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guitar smokey barMemories. Smokey filled room with bustling chatter. Sitting with my Honey Jack Daniels, I strike up another cigarette on my pillowlips as the mysterious guitar player across the room starts playing “When a Man Loves a Woman.” My heart strings are pulled as I sit there and think, when is it my turn? I was beautiful once wasn’t I? The bustle gets louder as the couples take to the dance floor while I wallow in self pity. Another Tuesday night in a strange town that I call home.

I close my eyes and think to myself, why do I care? He doesn’t love me. He doesn’t know me. But as I look across through the smoke I see him there. Just strumming his heart on the strings of that guitar. Damn, I love that man. That stranger. The one who brought me closer to God. In another life my love, in another life. He doesn’t love me, not because he never will but because he is careful. I want to walk away. I am too weak. All those love songs in my head. Why do I believe in love? I am the princess at the top of the tower thinking he will come. 36 years. Wow. You never truly felt love and love back in all that time. Maybe once when you were 19. So never say never. And when you walked away from him 17 years ago, he looked back and said “no man will ever love you again.” You know what no one ever has since then. Did he really curse me? Put a spell on me that all my future loves will all be unrequited? Wow, he really did. I was never loved after that.

And here I am again. In the same place. Same place that I always am. On the short end of the stick. Men have used me, thrown me away like garbage. Used me as their sperm receptacle, their mistress, their dog. Yet time and time again, I loved them. Unrequited. Shameful. Hopeless.

Smoke fills the room. Honey Jack Daniels on my pillowlips. Big brown eyes lift up from my glass, as I write this now. A shattered wish, from a shattered dream.

That man I love looks at me from across the room. I love him for his flaws, I love him because he is a stranger and my heart is open.  When I dance with him in my mind’s eye as he strokes those guitar strings, I tell myself that’s it. He’s it. The one I have been waiting for.  I fantasize about this man, this stranger.  I love him because he is a dangerous man for me.  Dangerous that he could pull on that guitar like the strings of my heart. I could be a puppet to him.  Just going through the motions. An empty heart in an empty world. This man said to me, “when you walk through fire, I will walk with you”  He means God will.  I live in doubt and sin where I think He will never listen. This Honey Jack tastes good. I light up another cigarette and I think, “look at this place.  God isn’t here.  We are the sinners, the cheats, the liars, the users, the abusers, and the endless curtail of the unforgotten.”

I walk up to the man with the guitar. I drop a dollar in his cup and as I walk away, I say “I love you” Watch me as I go stranger. You’re a stranger but you haunt me in my dreams and in my mind. I KNOW you, because I know my own pain. Where you feel small in a world of giants. Yes I was abandoned too, my love. You recognize that same glimmer of a tear that you have often shed.

This is for you. You awesome stranger. You have stirred emotion in me I haven’t felt in what feels like a lifetime. I walk out into the rainy night, I can still hear his husky voice. His husky voice that sends chills up into my spine and my nether regions. I walk away though, because we are on the wrong side of an impossible dream. Its dangerous to love a stranger even though my body and mind are plagued with lust. I will walk away from you. Into the night, because in my mind I know here in darkness I will dwell. Because its safe. Because its home. But stranger, in another life I would have moved mountains for a man like you. Walk with me. Through the fire.

My heels click on the streets empty now, as I head back to the hole I crawled out of. And out of my beautiful lips I say a silent prayer. “You saved me oh stranger, more than you will ever know”

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