An Overdue Hello This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I walk out of the library into the cloudy afternoon and see you walking toward the swing. I pause. You sit down slowly and hold still, thinking perhaps. Your back is turned to me. The sky grows dark and it begins to drizzle. I want to walk up to you and apologize. I want to explain why I never said hello. Instead I stand frozen on the library step as the light rain falls.

I have known you since kindergarten. Even then you were quiet and awkward. At playtime both of us made straight for the swings. I gabbed happily while you listened in silence. One day I asked why you loved the swing. You said it felt like flying. We parted after grade school. I, friendly and talkative, saw you from the corner of my eyes. I can see you now as you were in eleventh grade English, your face pimply and flushed; you often turned around to steal a glance in my direction, a silly infatuated look in your eyes. And as a daily ritual you "happened" to walk by as I came out of my physics class and asked me for the English homework. I always responded sounding half annoyed before hurrying off to my next class. When you passed me in the hallway, your face always wore an eager smile. Like a dog expecting a treat, I thought. I never smiled back, only occasionally half nodding.

The rain is falling harder. With one kick you push off from the ground and start swinging, your face tilted upward, eyes closed, into the rain. For one moment you look graceful. I square my shoulders and start moving toward you. I might not get another chance ...

The first day you missed English I did not notice. The second day I felt relieved to have a respite from your constant, unwanted attentions. For one week you didn't cross my mind; my life went on as usual. The next week I felt a casual curiosity as to what happened to you. The following week I heard from a friend that you had tried to take your own life.

Now you are swinging back and forth. We are both soaked. I hear a distant roll of thunder. I try to imagine what it must have been like. I stand not ten feet from you, though you still haven't heard me. Maybe you too are thinking of what it was like. You were in the bathroom. Perhaps you were looking into the mirror and hating what you saw. The room was quiet except for the sound of water, and life, rushing down the drains. You must have felt faint. Did I cross your mind? Did you hate me or did you still love me with that peculiar brand of long-standing, unrequited love? Your head was spinning. Was this death, this mad, spinning nausea before a final nothingness? Your heart was pounding loudly, frantically, insistently, or was that the door? You heard your mother's frenzied cries. But you were dying. Were you angry when you awoke in the sterile hospital room? Or were you relieved?

The rain is slowing. I make no sound, though there are many things I want to say. I want to say how sorry I am that I never smiled back. I want to ask why - surely I was not the reason. I want to tell you the truth: I could never return your feelings, but I could still be a friend. I want to sit on the swing by your side again and listen for a change.

The rain has stopped. The swing traces a smaller and smaller arc in the air. Perhaps you sense my presence; you turn around and see me. With one foot you stop your motion. There are still raindrops rolling down your face.

"Hi," I will say. And I will walk over to sit in the swing by your side.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

changerswriter said...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 5:04 am
I love this!
 
willow13 said...
Dec. 16, 2010 at 9:37 pm
thats sad, but really pretty. good-job
 
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