I wasn't always in love with Colton Calloway; I was in love with his younger brother, Kyle, first. Kyle was my first one true love, my first in every way.
Then, one stormy August night, he died, and the person I was died with him.
Colton didn't teach me how to live. He didn't heal the pain. He didn't make it okay. He taught me how to hurt, how to not be okay, and, eventually, how to let go.
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In 1906, I was barely over fourteen years old, and it was my wedding day. My older sister, Helen, came to my room, took me by the hand, and sat me down on the bed. She opened her mouth to say something, but then her face flushed, and she turned her head to look out the window. After a second, she squeezed my hand and looked back in my eyes. She said, “You’ve always been a good girl, Maude, and done what I told you. Now, you’re going to be a married woman, and he will be the head of the house. When you go home tonight after your party, no matter what he wants to do to you, you have to let him do it. Do you understand?”
I didn’t understand, but I nodded my head anyway. It sounded strange to me, the way so many things did. I would do what she told me. I didn’t have a choice, any more than I had a choice in being born...
Sound is an abstract concept for most people. We spend our lives blocking out the static in order to focus on what we believe is important. But what if, when the clarity fades into silence, it's the obscure background noise that you would give anything to hold on to?
I've always been a fighter. With parents who barely managed to stay out of jail and two little brothers who narrowly avoided foster care, I became skilled at dodging the punches life threw at me. Growing up, I didn’t have anything I could call my own, but from the moment I met Eliza Reynolds, she was always mine. I became utterly addicted to her and the escape from reality we provided each other. Throughout the years, she had boyfriends and I had girlfriends, but there wasn't a single night that I didn’t hear her voice.
You see, meeting the love of my life at age thirteen was never part of my plan. However, neither was gradually going deaf at the age of twenty-one.
They both happened anyway.
Now, I'm on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.
Fighting for my career.
Fighting the impending silence.
Fighting for her.
Every night, just before falling asleep, she sighs as a final conscious breath leaves her.
I think that's the sound I'll miss the most.