Oh, Amanda, How I Will Reclaim Thee – By Ryan Sayles

My only true love was stolen from me long ago. I’m talking decades. Some other dude swooped in when I was too young, too foolish, too mixed up to do anything about it and snatched her from me.

Her name is Amanda, and to this day, I long for her. I pine for her. I hold a candle for her. Crave would be a right word. Lust after would be a right phrase. Also: be desirous of, bay after, kill for, give my right arm for, want with all my heart, and yearn after.

And: will have one day.

She called me not too long ago-we keep in touch thank God-telling me about her pending divorce. She was devastated, her husband walking in and just telling her one day that he was leaving with another woman. A younger woman. A woman who hadn’t spit out three kids and been worn down by years of no sleep, cold meals and perpetual messes. What a fool. What an ass. He used her up and then, when they should have been traveling together, blowing money, seeing the sights and finally enjoying life, he rejects her. His loss. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

No younger woman would replace Amanda with me. None ever have. I have never married on account of being hung up on her. Devotion drives me. It is my discipline. I don’t think she knows this-I have never told her for fear of hurting her-and if she does, she has never admitted it. I am saving myself for her. My virginity, my one true gift, my chastity, it will be hers if she chooses to accept it. And I think she will.

I remember the first time I saw her. She was in a housedress, handkerchief in her hair and a long, brilliant blonde ponytail dangling from the back. She wasn’t wearing make-up; she didn’t need any. Her eyes an azure blue, flecks of jewels cast inside her iris to make them gleam and hypnotize. She was so young then.

Her lips have always been full, even at her age now. Her smile still bright. I could just kill that sonofabitch for what he did to me. I could kill him for what he has done to her. I could kill him and don’t you think for a second that I haven’t spent entire nights… oh, I guess the police would call it ‘scheming’ or ‘plotting’. ‘Pre-meditating’. I call it ‘just desserts’. I call it ‘re-claiming what was mine from the get-go’.

His name is Paul. I should throw that out there. Paul the Divorcer. Paul the Adulterer. Paul the Achilles Heel. My Achilles Heel. Paul and Amanda. My dream couple, only with my head placed over his. That’s the way I have it in all the pictures they’ve given me of themselves over the years. The years I’ve been lying in wait. Passing time. ‘Scheming’.

Sometimes they’ll come over and I have to take all their pictures down because once, I went to one of those photo booths in the mall that eject a whole long string of photos and I took pictures like six separate times to make sure I had enough, and I put those head-shots of mine over all of Paul’s. I was smiling, Amanda was smiling, Paul was gone and everything was the way it should be. Bliss, my friends. Bliss.

They had three kids. I think I’ve already mentioned this. Joey, Caroline and Steven.

Joey is my favorite. Bright kid, going places. Grown up now. He never went to college and never needed to. Things come his way it seems like. He makes ends meet and is a really good-looking guy. Chicks stare at him as he walks down the street. Just can’t keep their eyes off of him. People get out of his way. Never married, never needed to, I guess. But he’s athletic, charming, going places.

Amanda confessed to me one day that while she ‘has no favorites’ among her children, Joey has a special place with her. Me being the oldest myself, that tells me a lot about how she feels about him. Good kid.

Caroline is drab and dull. She sucks the life out of parties and get-togethers. She skulks and lurks about, as if she were a harmless, inept zombie who had nothing better to do than stand over your shoulder and breathe heavily. Poor sense of humor. Poor posture. Poor complexion and hygiene. She acts beaten down although she’s never really had a relationship, let alone an abusive one.

I did try and get with her for a little while, when I figured her mom was not into me. It was just a phase. My darkest place in life. Since I was approaching Caroline like that, it is obvious I didn’t care about myself.

Anyways, the reasons are unimportant. I came on to her. She acted all grossed out and wouldn’t talk to me for a long, long time. I tried explaining it away, saying that I was drunk and confused and thought she was somebody else and it would ruin everything if she told anybody, especially her mother. I guess she’s never said anything.

I thought about threatening her if she did, something really violent and disturbing, but like I said, it seems like she’s kept her mouth shut.

Did I mention I’m on my way over to Amanda’s house right now? I offered to come over and ‘console’ her. She said she’d really like that and I almost hung up on her I darted off the phone and out my front door so fast. I’ll show her what ‘console’ means. I am the luckiest man alive.

Steven is likeable enough. He and I get along, but our relationship has never been that close. Age gap, I guess. He’s a spitting image of his father: medium height, barrel-chested, spindly black hairs coming out of his shirt collar, good with pipe-fitting and plumbing. Married, divorced. Married again. One kid. A little brat who thinks that, because she has two homes, two mommies and two daddies (Steven’s first wife remarried also) the whole world should just keep on throwing her everything it’s got. Bitch. And only five years old, too. Ruined already. Sad if you think about it.

But my Amanda just dotes over her only grandchild. She is beyond her years of childbearing, but I figure we just found overselves late in life and we can enjoy other things. I’ll wait until the ink is dry on the divorce papers before I propose. That’s honorable. She is worth waiting for. She has been all these years. All these long, dark, irretrievable years. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll sleep with her tonight if she’s into it, but becoming engaged to her? Only a conniving trollop accepts a proposition from another man while she still belongs to another.

Gross. My Amanda is not such a woman.

I figure the first thing we will do when we tie the knot is burn down the house she and Paul lived in. Obvious enough, it seems. It represents too much to me to leave it standing. For a long time I figured the same fate would befall the church that married them also, but now, thinking with a much clearer head and better perspective, I think if that same church married she and I it would even out. Makes sense.

Of course I’d make sure every last trace of Paul was inside the inferno as it goes up. We can make our own home, our own memories at my house or even buy a third, new-to-the-both-of-us place. But I will not fill wherever that winds up being with evidence of him. Why start off on a leg that bad?

If she wants to adopt I’ll let her. I could use a boy to raise. I think I would make a good man out of somebody, so I’m OK with that idea. Plus, if it makes her happy I want it. And another plus: she’s got some big bones in her savings account so the price of buying a child wouldn’t hit my wallet too hard. I don’t see a downside. Childrearing with your one true love is a gift. She deserves that. And I get to mold a boy in my own image.

I’m here! Pulling my car into her driveway just brings back so many memories. A tide of them. Pick-up basketball games, Fourth of July, barbeques. Summers and winters speed through my mind like time-lapse photography. Leaves bud and spread, turn green, then orange, red and brown, fall off as its branch gets coated in snow. The snow twinkles in sunlight and thins out, disappears. Another bud pops up.

In my front seat I have a plastic sack. I grab it and tie a knot in the top, sealing it off from prying eyes. If one were to look in there, see the roll of duct tape, the folded sheet of plastic, the condom, the knife, the bottle of pills, the other, more unmentionable things, one might get the wrong idea.

I step out and have to fight down the butterflies in my stomach. Excitement buzzes every nerve and I just want to sing. To sing! This moment, I was born for. This moment, I was destined for, even prior to being placed in the womb. This is my life’s culmination right here, right now.

I walk up her steps and ring the doorbell. So familiar. The chime is as known to me as my own voice, dinging four notes that welcome and announce. I breathe in deeply and smash a piece of gum into my mouth. In the reflection in the glass, I straighten my shirt and fiddle with my hair before I hear the knob turn.

The door opens. She stands there, a radiant glow about her. An angel. Her eyes puffy from crying but the relief-no, the joy! The absolute joy!-in them at seeing me shines through. I am the luckiest man alive.

I have waited a lifetime for this. I would have waited a hundred. I should have killed Paul all those years ago. I’ve had nothing but chances. Oh well. Everything comes to he who waits.

“Hi, Joey.” She says to me and kisses my cheek. Her soft, cool hand caresses my face and she exudes her love for me.

“Hi Amanda. I was worried about you.”

“Mom, sweetheart.” She says in that musical voice of hers like she has said for my whole life. “I’m your mother, dear, call me that.”

I say sure and I follow her inside.

“What’s in your bag?” she asks as the front door closes us off from the outside world.

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Ryan Sayles was born and raised in Kansas City, MO. He spent seven years in the military in anti-terrorism and is now in law enforcement. He has a wife, son and daughter. And three tattoos.

  1. Wow Ryan. Just wow. What a disgusting, perfect ending.

  2. Totally unexpected ending, brilliant! The style (in terms of the voice/tone) of the narrative reminds me of Alice Sebold’s ‘Almost Moon’. I thoroughly enjoyed the read!

  3. Creepy. I knew something was off, but that ending was a surprise.

  4. Sick, sick, sick.

  5. Thanks to everybody for reading my stuff and leaving comments. It’s both encouraging and invigorating. This site will be publishing a second short of mine May 10th and I have another short over at eskimopie.net. Again, thanks.

  6. I should have had you killed when I had the chance, you prevert.

  7. Wow, that was totally unexpected!!! You do write good 🙂

    Good luck for the future!

  8. Holy moly! What a scary story and the ending was SO strange! Had me reading everything…up to and including “…three tattoos.” Good job.


  9. Well played, sir. Well played.

  10. Nice job Ryan……..Steven King-ish ending….great wrap up to a great story

  11. I liked the narative style. You really got to feel inside the mind of the character. Thourougly enjoyed.

  12. You are the Man! That is an awesome story and you did not let me down with the ending.

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