I found a sheet of paper floating in the Bay today. Someone had written on it with one of those silvery pens people use to write fancy messages in cards. The words were dancing on the waves, a song in the sunlight –

He makes me feel alive

Gulls swooped over the paper as if attempting to decipher the letters. Even they could feel the joy in the words.

Around the point I saw many more sheets of paper floating, some already so far out in the dark, early morning water I had no hope of reading their contents, but scattered messages washed up on shore here and there –





I caught sight of a man in an expensive-looking suit holding a leather bound book from which he was tearing out the pages, indignantly scattering them in clusters. They fell the way the petals will fall from a rose in full bloom when it is tapped, all of a sudden in an uncontrollable burst so that when you see them fall you want to scoop the falling petals into your hands to hold on to the beauty just for one minute more before there is nothing left.

The torn pages lay still on the water, delicate, still breathing, until desolate, sorrowful they were dragged here and there by the current.

The man caught me looking.

‘I’m not littering,’ he said. ‘It’s my wife’s diary. She has left me for another man. It’s all in here. I can’t stand knowing it exists. True love, she says. The love of her life. He makes me feel alive. We’ve been married for six years and she never said that about me. Not once.’

It became too much for him – the ripping and tearing – and he slumped, sitting on the dew-wet grass. I imagined stains on the fancy suit that would never come out, much like the stains on his heart. He sat for a moment, staring out at the water then hurled the diary in a perfect arc up and out and into the murky blue. It floated, twirled, then sank. The end of something.

I kept the sheet of paper I found. Dried it in the sun. The words, so joyful at first glance, seemed old, worn, disassembled. The paper was harsh to the touch, brittle as weeds in grass, jagged as a broken heart.

31 thoughts on “Crestfallen

  1. Oh poor chappy.

    I am such a diary person though that my first thought was for the diary – being torn up and chucked into the water. My diary is like a piece of me and I could not bear the thought that anyone would do that to it whatever I had done to them. In fact, I sometimes wonder if my diary is the one thing that will always be there for me in my life and I think I would be enraged if anyone destroyed it. The fact that she left it behind is very odd – I could never do that – and does perhaps imply a cruelty ie she wanted him to see it, that it was more of a message board than a trusted friend, which is what my diary is.

    Ooops I’ve made myself sound bonkers here, haven’t I?


  2. Cruel, cruel world. Being a loyal fellow, I often get bummed when people show disloyalty to their loved ones. Heck, I get upset when players change teams or musicians leave their rock band. I feel for the poor fellow. He must have been faithful; only the faithful feel this bad when their lover/spouse has left them for another.

    I hope that lady one day gets to feel as bad as she has made him feel.


  3. It’s so interesting how a phrase or even a single word can take on such different meanings, depending on the circumstances.

    I feel for this man but there are always two sides to every story. Maybe he was a real jerk to his wife, who knows.

    What an interesting post Selma, thanks.


  4. Wow, the emotions in this piece are extreme. For a moment, I though it was a bunch of students sending out wishes of love and peace on the water (still littering, but with purpose, you know?). Sort of like sending messages in bottles, only, no bottles.

    The ending is sad and… true. Love needs tender care or it becomes brittle and disintegrates.


  5. That was so sad, I feel for the guy… but like Geraldine said, there are always two sides to the story. But it makes you wonder what happened, how come she is with another man, how come he has her diary, oh so many questions…


  6. Great twist – sad though it was. Wonder if she had looked within she might have found the same with what she had. Sometimes we create our own hell – both he and she may have done just that. After all, love or love broken is ALMOST always co-created.

    So tragic! *sob*


  7. What is it with you? It’s like you have this ability to walk around and encounter the most powerful drama. I want to say you’re a drama queen, but that conveys the wrong thing. You stop and ask questions where most of us would just keep moving along and not want to get involved.

    Painful stuff this time.


  8. Its the way you articulate the details so eloquently, while at the same time capturing the essence as a whole. Beautifully told as usual, Selma.


  9. RELUCTANT – you don’t sound bonkers at all. Diaries are such personal things. I have many from my youth I could never part with. I wondered why he had the diary too and if she did leave it behind it seems unbelievably cruel. I got the impression he took it. I don’t know why, it just struck me at the time. But then again, maybe he was a nasty, horrible man. So many unanswered questions.

    LINDA – when I saw him ripping out the pages of the diary that’s what I thought too. That maybe someone had died whom he had loved and he was scattering their final thoughts to the water. I was surprised to encounter such a sad story.

    BRITT – does Adam know you are using his computer? LOL. It’s true about happiness for someone and devastation for another. Awful, really.

    ROSHAN – I know what you mean. I like a bit of faithfulness as well. This poor guy was so sad. It was quite upsetting to see.

    GERALDINE – it’s true how the context of the phrase changes the meaning. It would be interesting to hear his wife’s side of the story. I must admit I am really intrigued now.

    MELEAH – I felt sad for him too. He seemed so heartbroken.

    KAREN – something bad had gone on between he and his wife for it to get to that stage, that’s for sure. A sad thing to witness.

    PUNATIK – oh, absolutely. I would have burned the bloody thing if it were me. And then danced in the ashes.

    TBALL – I know. I know. I really want to find out the whole story. I guess I’ll never know. It’s true what they say though – the truth is stranger than fiction.

    TEXASBLU – what a good point. It usually is co-created. It does make you think, doesn’t it?

    RICHARD – this has happened to me regularly from when I was very little. A lot of strangers will talk to me about personal things. Sometimes it is a little offputting but most of the time it is a good lesson in human nature. I think it just goes to show that a lot of people have no one to talk to about the things that matter. Sad, really.

    LISSA – I just stumble across them. There are stories everywhere, really. The world can be a very interesting place.

    NAT – it’s a sad one, isn’t it? I like these posts too. They just come along from nowhere like a gift.

    EPIPHANY – awww, thank you so much. You are lovely.


  10. Selma, and also Richard Whackman–SO true…that SElma seems to encounter such drama…but Selma, I also find people tell me incredibly sacred private stuff…I even blogged about this phenomena when I observed/experienced it, at the local Target store(in a blog entry in March or April, 2008)
    This story was really moving. I like that you kept the paper, too. I woulda done the same thing!(Perhaps framed it, with bits of rock or grass found near the note, etc..)
    Peace, kid.


  11. Selma the redefined drama queen- I think that’s spot on. You find the story everywhere; such a talent.

    Very nice this. Love can be so shitty, but also lovely- that’s the problem. I say he finds a trustworthy new woman who doesn’t like him wearing suits and the wife ends up in an empty mansion. I’m a firm believer in karma.


  12. Love isn’t always a happy ending and even good people fall out of love. Would it have been kinder for her to stay when her heart belonged to another? I wondered too what he was doing with her diary. I seriously doubt she would have left it behind, not something with such heartfelt messages in it that clearly were not for her husband. Gee I hope he hasn’t locked her in the cellar…..or worse.

    And RB thinks she sounds bonkers.


  13. SNACKIEPOO – I wish I knew the full story too. I have been full of ‘what ifs’ and ‘I wonders’ all day. I felt for that guy, I really did.

    LISA – you too, eh? You must have an ‘open’ face. That’s why my friends reckon so many people I don’t know tell me their stories. It’s a peculiar thing.

    LAURI – I also believe in karma. If he is blameless then he is due for many moments in the sun. Redefined drama queen – I like that!

    GYPSY – You, me and Reluctant must all be bonkers because I thought later : ‘What if he’s locked her in an attic somewhere?’ But then I have just finished reading Jane Eyre. The bit about Mrs. Rochester in the attic always freaks me out. And you’re right – love isn’t always a happy ending. Sadly.


  14. What has already been written will float on the waters unchanged for ever, he was simply rearranging the pages and no matter how far they disperse, the content will always remain the same.

    She left the diary behind because of the pages within that described the six years leading up to those last pages… she’s now writing a new diary, one that she hopes will not be dispersed.


  15. the words, “He makes me feel alive.” tells me that, after years of “giving” without “receiving”, an unhappy woman looked, not so much for love but for recognition, outside her marriage.
    “She never said that to me, Never.” describes “him”, a man who very likely never looked much beyond his own needs, his own desires, his own dreams and never will look inside himself for the truth.


  16. BEAR – you have such a Romantic turn of phrase, and I mean Romantic in terms of the Romantic poets like Shelly and Byron. Your comment is a story in itself.

    MARY – I think you are probably quite close to the truth with that observation. It does make me wonder about his wife’s side of the story. If she spent six years feeling unfulfilled then I am glad she found someone who ‘awakened’ her. Her loneliness prior to that meeting must have been acute. Unfortunately, I know many women like that.


  17. “My diary is like a piece of me and I could not bear the thought that anyone would do that to it whatever I had done to them. In fact, I sometimes wonder if my diary is the one thing that will always be there for me in my life and I think I would be enraged if anyone destroyed it.”

    I know that agony, and I’m still not over it ten years later.


  18. Selma, I used your story idea as basis for a poem, I hope you do not mind. I tried to correctly capture the essence of your work to show it proper honor for the amazing work it is.


  19. BEKKI- well, I am very late to the party (as usual) but I am on my way right now. I can’t tell you how touched and honoured I am.


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