Sylvie(7)

By: K. Langston


He was proud of him.

After a while, he finally lifts his red, swollen eyes to mine. “He’s gone forever, Syl. He’s never comin’ back.”

I don’t respond. What should I say? I should probably say what people normally say when someone dies. Things like I’m sorry, or he’s in a better place, or this is God’s plan, but none of those things sound right. None of those words will give Linc comfort right now, and anything less than acknowledging how much he’s hurting seems like a slap in the face to me.

So I remain silent, reaching up to cup his cheek. Something inside of me shifts as I look into his deep, sad eyes. I can’t define it and I’m afraid to acknowledge it but it’s there, and I swear, I think I see it reflecting back at me.

I long to take away his pain. To ease the grief that is consuming him. But I have no idea how to do that.

Linc stands abruptly, pulling a forearm across his wet face. Once he finds his composure, he looks at me again. Those beautiful green eyes that are always so full of life and bursting with happiness are now darkened with sorrow and despair.

The sight makes my heart twist with agony.

“I need to go,” he says. “I left Mama alone with Aunt Shirley. I just…I needed to see you. I needed to hear your voice.”

“Want me to come with you?” I offer.

I don’t want to leave his side.

I don’t want him to face any of this alone.

Of course he has his mother, but he will be strong for her. He will never allow his mother to see him fall apart like that. That’s why he came here. He knows he can’t keep it bottled up.

That’s not how Linc is built.

He feels every emotion with full force, and he knows he can let it go and feel it all with me. Whenever we are afraid or hurt or happy or sad, we always find what we need in each other.

“No, I need to be with Mama for a while.” He presses his lips to my forehead, the gesture filling me with warmth like it always does. “I’ll call you later,” he promises, his voice soft.

I watch helplessly as he walks to his pickup truck and climbs inside. Then I stay rooted to my spot on the porch until he disappears into a thick cloud of dust, taking my heart with him.





Past

Butterflies dance in my belly as I stand in front of the mirror. Twisting from side to side, I smooth down the front of my dress.

Mama is right, lavender is my color. My blue eyes pop against the silky fabric and complement my pale skin. The floor length gown has a beaded bodice and a somewhat revealing slit. It nearly gave my father a heart attack when we brought it home to show him, but I love it, and as usual, my mother talked him into letting me wear it.

Rachel and I spent hours at the salon today. My updo is a delicate knot at the base of my head with blonde tendrils framing my face. I can’t remember ever being so nervous in my life. Even though I have no reason to be. I’m not going to prom with just anyone.

I’m going with Linc.

Tonight is the night. I’m finally going to tell Linc Matthews I’m in love with him.

God, I can’t believe I’m going through with this.

Nausea bubbles in my belly each time I think about it.

“Syl! Get your butt down here,” Linc hollers.

I smile, my heart fluttering in my chest.

Standing at the top of the stairs, he’s there waiting for me at the bottom. A big, goofy grin smothering his handsome face while he chats with my mom and dad.

They adore him, of course.

Everyone does.

Especially me.

His smile is contagious and anytime he’s in a room it’s full of light. Even after losing his father, Linc didn’t let it dampen his spirit. Of course he misses him very much, and some days I can still see the sadness in his eyes, but his father would not have wanted him to dwell on his death. So he finds ways to celebrate and remember his life through his music.

His hair has been trimmed for the occasion, but there are a few unruly pieces that always escape his attempt to tame the wild locks, a gift from his father, he always says. His tux fits his athletic body nicely and he’s wearing a lavender bow tie and vest to match my dress.

His gaze lifts to mine, and I have to hold onto the rail to keep my knees from buckling beneath me.

Those green eyes have become my weakness.