Love Based on False Pretenses:
A Rylee and Logan Short Story
Rylee was drinking…a lot. It was a habit now-a-days since she was starting to lose every inch of control she had over her life. School was starting to become a joke, her father was starting to become more demanding around the farm. He wanted her around 24/7 to take care of the pigs and plant the crops for the upcoming winter. To make his point valid, her father sold her horse and left her with nothing to distract her from the work on the farm. Tears swelled in her eyes as she thought about the beautiful Pinto. Not only that, Logan, her boyfriend of a solid year and half, was leaving her. He was here with her now, sitting in a chair in the barn with her on his lap, talking about anything and everything yet tip toeing around the real reason he was there, the real reason he was talking. Logan had called her a couple days before with news that he had gotten a job. He hadn’t said where exactly, but she knew it was going to be far away from her. Taking another swig from the bottle of whiskey in her hand, she ran her fingers through the hair of her soon to be ex-boyfriend. It was inevitable, really, the breakup. She was a sophomore in college, while Logan had just recently graduated with a math degree and applied for jobs all over the state. He was 24, and she was 20. He was a grown up, and she was still laughing at “that’s what she said” jokes. It was truly amazing how life could change so quickly.
“What are you crying for, girlie?” he asked in his soft husky voice. Her heart was breaking at the mere presence of him. He squeezed her gently as she continued to run her fingers through his thick, jet black hair. His dark green eyes seemed to be staring into her soul, and she looked away, blushing. He kissed her cheek softly, playfully.
“So you’re not talking to me tonight is that it?” he asked, pretending to be offended. She continued to look away, sipping on the bottle. How could he joke around in such a life changing moment? He tried to take the bottle away from her but failed miserably. This was her safety net. Moments, which felt like hours, of silence passed.
“Rylee, there’s something I need to tell you…” Logan finally said, trailing off. She froze, refusing to look at him. Her chest became heavy, and the whiskey she had consumed was crashing and rolling against the walls of her stomach. How do you prepare for a moment like this?
“I’m leaving…I found a job in the city.” Rylee looked at her watch. It read 8:15. The world had ended on a Saturday night, yet she was still alive. Still capable of thought and emotion and tears. She tried to ask him questions, like what the job consisted of, where he would be staying, how much he would be making, but the words refused to form. She just sat there, staring off with a blank, drunken gaze.
“Babe?” No reply. Silence. She felt his grip tighten on her, as if he were worried she would try to run away.
“I’ll be staying with my sister, saving up the money I’ll be making. It’s a good job at one of the most prestigious banks in the state. By taking this opportunity, the last four years of my life won’t be a waste,” he added, looking at her pleadingly. She had heard enough. He relaxed his grip a little and she jumped up, taking the advantage of his timing. However, she was drunk, which caused her to fall off his lap instead of standing on her feet. Before hitting the ground she grabbed hold of Logan, who was not expecting the sudden gesture. In a fury of curses, head knocking, and knee scraping, they both ended up on the barn floor, Rylee spread eagle on her back and Logan lying on top of her. They stared at each other, silence filling the already growing void between the two lovers. He was pissed and pinned her arms to the ground, forcing her to look him in the eye.
“You better start talking, or I’m done wasting my breath,” he growled. Anger pulsated through her body, and she began to shake. Logan’s features suddenly changed, and he softened his grip on her hands. His face was full of concern, and it was enough to make Rylee hate him.
“Rylee, please don’t be like this. I’m not doing this to hurt you I promise. I love you, babe.” His voice had softened, and it was low, almost a whisper.
“Love is false, Logan. It doesn’t exist,” she replied for the first time all night. A hurt look passed across his features.
“That’s not true, and you know it.”
“People only say it to make themselves feel better. It means nothing in the real world,” she retorted.
“People say it because they mean it, simple as that,” he replied sternly. His features growing dark. She shrugged.
“I only know one thing, Logan. Love is a figment of the human imagination.” She began crying softly, hating herself and sick to her stomach about the situation and her helplessness at everything. How could he do this to her? How could he simply walk into her life and then just as quickly disappear? She felt empty inside, drained of emotion. He leaned down to her kiss her tenderly.
“I love you, babe,” he said softly. There were tears in his eyes, and she hated him for it.
“I love you, Logan,” she replied, the words thick in her mouth. It was the first and last time she would ever say those words to him. He had broken her heart forever.
It was the evening after Logan had left Middle View for Ohio’s capital, and Rylee was lying on her bed, starring up at the painted clouds on her ceiling. Her thoughts were intruded by the sound of thunder in the distance, and she sighed heavily. Ryle hated storms, and she silently counted to eight before she heard the next BOOM of thunder. Eight miles, she thought to herself, remembering the little trick that Logan had taught her. She laid there for a while longer, wishing things were different. She wished her and Logan were soul mates and not just best friends. She never wanted to fall in love with him; it just sort of happened. However, during their year and half long fling, she pretended that everything was okay with them. They were never good for each other romantically. They were too much alike to actually be a functioning couple. Her mind wandered, and she soon found herself wishing that her Pinto, Amico (which means “friend” in Italian), was in the barn and not on somebody else’s farm. Her father had sold Amico today, while Rylee was out fishing. She never got a chance to say goodbye to the horse, and tears formed at the loss of both of her friends. There was a soft knock on the door, and Rylee ignored it.
“Honey?” came her mother’s voice. Rylee’s stomach clenched with irritation.
“Yeah,” she called. Her mother slowly opened the door and peered over at her daughter.
“Everything OK?” she asked. Rylee wanted to scream. Of course everything wasn’t okay.
“Yeah, mom, I’m fine,” she replied, her voice dead of emotion. Alice Mcklennen frowned, and it was obvious she did not believe her daughter.
“You know…sometimes it’s easier for our thoughts to have a place to settle if there written down,” she said. Alice then kissed her daughter on the forehead and sauntered out of the room, her heels clicking on the hardwood floor. There was another BOOM of thunder, much closer than the last time Rylee had counted. Moments passed as Rylee thought about her mother’s words. She sat up and reached in the bottom draw of her end table, digging around until she wrapped her fingers around a cool, leather bound notebook. It was a journal her mother had given her for her 18th birthday, and Rylee had tossed it in the drawer, rendering it useless. She leafed through the blank, crisp white papers. Frowning at the idea of putting her depressing thoughts into words, she quickly dug through the cup of pens and pencils (which was sitting on her nightstand next to a picture of her and Logan, which she knocked over), and grabbed a black ball point pen. Taking a deep breath, she opened the journal to the first blank page and began to write: Day 1 without Logan…
(1 month later)
Logan sat in his cubicle, crunching numbers and validating written checks and accounts. A 17 year old kid had just opened a bank account after signing a contract with a major league baseball team…lucky bastard. Logan checked his phone. It was only ten o’clock in the morning, but he had yet to receive a text from Rylee. He knew her schedule by heart: it was Tuesday, so Rylee would be at her internship with the Middle View Daily Post from 8-11a.m., then class from 1-2:30 p.m., then she would be at work in the public library from 3-6 p.m. and finally, she would be home on the farm helping her father until sundown. Logan grit his teeth at the thought of George Mcklennen. He was a cold hearted bastard, and Rylee was his scapegoat. He remembered a time when Rylee had shown up at his parent’s house on horseback, with a black eye and swollen lip. Logan’s thoughts were interrupted as his phone lit up (he had it on silent so his boss couldn’t hear it). Thinking it was Rylee, he was disappointed when he read the name: Vicki. She was asking him what he wanted for dinner.
Vicki: how about chicken?
Vicki: alright darling J
Logan felt a surge of guilt as he thought of Rylee. He had yet to tell her the real reason he had found a job in Columbus or the real reason he had to end their affair. He didn’t enjoy lying to his only best friend, and he hated himself for it, but he had no other option. If Logan told Rylee the truth, she would hate him forever. For now, it was best to pretend that he was living with his sister and her husband, instead of with Vicki and her cousin Johnny. Vicki and Johnny both know about Rylee and the facts that he had been seeing her and that they text and talk non-stop all day everyday. This didn’t seem to bother Vicki as much as he thought it would.
“Why should I give a damn about some girl I don’t even know? You’re here with me. That’s more than what she can say,” his girlfriend said. The words stung Logan. Rylee was a beautiful person, inside and out, and he cared deeply about her. It was true that life for Rylee and Logan was now different, but at least they were still friends. He couldn’t image life without her.
(65 days without Logan)
Today was only slightly miserable, mostly due to the weather. It was too hot to fish, and since Dad sold Amico, I have nothing to do but work. Logan hasn’t visited yet. I sometimes wonder if he regrets moving. We talk everyday but only through texting, which I find highly annoying and ineffective. I think I only text him out of habit. If he did visit, I wouldn’t really know what to say to him to be honest. I can picture it now: “Hi Logan, how’s your life now that I’m not in it? How am I’m doing? Oh great….yeah, real great…I realized that you were my only friend, and now I spend my free time working and getting yelled at by my old man. My horse? Oh yeah, he got sold from under me the day you left town.” I’m depressing myself. On a positive note, school starts next week, so I won’t have to put up with Dad as much. At the same time, I’d rather skip class and just drive a tractor around all day. Homework is the most painful part of school, and I don’t have any friend,s but I don’t really mind it. It’s just another cold reminder that Logan was all I had.
(1 month later)
Logan was nervous. It was two days since Rylee last responded to his messages, and he had no way of knowing if she was okay or not. He only met her family a few times, and he had the feeling that they didn’t really care for him. The only mutual friends they had were people that Logan quit talking to after graduation, and he was pretty sure he deleted their numbers from his phone anyway. He decided to take his lunch early and call her. He needed to talk her, anyways. In order to get some privacy, he left the building and went down to his truck. Taking a deep breath, he dialed Rylee’s number and waited for her to answer. RING. Pause. RING. Pause. RING. Pause. RING. Pause.
“Hey, this is Rylee, I can’t get to my phone right now so leave me a message and I’ll get back to you” came her voicemail. The sound of her voice made him smile. He left a message asking her to call him back, and although part of him wished he could erase the message, another part of him was praying that she listened to it and called him back. It was time to come clean.
(96 days without Logan)
She sat in her car, listening to the rain pitter patter against the hood. She hated the cold, and she hated McDonalds, but it was where Logan had insisted on meeting her. She was nervous because today was the first time they will have seen each other since the breakup. Logan promised that he would visit every other weekend, and she remembered laughing in his face.
“You’re not going to come back, Logan,” she had said, and he hadn’t. Time slowly trickled by, and she began to absent mindedly strum the steering wheel, staring off into the distance.
“HEY!” came a gruff voice. She jumped as Logan began frantically banging on the driver side window. Throwing him a dirty look, she opened the door and got out.
“Nice of you to show up,” she said. He looked good in his tight fitting Levi’s, checkered flannel, and work boots. Rylee looked down at herself and frowned upon the outfit choice. She was wearing nice jeans with a gray cashmere sweater, hunter green hooded jacket, and cowboy boots. Not only was she short standing next to Logan, she was also clearly too dressed up. She grimaced, because it looked like she was trying to hard, which in turn made her look desperate.
“You look good, Rylee,” Logan said, winking. She didn’t say anything in return, and she was slightly confused by the way her ex was presenting himself. Did he forget that they hadn’t physically seen each other in over five months?
“Let’s get some food; I’m starving,” he said. She wasn’t hungry, but she didn’t say anything. They walked in, and while Logan went to order food, Rylee walked over to the far side of the restaurant and sat in their booth. Logan and Rylee had deemed it “their booth,” because it never failed that they would always find themselves sitting in the same exact spot every Wednesday at exactly a quarter to three. He had picked the day, and she had picked the time (she always found it ironic how the hands of the clock were level with one another at a quarter to three) and for a year and half straight, life had been good.
“Here ya go. I’m glad you called me back, girlie,” Logan said, setting the tray down. Rylee wrinkled her nose at the food choice. For himself, he ordered a double cheeseburger, medium fry, and vanilla milkshake. For her, Logan ordered a ten piece chicken nugget with a large fry and strawberry milkshake. She hated fries and anything that had strawberry in it.
“Is something wrong?” he asked.
“I hate fries. And strawberries.”
“What are you talkin’ about? You love fries and you always order a strawberry milkshake,” he said defensively. She stared at the food, somewhat appalled by it. Logan began to eat and dismissed her objection. After a couple moments she opened up the chicken nuggets and took a bite. Logan was inhaling his food and finished his burger and fries before she had five nuggets down.
“So how have you been?” he asked, breaking the silence. She shrugged.
“Okay, and you?” Rylee’s stomach sunk a little as a look flashed across his face. It was the same look Logan had given her when he told her he was leaving her.
“What is it?” she said sharply.
“What’s what?” he asked, attempting to look innocent. She knew his games, though, and she wasn’t in the mood for them.
“Say what you came here to say so I can move on with my life.” Her words cut him, and she felt a small sense of satisfaction.
“I’m getting married,” he said, looking away. Time seemed to stand still, and she blinked.
“I’m sorry?” she asked after a few moments. He continued to avoid her eyes as he repeated his last statement.
“I’m getting married.” Rylee’s heart froze. Her breathing quickened, and her mind was racing. Logan was getting married? He proposed to a woman other than Rylee?
“But you…I….um….” she stammered, at a loss for words. What was there to say? Her vision became blurry with tears that she refused to let fall. Finally, Logan made eye contact with her.
“I’m sorry, Ryleena. Really, I am. I don’t know how it happened….it just did.”
“How the fuck does something like this ‘just happen,’ Logan? Oh wait. I’m an idiot, of course. You just happened to be down on one knee, minding your own business and holding out an engagement ring, and some bitch walks up and the first thing you blurt out is ‘will you marry me?’…yeah, makes perfect sense,” she replied. Her cheeks were flushed with anger and resentment, and she had to stop herself from slapping the shit out of him.
“It’s not some random woman, Rylee. It’s Vicki.” Logan and Vicki had dated three years previous to Rylee, and the relationship had only recently ended when Rylee met Logan.
“Vicki? You’re marrying Vicki?” She had always been uneasy of Logan’s ex and for good reason, the girl was a conniving slut. Logan had said the name so nonchalantly, and all the emotions she had felt over the past five months came to the surface. Rylee ran to the trash can to vomit.
“Babe!” Logan said, following her. The smell from the trash can was horrendous. Half eaten big macs, rancid fruit parfaits, and numerous forms of questionable liquids were violating her senses. Logan was holding back her hair, and people were staring, but she didn’t give a damn. Shoving Logan off her, Rylee walked back to the table, grabbed her purse, and ran out the door.
“Rylee, wait!” Logan called. She ignored him. It was raining and windy, and the wet droplets were being whipped across her face.
“Rylee, please!” Logan said, catching up with her and grabbing her arm. He spun her around to face him.
“How long, Logan?” she asked; her voice was just below a scream. Logan could tell this was serious and the games were done.
“Awhile. It’s why I moved down there,” he replied quietly. She stared at him.
“She’s the reason I moved down there, Rylee. We had been talking about it ever since she left. She wanted me to fully commit to her…so I had no choice but to follow her.”
“Are you telling me you cheated on me?” Rylee asked, trying to piece together the timeline of her and Logan’s relationship and match it against his and Vicki’s timeline. Logan grimaced and took a deep breath.
“What I’m saying is I never broke up with Vicki, Rylee. I know I told you we were, over but we weren’t. We were just going through a rough patch is all…” Rylee’s head was spinning, and anger and hatred consumed her.
“You’re a fucking bastard.”
“I know, Rylee. I hate myself for it.” She wanted to spit in his face, but instead, she sprinted for her car. He ran after her.
“I tried to tell you, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to hurt you,” he called after her. She stopped and turned towards him. The rain was falling harder, and the wind was making it difficult to hear.
“It’s a little too late for that, don’t you think?” she yelled back. He didn’t say anything, just stood there with his hands in his pockets, avoiding her eyes.
“I’m the other woman, Logan! I’m the woman that girls like me hate!” she was almost hysteric. He looked at her pityingly.
“I’m so sorry…I never meant to hurt you. Sometimes these thoughts have a way of making sense….” he yelled back. Moments passed, and she let the wind and rain speak for her. The two ex-lovers stood there. Logan, looking at Rylee and realizing that he ruined the one relationship in his life that truly made him happy, and Rylee, looking down at the ground and realizing what an idiot she was. It was all starting to make sense to her now. She was never invited to his family gatherings or to hangout with his friends, and they never went on dates in places where people would recognize them. She didn’t pieced everything together until now.
“I fucking hate you,” she said. He grimaced.
“I know. But I‘m all she has, Rylee. I‘m her only family.” She clenched her jaw.
“I don’t ever want to see you again. I don’t want to talk you. Don’t text me, don’t call me, hell, don’t even think about me.”
“We both know that’s not going to happen, Rylee.” She couldn’t respond back to him, because a part of her knew he was right. She was drawn to him for some sick reason, yet none of that really mattered at this point. They stood there in the parking lot; the rain pelting them, and the wind howling in their ears. This was officially goodbye…for now.
“All I ever wanted was a simple way to get over you,” she said. She was shaking with emotion and wanted him to leave, to walk out of her life forever. At the same time, she wanted him to tell her it was just a joke. That he was lying to her this whole time, that she wasn’t the “other woman.” Which was worse…being cheated on or being the other woman? Frankly, they both sucked.
“I know I fucked up, but I still want you in my life. You’re my best friend,” he said, reaching out his hand and cupping her face. She began to sob.
“The worse part about being lied to is knowing and realizing that you aren’t worth the truth,” she replied. “Why did you do it? Why did you lie to me?” She was wasting her breath. She knew exactly why he lied. She was the back-up plan and always had been. If Vicki wasn’t so persistent, it would have been Rylee who Logan proposed to. Her heart was past the point of breaking. He looked down at his feet, pressing his forehead to hers, incapable of making eye contact with her.
“How dare you do this to me,” she finally said. He frowned and gripped her cheek harder.
“I love you, Rylee.” She smacked him, HARD. The crack of her hand against his jaw sent shivers down her back, and he staggered a little. She had repositioned the emerald birthstone ring that he got her so that the stone was facing her palm, which made a long scratch from his cheek down to the corner of his mouth, and he was starting to bleed. The rain was letting up, and the wind was dying down. The two stood there, Logan in shock and Rylee feeling somewhat better about the situation.
“I…” Logan started but Rylee cut him off.
“Go fuck yourself, Logan,” she said and walked away. She made it to her car, and before getting in, she looked at her reflection in the window. She was a typical, all-American girl. Blonde hair that fell just a little past her shoulders (it was drenched by now) and large, cobalt blue eyes. Her lips were pouty and her complexion fair. Why wasn’t she good enough for him? That’s right…she wasn’t Vicki. Vicki, with her seductive raven curls that fell to the middle of her back and those violet eyes (Rylee was certain they were colored contacts) and her pale skin. The thought of Logan and Vicki made her chest hurt and her head numb. Shivering, she zipped up the hunter green jacket she was wearing. She jumped a little. The jacket was Logan’s, and he had given it to her on their first date, while they were star gazing in a random bean field. She wore it all the time and wore it out of habit today. The memory of their first date was sickening, and Rylee felt her stomach clench. Vomiting some more in the bushes, she wiped her mouth on the sleeve when she was finished. Anything that reminded her of Logan was revolting.
He continued to stare at her as she ripped the jacket off and smashed it in the remains of her chicken nuggets. She tossed the jacket back to him, making sure it landed within arm‘s length of him. Rylee’s heart was burning with hate and anger and just to be a smartass, she blew Logan a kiss before getting in her car. He was still standing there, holding his cheek and looking dumbfounded. Once her face was hidden from his view, she let the tears fall. This was the beginning to an end that was long overdue, yet she knew that didn’t make the situation any better. She left McDonalds, and she left Logan, silently praying that his truck got hit with a bolt of lightning or ran out of gas on the highway. Before making it down the street, Rylee promised herself to never look back. It was a promise she was going to keep.
© All rights reserved.
Photo by Rachel Dotson. © All rights reserved.