When was the first time you actually fell in love and knew for sure in your heart that it was true love? I had just turned 28 years old when love first hit me like a ton of bricks. He was this wonderful, handsome musician that I had met at Club Pele during the summer. His band started playing regularly every other Friday, which I had made a special point to be there to see him. His voice was so soothing to the ear and he could actually hypnotize the room while singing his haunting lyrics. The band’s name was Broken Wings, which I later found out when Mark and I started seeing each other, was named after a bird he found in his yard when he was a kid that had broken wings. I cried when he told me the story about how he tried so hard to help the bird, but a week later, the bird gave up and died. Mark buried the poor thing in the rose garden his mother had planted in the yard next to their house.

Mark and I had so much in common and I thought for sure that he was “the one”. He was a few years younger than me, but neither one of us cared about the age difference. The first time we kissed, my whole body felt like it was going to burst into flames. We made love for the first time on his birthday, August 20 and moved in with each other two weeks later.

Life was great! Everything about life was great! I smiled all the time because of the happiness that I had found in him. We’d sit up late at night in the bath tub together drinking wine with fifty or so candles glowing all around us and just talked about anything and everything. He’d sit at the piano during the day composing songs...but the band hated them because his songs were suddenly full of love. They didn’t want to play love songs. That’s mushy stuff! They wanted to sing about how miserable life was. The band broke up because of this. Because of me. Mark swore up and down he didn’t care. He knew his new music was better than the songs he had written in the past.

I began having nightmares about the two of us breaking up. These dreams were so real...so vivid, that when I woke, my pillow was stained with tears and my mouth was parched from hysterical crying.

“Raven, my beautiful bird, I will never leave you,” Mark would say when I told him about the nightmares. I wanted to believe him, but my gut instinct told me otherwise.

He tried to continue his so-called music career at Club Pele and tried to get bookings at other clubs and lounges. His music was still haunting and hypnotizing, but the crowd wanted more than a man at a keyboard singing about the beautiful raven he had tried to save. Actually, the bird he did try to save back in the day, was a sparrow, but because of me, he changed that around.

One night, Mickey, the owner of Club Pele, told Mark he couldn’t book him anymore. The money wasn’t coming in and as a result, he had to cut back on the live musicians. Mark wasn’t too terribly upset when this happened, at least that’s what he wanted me to believe, but I knew how much it hurt him. He became depressed and stopped playing his piano. We stopped taking baths together nightly before bed, and after few weeks without love-making, I knew it was time to move on.

I packed up what little possessions that I had, wrote a letter telling Mark that I was sorry for ruining his music career, and drove out of the city. I had no idea where I was going. I just needed to be somewhere other than there. After driving for 24 hours without sleep, I pulled into a motel parking lot and paid for a room for a few nights. When I finally relaxed my body with a steaming hot shower, cigarettes, and several shots of vodka, I passed out from exhaustion.

Twenty hours later, I woke. My head throbbed, my neck was stiff from sleeping on it wrong and I felt like I was going to be sick. I barely made it in time to the bathroom. My first thought was, oh my God, I’m pregnant. I can’t have a kid! I can’t even take care of myself, let alone a child! I sat on the cold tiled floor, my head resting on my right arm which was being supported by the rim of the toilet. I sobbed for what seemed like hours. I kept thinking about what was I going to do if I did turn out to be pregnant. I thought about where would I live. I’m an orphan. I have no one out there. My roommate that I lived with before Mark came into my life, moved to Los Angeles to attend some kind of art school. I was jobless. I was homeless and what little credit I had left on my Visa wouldn’t even help me out for a full month, which meant I was penniless.

I got up off the floor and looked at myself in the mirror. Who was staring back at me? Whoever she was, she looked like death warmed over. I turned the faucet on and splashed cold water on my face. I had to come up with a plan. I had to find some way out of this mess.

That was three years ago. Yes, I was pregnant. No, I didn’t keep the baby. Unfortunately, I had gotten an abortion. How did I come up with the money for that? Mark, of course. I ran back to him like a lost puppy. He helped me out for a short time, until I got back on my feet and could support myself. Then that was it. No more Mark. No more love. I vowed never to fall in love again because of how much love had hurt me. I broke many hearts within these past few years, but at least my heart was still intact. I should be happy. Right?

I wonder what Mark’s up to these days?