I remember nervously twirling the frail gold bracelet around in circles on my arm. I hadn’t worn it in quite some time, feeling awkward having moved on with my young life when he had left that hot summer day, but as I ran up the stairs with this latest letter, I put it back on once more with shaking hands. My arm would turn a bit green below it but I decided I owed him at least that much.
The last time I had seen Adam was months ago behind the skating rink. It had been a warm balmy summer evening and the sun was setting in the distant sky as I gazed over his shoulder. He was leaving for the Navy and wouldn’t be back for many months but my tears continued to fall. I knew when he left, it was going to be forever, I don’t know why, I just did. He held me with tears in his eyes, promising me he’d write often, or as often as he could between training and the unknown expectations, he had been so excited but now, not so much. I told him I’d wait, I was sixteen and thought he was my world but somewhere inside me I felt the familiar fear that often surfaced. He was eighteen and had just graduated in June, a beautiful blonde boy with the anchor tattoo he had gotten in anticipation for his upcoming enlistment, still looking a bit raw and red and bumpy, as I traced my finger over it lightly, I told him it would be ok, that I’d be here and that I wasn’t going anywhere so told him to just write when he could. He smiled then and just held me as the gold sun slipped down over the horizon.
The letter was dated seven weeks ago, was a bit ragged as if it had been lost somewhere in the bowels of a post office in a far away country, but I knew he had never made it to the gulf, to any war for that matter. Adam had died in a car accident three weeks ago on a weekend leave. His Mom Beth had called to let me know what had happened and his obituary had been in the paper for days, local boy gone, and my soul didn’t feel anything except for an emptiness, because I had always known he wasn’t coming back, had always known. Beth had told me softly through tears over the phone the details about what had happened. Adam died driving down a long narrow road in Virginia on his way to celebrate with Tiffany’s family, his cassette deck playing the mix tape that I had made for him for Christmas the year before, and that his car had swerved for some unknown reason as the sun shone down on the curve, blinding him. The car overturned on the soft sandy edge of the road, the song Gold Dust Woman blaring through his cars speakers when the police arrived. The local blonde beauty queen with the shiny new engagement ring who had sat beside him was thrown from the car and was pronounced dead on scene and Adam died on route to the hospital.
I read the letter, feeling calm as his words filled me. I realized he suddenly seemed so grown up, someone I no longer really knew. He apologized for falling in love with someone else but letting me go as tenderly as he could, he didn’t want me to be angry, that I should move on with my life, always Adam to the end. I undid the clasp on the bracelet and let it fall to my lap, folded the letter and tucked it back in the ripped envelope, leaned over and looked out the window at the cold snow falling beyond. Somewhere in my head a song started playing, Gold dust woman and I quietly sang along.
“Well did she make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter your illusions of love
And is it over now, do you know how
Pickup the pieces and go home.” Fleetwood Mac Gold Dust Woman
This is my piece for the Sue Vincent Thursday #writephoto challenge-Gold