Many thanks to Annette Rochelle Aben for the below short story, which is copyright Annette Rochelle Aben.
I Loved You, Tom
So, like many a love affair, it really had no chance of happening. Oh, I noticed you, but the thought of TRYING to LIKE you was simply abhorrent! There was so much about you I couldn’t accept. You left a bad taste in my mouth and your natural scent, well let’s just say that I’d rather have smelled burnt popcorn. Yet my parents did everything from strongly suggesting to playing the “we know what’s best for you” card as though the guilt alone would get me to love you! They were, after all, completely befuddled that I was the only one in the family to NOT sing your praises. Over the years, I found I could take you in small quantities, and I began to find that I could enjoy you, given the right circumstances. Of course , I still had my issues getting to know the real you, the raw side of you, holding my ground for what seemed like forever, until something inside me shifted.
Can’t explain it, and I will never fully understand how, but one day I found myself out of my comfort zone and gave you an honest-to-goodness second chance. It was as though a whole new world opened for me. I was no longer that family member who rejected you, or tossed you aside. How could I have ever refused to enjoy myself when you were around? Eagerly, I began to include you in my daily life. People who had known me forever were confused. After all, I had been adamant about my feelings. Could it be possible that my tastes had changed? So many people told me this might happen.
This new-found appreciation, dare I say it, L-O-V-E, for you was bringing me great joy! As we are want to do with love, I felt the need to share my excitement. I even found a job where I could have you by my side more often. How proud I was to introduce you to others, putting you up on a pedestal. I was always meeting more people who had already known and loved you for most of their lives. Within the fold of their company, I felt proud and understood!
In the middle of this fun and frolic, something began to go terribly wrong. It wasn’t about the others. I knew I couldn’t keep you all to myself. You commanded world adulation, I accepted that as fact. This was me, not you and I lost sleep trying to come to grips with reality. It shook me to think that this might be the beginning of the end.
My body grew weak and it pained me to have you in my life. Those joy-filled times began to be followed by days of regret. There was something paining me and though I had an inkling, I was too proud to see the signs. It got to the point that I was advised by my doctor, to make a choice. Either pretend to be happy with you or live without you and be healthier! It was for my own good! Still, how could I walk away from that which had brought me such pleasure? To turn my back on the satisfaction, seemed impossible. I had become one of your most devoted fans. I loved you with all my heart!
Oh, the humanity!
I chose to give you up and I cut all ties. It wasn’t easy, for you were so much a part of my life. I cried for the loss, secretly hoping that I might soon waken from this bad dream. What if I did not feel better after this drastic change? Could we make a pact to find each other again? Then we’d slip away, go someplace where no one knew us, start over and live happily ever after!
Strange, but I began to feel better without you around. My body felt a resurgence of energy, my outlook brightened and I managed to find a zest for life. What a cruel joke! If what I felt was real love, how could I possibly be thriving with you gone? I finally had to admit that I couldn’t live on love alone. You were just no good for me and the truth was undeniable. We must have had something good at one time, but it wasn’t meant to last.
Yes, I have become stronger and you still have millions of others who adore you. We lost nothing and we will always have our memories. I see you from time to time. Quite knowingly, I smile but keep walking. See, I know that my life changed because of you, for the better. I no longer use my pet name for you, Tom. These days I refer to you more formally as Tomato!