My favourite bands and some friends of mine were playing at a music festival. It was close enough for me to go to but too far to commute the whole week, so I ended up splitting a couple hotel rooms with some friends.
The festival, and even the whole trip, was supposed to be a much needed distraction for me after losing her. Her name was Anna and she died in an accident on the highway. She didn’t even make it to the hospital, pronounced dead on the site.
I didn’t know how to react when I heard the news. I think more than anything I didn’t believe it. We were going to be celebrating two years together. Our reservations for a fancy restaurant were booked and I had secretly set up a secluded romantic spot on the balcony so that I could propose. A little bit cheesy, but we both appreciated the cheesy things in life.
That was seven months ago and I still couldn’t let go. I kept all of her things exactly how she had left it in my apartment. Her favourite perfume was on the night stand, her toothbrush next to mine in a cup, her small collection of tea in my cupboard, her most loved cardigan hanging in the closet, and the ring I was going to give her was sitting on my dresser. Traces of her everywhere, reminding me of what we were, who I was, before it all.
I knew that I was slipping away, from friends, family, obligations, life, and all that jazz. Knowing didn’t stop me from doing so. Then I briefly mentioned to my friends the festival and they jumped on the idea to get me out and doing something. And not just anything, a weeklong event of spending time outside and with people.
The week had been going alright. I saw some great performances, drank a lot of beer, and even joined my friend for a spontaneous acoustic set in the parking lot.
I should have known that things were going a little too well and that the other shoe would drop. But honestly, I didn’t see it coming.
It happened on the fourth day of the festival. My friends and I went to check out the headliner but were a little late getting there so were at the very back. We didn’t mind much, it meant more room to joke around.
‘Hey, Evan, take a photo of us!’ Sean said as he shoved his phone into my hand.
In my drunken state I tried, very hard, to take a decent photo of Sean and two of our female friends. I fumbled quite a bit as they laughed at me.
‘Sorry, guys. You should have known better than to ask me,’ I said as I went to check to see if the photo turned out or not.
Then I saw them. Photos of Anna. It was her hair that caught my eye, bright red contrasted with her pale skin. Too much of her skin for the photos to be on Sean’s phone. And there were so many of them. I became sick to my stomach. Everyone rushed over to me wanting to know if I was okay and making jokes about having one too many.
Sean came up beside me and immediately I was filled with rage. I pushed him away and chucked his phone at him.
‘Whoa, man! Calm down, I’m only trying to help you-’ Sean didn’t finish his sentence as I punched him in the face and he fell to the ground.
‘Were you trying to help me when you fooling around with Anna behind my back?’ Sean looked up at me from the ground at first with disbelief than with guilt.
‘I’m sorry, Evan.’
I waited a minute as our friends helped him up and then it was clear he had nothing else to say to me. Festival security then walked towards us, no doubt sought out by someone standing nearby. I ducked away before they reached us and headed back to the hotel.
When I got back to our room I packed up my things and loaded them into my car. I thought briefly about how much of an ass I was to leave when I had driven most of my friends here but also didn’t care as much as I should. All I could think of was getting back to my place and getting rid of every single thing that Anna had left behind in my apartment.