The Wet Snow

October 7, 2007
By Dylan Griggs, Paducah, KY

The painted-on disguise that caused innumerable sighs this two a.m. in a nondescript December was also responsible for the corner I resolutely turned, before collapsing in my esteem against the wall of the building. I sat with my back pressed against the wall, determined not to turn around, knowing you are there waiting for me to admit my transgressions and walk my emotional corpse back to the world of central heating and plush carpets.
Fastidiously trying to collect myself, expecting you every second, I leaned my head back and scraped the dirt off the bricks. Ugly, repugnant, romantic insignificance is what I was feeling, I decided. I was a liar- NO! - an actor.
I acted my way into this corner- acted my way around the building and up against the flat, unforgiving wall. Its bleak gray exterior was like the words you expected to come, boring and typical- but you got fierce, ruddy words in their place. Like the wall, these words couldn’t be demolished without a great deal of force. I was never one to apologize, and you were never one to forgive. You might later say that love was lost on you and dead to me. Story of my life.
Like a fever patient, I was sweating and my head ached and my face was wet- either from sweat and tears or from the trickling slush that seemed to fall harder and more accusingly each time I left my home. I was muttering a few choice words to myself, getting the last word in on you, though you weren't there to argue your case back. You were mere feet away, seconds in my past, on the sidewalk waiting for me to inevitably come to my senses. A pang of hope reminded me that you were still waiting for me, needing my presence as I needed yours.
I considered turning around, though only for a second. While the anger and fear and hopelessness had mitigated, the feelings of insignificance and repugnance still remained. How was I to face a world of confident people with high expectations? The only way I was to ever have that level of esteem was if the body of my failure was exhumed and I found a better place to hide it.
You still haven't escaped the realm of an hour ago, and I can't say that I have either. The horrific, macabre things we said were enough to stun anyone. What beautiful lies! What stunning poetic inaccuracies. We almost believed them! We told each other marvelous things. The concepts of love and loyalty were our playthings. We abused them until their stuffing fell out and we threw them back in the chest with our other worn-out emotions. We were cut and bruised with the sharp edges of language; our ears were numb from the megaphone mouths we yelled through to get our points across. Luckily, no one is on this part of town at two in the morning.
Again, I considered turning, considered why you were waiting for me. No more than 30 seconds had passed, but more had happened in that half of a minute than had ever happened before. The longer I sat, the more prioritized I became- the less the smell of the flowers, strewn on your floor to sulk, altered my decisions.
Suddenly, as surprising to you as it was to me, I braced myself against the wall, pulled myself to my feet with it, my cracked hands pressed unforgiving against the cracked wall. Once on my feet I wiped my eyes and shook the sirens that were dancing in my ears. As unequivocal as my words were, I was bold enough to try and convince you otherwise. You were never one to have such a firm grasp on words- I could talk you into or out of anything. My legs were weak; as if the 35 seconds on the ground were a lifetime.
I took one step toward the corner of the building. I feigned seeing you- working up from your mute colored shoes, to your torn jeans (hands in pockets), to your immaculate face, wrinkled in anguish- your eyes looking at the stars from your hiding place in the gutter. Your hair augmenting them so they stand out blue against your black fur. What an awe-inspiring sight! Even my putrid eyes could not cover it in mud!
I took another step. You always used to say I was hesitant. The same personality flaw that kept me out of car crashes had so indubitably kept me out of a solid relationship.
I daringly took another step. I was only a single step away now. I was assured in my mind that you would be there to embrace and forgive me, forgetting the times that I took wantonly from you.
I hoped; I prayed; I begged of the gods that you were still there, waiting for me. The future was a trail of broken glass and my clairvoyance was a bare foot- prepared to be ripped open with disappointment. The innumerable sighs from the past were returning as doubt loomed, but it had only been seconds. Surely you hadn't left just yet!
I was a blind pilot trying to guess your position, while your thoughts were moving as sporadically as your feet.
Inside the urban squalor, my eyes quickly scanned the surrounding, and in disbelief, scanned them again. The image in front of me was so bizarre, so shocking that it stabbed my gut and left me wrenching on the ground, worse than I had been 45 seconds prior. My hopefulness had wrenched out my eyes, my shamelessness had disemboweled me-- and I lay there as if they had done so literally.
It was the lonely highway, its yellow-lined eyes inexplicably peering into mine where yours should have been, serving as an inescapable asphalt mirror reflecting the past into the present. THE WET SNOW ON THE SIDEWALK NEVER BESOUGHT THESE ANSWERS FROM ME.

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