Sunday, July 18, 2010

The One That Got Away (also known as Travis McFadden)

I’m screaming on the inside, I can’t wait to show you the truth, my mouth keeps opening and closing and I’m hissing all over the place but no whispers escape. I dream of you, I breathe you, you’re all I can ever seem to think about.
All that “life is so beautiful” crap we’re fed from an early age is bullshit. Life is what you make it, and if you lose the capacity to believe in hope, that slimy slippery bitch of an intangible impossibility, then it’s all over.
It’s not over for me. I wish it were. That stinging you get in your nose right before a tear squeezes out, that warning pinch, I’m so tired of it. I don’t feel like spilling my guts anymore, I just want to be happy. I want to get in a car with nacho crumbs in the passenger seat and just curl my toes down on the gas…swerve into the night and never come back until I can breathe again.
So. He let me crawl into his bed a few weeks ago. I could smell the strong drugstore shampoo he loves so much, and when the stubble on his chin brushed across my collarbone, I had trouble breathing. Does it matter that his mother is sleeping next door? No, not to me, I could die here and fall into heaven with a smile on my face. I never thought he’d say yes to me…all those months of his stubborn refusals had finally crushed my promises to myself of never relenting. But here I was, rolling around on those crumpled cotton sheets, Spider Man logos underneath my half-naked self, a reminder of how ridiculous this all was. I didn’t care anymore, about wanting it to be perfect; I couldn’t remember how I had pictured it during all those years of crying at the end of every stupid date movie that I went to alone. There was pain, but it was fading now. I didn’t feel cheap, or different even. I felt honored.
I wasn’t his first, far from it. He was a professional in the high school circuit, except it’d been a little while since his senior year. He went to college in Maryland now, and I missed seeing him around. He was down here in Phoenix for the summer, and I prayed he’d find some reason to stay. I knew I could never be that reason, the anchor keeping him here in the glaring sun away from all those panting college girls. I had become that girl, the one in the situation your mother warned you about, with a boy who only wanted one thing, but I wanted it more than he did. He had hesitated when he first felt my legs tangle with his in the dark. I was, after all, his best friend’s little sister. He pushed my bangs away from my face and asked if I really wanted to do this. I blinked in the dark and nodded, breathing heavy onto his bare chest. I was so tired of being handled with kid gloves by boys who didn’t know what to touch and girls who had daddy issues and something to prove. I had dreamt about him for so long that I no longer cared about sanity. And he smelled so good. I shouldn’t have? was good. It was life-affirming. I want more. And you know what? So does he.
It was not a scene from any book that I’ve ever read, or any fantasy movie or low budget porn. It was messy. It continues to be messy, since we have to sneak around. But…something tells me I should hang on. It’s more than sex now. Sometimes we just lie in the dark and talk about anything at all, and last night he said he loved me. He means it, right? I can’t decide if I care anymore. I’m living in the moment now, like I always talked about. I haven’t slept in my own bed in a little while. I don’t want September to come. It will mean a return to reality, a brutal end to my unthinkably rash decisions. And also the end of…him. It’s difficult to describe. It isn’t love, or a fling, because I know how to pick that shit apart in a minute. I think it’s borderline obsession. But the best part is that he feels it too. We barely even have sex anymore. He says he wants to know everything there is to know about me, and he tells me all these things that you wouldn’t tell your best friend without making them swear on your mother not to tell. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose him. I feel more alive than I’ve ever felt. I love waking up because it means opening my eyes to his face, hair plastered to his forehead and arm draped across my waist. I didn’t know I could be this happy.
And just like that it was over. He didn’t leave me, his parents didn’t cart him off to military school, but one night, while I was out getting a light bulb to replace the one we broke by tipping over my mom’s antique stained glass lamp, he had a major seizure and died. In my bed. Alone. I can’t imagine how scared he must have been, or the last thing he thought before he couldn’t think anymore. I would give anything to have been there to save him, or at least to have held him so he didn’t have to lay there shaking and afraid.
I am writing this as a sort of an explanation. This is not a suicide note. It’s more of a going-away present, only in reverse. I am leaving. I am taking my shitty Ford Pinto, and I’m gonna drive until I get away from his memory. It’s not a very mature way to cope, but then, nothing we ever did together was very rational either. He’d be proud of me. And I cannot forget. All I can do is run.

1 comment:

  1. Well-written, as expected. :) I like the very end best, I think, although I do have one correction to make, which dampens the impact a bit. When you have a seizure, you can't feel it, or even realize you're having one... your protagonist need not worry about her man's fear/pain/loneliness in the moment of death; he probably didn't even realize anything had happened until he awoke on the "other side," as it were. Sorry to get technical and all corrective with that, but I just thought you ought to know. :) Good stuff.