My Skylar(2)

By: Penelope Ward



I stayed in the same spot for an undetermined amount of time, staring blankly at the shelves as all of the emotions I tried to bury for years flooded me full force again.

When I finally moved, I saw her standing in line waiting to pay. Her boyfriend must have been waiting in the car because he was nowhere in sight.

Let her go, Mitch.

I almost did…until I saw it.

Skylar lifted her hand to her eyes and began wiping away tears. She looked behind her shoulder to make sure no one was watching and didn’t realize I was just on the other side of her a few registers down hiding behind a magazine. My heart felt like it was ready to explode. She was crying, and I knew it was because of me. It should have hurt, but instead, it invigorated me.

She still felt something.

Whether it was sadness or hatred or even a fraction of love, I didn’t know. But anything was better than complacency. I had convinced myself that Skylar was gone forever, not only away from town, but that her feelings for me had to have long dissipated. I had never been able to move on from her but assumed that by now, she might have moved past what happened between us.

As she wiped her eyes again, I knew I had to know more. I just needed to know whether she was happy. She sure as hell didn’t look it, and that made me angry. I had stayed away all these years, never fought for her, because I thought she was better off. Even if she could never forgive me, I needed to know for my own sanity that Skylar was okay.

So, that’s how the stalking came about, although I liked to call it watching; that was a little less creepy.



***



It was freezing, but the heat stayed off because turning the car on would have drawn attention to myself. I shouldn’t have been here, but the truth was, being near her felt more like home than anywhere.

Tonight, she was alone, and these were my favorite nights. She’d sit on the couch and read or watch television. Sometimes, when she’d watch TV, she’d laugh out loud to herself. Staring at the lingering smile that followed was the best form of meditation for me. When Skylar smiled, she lit up the room, and there was nothing more calming to look at. It was important for me to see her smile. It meant I hadn’t wiped it away altogether.

On the other hand, she seemed tense when he was around. Those nights, she spent more time cleaning or cooking, never relaxing. They’d argue a lot and one time, it culminated in his grabbing her and kissing her apologetically. As much as I had tried to prepare myself for what I might have to witness when I decided to do this, that really stung like hell to watch. Thank God it ended there. I wouldn’t have stuck around for anything more. That’s for damn sure. Show over at that point.

She was reading tonight. With my binoculars, I studied her pensive expression as she concentrated on her book with her legs wrapped in a knit blanket. She had lit a couple of jar candles on the coffee table, and there was one lamp on. She was so friggin’ cute in her red-framed reading glasses. I wondered when she started needing glasses and then stopped that thought process because it led me to wonder about all the other things I had missed.

I would have given anything to hold her while she read and to fall asleep with my nose in the crook of her neck. Just the thought of that warmed me inside as I sat in my dark, cold car. I couldn’t figure out why some nights he never came home. I would sure as hell be home every night if Skylar were mine.

A howling wind shook my car as I continued to gaze at her through the window. Her eyelids became heavy, and I watched intently as they slowly closed tight. She had fallen asleep on the couch.

I could see my breath as I sighed and leaned my head back against the seat, conceding that it was time to call it quits for the night. My heart hurt every time I had to leave her. But I would keep coming until I had what I needed: assurance that she was happy and safe.

Until next week, my Skylar.

I put the key in the ignition and turned it to start the car when the engine hesitated. Thinking nothing of it, I immediately turned it a second time when the same thing happened.

Please! Not here of all places.

That’s what I got for bringing the shit car. I owned a really nice truck, but it was massive and would have attracted too much attention on the quiet street. This car was an older Corvette I purchased for fun, working on it occasionally, but it mainly stayed in my mother’s garage.

After a third attempt to start the car, I got a flashlight and kit out of my trunk and opened the hood. The battery wasn’t dead, so I tinkered with some wiring in the hopes that I could get it to start. When I cranked it again, it still wouldn’t budge. I repeatedly turned the ignition, pumping my foot on the gas, praying that I could get out of here before Skylar woke up and noticed me.

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