Tag Archives: The Red Dress Club

Keeps a letter in the pocket of his coat, but he never breaks the seal

The electricity was out that evening, and it was hot and stuffy and dark inside the house. We sat on the porch to enjoy the last bit of light and the slight breeze. We sat in silence in the fading light and rocked while he held my hand. I felt complete contentment in that moment right before his confession.

When he started rubbing my hand with his finger I knew something was wrong. Then he softly blurted something out. I didn’t understand right away. If what he just said was true, then everything else wasn’t. He had been successfully keeping something from me for years. And the remarkably few times I had thought I noticed something off and asked him about it, each denial was a lie. He knew how important the truth is to me, it’s one of the things that drew him to me.

I felt sick and fled to the bathroom where I crumpled to the tile. I sobbed over the loss of my certainty. I had years of memories to replace with the truth. Each new connection brought a different emotion…betrayal, anger, humiliation, and fear.

How could he have done this? Why didn’t he just say something? How could I have missed this? How much damage has he done?

Questions filled my mind, each one unanswered before the next one began. He came into the bathroom and gingerly sat down facing me. My frustration was heightened by his inability to answer any but the most factual questions. He was able to explain the what, but not the why. He didn’t fully understand his motivations.

Unfortunately, I thought I did. The worst of the emotions pounding on me was guilt. I was taking an objective look at myself and imagining the kind of reaction I might have had to learning the truth earlier. I shuddered at how punishing I can be, how punishing I likely would have been. Would I have offered him forgiveness, without really letting it go? Used it against him at the slightest provocation? Oh God, probably.

While not an excuse to lie, I certainly didn’t create an environment in which it would feel safe to tell me truths I didn’t want to hear. I wouldn’t have wanted to tell me this either.

What kind of person was I, so intolerant of weakness in others and in myself, and so oblivious to the struggles of others, even those I love? What could I gain if I stopped the denial of weakness and embraced vulnerability? Providing forgiveness was not a sign of weakness, it was a gift to myself to be a person I could be proud of and to build with him what I believed I already had.

By this point, it was almost completely dark and I struggled to make out his features. He looked sad and worried. He didn’t know what I was going to do. He didn’t know I would not leave him. He didn’t realize that I would forgive him. So I told him these things. And I meant them.


The title of this post comes from the song “Postcards from Hell” by the Wood Brothers, which I interpret to be about the dangers of protecting yourself from things you don’t want to know.

This week’s prompt from the Red Dress Club is about forgiveness.


My childhood best friend lived next door to us. She was three years older than me, three years more creative and more fun. Playing with her was much more fun than playing by myself and those were usually my only options. We were inseparable, especially during the summer. She would come over and make up impossibly sophisticated stories for us to act out with my dolls.

During middle school, she started to tire of having a younger shadow. She and some other girls her age would gang up to play tricks on me and laugh at my confusion. I would blink back tears and go home, only to go back for more at the first invitation. Over time, she stopped being my friend altogether. The next summer extended before me like an eternity of empty time.

The couple who rented her family’s upstairs apartment got a puppy. I discovered the puppy once when I headed out to sit in the backyard to pretend I had something to do and I was overjoyed. I realized I was considerably more excited about this puppy than his owners were because they left him out there alone a lot. I think I learned his name from the yelling his owners’ provided from the back door.

Bear was adorable and sweet and very aptly named. He looked like a little teddy bear and he was desperate for attention. I started engaging him through the chain link fence that separated our backyard from his. I felt sorry for him and I fell in love with him. One day he started digging under the fence. Though I sensed there would be trouble, I encouraged this behavior. I wanted to hold him and pet him and love him without that stupid fence in the way. When he finally squeezed over to my side, being with him was as wonderful as I had imagined. I picked him up and brought him to my face and talked to him and felt his warm puppy tongue on my cheek. I plopped him down on my lap and stroked his soft puppy fur and felt such joy and love.

I wanted to keep him.

The neighbors were paying more attention than I thought and it wasn’t long before I started hearing them calling for Bear. I hid behind out house for awhile in a futile attempt to keep him longer. The longer the search went on when Bear was right next door, the more trouble for me. Eventually I decided to go sit with Bear on our front porch and let his owners find us.

I held Bear on my lap and tried to make peace with giving him back. I watched with dread as Bear’s owners turned the corner and finally noticed us sitting together.

“Didn’t you hear us calling him?” They looked pissed.

I ended up saying I’d found him, that he must’ve dug under the fence and gotten free. I could tell they didn’t believe me. But there was no harm done, so they just took him back from me without another word.

When I went to the backyard after that, Bear would run over and immediately go to the hole he had dug. The owners tried to fill the hole with soil, but that was no match for Bear, so they eventually secured that area of the fence with plywood. I couldn’t go out there anymore because he would still try to dig and it was heartbreaking and I was afraid he’d hurt himself. I also didn’t want to have to see the day that he stopped trying.


The prompt this week was to write about a scene from your life that best illustrates your true self.

A Room Of My Own

I realize this is my second memoir style post in a week. Bear with me…I’m trying a writing exercise, as I have realized since starting this blog that my writing could use some work.


For my first taste of freedom, the amount of space I’m given is a little confining. A tall person could stretch their arms out and touch a wall on both sides of the room. But all 100 square feet is mine. The best of both worlds, a single in a suite. I’m a very lucky freshman.

I complain grumpily that my hall mates only stop by so often to play my Nintendo and watch my TV, but deep down I know that isn’t true. And I love that my room is often filled with people. With a single, all I need to do for privacy is shut the door, but the room feels so much smaller with the door closed.

This closet-sized room is my haven, and there I have long and intense conversations late into the night with the boy I love. He lives just across the hall and I pine for him long after it’s reasonable to hope for anything beyond friendship.

The people on the hall become a kind of family and the arrival of someone new upsets the balance. I have noticed, of course, that new guy has transferred here and is hanging out with us a lot, but he has not made an impression on me. And now, he wants to walk me home from a party.

I only go to the damn party because I hear her voice. The boy I loved was spending more and more time with her and there was her voice, unmistakable, drifting in from the hallway. So I go to the overcrowded party and immediately regret it. New guy does not want to stay either.

“This party is over.”

He decides to leave the others behind and he takes me on a convoluted path back to my building. He believes I am drunk. I insist, accurately, that I am sober.

“I don’t think you would be talking to me so friendly if you were sober.”

I had never really spoken to him before this night and the experience is strange, unlike any other, but not bad, and we say good night in the hallway. At my room, there’s a message from a friend, who I had planned on visiting anyway. Ironically, he likes her too and we bond over the fact that our unrequited love interests seem to be requiting each other. However, new guy is still in the hallway and thwarts my attempt to cross the hall.

“Can I talk to you?”

We go to my room and he closes the door behind us, which makes me immediately uncomfortable. The room is silent and dark, with only a soft glow from the street lights outside coming in through the window. He stops me from turning on the light (“I like the dark”) and asks if he can sit next to me on my bed. I stare straight forward, focused on the darkness of my open closet, while he throws out line after line, trying to gauge my reactions.

“You can tell a lot about a person from their room.”

I’m apparently “sophisticated,” I apparently “look really nice that night,” and he apparently “never thought he would be in my room talking to me.” That makes two of us.

He eventually deems me “too smart to play games with.” He says that he’s never asked a girl if he can kiss her before. What a coincidence, I’ve never been kissed before!

Conflicting thoughts flood my mind:

I’m not really attracted to him, although he is attractive, and his confidence (he is two years older) and flattery is, well, flattering.

But he’s not the boy I love.

But the boy I love is falling in love with someone else. And I’m sick of never having been kissed. Maybe I should just say yes and get this thing done.

I look over at him, I’m taking too long to respond. I’m indecisive, yet honest.

“I don’t know.”

He takes that as a yes, and my first kiss results. I’m frozen and can’t make myself kiss him back, yet he persists for what seems like forever. I pull away. Somehow it does not end as awkwardly as it could and when he leaves I understand that the door is still open if I change my mind.

When he is gone, I lie on the floor of my room and cry a little. I’m sorry that I let him in here and I think I already know I am going to settle for him.