He was brought up with a father who didn’t make eye contact, so he didn’t, either. There was that comfortable space where we both looked out as we talked, explaining, never committing to a single word if it was better kept lightly. Stuff about family. Stuff about growing up. Myths and taboos. Whatever we thought we knew.
Then he’d look at me once we were entirely too close. He said later, that he tried doing it on purpose because he knew it drove me crazy.
I liked the way he wished he could keep the one away who is always hitting on me but has a wife and several girlfriends. This younger one, he knew better. He was strong. He would be morally sound.
“I felt like I needed to protect you from him.”
You get used to the shining star. Always getting praised, always being rewarded. Give all your love, give all your love.
We started writing – which I should have known better than to do. I learned that the person who I thought was shy, was burning even brighter on the inside. His thoughts were arranged, intelligent, well versed. And he would say things I didn’t dare.
I liked how he told me that he liked me the first time he saw me. I guess I was drawn to that. And when I started to change and feel uncomfortable with everyone else beginning to notice, I thought of him. As if he’d been there from the beginning and was a person to believe in. Someone who saw me.
Unlike everyone else. That was how I came to see him.
I liked how I noticed him immediately, too. And every time after it. When attraction is in any equation, all of the chemicals are pouring the perfect cocktail for your conversations, your workout, yourself…
Maybe not your focus. Not mine, anyway.
I always kept a tab on you, I always watched, I know you knew
Suddenly everything was amplified and I was unlocking my car on his way out the door. Nothing short of the sort of things that sound like: outrageous. Damming. Dangerous.
“Come on. I’m a guy. You gotta fight for me.”
I was so high.
I’ve tried to write this story a dozen times.
you kept it real, you stayed sincere
so much better with you here
loud and still the silent type
I was so caught up in the hype
but what did you ever do for me
besides what came naturally
One night the manager grabbed him by the shoulders, walked him back over to where the carpet changed color and said, “Don’t cross this line.” People began to notice how we were always paired up.
I called him on his little phone and said something in his ear that I can’t believe came out from my mouth.
The little shit. It was supposed to catch him off-guard. He just grinned and said back, “It wouldn’t be, if I consented and never told anyone.”
A few days later he was 18.
Fast forward. He moved away to continue his education. On our last day together we didn’t say goodbye: he texted: “I’m coming back to pick you up later”.
Fast forward. Find ways to make more mistakes long distance and every now and then sprinkle it with a damming word like ‘promise’ or one of those goddamn sideways hearts that will not be tamed
“You’re throwing Autumn away,” Shepherd disapproved, telling me over. And over. I dismissed his stray sheep radar.
Last night, stumble in to her. She has been all about him and you faintly remember the one he played down like he wasn’t involved. You were never fighting for the guy – you were competing for him.
Wake up today, with all of the brain power you should have had half a year ago. Crawl out of your trash can.
Apologize for the harassment. Apologize for being reactive and not thinking about real life. Apologize for relying on him to tell you he had someone – because he isn’t a man, yet. Apologize to yourself and tell him that it really hurts. He won’t have the courage to elaborate on anything you just slammed him with. But he won’t argue, either.
Explain that the valentine was mailed days ago, before you were a better person. Explain that if he wants to, he can memorize the four lines inside and use it as a means of measurement his entire young adult life. If he’s ever unsure about what someone does for him, hold it to that and make sure he is still the brightest star in their sky.
Tell him to bring that blonde-haired cheerleader a slurpee, learn some life lessons and find you to tell you about it some day.
Tell the truth, one more time.
I am going to miss you.
And when he simply says, “I’m gonna miss you, too”, that has to be the end.