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You Don’t Get to Say Goodbye – Episode 1

October 15, 2019


Simon and Garfunkel once sang, “If I never loved I never would have cried…”

Let’s say you find yourself single. Not only that, you’re single and you’re past your mid-life crisis. Or so you hope. The landscape of dating has become skewed beyond all recognition. You try dating sites. You work to re-identify who you are. You soul search. You decide you’re better off on your own.

You know you don’t mean that.

But you know its true. Why? Because every woman you meet is not her.

Have you ever had a “her?”

That woman who steals everything you own inside – with a simple smile. A quirky habit. A simple giggle. Her presence.

Then there are all the others. The true “damagers.” The ones who trample your emotional repertoire. The women who shredded all the feelings of warmth and compassion you hold deep inside. Once they finish shredding your innards, they mock your pain, spit on your emotional remains, and grind you under their heel as they stalk away.

So odd that the question of whether love is worth the pain does not get examined as deeply after the cruel ones. The agonizing search for answers drives madness and delirium throughout your heart and soul when you lose a love you believed in. A love you embraced whole-heart.

The odd thing is this. You don’t get to say goodbye. Sometimes it’s you. Sometimes it’s them. Only the heart can tell…

In this serial storyline, life scenarios will be presented. Love and pain will be the common theme. A poem, in remaining true to this site, will follow each story. The ultimate tie-in will be the observation that “You don’t get to say goodbye…”

Episode One



T.j. spun his bike in a violent semi-circle by standing and stomping on his right pedal. Ray followed suit.  The synchronized move appeared as super-hero moves, at least in their eyes. They were tuned to each other… and their prey.

Dawna and Sally.

T.J. was more wingman in this cat-and-mouse chase of the twelve-year-old nemesis’. Ray was flipped-out-gaga over Dawna. Had been all summer. The twitterpation had begun near the end of sixth grade.

They stood poised in the shade of a generous maple tree, sweat beading on their tan bodies. Their eyes darted as their necks twisted methodically, scanning for a glimpse of the elusive female riders.

“Do you think they saw us?” Ray asked with a hint of wistfulness he could not cover.

“I say we run them down and talk to them. We’re faster than they’ll ever be.” T.J. noted Ray’s slight cringe of fear.

“What would we say?”

“You’re the one who wants to ask Dawna to the dance tomorrow night.”

“I don’t know how to do that.”

“You’re never going to find out if you don’t ask.”

“Maybe you could talk to Sally at school tomorrow…”

“She’s in my fourth period English.”

Ray jumped, landed with both feet on his bike pedals, and spun gravel behind him as he shouted, “There they are!”

T.J. followed down the gravel alley in hot pursuit of a rendezvous that would never happen.


Friday night sock hop. The deal had gone down. Sally had been informed Ray wanted to “go with” Dawna. Sally confirmed Dawna wanted to “go with” Ray. T.J. and Sally commiserated at how shy the two of them were and that they’d never get together without help.

Ray’s jaw dropped when she walked into the lunchroom. Of course, tonight, this was no lunchroom. In fact, the room appeared to him as some ethereal manifestation of some other world. A world where he and Dawna would finally meet and talk. He had spent his entire summer chasing her.

And eluding her. He hated the fear and shyness within himself. He constantly felt as though he would burst each time he thought of her. Everything in life that was good reminded him of Dawna.

This night, though, he beheld an angel. Her long, stringy brown hair he was used to seeing flying in the wind from their bicycle chases now flowed majestically tied with the most feminine of ribbons. Her smile when she talked with Sally, caught sight of him, and the giggle which ensued fueled something so primal within Ray his fear became a raging dragon which must be slain before he could win her hand.

The music of the early 70’s paired with the strobe lights, and the darkened room with dancing bodies all around overwhelmed his senses. The “Theme from Shaft” rattled around the room followed by “Papa was a Rolling Stone.” Nick Johnson stole the dance floor with his gyrations and insane ability to move his muscular body to every rhythm and make it all look incredible.

Ray had no clue how to dance like that. He had no clue how to dance. He realized almost immediately if he went up and asked Dawna to dance, he would not know what to do. He went into the bike chase mode. He avoided Sally and Dawna throughout each song. Dawna appeared to be doing the same.

He steeled his will to go up to her on the “next song.” Then that song was either too fast or completely undanceable to him.

“C’mon man! You’ve got to do this!” T.J. gave Ray a nudge. “You’re going to run out of time! You can do it!”

“I know. I know!” Ray felt the wildness in his eyes and the alarming pounding in his chest. The clammy hands. The music. The strobes.


Someone announced through the speakers, “Next to last song everyone!”

Ray’s heart sank. He’d wasted the entire dance swimming in fear. Now the night was going to be the biggest disappointment in the history of mankind – all because he was such a scaredy-cat.

“I’m going to do it if you won’t,” T.J. stated emphatically. He strode away toward Sally and Dawna. Ray’s weak protest drowned in the lyrics of Sammy Davis Jr.’s “Candyman.”

Ray couldn’t look. Panic overwhelmed him. He thought about running for the door but instinctually he knew that would be the worst thing he could do. “Candyman” was winding down.

T.J. appeared out of nowhere, grabbed Ray by the shoulders, spun him around, and gave him a forceful, but gentle in its way, shove. Sally had just done the same thing with Dawna.

“Candyman” faded into the Stylistics’ “You Are Everything” just as the two pairs of eyes met. T.J. and Sally arranged four petrified arms together into “slow-dance” position and stepped back.

The entire universe ceased to exist. In a surreal bubble of Dawna and Ray and music and touch and emotion and joy inexplicable, the two bodies moved to the music. Ray noted how rigid they both felt and he did not care. Nothing mattered.

No joy known to man could ever top this moment. This breakthrough. This ecstasy. The most beautiful girl ever born was dancing with him. And yes, she was everything, and everything was her.

He lived an eternity in those three minutes and twenty-three seconds. He felt the song would never end and he would die the most glorious death, happy beyond all sense, dancing in the arms of this girl he loved.

When the song did end, the experience felt as though a bomb had dismantled everything and everyone into a chaotic mélange of lights and talking and exiting and abrupt separation from heaven.

He walked the nine blocks home underneath the stars of the autumn evening singing “You Are Everything” over and over and over…

For one moment in time, Ray knew love, wanderlust, joy, passion, exhilaration, and heaven. Truly, only one other time in his life would ever feel this combination of pure love and adoration and completion again.

Saturday and Sunday they went back to the bikes. Ray’s shyness ate him up. They’d barely spoken. He felt even more terrified even though Dawna was all he could think about. On Monday, Ray avoided Dawna at school. By the end of the school day, Sally informed T.J. who in turn informed Ray that Dawna was breaking up with him.

He knew why.

This is where he first learned, “You don’t get to say goodbye…”


Lifetimes gained
Lifetimes lost
All within a song

Two hearts racing
Facing life and love and futures bright
Knowing so little
Yet learning so much

Her eyes and her hair,
Even her crooked teeth
Mona Lisa fell jealous and lost her smile

One heart broken by its very hand
One heart spoken only to the stars over the moonlit land
One moment cherished throughout lifetimes of trials
One special memory of love’s first blush

How many lifetimes do we live in a moment?
How many lifetimes may we live in a song?
One future path crumbled sadly into the sea of time
Yet, the joy, the pure, pure joy of first love

A lifetime relived too often and not enough
A pain billowed too often to life
Bittersweet melancholy to flavor his life
And a smile for the moments they soared…

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Michael Ray King

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