with her. Out loud she choose the former, but her heart knew it would be the latter.
“Ah well, the first breakup is the worst,” her father said when he picked her up. He’d patted her back and promised they’d order pizza for dinner. After saying that her mom would probably understand better, he launched into a speech about how healthy experiencing all feelings are, which led to the tale of his own first heartbreak. She’d already heard this story, so did not feel too disrespectful when she tuned him out to begin the diagnosis of every single interaction she’d experienced with the boy who was undoubtedly the love of her life. She would need to remember every single of these moments, memorize them, lock them away in her heart for when she wanted to remember what joy felt like in the many lonely years to come.
Now though, her stinky brother was pounding on the bathroom door.
“Unless you want me to karate chop you into oblivion, there had better be some hot water left for me!”
Although threatened many times, she had yet to be karate-chopped. But she also didn’t want to lose another discussion with a male today, so she finished up her grief-bath and scampered back to her room to sob until dinner was ready. As she clung desperately to Mr. Snugglewomps, her blue teddy bear from childhood, she knew this icy pain in her heart would never cease, and the rest of her days were to become the dreary shadow of true life.
Seven years later, her husband landed next to her on the couch with a mug of tea for them each. The office was about to be transformed to a nursery, so her old photo boxes were next on the list to be organized or thrown out, depending on her mood. She knew the box she currently sifted though had been from high school, mostly because of the dried blue paint on the backs, where she had glued them to the wall. Her mother had not been pleased.
Her husband reached out, picked a random shot. In it, she was young and smiling, in a shirt declaring “We’re #1! Go Foxes!” with the large arm of a football player wrapped around her waist.
“Who is this young stud next to my future wife?” He asked, wiggly his eyebrows at her.
She laughed, “Oh my goodness, I’d kinda hoped you’d never see me with braces on. Gosh that’s… um. Greg? Gregory? No, Tedd. Tim? I can’t remember. He was my first boyfriend, dumped me ’cause some popular girl asked him to prom.”
“Well,” he kissed her cheek, “thank God for me he made such a terrible mistake!”
She laughed as he began to cover her whole face in kisses, and the rest of the photo boxes went forgotten for the evening.
Defeat (noun): An instance of defeating or being defeated. (verb): Win a victory over (someone) in a battle or other contest; overcome or beat.
This is another EXCELLENT word because look- its two primary definitions are exact opposites! Isn’t that amazing? Words are AWESOME.
This short story is extremely short indeed, but I’m trying to take the “if you say more than you have to say, you’re wasting everyone’s time”* approach.
I feel like we all had that one moment in our lives that we thought would last absolutely forever, and then all the sudden it was done. Or maybe you have several. Either way, it’s weird/funny to look back at those and remember how completely certain you were then that the end of your timeline had very much arrived.
Since I was once a dramatic teenage girl, it was very easy to think like a dramatic teenage girl (I even had a karate-chopping brother… still do!) for this story, but I think it applies to every gender and every age. What we have to remember is that defeat has two meanings: to lose, and to win. In these moments, it is our privilege to decide which definition we are going to choose. And I think that applies down the line, including everything from heartbreak to New Years Resolution that have fallen by the way side.
So what kind of defeat are you going to be today? Win, or lose?
*This quote is by someone, at some point, that you may or may not heard of.