So it's supposed to be a Friday thing. It is. But I have to tell you, I can't just walk away from a week's worth of noodling & then a bunch of writing, deleting, and more writing. So I'll just go ahead & link up. I'm participating in a creative writing meme called the Red Writing Hood. Ericka from Alabaster Cow and Cheryl from Mommypants are hosting it over at The Red Dress Club. Join in, link up, check out all the posts!
She's six feet tall, for God's sake - she's not hard to miss. I whip around the corner just to grab a jar of pickles, and there she is: all seventy two inches of her. She stands, with that ridiculous perfect posture of hers, squinting at the shelves of canned goods. She's mumbling 'butter beans...butter beans....butter beans...' under her breath.
The exhausting memory of the last time we talked assaults my brain: I remember the long pauses as she'd furiously searched for the words to make clear to me precisely what a fuckup I was.
Why her? my friends had all asked the first time. Seriously? She's cute and all, but she's a little....boring. Hell, we were fifteen. Straight edge, rocker, geek, freak - the labels had barely settled on kids that young. She was.... none of those things. She was just.... not me. Not like me at all.
Why her? my friends all asked the second time. Only that time it was different friends, a different town, a rougher life. These friends couldn't understand either, what it was about this plain-vanilla suburban girl that fascinated me. How could I explain to these people that by choosing someone who was everything I was not, and nothing that I was, I could clean the slate? That I could make it all possible, all over again?
This girl - so different. She was crazy smart, used complicated words to say simple things, made every phone call a challenge to follow complicated metaphors and long-winded ideas. I wanted it to be simple: her + me = happy. She wanted.... more than that. She wanted so much, she was used to so much, and in her quiet way she made me feel, every time, that I hadn't said enough, hadn't said it right. I was messing up the clean slate.
It was a long hot summer. I said the wrong things, she said mean things. Her face soured in the stuffy apartment, and I wished for us that we could be anywhere but stuck in this humid angry city. I wished we could've found a chilled vacation-y place of possibility, but instead we'd found ourselves in the dead-end alley of unmet expectations.
Any second now she'll turn around and catch me staring. Of course she'll recognize me. Maybe she'll smile the fake white-girl smile of HeyHowAREYou?!?!, or maybe she'll give me the flat angry stare she fixed on me that last time. I really don't want to find out.
At the last second, I look past her, to her cart holding a giggly toddler, crinkling her nose and eyes with a grin that drills a hole in my heart - a smile exactly like her mother's. That smile I remember, fifteen years later, the smile that made everything right. I ditch the pickles, turn on my heel, and walk away.