By B (Anonymous)
I found myself staring out of the dirty window of my dad’s place that summer. My eyes were always scanning, looking beyond the yellow fields scattered with black cattle. I’d look onward to the sunlight beaming off the shallow waters of Lake Helena. I’d watch the slim sliver of lake for hours though it was as far as my eyes could see and miles away. One day my trance was interrupted, but not by a regular customer buying a six pack or a gallon of milk. This time it was someone extraordinary, someone who little did I know, would shape and affect my life forever. The first time I saw him, all I saw was a huge pair of eyes. They were dark eyes that bore mystery yet a deepening warmth at the same time. He was the son of my father’s best friend Ryan, his name was Bellamy.
“Hey Scot. How’s business today man?” Ryan smiled brightly shaking my father’s hand.
“Good! Better than yesterday, Ryle actually showed up today,” my dad affirmed with sarcasm heavy in his voice.
“What’s going on today?” My dad questioned further
“Bastard. How late this time? Oh you know me just workin on junk,” Ryan knew everything about us, the business, and the gossip in our small community.
“Oh an hour or so of course. Can’t afford to fire him though man, no one that applies here is worth a damn, and Brittany’s already putting in the afternoon hours,”
“Hey well that’s what I came to talk to you about! Bellamy is looking for some work, kid’s about to go into high school, needs to save for a truck. You got anything for him to do man? Hell, he’ll pick up butts outside, he’ll do shit work, just needs something to do,”
Bellamy stood quietly next to his father, eyes awake, compliant with all his dad had said.
“Hell yeah man! Anything for this family, we’ll put Bell to work!” dad said slapping Bellamy’s shoulder playfully.
Bellamy smiled genuinely squinting his eyes that still looked big when he did so. His eyes were deep tunnels and though they were dark, seemed to fill with the light that came with his laughter. His eyes turned to me for a moment and I felt my face grow hot. Though I’d just met him, he looked at me in a way that said he knew all about me. I looked at him the same way.
He began work at my dad’s store soon after. For the first month or so, few words were spoken between us. He’d bag the ice and I’d run the register, our eyes would lock powerfully for long periods every time he made his way to my section of the small building. Somehow it wasn’t strange when it happened, it was just us. Occasionally dad would assign us some stupid task and we’d have to verbally communicate which made my anxiety spike viciously. I would’ve rather been robbed then be told to face Bellamy and his soul swallowing eyes.
One sweltering afternoon in early July, I was told I’d have to spray weeds in acre long field behind work. I walked out back in cutoffs and summer sandals feeling unprepared for this messy and flavorful work. There I saw Bellamy who had already filled up a large tank with weed killer and strapped it to the back of the four-wheeler.
“Alright Britt you drive the quad and Bellamy you spray both sides. Now Brittney don’t go too fast it’ll fuck up our operation here,” my dad said jokingly.
This was no joke to me. I reluctantly started the quad, my hands shaking. I was not prepared to talk to Bellamy. He grabbed the sprayer. I looked back in a light way to see if he was ready to go. He’s the kind of boy who’s too shy to make the subtlest directory statement so he just stood readily, glancing up at me, and seeming almost as nervous as I was. The throttle was a bit touchy or perhaps it was my shaky hand that made me lunge forward on accident propelling myself almost over the handlebars before slamming on the brake. I looked back at him red-faced, embarrassed and nervous all at once. That was the first time he smiled at me, lifting his head and squinting his eyes like he did. We both laughed nervously but genuinely still looking at each other. The moment passed and I finally got the hang of the machine as he steadily sprayed behind me, teasing me to slow down on occasion. I curse my shaky right hand for again, lunging us forward this time powerfully enough to rip the nozzle from the hose, kicking Bellamy to the ground and spraying weed-killer all down my leg. It burned, but my stomach burned more from laughing. I suddenly felt comfortable with myself and in his presence. This feeling was foreign to me. He advanced to his feet laughing, as he hurried over to my side. He kept apologizing and his laugh became nervous. He ran his hand up my shin catching the drips of chemical running down my leg, and then wiped it onto his shirt. He looked up to me with a look that told me his touch made us both giddy. The shameless hysteria I’d felt for a moment subsided. It turned to a familiar bashfulness as his bashfulness turned into bravery. We grew very close after that and I couldn’t help but think it must’ve started with his smile.
The two months left of summer came and passed. Our long looks turned into many long meaningful conversations and long nights of talking on the phone. In the fall we went into high school together and became caught up in our own guff, but when we returned to work the next summer we picked up right where we had left off. I fell harder for him than before. My shifts were long, hot and miserable those three months and I’d find myself gazing across at the water as I often did. Now when I gazed I could only picture swimming with Bellamy in there, laughing at his weird brave heart impersonations, and looking at those eyes like I loved to do. He’d always interrupt my gaze with his noisy cart full of bagged ice, followed with a smart comment and the grin I loved.
“Who’re you creeping on B?”
“Oh, just Mark from the trailer park. Smoke is pouring out of his blazer right now but what’s new I guess haha,”
“Fuckin’ Mark. That guy’s got enough ganj to get a dinosaur high,”
Bellamy always said weird things like that. He always made me laugh at the clever absurdity of everything he said. Then, he’d tilt his head back and laugh genuinely and handsomely, making my tan face turn red.
“You two quit flirtin’ that ice is gonna melt and you’ll both be cleanin’ it up!” Dad popped in the back door.
“Alright boss we’re on it!” Bellamy said saluting to me and dad making both of us smile.
It was so easy for him to make people smile, to make an impact on people. Come to think of it, it was probably just me.
Bellamy’s dad, Ryan, was a mechanic and my dad had lots of cars. We’d always be dropping them off and picking them up at their house especially that second summer, my station wagon was constantly overheating in the hot weather. I always went over there with my dad. We’d sometimes be there for hours. Bellamy and I would listen to our fathers talk about cars, bills, and their blue-collar lives. We’d feed the horses apples through the window of the garage and laugh about everything even if it wasn’t that funny.
It wasn’t long until school rolled around again and I started drowning in distraction. School was hard, home was hard, everything was hard and as soon as the leaves began to fall I stopped seeing Bellamy all the time. He faded out of my life as if my heart hadn’t skipped a beat every time I saw him. As if I hadn’t felt that summer after summer. The thought of him was something so foreign now. However, my already turbulent life set fire the night I overheard Dad say Bellamy had ran away. It bothered me every day after that wondering where he was and if he was okay. It was sixth months later when I saw him again. I was driving. At first I couldn’t tell who he was, he’d lost around 30 pounds and had deep dark circles under his bloodshot eyes. I was too busy staring at him to slow down. When we locked eyes I slammed on my breaks and threw my car in park in the middle of the street. Luckily there was no traffic, not that I would’ve cared. I opened my door aggressively and slammed it shut walking over to him. Uneasily waiting for me, he didn’t move, he’d never seen me upset.
“Where the hell have you been?” I asked him enraged. “You need to come back. Your family misses you and I miss you Bellamy,” I yelled pushily.
“Come on just let me take you home,” I pointed to my car anxiously.
“Fuck them,” he sneered.
Those words cut me apart inside as I struggled to understand how he could say that about the people he loved, people I loved equally.
“Get in the car please!” I begged him trying to hide my rage.
He turned around sharply and walked away from me. Tears welled in my eyes as I walked hard back to my car. I whipped my door open and slammed it as hard as I could. The tears finally fell. I sped off in the opposite direction as fast as my wagon would go. I peered Bellamy in my rearview hoping he’d turn around. He did for a second and I kept driving telling myself he didn’t. I cried because I knew it was ignorant of me to attack him. I cried wishing he knew how I felt. I cried because he was a monster now and I cried because I still loved him. I knew I did because the look in his eyes flooded my body with numbing despair, anger and heartache in its rawest form.
He came and went about three more times after that, each time lifting me with joy at his arrival and then letting me down with his departure. Every time he came back it was like he’d never left. It was like he was never on drugs or living in the unknown elsewhere. Then he’d leave again and I’d blame myself thinking that somehow confessing to the way I felt could have kept him around. I’d tell myself that it was worth a shot and that I’d tell him when he came back, and I waited.
After another episode of being gone, he came home again just before school started. I had spent that summer without him. Ryan, his three other kids and Bellamy came into the store while I was working. It was so busy and customers were lined all the way down the aisle but I threw down the scanner at the sight of him anyway and ran to him. I held tight to his tall stature and he ran his hand down the length of my hair before crossing his arms around me like he needed it. He looked so much better. We started school together once more. We walked to class for a couple weeks together and I was finally able to answer my own question. How could I love him?
I loved him for the way he looked at me when I talked, for the time he spent with his little brother, for holding his little sister’s hand, for the fact that he always opened the door for his mother. I loved him because words were never wasted with us and listening to him always made me feel understood. I didn’t see him around for a few weeks and knowing him, I assumed the worst. My friends waited for me outside one of his teachers classrooms.
“What are you up to kiddo?” Mr. Vee asked me eagerly. He was excited to see me.
“Hey Mr. Vee, not a lot, I was just wondering, has Bellamy Raymond been in school?” I asked nervously, hoping I didn’t already know the answer.
“No, no he hasn’t hon. If you see him, let him know Mr. Vee misses him!” he said cutely. He obviously didn’t realize what was happening.
“Okay . . . Um . . . Uh . . . Thanks,” I blurted out not knowing what to say. I rushed out of the classroom.
“He’s gone again,” I told my friends while staring at dirt stained white tiles that lined the floor beneath our feet.
Of all the times he’d left I always knew he’d come back but this time, I wasn’t so sure. He’d been gone for a month and a half and since, I’d been seeing things every day. Sometimes from a distance, or from the back, or out of the corner of my eye, I swore I saw him. Every boy on the street with a heavy walk made me look twice. However, the time I really did see him, I knew for sure. I got this weird shiver in the left side of my neck, and my stomach contracted so harshly that my whole body stiffened as if it was squeezed flat. I was walking out of the sandwich shop with my friends, my friend Destri pushed open the first glass door to exit and I suddenly became stiff as I tried to make out a tall dark boy pulling the second glass door to enter.
“Hurry Britt we gotta get back to school,” another friend of mine said without looking back at me.
I ignored her and walked hesitantly though I was the last one out the door. He was high again and I couldn’t get a good look at his face between his restlessness and the shadow of his brim. It wasn’t until I met him at the door and saw those eyes that could only be his. I knew it was him.
“Hey Bellamy!” I blurted out awkwardly stepping in front of him which barely hindered his rush.
“Whaa…what are you doing?” I asked masking the real answer I was looking for that didn’t concern him getting a sandwich.
“Oh just gettin’ a BLT,” he passed me by, hurried and anxiously.
“Buu. . .” I choked out.
He was already inside and the door had closed in my face. I turned around bumping into all five of my best friends who had been standing right behind me. I walked through them and they dashed to catch up to me. Tears have never fallen faster. Within seconds one ambled down my left cheek, taking its time before drying to my neck. It left a noticeable red runway or irritation. I collapsed into the passenger seat of the car we had driven, with them still trailing close behind me. I stared into my own green eyes in the narrow mirror on the visor. They always illuminated when I cried.
“Let’s go,” I told Destri when she got into the driver’s seat.
“No you have to go talk to him or you’ll regret it later,” she urged
“Yeah come on you don’t know when you’ll see him again,” another friend reminded me. They all knew our story.
So I waited brave and willing for him to come out. My friends withdrew and carried on conversation as usual, leaving me to briefly buck up. The glare of the glass veiled him from sight, but I still nervously jostled to open the car door and hurried gracelessly out of the car as soon as I saw the door swing open.
“Hey come here,” I muttered awkwardly.
He stopped and turned around impatiently waiting for me to come to him. The vessels in the whites and water lines of his eyes were bulging and bloodshot.
“Where have you been?” I finally gathered my words, staring at this seemingly stranger.
“Staying with a friend,” he answered as if he was having a sleepover.
“Oh, I just haven’t seen you around . . . school,” I spilled sheepishly.
Things were weird now.
“Um . . . I do . . . miss you,” I choked out.
He blushed, looking down but when he looked back up at me I saw a knowing look of guilt. The boy I knew with a light heart and a flawless face was now cold and broken out with sores all over.
“Um . . . so . . . let me know when you get back to school I guess,” I nodded terminating my awkward confession.
Why the fuck did I keep talking about school.
“Alright,” he said, in a tone that somehow told me he would be back. We looked at each other for another few seconds and conclusively parted ways even though there was still so much more I wanted to say.
The next time he slipped back into my life I wanted to leave him in my past but couldn’t just as I couldn’t shun him before for all the wrong he’d done. The only reason he was back this time is because he was on house arrest. Everyone saw him as a burden to me but I wanted nothing more than to help him, I wanted to fix him. I spent yet another summer with him at his house. I spent most of my time there and saw him almost every day. I’d go spend hours with him and his family after work. I’d play with his little sisters, talk to his mom, and Bellamy and I would listen to Nirvana all night and watch Adam Sandler movies. Being locked in his house with him helped me get to know him better than I did before. I knew everything. He was allowed to leave his house to work and began working for my dad again. He worked hard, long hours trying to prove himself. He refused to take anything from anyone and insisted on walking to and from work even when it was late. I saw him begin to change back into boy I fell hopelessly in love with four years ago. We were best friends and nothing more to my dismay. Not that I ever planned on revealing how I felt, I couldn’t risk losing him. Then one day, an all familiar feeling caught up to me as I glared at my phone that hadn’t heard from him all day.
“He fucking left again, up in the middle of the night while we were sleeping just like last time. I’m so sorry man, I shouldn’t have let you take another chance on him. Piece of fucking shit kid,” I overheard Ryan on the phone to my dad. My heart sunk to my feet as it had so many times before.
I was done being betrayed and used by Bellamy by my senior year of high school. I had the most amazing, memorable, nostalgic year of my life, even though Bellamy wasn’t in it. I was constantly reminded of him at work where his parents bought gas. Or driving down York road and passing his mom’s truck with the two unmistakable red stripes. I thought of him constantly but forced myself to leave him behind.
I tried to avoid his house but right before I left for college I had to go over and have Ryan take one last look at my car. It felt hard being at this all too familiar house without Bellamy. I hadn’t heard from him in almost a year. August reminded me of him and how he always wore pants even if it was 100 degrees. I felt a hand touch my shoulder. It was Ashley, Bellamy’s mom.
“Brittany, honey how are you? We miss you girl! You excited for college?”
“I’m pretty nervous! Never left Helena, I’ll miss this place and everyone. I’ll miss you guys. I already do,”
I was trying my best to avoid talk of Bellamy, I was trying to spare myself some pain.
“How’s Bellamy?” I asked anyway, knowing she might not know the answer.
“He’s in Wyoming at treatment. He stopped showing up to meetings with the probation officer, he really fucked up this time. Ryan’s done, I just can’t give up on him as much as I should. He’s my son you know? I love him even when he doesn’t deserve it,”
I knew exactly what she meant.
“He’s been trying to write you Britt. Have you not gotten his letters yet?”
“No I haven’t. I didn’t even know he was trying to write. I didn’t know he was in treatment,” I replied my heart feeling empty and heavy at the same time.
“You and I are the only ones he wants to talk to. I gave him your address, I hope that’s okay? Maybe you could write him if you’d like. Do you want his address?”
“Yes I’ll take it,” I replied shortly, masking all the emotions that were flooding back to me.
It took me a week to complete the letter for I didn’t know what to say. I finished it on a Sunday at 4 a.m. after awaking from a dream about Bellamy.
Bellamy, I don’t know where you are right now or why you’re there. What did you do? I hope you’re okay as I always do. I hope you’re getting what you need now. I think of you every time I hear a Nirvana song. I miss our summers together. I’ve loved you for nearly five years and I think its misfortune, but I know I’ll love you forever.
Love always, B
My letter was strange, short and honest but it was the best I could do. All we’d been through was too much for words.
I woke up in my dorm room on a crisp fall morning to a call from Bellamy’s mom. I answered it reluctantly. I hadn’t heard from her since I left for school.
“Britt. Hey how are. . .” it was Bellamy.
“Bell?” I cut him off, responding in utter shock.
“Hey I just got back, are you going to be home this weekend?”
“Yes, uh yeah. Yes I’ll be home on Saturday.”
“Would you like to come by I’d love to see you,”
We talked for a while longer and it felt like it always felt. The following Saturday, I drove down the familiar dirt road to his house that I’d taken a hundred times but not recently. Moments belonging to Bell and I flooded my memory and a pit in my stomach began to form. I pulled into the driveway parking in front of the garage door as I used to. I walked inside, forcing my every step forward. Bellamy met me at the door looking better than ever, as sober as he did when I first met him. He pulled me into his arms and I felt so safe despite the fact that I was in the arms of the most unstable, untrustworthy person I knew. We walked into the living room to a room full of strangers who knew who I was. I spent the rest of the night catching up with Bellamy and his family. I left when the time felt right and that was when I began to feel in love again. I couldn’t fall into this again.
The next few months Bellamy texted and called me constantly. We made plans to see each other over Thanksgiving as friends. He was eighteen now and had moved out of his parents’ house for good to live with some friends. For the first time it seemed Bellamy had his life on track, he was going to school now, working and paying rent. It was all very new to me. I was very immune to the damaged individual I’d known before. For the first time in forever, the way we talked felt like it had before everything fell apart. After much skepticism, I began to believe he was changed. I arrived at his new place the night I came into town. It was so clean in the room. Art, posters, signs of home hung on the walls. It wasn’t what I’d expected. After talking and laughing for what seemed like hours the conversation turned serious. We talked about Wyoming and I asked why he never wrote me back.
“B listen okay, what I said in that letter needs to wait. It’s not time yet,”
“No fuck that. I deserve to know?”
“It’s not right. The time is not right yet that’s why I didn’t send it,”
“Tell me or I’m leaving. I’ve wondered for long enough Bellamy,”
“I love you Brittney. I love you so much you don’t even understand. I have forever, I have. But you have to understand I couldn’t have you then. I couldn’t. I was fucked in the head we all know that and I still have a long ways to go to be what you need. You’re my soulmate. I knew it the first time I saw you smile. I knew it the first day. If it’s not you B, it’s no one. I promise you I’ll never give up on you. You’re what kept me going, you’re the only one who’s never given up on me, even when you should have. I want to be everything for you because you’re everything for me. I love you,”
Tears streamed down my face and into my open mouth as I tried to comprehend what had just happened. I felt his rough fingertips wipe away the tears under my eyes.
“You can’t do this to me Bellamy. I don’t trust you! I don’t believe you! You left me so many times. I tried so hard to love you and you up and left every single time. How am I supposed to do this? What did I do to deserve this?” I yelled as tears streamed down more rapidly now.
“I love you Britt and you’ll never know how sorry I am but I couldn’t bring you down with me. Look at all you’ve done, look at all you have ahead. I wasn’t about to fuck your life up and I didn’t know how to change okay? I didn’t know until you came into my life. You’re everything I love you. Please tell me somewhere, in some fucked up way, you love me too,”
“Of course I do! I never stopped because I couldn’t. I can’t”
Tears were still streaming when he took my face in big, bony hands and kissed me for the first time. When his lips met mine, the tensions in my back loosened, the stress of my life vanished, and I felt so uncannily at peace. It was everything.
It was two months later when I got the call. I was laughing over take out with my roommates.
“You’re receiving a call from an incarcerated prisoner. Press 1 to connect. Press 2 to disconnect,” a feminine automated voice stated.
Clueless and curious, I pressed 1. It was probably just a misdial.
“Connecting to Lewis and Clark County Detention Center,”
What the fuck? Who’s calling me from jail in Helena?
Anxiety overcame me and I started to shake with bad feelings. I hadn’t heard from Bellamy all day and that was not like him.
It couldn’t be, he’s good now, he has his life straight now. Right?
The phone rang its tone for what seemed like forever and finally the muffled sound of many masculine voices at once came over the line.
“Brittney, are you there?” the sound of Bellamy’s voice from jail stung my ears.
“What the fuck? What happened? Why are you in jail?” I whimpered. Tears came quicker than my words to him.
“I’m in trouble,”
“What happened?” I interrogated him.
“Okay, just please listen okay? A month ago I sold this guy some weed, quite a bit of it. Well turns out the guy was an undercover cop. The cops have been watching me since I got back, they picked me up on my way to work today. I just needed some money, really, really bad. I was in trouble,”
“What the fuck Bellamy? Are you fucking kidding me? What the fuck is wrong with you! You’re a fucking liar! You had me so convinced you’d changed! You had a chance at a fresh start, a clean record. Why do you keep hurting me and yourself? Why don’t you care? Why the fuck did you call? I don’t have the money to bail you out of jail” I shouted through salty tears filling up the back of my throat.
“Britt I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. This is the last straw. This is what I need I think. And no, no, that’s not why I called. I can’t get bail. Britt, I’m looking at some time.”
Call ending in 1 minute.
“What kind of time?” I asked hyper focused.
“6 months to 10 years,”
Tears washed my face like a fast falling waterfall. I couldn’t breathe.
“Brittney listen, just listen okay I haven’t cared about my life in a long time. I don’t care what happens to me. You’re all that gets me through. You’re the reason I want different for myself. If it wasn’t for you I’d have put a bullet in my head a long time ago. I love you and nothing else,”
A long beep and the piercing “Goodbye” of the automated feminine voice ended our call before I could respond. The last thing he said lingered with me. I made myself sick wondering if he would really hurt himself if I stepped out of his life. I was too sick to eat, to sleep. I was trapped in my own empathetic way, in my own love. I received another call from the jail. I was tired of feeling fused. I searched for the number two on my dial screen through tears and pressed it, disconnecting once and for all.