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Crossing the Rubicon
“It’s 3 o'clock in the morning. Do you know where your son is?”
I mutter it under my breath; I don’t want to risk waking anyone up. Not yet, anyway. Hands in my pockets, I continue walking down the empty, moonlit street, trying to clamp down on the excuses that keep floating to the forefront of my mind.
It’s dark, cold, and raining. You have a nice, warm house to go to. Just turn around.
I wave this excuse away. This isn’t the first time I’ve snuck out of the house, nor is it under the worst conditions. I’ll deal with it.
You’ll look like a complete, love stricken idiot. It’s not worth it.
Again, I’m used to looking like an idiot. Anyway, who’s going to see me?
She doesn’t even know you that well. Hell, she doesn’t even know you at all.
That last one stops me. It’s true, no matter how much I try to deny it. She doesn’t know me, hasn’t acknowledged me once in the three years I’ve known her. But I continue anyway, fueled by passion, idiocy, and more than a little alcohol.
“Just like every other person who ‘died for the cause’,” I let out a short laugh that is quickly erased by the sound of rain hitting the ground and an errant car horn. I look up and realize that I’ve missed my turn. The street I’m looking for is already half a block behind me. Turning around, I contemplate once more just skipping over the street and heading home.
Just cut your losses now. Go down this path and you’ll regret it.
I look up again. Unconsciously, I’ve walked onto her street. I can now see my destination, the elegant 2-story house a few doors down.
“Alea iacta est.” My words come out rueful, subdued. The die has been cast; I can’t turn back now, not when I’m 7…6 houses away. As I walk slowly, trying to avoid the beam of the streetlights, I think about everything that’s driving me forward (except the Jack Daniels, which is most definitely a factor). That voice, for one thing. High, clear, pure. Even though she’s never spoken directly to me, I can still remember the first time I heard her speak three years ago. Even though I was barely listening and she was surrounded by a chattering group of friends, her voice cut across the classroom and made its way to my ears. I don’t know what happened to me that day, but it struck a chord. From that moment on, I tried to just get glimpses of her in the hallways. To hear snatches of conversation. And little by little, I picked up on other things that only drew me closer to her. The way she bit her lip whenever she was thinking hard. Her completely sincere attitude of openness (to her friends, anyway). And…
And the fact that she’s on a whole other level than you. Much too good for you.
Again, I stopped dead. That couldn’t be a reason I was attracted to her, could it? Just because she was upper-class…
A much higher class than you.
…came from a good family…
Not a dysfunctional madhouse like yours.
…always had the newest clothes and accessories…
Compared to your 2-year-old hoodie and faded, torn jeans.
I considered it. Maybe I was trying to get her to notice, like, be seen with me to boost my own status. No. That couldn’t be true.
I tried to shrug it off, but only succeeded in pushing it to the darkest recesses of my mind. Anyways, I needed to focus. I was in the front lawn, my Sisyphean task almost over. Here was the true test. Would I finally push the boulder over the mountain? Or would I fail, cursed to watch everything I had worked for shatter and tumble back down 1000 hard earned feet?
“Way to depress yourself right before wooing the girl of your dreams, idiot.” I looked up again, past the haze of the rain, and saw what I hoped would be the window to her room. For the next two minutes, I simply stood there, contemplating the insane task I was about to undertake. Finally, I reached down to the gravel path and picked up a small handful of rocks. They felt cold and wet in my palm. Or maybe the rocks were 100 degrees, but I simply couldn’t feel it with the clamminess in my hands. Swallowing the apprehension, I cocked back and threw with what was to me an agonizingly slow toss. It seemed that the pebbles took centuries to leave my hand…
…fly the 20 feet or so through the air, shining under the moonlight…
…and connect with the window, creating a din I was sure would wake anybody in the room behind it up.
I waited, but to no avail. The curtain didn’t move, the window didn’t open. Deciding to press my luck, I opened my mouth to speak.
“Leah!” It first came out as a whisper. I repeated it, louder this time.
“Leah!” This time I could see a movement behind the curtains. Picking up one last pebble, I let it fly, realizing that it could be the worst mistake of my life. As it flew, random thoughts flew through my head at the same speed.
Dumbass. Even though you know you’re going to fail, you’re going through with this anyway?
What if that’s not her window? What if an overprotective father shows up with a gun?
The light flickered on. A second later, the curtains parted and the window opened.
“Who is it?”