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By:Ker Dukey

Ten years old I fell in love.

Ten years was the price of that love.

Ten years later our world’s re-collide.

My brother, Jonah, was possessive when it came to the things he owned. This unfortunately included the people in his life. The forbidden love between his best friend and me was just that… forbidden. Our families were from different walks of life, and as a sheriff’s daughter, being with a Moore’s kid would never be tolerated. To my parents, their son and Dalton Moore were on different paths, and their friendship would end as soon as college began, but it was my brother who had a craving for trouble. He was always looking for danger, committing petty crimes and getting away with it because Dalton would take the fall, blackening his already stained name. When Jonah found out we broke the rules by loving each other, his actions impacted us all causing immeasurable suffering. Betrayal comes with a debt, and it would be paid by all of us. One with their heart, one with their mind, and one would pay in blood.

Soul mates. Not everyone believes they exist, but that’s because they’ve never met theirs.

How can someone who has never felt a connection so fierce that they feel the power of it in every molecule of their being believe such a thing can exist?

How can you explain to them that the jolt that ignites every nerve ending in your body is like the sky crackling and exploding with lightning before it joins with the earth for the briefest, yet most magnificent of moments, displaying the true force of nature’s power?

When that one person you were created with comes into your life, you know without any doubt that they’re yours and you are theirs. It’s nature in its truest form.

There is nothing more natural than falling in love with your soul mate. It’s like an out of body experience. You transcend before crashing back into your body, seeing life through new eyes.

You don’t just find your soul mate; you reunite with them with intensity so powerful nothing can stop it. A love so potent you feel it in the atmosphere, and you see it in their aura.

Dalton Moore was my soul mate and I lived to love him.

He was in my every childhood memory, every dream I conjured.

He was every good decision I made.

But for him…

I was in his every childhood memory, every nightmare he slipped into.

I was the worst decision he ever made.

The knots I knew would come twist my stomach as the Welcome to Point Meadow sign appears after the many miles I traveled to get here.

It’s surreal being back here after ten years. At one point I never dreamed of leaving here, but in an instant life can change. One minute you’re bathing in the warm embrace of the sun, and then without warning, a blizzard comes, distorting and swallowing everything that was once so clear.

Life can grant things like love, happiness, and success, but also evil, destruction, and spite. Each one has graced my life at some point in time.

Pulling up to the house I grew up in, pain seizes my chest. The yard is overgrown and shields the window to my bedroom.

The one Dalton used to climb through.

Memories of him pull and twist at my mind causing my soul to silently cry out in pain.

Inhaling a quivering breath, I still my hands from shaking; a reaction that always accompanies thoughts of him. My eyes scan the familiar houses lining the street; they look the same, unchanged by time. No feeling of comfort douses me. Instead, anger and regret saturate my heart.

Bringing the focus back to my childhood home, I grip the keys tighter in my hand, letting the pinch of pain bring me back to my reason for coming back here. The blue paint is peeling and the wraparound porch has been exposed to a cold winter, leaving it battered and untamed. Of all the houses lining the street, Dad’s is the one that looks neglected - a far cry from how house proud both he and Mom were when she lived here. My heart hurts to think of Dad living in these conditions.

Less than thirty-six hours ago I received the phone call that my Dad had passed. I didn’t even know he was sick. I never understood why he stayed here, or why we let him. I knew he was upset with the way things played out for me but he wasn’t the type of man - the type of father - who would turn his back on his child or his family, so I knew there was more to it, but Mom was tight-lipped and refused to talk about it.

Everything was so muddled for me back then. I was sixteen when I was shipped away with Mom and Jonah, my life changing forever in a blink of an eye.

“He’s poison, just like the rest of them. I told you to stay away from the Moore’s boy. He’s trash, Alexandria. Trash, trash, trash.”

Mom’s harsh words echo around the empty space surrounding me, and even though it’s a phantom sound from a memory ten years old, I still find myself covering my ears with the palms of my hands, just like I did back then.

I will myself to move and stop thinking about everything that happened back then, but it’s hard, I feel like I’ve been trapped there my whole life, struggling to move on. I never understood why Dalton never reached out to me, never let me see him. I gained something magical from our love and will cherish that for the rest of my life, even if he doesn’t, but the pain of losing that sweet, precious kind of love that can’t be replaced is as strong as the first night I spent thousands of miles away from him.

I grab the suitcase and boxes from the trunk and fight my way through the weeds up the garden path, inhaling a breath to prepare myself as I unlock the front door. Mail and old newspapers lie in a layer of dust just inside the entranceway. Pushing the door farther open creates a cloud of dirt around me. The musky scent hits me in the face causing a coughing fit. I want to cry but I promised myself I’d be strong and do what needs to be done then get back to my life - the life I was sent away to live. Was I living?

Seeing the dust and the amount of mail collected, I realize he must not have been staying here for a while. Maybe he was in the hospital for a long time. Why didn’t someone call us?

I’d missed him over the years. He was a fantastic father, even in the moments when he’d tried to keep me away from Dalton. It was hard to come to terms with him not being with Mom. I blamed myself and the situation I’d gotten myself into, even though I knew Jonah’s drug problem played a huge part.

I hate the dark spots, the blank explanations I got from Mom. I don’t think she will ever be honest with me about what happened, and I still can’t talk to Jonah since that day. He tries calling, and sends cards and letters. He never misses a birthday, and I do wonder what he’s like now. But the version of him in my bedroom ten years ago can’t be erased from my mind, so I stay far away from him.

I drop my luggage on the table before walking to the window and drawing the curtains open. I still my thoughts of fleeing and get on with it. Dalton’s house glares at me from across the street, mocking me through the pane of glass.

Dalton came to live with his uncle when his father went to prison for murder. The Moore family was well known to my Daddy, the town’s sheriff, but to me, at ten years old, Dalton Moore was just a boy, and I was just a girl completely smitten with the older boy across the street. I remember the first day I ever saw him. The sun was so hot that day, and Mom and slathered my skin in sunscreen. I didn’t mind, I was used to her over-protective manner, and the screen smelled sweet like coconut. It was one of the first things Dalton ever said to me.

“You smell so sweet. Like coconut cake.”

I remember Mom rushing in with the morning paper; I was sitting at the breakfast table watching Jonah shovel in Lucky Charms. He was so gross. The milk dripping down his chin onto his clean shirt made Dad’s eyes roll and frown lines crease his forehead, but Mom was insistent he was going through a growth spurt and needed extra calories, so we all refrained from commenting on his pig-like behavior. It’s funny the things you remember, and usually I don’t remember whole days in such detail, but this day was the day from which my life would never be the same again.


“There’s a moving truck over at the Moore’s house,” Mom shouted to Dad, walking in and frantically pacing between the table and the kitchen window that overlooked our front yard.

Dad jumped up from the table to stare out the window with her. He was ready for work, his uniform crease-free, and it fit him perfectly. The sheriff badge sat proud on his breast. My Dad was a hero in my young eyes; he looked after the whole town and everyone looked up to him. Well, all except Jonah, who hated being the sheriff’s son and made it his life’s mission to get into trouble wherever possible.

When he was nine years old, Jonah stole candy from our local sweetshop. Daddy made him work there after school for a month to repay Mrs. Gibson, but it didn’t stop Jonah from getting into more trouble. He knew that no matter what he did, he would never get into real police trouble because his Dad was the police. He used to steal milk from doorsteps every morning after the milkman had been, and put wet mud in mailboxes. It was all prank-type behavior, but his juvenile crimes evolved with age. One time he took me to the park, and when a boy pushed me too high on the swings causing me to fall and bust my knees and lip, he flew into a rage, hitting the boy until he fell to the ground in a fetal position. He then threw the boy’s bike into the road in front of a car, which nearly caused the car to crash. Dad was more concerned with my injuries than what Jonah had done.