The History of Footprints

October 15, 2008
By Iracema Drew, Cobleskill, NY

Your father hadn’t known how to love. He’d run away to something you refused to believe was better. You refused to believe he’d found love. Love wasn’t only a home and smiles.

He hadn’t been anybody’s love either. He’d stood safely on the doorstep. He’d added his name to letters as an afterthought. He’d broken your mother’s heart when he left and showed her she’d never really had any love to begin with.

Your mother hadn’t looked for love again. She said she’d had her chance and something had gone wrong and she had more important things to care for anyway. After all, love was more than a heart on fire.

Most stories you didn’t believe. You liked to think of the world as something more than just a pair of eyes and lips. And you guessed that those stories were meant to make everyone yearn, not to make them understand. But you knew; love was more than a heart on a bench and a promise in a ring.

At some point you’d started looking for it. You had seen glimpses; smiling silhouettes that rounded corners and seemed remarkably familiar, no matter how indecipherable their faces.

And then suddenly, with a force that lead your steps to abandon paths and follow only the aching draw toward another’s footprints, you found it.

You found someone.

Years would come, unstoppably, bringing a whir of other faces and touches and promises. There would be children, all of whom grew to let you hold their dreams delicately in your hands for a while, before you gave them back. There would be goodbyes to say to friends and times that made you wish you could take it all back.

But you never did. You stayed on that trail of footprints that you could not help but follow and you went over all the things you knew that love was more than: more than a home, more than a heart carved into a bench, more than the words no one ever forgot.

You walked on a directionless road, toward an endless future, making synchronized footsteps in the sand that were all the world had left of you.

That same untellable story no one ever got tired of failing to understand.

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