I made lists. Not your simple run-of-the-mill grocery lists. I’m not even talking about lists of errands or appointments. Those are for novice list makers. I mean real lists. The kind of lists that would go on and on and I could add to even two years after I’d started them. Lists that talked about food I loved. Food I hated. Where I wanted to visit. A list of names of people who were kind to me. A list of people who weren’t. A list of quotes from my favorite authors. Infinite lists. Those lists kept me sane and stable when I sometimes felt the world was too chaotic. I kept them everywhere. My notorious lists were strewn about my editing desk on tiny Post-it notes, my handwriting rushed and hardly legible. From gorgeous journals and spiral-bound notebooks to my bathroom mirror written in Ruby Red Mac Lipstick, my lists were all over my home.
I was only eleven when I’d made my very first list. My mom had come home from work after a twelve-hour shift in one of the very worst moods ever. I tried to stay out of her way those days. Well, most days really. She was an overworked, underpaid, single mother and made sure I knew that every chance she got. She wasn’t physically abusive, but some days I’d felt like maybe that would have been better than the insults she hurled my way. But that day, it’d been particularly bad. She’d lost her job and come in the house enraged, spoiling for a fight, and unfortunately, I’d been the only one there. She’d nitpicked every chore in the house that I should have done. She’d called me lazy, fat, and stupid. I’d run to my room and locked the door, my small legs shaking in fear. I’d lain in my bed in a tiny ball of terror under the covers until I saw the lights turn out in the living room from under my bedroom door. I’d crawled out of bed and across the floor to my rickety hand-me-down wooden desk in the corner and grabbed a piece of paper and a pen. I’d sat at that desk, staring at the blank paper in front of me. Wishing my mom wasn’t so darn mean. Praying that tomorrow she would be in a better mood. Hoping someone would come and save me from that place. Anyone.
And then I’d thought of who would come. Who would be my savior. And I knew exactly what he’d be like. After all, I’d read about him a million times. He lived in the piles and piles of romance novels my mom kept hidden under her bed. What? A girl had to keep entertained while her mom worked all hours of the day and night. And as soon as my pen hit the paper, peace and calm coursed through my body. I wrote the title My One. I started with his hair and eyes. He’d be dark-haired with even darker eyes. They’d be haunted because all good book boyfriends’ eyes were. He’d be tall and strong because I’d need protecting. And of course, he’d be over-the-top good-looking. He’d be secure and sure of himself, but never cocky or vain. He’d hold doors open for me. He’d call me all the time. He’d cuddle with me whenever I wanted. He’d take me fishing and dancing. He’d think I was adorable even when everyone else thought I was crazy. He’d only make peanut butter sandwiches with honey, and never jelly, because that was just gross. He’d lock down the house at night right after sending me to bed. He’d have a sweet nickname for me that only he called me. Sweetheart was a good one. I really liked that one. He’d love me fiercely. And I’d know it because he’d tell me every single day. The list went on and on. It still did.
I never expected that eleven years later my one would finally come for me. It wasn’t on my list that he’d come charging into my life, practically railroading me with his presence. Simultaneously, he’d obliterated my list and smashed it to smithereens, while snatching my heart right out of my chest and stealing it for his own, all the while keeping his hidden behind the steel fortress he’d built around it. It wasn’t on my list that he’d crush me. That he’d change my life so irrevocably. It wasn’t on my list that I’d love him so fiercely, he’d break me.
A deafening blast. Pain. Silence.
That was all it took for an IED to end my life as I knew it. The man I was shattered in a hard wave of sound and debris that rained down on me like death itself.
And six months later, after waking up to an inescapable hell, I found myself wishing that death had found me.
Miranda Jacobs swept into my life like a cool breeze on a smoldering day.
With her smart mouth and her ridiculous jokes, she brought me back to life one minute at a time.
Turned out time wasn’t on our side.
Screams. Twisted metal. Silence.
And I’d lost it all again—only this time, I had no one to blame but myself.
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