“Burned” extended/deleted scene
by Tara Sivec
“Hi, Mrs. McDaniels!” I smile as I hold the front door open for her.
She walks inside, juggling two cardboard boxes, tsk’ing me as she walks by.
“Finnley, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Mom?”
I laugh, taking the boxes from her hands and setting them down on top of the kitchen table. “Sorry, habit. I’ve known you since I was fifteen years old. It’s hard for me to think of you as anything other than Mrs. McDaniels.”
Wrapping her arms around me, she gives me a tight squeeze. “You’re marrying my son in three months. It’s time to break the habit.”
She backs away and we both stare down at the boxes. “I take it this is the rest of Collin’s things from your basement?”
When I moved into Collin’s house after mine burnt to the ground, his mother began making weekly trips over here dropping off things from Collin’s childhood. Old school work, photo albums, baseball trophies…memories she and his father have kept in boxes in the corner of their basement.
“Yep, this should be the last of it. I looked through it and I think there’s something in the bottom box you might find particularly interesting.”
I look at her questioningly, but she just winks, gives me another quick hug and then lets herself out the front door.
Checking the clock on the wall, I realize I still have another hour before Collin gets home from his forty-eight-hour shift at the station. I really thought that living with a fireman would be lonely since they work such long hours, but Collin and I are nothing if not creative. He’s not out on calls during that entire time, so I’ll usually run up to the station to bring him dinner and, more often than not, we find time to sneak away into the workout room, blast some Nine Inch Nails and reacquaint ourselves with the subwoofer. We’ve also found that sex on a stationary bike, while tricky, is just as satisfying.
Grabbing a glass of wine, I pick up the bottom box and make my way into the living room, taking a seat on the floor in front of the fireplace.
Ripping the packing tape off of the box, I pull open the flaps and see an envelope sitting right on top of a few photo albums. My name is scrawled across the middle of the envelope in Collin’s handwriting. Smiling to myself, I pick up the envelope and turn it over, running my finger under the seal and tearing it open. Back in high school when we were first dating, I wrote him letters practically every day. I mean, that’s what high school girls who are madly in love do, right? God forbid we grow balls and actually tell the guy what we’re feeling; it’s much easier to pour our hearts out on a piece of paper in the solitude of our bedrooms while we listen to sad love songs on repeat. Which strangely sounds like the exact same thing we do when they break our hearts. I’m pretty sure if my parents heard “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” by Cinderella blasting from my room one more time when I was seventeen, they would have had me committed.
Collin was never big on writing me notes back then and the only time I ever got one from him was the dreaded “I’m breaking up with you” note. I can tell by the handwriting as soon as I open the folded piece of notebook paper inside the envelope that this isn’t from high school. His handwriting is much neater for one, and the date at the top of the note is another dead giveaway: June 15, 2005.
Jesus, this is from seven years after we broke up.
Why the hell would he have written me a letter seven years after that, and ten years before we saw each other again?
I lean my back against the chair in front of the fireplace and begin reading the letter.
June 15, 2005
I just polished off an entire bottle of Jack, which is the only explanation as to why I’m sitting on my parent’s couch writing a fucking letter. Who writes letters anymore? I could probably just ask my mom for your email address, I’m sure she has it. She knows every other fucking thing about your life and never fails to tell me all about it whenever I’m home. Like today, for instance. I pop in for a weekend visit and the first thing she does is shove the local paper in my face that has your wedding announcement in it. Your fucking wedding announcement. You’re married. Jesus Christ, I can’t believe you’re married. I mean, I can believe it. You’re amazing and beautiful and smart…I just never expected it to happen so soon. It’s probably not soon to you; you’ve been with Castillo for seven years. Seven years since I wrote you that stupid note breaking up with you and here I am writing you another one. At least this time I probably won’t have the guts to give it to you. This is just me, being drunk off my ass, spending the night in my parent’s home, thinking about the past with a copy of your wedding announcement sitting here and your smiling face in black and white staring back at me. You look so happy, Lee. So beautiful and happy. Does he make you happy? Did he make all of your dreams come true? Does he make you laugh and wipe away your tears when you cry? I always thought I would be the only one to do that, and then I had to go and fuck everything up. Who the hell knows at seventeen that the person they’re with is who they should spend the rest of their life with? I sure as hell didn’t. I was a stupid kid and I thought I had plenty of time to win you back someday. That was always my plan, as dumb as it sounds. Spend some time apart and then beg you to come back. Now it’s too late. I should have known you would never stay alone for long. You’re too amazing for someone NOT to love you. I don’t blame you for falling in love with Castillo. He swooped in and picked up the pieces that I broke. He grabbed onto your heart and never let it go. I wish I had done the same. If I could go back and do it all over, I would never have written that letter. I would have loved you until the day I died. Remember graduation day? The first time we spoke after I broke up with you? That awkward one-armed hug you gave me and what you whispered in my ear?
“I hope all your dreams come true, Collin.”
You were my only dream, Lee. Even after all these years, it’s still you. I’m afraid it will always be you. I wish I would have wrapped my arms around you and begged you to love me again. Maybe then I wouldn’t be sitting here, on what’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life so far, wishing things were different. I graduated from the fire academy today. I really did it, Lee. I’m officially a fireman and I start my first job on Monday. I’m going to be rushing into burning buildings to save people and the men I work with are going to depend on me to have their backs. I’m doing what I always dreamed and I should be happy, right? I should be freaking the fuck out that after four years of college and two years at the academy, it’s finally happening. There’s something missing, though. There’s something that just doesn’t make it complete and I know it’s because you’re not here celebrating with me. Remember when we used to sit in your parent’s backyard after you did one of your gunpowder pieces, talking about the future? You always said that when I graduated, you’d be in the crowd cheering louder than anyone. Can you believe I actually looked out into the hundreds of rows of people today and wondered if I’d see your face? This tiny little part of me hoped that, even after seven years, you would have kept your promise, no matter what happened between us. I’m such a fucking idiot. Why should you keep your promise when I didn’t?
I hope you’re following your dreams too, Lee. Every time I walk past an art gallery, I still go inside, hoping to see one of your pieces hanging on the wall. Fuck, I miss you. I miss the sound of your voice, your lips, your smile, your friendship… Jordan Castillo is a lucky fucking bastard and I hope he knows this. I hope he tells you every single day how amazing and talented you are. I hope he wakes up every morning thanking his lucky fucking stars that you picked him to give your love to.
Did you know that D.J. and Phina went out a few times recently? I’m not supposed to tell anyone this. D.J. swore me to secrecy, but since you’re never going to read this anyway, what does it matter? From the little bit I got him to admit over beers, it didn’t end well. I don’t know what the fuck happened, but knowing D.J it’s safe to assume he fucked everything up. There’s a reason why we’re best friends and that’s probably because we share a brain and screw up the best things that ever happened to us. So, yeah. D.J. and Phina…can you believe it?
Anyway, I wish things could be different. I wish I could fully enjoy this new chapter of my life. I wish I had the Goddamn courage to send you this letter. I wish I wasn’t such a coward when it comes to you. You’re married and you’re obviously happy. You’re going to build a life and have children with this guy. He gets to do all these things and I should be happy for you, but the only thing I can think about is – it should have been me. Fuck! It should have been me.
If we ever run into each other again, I hope I can be a stand-up guy and tell you I’m happy for you and mean it. Who knows, maybe I’ll find someone else soon. Maybe we’ll both be married and happy the next time our paths cross. Maybe by then, I’ll have stopped jumping from one woman to the next, just hoping to find someone who makes me feel the way you did.
I know you’ll never read this stupid letter, but at least it helped me realize one thing. I did keep my promise to you, even if you never know it. I still love you. I will probably always love you. That’s a promise I don’t think I’ll ever be able to break.
You’re my spark.
You’re my light.
You’re my fire…and I’ll never be able to put this one out.
I jerk with a start and glance up from the note to see Collin standing above me, looking down at me in concern.
“Babe, are you okay? What happened?”
He squats down next to me, bringing his hands to either side of my face and using his thumbs to brush away the tears that I didn’t even realize were streaming down my cheeks.
I can’t speak. All I can do is look into his eyes and cry even harder. I cry for all the years we lost, I cry for the twenty-four-year old who wrote this letter and thought he had lost me forever and I cry at the knowledge that he’s here…with me…loving me more than I ever thought I deserved.
Unable to find my voice, I hold the letter up between us. He looks down at it and I watch his face turn an embarrassed shade of red.
“Oh, my God, I’m going to kill my mother,” he mutters, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “You were never supposed to see that thing. Jesus, I was trashed when I wrote that. I don’t even want to know what that thing says. I’m sure it’s pathetic.”
I shake my head in disagreement, pushing myself up on my knees and wrapping my arms around his neck. I pull him against my body and hold onto him as tightly as I can. Even after all these months of being with him, I’m still afraid that at any moment I’ll wake up and realize this was all a dream.
Letting the note flutter to the ground next to us, I pull my head back so I can look into his eyes again. “I don’t want to waste another minute of this life with you. I don’t want to wait another three months before I can be your wife. We’ve waited long enough. Let’s do it right now. Tonight. Just get in our car and drive until we find someone who can perform the ceremony.”
His eyes widen and his smile lights up his entire face. “I thought you wanted a big wedding, Lee. I know I told you after I proposed that I didn’t care about that and just wanted to be married to you, but I know it’s what you want. Don’t change your mind just because I’m impatient.”
Leaning forward, I place a kiss on his lips before pulling back just enough to speak softly against his mouth. “I was being silly. I thought I needed a big wedding to prove to you and everyone else how much this means to me, but that’s not the case. I don’t need a fancy dress or hundreds of people we barely know congratulating us. I just need you, Collin. Just you. Forever.”
He pulls me tighter against him with one arm and slides his other hand around the nape of my neck.
“I can’t believe you’re really mine,” he whispers.
Closing the distance between us, I press my lips to his, running my tongue across his bottom lip. He lets out a ragged breath, his hand around my waist sliding down to cup my ass and pull my lower half right up against his own. I feel his cock straining against his jeans and my entire body tingles in anticipation. Moving my hand between our bodies, I quickly unbutton his jeans and slide my hand inside, palming his cock.
He lets out a growl before attacking my mouth, his tongue pushing past my lips to tangle with my own. Sliding my hand from base to tip over and over, he moans into my mouth and begins thrusting his hips against my hand. Reaching between us with both hands, he rips my blouse right down the middle, buttons scattering across the hardwood floor. He tears his mouth away from mine and kisses his way down my neck and chest. Sliding the lace cup of my bra out of the way, his mouth finds my nipple and he swirls his tongue around the tight bud before sucking it hard into his mouth.
Crying out his name, I arch my back, pushing my breast into his mouth and work my hand harder and faster up and down his cock. Something from the letter tickles the back of my mind and I pause. Collin halts his attention to my breast and pulls his head back to look up at me.
“You mentioned something about D.J. and Phina in that letter. What the hell was that all about?” I question him.
He laughs and shakes his head. “Oh, Jesus. That’s definitely a story for another time. It would take me entirely too long to explain it and right now, I just want you naked.”
I smile at him and resume stroking his cock. “That sounds like a good idea to me, Mr. McDaniels.”
He slides his fingers into the waistband of my skirt and thong and pushes them down my thighs.
“I have lots of good ideas, Soon-To-Be-Mrs. McDaniels,” he tells me with a smirk as he eases me down on my back and covers my body with his own.
Freeing himself from his jeans, he positions his cock right at my opening, sliding it through the wetness that only he can create.
“Make me burn, Collin,” I whisper, wrapping my thighs around his hips.
“Forever, Lee. Forever,” he replies as he pushes himself slowly inside me.