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The Song That Changed Your Life

The Last Time I Saw Him By Deborah Whelan

This story is on the shortlist for The Song That Changed Your Life challenge. 

Video source: Youtube.

We hold each other in the back seat of his Pontiac. The streetlight paints wide streaks across our bodies.  Cat Stevens sings ‘Wild World’ for maybe the hundredth time that day. 

‘I’ll be home at Christmas.’ I struggle to keep the tears at bay.

‘You’ll like Memorial University,’ Jack says. He’s twenty-two to my eighteen, a freshly graduated teacher. Tomorrow, I leave for my first year. ‘Just remember that you need to study and not party all the time.’

Sometimes he sounds like my father.

"And it's breakin' my heart you're leavin'

Baby, I'm grieving!"

We make love again and I hold on tight. I am terrified of leaving everything and everyone that is familiar.

The next time I see him, it’s three months later and I’m in the back seat of a taxi, fresh from the airport with morning sickness curdling through me. I need him to make it all better. As I drive through downtown, I see him with his arm wrapped around the waist of a pretty dark-haired girl. 

"Now that I've lost everything to you

You say you wanna start something new"

I go back to school. I get rid of my morning sickness and transfer to another university out of the province.

The next time I see him, it’s twenty-five years later. My friend Cheryl elbows the middle of my million stitches. Pain radiates up my rib cage. "It’s Jack!" Her hiss is louder than the choir. 

"Jack who?"

"Over there.  Red sweater." She bobs her nose at the next pew. "Don’t pretend you don’t remember him."

Less hair but the same hooded eyes, slightly protruding upper teeth. Wide shoulders. 

"But just remember there's a lot of bad and beware."

"Last time I saw him was at a staff party. You know what he asked me?"

Do I care? After twenty-five years? Yes. "What?"

"He wondered what in hell happened to you. That when you went away to university, you dropped off the face of the earth."

I wrap my arms around my aching body and rock gently to the music.

"His wife died years ago. Why don’t you go over and say hello?"

The last time I was this close to him, I had two breasts. 

"You still like him, don’t you?" Cheryl’s breath is a cloud of orange Tic-Tac’s. "Come on. I’ll go over with you. After this hymn is over."

Deborah Whelan lives in Hearts Delight-Islington, NL.

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