Picture of a Man Who Couldn’t

(Story prompt inspiration from Pic-N-Story)

They once called me Hugo Jones. That was when I had lived here in London twelve years ago. I lived four blocks away from where I sit now. My sign reads “Can afford food, not love.” My jeans are torn over my strong legs. A nice warm wool coat is covering my flannel shirt, and under my arm my guitar rests. My fingers caressing its stings like the once caressed the only woman’s skin that I have ever loved. I couldn’t stay then, no matter how much I wanted to. I loved her every day I knew her. When I went away I wrote her letter after letter. I called her. I feel in love somehow more while I was away. I wrote her songs, some so strong I could not write words for them.
Ten years ago we walked by the school in front of me now. We talked about the children we would one day love to have. I could not stay for her never the less for the little ones I was sure she would raise. Imagine me then, passing a man like me now. Not knowing I couldn’t yet.
The school bell rings today, just the same as all the others before this one. I see him, eleven years old, I play his song. A fast strum of changing cords, with the same chorus, one so close to hers that I can barely tell the two apart sometimes. He looks over as he always does. I do not think he knows. My hair was a crew cut in any photos she had taken with me. I was much more fit back then, a military man. He leans against the school fence in his black coat. James, taps his foot to my music. I can see its cords playing in his very soul.
There she appears, from around the corner. Her brown hair hanging strait down to her shoulders. She is wearing a new coat. One that I am sure blocks out every last attempt this cold wind sends her way. She looks the same as she used to those long ten years ago. She never looks at me. We still write letters every week.
“Dear Felicia,” I have written her name so many times I do not have to look when I write it. I have the letters forwarded a block the other way, to a dingy little flat with a half of a window.
Ten years ago I vowed as I was being sent to fight, that I would support her no matter what. I send her all that I can. She writes about him like she used to write about me. We both know that I lost something however, while I was away. For seven years I tried to find what that something was, without luck. I am closer to home then I have ever been. I will never tell them that though, the last time I said I wanted to have a home was with her, and then I had to go away. War does that, it moves men, it changes countries, and it takes love away. If I can stay silent then maybe I can stay.

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