Mistakes

January 19, 2010
I gasp for breath as I hit the last steep incline. The gray sidewalk looms before me like a wall, but I persevere and quicken my pace, even though my calves have been burning for the last half-mile. If only every problem could be solved this easily. I reach the top of the hill and bend over, hands on knees. Instead of feeling victorious I just feel kind of tired, a feeling that’s been keeping me company a lot lately. I feel like sleeping for a year, when the fear of consequences and confrontation are a distant memory.

I straighten up and meet the eyes of another guy, who’s just come pounding up the hill after me and I smile understandingly at him, ever the friendly neighborhood guy, even when I’m not feeling so friendly. He jogs past me, and I wonder how I could meet his eyes, but not yours that first day after I made the Mistake. You’d looked at me expectantly and happily, too. You were waiting for a reason why
I hadn’t called you all weekend. Maybe my aunt was sick again, I could practically hear you think. I wanted so badly to tell you the truth in that moment, but I couldn’t and I still can’t. I wanted to, still want to say it’s not you, it’s stupid, stupid me. I didn’t need to look back over my shoulder to imagine the hurt look on your face as I sided with my fears and blew you off.

I stay on my usual course, jogging past the houses, pausing for a breather at my favorite ones. Then I come to the big mint-green house on the corner and see two kids, a girl and a boy, a few years younger than us, making out. I feel a bit of a pang, but if it’s of jealousy, bitterness or remembrance, I don’t know. We haven’t been that publicly affectionate for a while. But that’s no excuse for what I did.
I jog past the couple, keeping my eyes on the pavement.

I’m nearly finished with my jog when I catch my toe on a crack in the sidewalk and almost head face-first into the pavement, but I catch myself on my hands. There’s a sharp pain in one of them, and I snatch it up. My palm is bleeding a little, and I wipe it off on my shirt, before looking at what cut it.
It’s a little tough, spiky weed poking through the concrete. I go to pull it out and then pause as a realization dawns on me. This dumb plant, growing in a decidedly plant-hostile location, is doing something I haven’t. It’s trying. I’ve been so scared of what might happen if I try to talk to you, that I haven’t even tried to apologize yet. I leave the plant alone and get to my feet, thinking.

My heart sinks a little as I remember yesterday, and the cold stare you gave me. You’d known. And I had just stood there, not even trying to apologize. I hope I’m not too late. And before my mind can even make the decision, I find my feet are leading me to your house, and to you.





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Chickadee said...
Jan. 25, 2010 at 12:54 pm
Absolutly love this! Keep writing!
 
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