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It is Better to Have Love and Lost
The boy rode his bicycle through the small town of Alberton, Montana. There wasn’t much to see; a liquor store next to the tavern, a small grocery mart, and a gas station were nearby. All of these places were devoid of human life. As Victor Smith rode home, the blonde-brown wisps of hair blew out from underneath his old, dirty baseball cap. He carried a sack on his shoulder, heavy with the groceries his mother asked for. The air was warm and thick already, it only being seven a.m. It was summer however, and this is Montana. It is going to be another long day, thought Victor. He turned right at the next stop sign slowly, entering a dirt road.
Reaching the house, Victor jumped off his bike and ran inside. “Morning Mother!” he kissed his mother’s cheek. “Morning Charlie”, he said to his older brother as he received a slap on the back. “Good morning”, they said in stereo. Victor placed his sack of groceries on the counter. Immediately his mother began rummaging through the bag. “Did you get everything?” Mrs. Smith asked. She peered at Victor over the bridge of her nose. “Yes ma’am. I made sure”, Victor said. His brown eyes met her piercing blue ones. She looked away as he looked down at his shuffling feet. “I am going to make breakfast with the help of these groceries”, Mrs. Smith said, “Go wash up, and make sure your sisters are ready.” Victor glanced up at her, then back down at his feet. “Yes ma’am”, he mumbled. He then ran up the stairs to the bedroom he and Charlie shared.
The house the Smith family lived in was not excessive. There were three bedrooms upstairs accompanied by two bathrooms. Across from Charlie and Victor’s bedroom was their three younger sisters’ room. On the other side of the house was mom and dad’s room. Victor changed his shirt and washed his hands and face. He then proceeded to walk over to his sisters’ bedroom door. He could hear Sophie and Clara talking. Victor knocked politely on the door, “Good Morning!” “Sophie opened the door, “Yes…?” her smiling face and sweet voice answered him. Sophie was the oldest girl; fifteen years of age. “Breakfast time”, Victor said, smiling slightly. Clara scowled at him, crossing her arms. “I don’t want to come down!” Victor just looked at her. “Ugghh!” she yelled as she walked across the room to pick up little Jess.
“He he!” Jess, two years old and bubbly, responded with a giggle. She wrapped her arms around her sister Clara’s neck happily. Ding! Dong! Victor jumped as the door bell rang. He swiveled his body around to look at the clock on the opposite wall. “Its 7:30”, he said out loud to himself. “Good job”, Clara said. For the second time that day Victor received a pat on the back. Suddenly, he jolted down the stairs to get to the door first. He was too late.
“Hello Julia.” Charlie said as he opened the door to a beautiful blonde figure. Her slight smile and blue eyes were appealing to anyone who saw her. “Hello,” she said, “is this a bad time?”
“No not at all. Come on in!”
“Thank you. I won’t stay long.”
“I assume you are here to see Victor?” Charlie asked. “I will call him down”. It was just then that Charlie turned to see where Julia’s gaze was fixed. Victor was standing at the bottom of the staircase, lifeless as a statue. It was at this moment he spoke, “Uh…Hello”. Julia stifled the urge to laugh. “Ehem...Hello”, she said. “What can I do for you?” Oh no! I shouldn’t have said that. He thought.
“Since you asked”, she said, “I was wondering, would today be a good day to tutor you? You said you needed help with English and writing skills.” She smiled
Oh Yeah! “Actually now that you mention it” – A glance towards Charlie – “Today is great!”
“Can you be at my house at one P.M.?”
“I will be there.”
“Good. I will see you then.”
Julia left, and Charlie dragged Victor into the family room. In a hushed voice he asked, “You did not just say yes, did you?” “Yes, I did”, Victor responded. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
“Are you crazy?”
“I think so.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I am going to tell her how I feel.”
Victor walked out of the room. He walked slowly into the kitchen, trying to compose himself. He ate breakfast in silence, chewing slowly. The hours seemed like days, taking forever. In his mind he practiced his speech. It came out different every time. Finally, twelve o’clock came around. Victor dressed himself in his best: polished black cowboy boots, clean blue jeans, and a red plaid shirt, with the sleeves rolled to the elbows. He mounted his bicycle, ready to go. Just then Julia’s brother Tommy Burnstein walked up.
“So I heard you are coming over for English lessons today.” Tommy pursed his lips.
“Just be careful. Don’t hurt my sister.”
“Yes sir”, was all Victor could manage. Victor stood there for a while, waiting. “Well, why are you still here?” Tommy asked, “Don’t keep lil Julia waitin’!” Victor took off like a rocket, peddling as fast as he could.
When he got to the Bernstein house he wiped his hands on his pant legs quickly before ringing the door bell. Please let Julia answer, he thought. The door opened, letting out a refreshing whiff of cool air. Then he saw Julia’s beautiful face. “Hi!” she said, smiling. A good sign, he thought, she is happy to see me. “Come on in”, she said as she gestured towards the interior.
Once inside, he followed her to the kitchen.
For about forty-five minutes, Julia talked about grammar, and words. Victor hardly spoke a word. This concerned Julia greatly, for with her he usually spoke a lot. She kept pushing it out of her mind, except he was fidgety. Finally, after about an hour of studying, she asked, “Is something bothering you?” Victor looked at her for a long time before slowly standing up. He turned away from her folding his hands behind his back. Without turning to look at her he said, “I love you.” Oops. That didn’t go as planned. He thought.
The silence seemed to last days. Finally she said, “No”. “What?” he said. When he turned to face her, he saw tears running down her cheeks. “Get out!” She yelled and pointed towards the door. The tears kept running down her face. Saddened both by her tears and her tone of voice, he promptly obeyed. He rode furiously home. That night he lay in bed, wondering what it was he had done to make her so upset. Why had she been so angry? He didn’t know the answer, and he never would find out.
Victor didn’t see or hear from Julia for two weeks. When he finally did see her, she walked on the opposite side of the street. She made it pretty clear she was avoiding him. The next day he ran into Tommy. Bam! Victor landed on the ground, Tommy on top of him. Tommy saw his dejected face, and stopped dead in his tracks. “What happened to you?” Victor told Tommy everything. He told him about wanting to be a writer, and his plans for Europe, and his supposed love for Julia. He told him what happened that day at their house, and how much money he had been able to save. Tommy listened with such intensity, and with such compassion. Victor began to realize who his real friends were.