wubba lubba dub dub
by Catherine L.
by Catherine L.
Jack had never gone for a walk at this time of night.
It was four o'clock in the morning. In three days it would be Christmas. The same suburban pavement that used to be so unforgiving to his knees as a child was now covered in slushy snow. His lungs swelled with the winter air, and he exhaled a frosty breath, feeling somewhat like a dragon. He had never been partial to winter weather, but tonight it was the least of his worries. The street lights glowed softly, like overgrown fireflies, and it felt like he was the only man on earth.
Of course, he wasn't the only man on earth. In fact, just ten minutes ago he had met quite a few men in the small town's only bar, where he’d stopped for a few drinks before closing. As someone whose favorite saying was “everything in moderation”, it was very unlike him to become this intoxicated; especially at this time of night; especially by himself; especially in front of vixen-like women that had accompanied the other bar men.
Jack could never understand men who “picked up” women easily. He was a stout young man of 26, yes, but his road to becoming tall-dark-and-handsome had been slow and steady. Girls in high school used to make fun of him for his crooked front tooth and long hair. Had he grown out of that insecurity? Doubtful.
But none of that mattered in the least. It was just Jack and the streets tonight. The black asphalt appeared as if iced with frosting, and he drunkenly considered whether or not he should lean down and lick it up. He wished dearly to get the burn the whiskey had left out of his throat.
Most of all, he wished he hadn’t gone straight to that bar after that door had slammed in his face.
The door belonged to Abigail Green. Abby Green. Abby.
She had pale white skin and burnt rusty hair and shiny gray eyes. Jack thought hard along his long walk to try to remember the first time he met Abby Green, but his efforts were futile. The two had grown up together at the height of the '60's. The one warm summer their long-haired, loving mothers, best friends, had first introduced the two was far too long ago to be embedded in his memory still.
The pair had learned the ins and outs of life side by side. They learned how to attach baseball cards to your bikes to make an honest-to-god motor. They learned how to copy homework from each other so they only had to do half as much work. They learned how to fit in, and on one isolated incident, they had even learned how to kiss.
To Jack, it was a cosmically crafted bond that could outlast the coldest tendrils of time.
But to Abby, it had all been nothing more than growing pains and hormones. They were the best of pals, but to her, that was quite literally it.
Jack never took a girl out in college. He never took a girl out because what did other girls have to offer over Abby? Talking to other girls did nothing more than remind him how he’d rather be talking to her. And thinking about other girls, well, that was never a problem. He only ever thought of Abigail Green.
Abigail had only ever had two boyfriends, neither of them Jack. He hated the two boys more than he thought he could ever hate someone, but he wished he didn’t. Hating them had never done anything but turn his heart colder and push her further away. He had always waited patiently, pining for the day she would no longer care for them, and eventually, he witnessed both of those days come.
Jack scratched his black stubble as he wondered why he believed in a concept as silly as having a soulmate. He wasn't even sure what a soul is; the metaphysics books he’d once read had only confused him. Whatever his wispy, wandering soul was, however, he knew that somehow it was connected to Abigail Green’s.
But that’s not what she thought.
This night, three days before Christmas, two months after she had finished with the second boy, Jack had finally knocked on Abby’s 800-square-foot apartment door and showed her the knot his soul had made to hers. Her eyebrows had widened, then furrowed, then faced the floor as she tried to explain to him that he had tied that knot. She never asked him to. She never wanted him to.
And just like that, she took a pair of scissors and snipped it off. Whatever his soul was, it was now torn, with a wide gaping hole that had been left by the piece of him that was still connected to her. What could he possibly fill it with now?
His inebriated mind had a very simple answer: nothing. Who could he ever meet that could knit a soul back together?
Manically, he laughed and skipped and kicked chunks of snow out of his way as he walked down the sidewalk. He wasn’t sure where he was going, but he’d left his car at her apartment. It was far too embarrassing to go back, and he was incapable of driving, so he ignored the cold and simply continued to walk.
His feet buzzed with the liquor, and a satisfying “crunch” accompanied every step they took. He liked the sound. He liked the screams of bats and the screeches of owls he heard every now and then too. He especially liked the soothing car motors he could hear driving alongside him on the streets.
Jack thought about his deadbeat job.
He thought about Abigail Green.
He thought about his soul.
His boots ceased to crunch as he watched a distant car’s headlights draw closer.
His lungs drank in the four o’clock oxygen. Invisible wind nymphs faintly played with his hair, and he turned his head upward to gaze at the stars.
He remembered the times Abigail and he had learned to jump together, over fences and on trampolines.
Jack’s sloppily liquored heart assured him to that there was still comfort to be found in jumping alone, even without Abby; he just had to manage to do it one last time.
The barreling car slid to a stop, and the world fell silent after a plummeting body had made a loud thump against the now cracked and crimson windshield.
And whatever souls are, wherever they go, that’s where Jack's went.
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