Finding Perseverance(6)

By: T. E. Black


“I miss that time,” I say. “Life was so easy.”

“You’re preaching to the choir, sweetheart. When you hit my age, those memories will be the ones you hold on to. You’ll need them to wake up in the morning.”

Nodding in understanding, I ask. “Do you need memories like that?”

I watch as he stands from his barstool and tosses a twenty on the bar top. He looks at me and, with a saddened expression, grabs his coat from the back of his chair. “Every day, sweetheart. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow, Jake.”

As he moves through the crowd of people, I allow myself to think about the time when Rook, Trent, and I were younger. We were inseparable and had big dreams but not enough time in the day. Rook dreamed of being a fighter. I wanted to be a singer, and Trent wanted to tattoo people for a living.

It seems as if I’m the only one who hasn’t followed their childhood dreams. Trent owns Etched Tattoo Studio and works off and on at our friend Mac’s garage when it gets busy. As for Rook, he’s conquered his dream.

Years flew by at a speed as fast as lightning.

Things changed.

Things got complicated and confusing.

Then, I fell in love with Rook Wallace.

I was a teenager with my emotions all out of whack, and I wasn’t sure about anything except him. There was never a doubt in my mind, or my heart, that he wasn’t the one for me. He was everything strong, cool, and collected in my insane life. He was the reason I got up in the morning and the reason I went to bed with a smile on my face. I loved him and he loved me.

Life was perfect for a while. Then it wasn't.

The day Rook left to train was the day I deemed myself a good person. I never wanted him to leave. I wanted to be selfish and ask him to stay, but I knew he wanted it. I couldn't keep him from chasing his dreams just so I wouldn’t be alone. It wouldn’t have been fair. I wasn't willing to drop my life and follow him, either. Whichever way I had looked at it, one of us would've ended up hating the other. Logic doesn't mean my heart shattered any less.

For the past ten years, I've played out every scenario in my mind, and each time, the outcome has been the same. It wouldn't have worked. I mourned our relationship for years, then one day, I had enough. I hated the woman I’d become. I was weak—so hung up on him and his dreams that mine were slipping through the cracks.

It only took a lake’s worth of tears and a Kleenex bill as steep as a mountain, but I realized it eventually. When it finally clicked, I decided enough was enough with the sulking, picked myself up from the Ben and Jerry’s surrounding the couch, and took a shower. I scrubbed the tear stains off my cheeks and brushed my hair for what seemed like the first time in months.

The need for makeup had become almost non-existent without Rook around. There wasn’t another man I wanted. But I forced myself to put it on. I dug through my closet, found my big girl panties, and slipped those bitches on, too. I stopped blaming everyone for my decisions, threw my middle finger up at my pity party, and I said, “Fuck you.” Then, I walked out the door of what used to be my and Rook’s apartment above Max’s, and as I cascaded down the stairs, a weight lifted.

I found myself feeling stronger, and I rolled with it.

I started over, and all it took was three goddamn years.





Chapter Two





Rook





I could knock this motherfucker out in ten seconds if I want. I can pick out every weak spot just by looking him over once. Weak left shoulder, weak midsection, and a weak right knee are my initial observations.

His stance is complete shit. The guy’s shoulders are too squared. Instead of being turned to the side, his chest is completely open for me to hit. What his trainer should’ve told him is that if he turns his body to the side a little more, he’d be able to hit me with twice the force, and I’d lose my advantage. His power hand is half turned, giving him a short, weak jab. What’s even worse is that his defense is off. Instead of having both hands protecting his face, his power hand should be positioned like he’s talking on a cell phone with a tucked elbow.

That’s how you block a face shot. The hand you keep in front is your armor.