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I Hear the Oaksons
I hear her every day. It didn’t matter what day it was, New year’s eve when the early fireworks would leave there smoke hanging in the southern air, the end of the school year when the younger kids would come home screaming with freedom that hung in the air with the same energy of the fireworks, even arbor day which in my opinion wasn’t qualified as a holiday at all. I hear her but only for a few minutes. I don’t want people to call me a stalker or something but I feel that I have a right to be involved in her life. I am after all her ex-best friend.
She comes out at my favorite time of day. It’s only dusk when the sun would apologize for its past intensity by pressing her warmth gentle against the skin. There was when we’d talk about stupid stuff, like if Ms. Marley would check our assignment today or not because she might be too hung over to care about whether we had any clue about what started the French revolution.
I used to listen as she talked about American Idol contestants. I listened to her complaints about school. I’d hear the techno rap music she liked to listen to blasting out of her headphones. I used to listen to her greet her dog bowtie when she came home every day. Now the sum of her existence was waiting on that front porch.
It makes me sick. It was like watching those paternity test shows. You wonder how they could do that to themselves and you want to change the channel but you just can’t.
It makes me sick enough to cry and beat against my bedroom window but I don’t. She waits with her head bent looking at her hands, her long braids hiding her brown eyes and nose that’s a bit crooked and I can hear her think. It happens sometimes when you know someone for a long time or when you have too much time on your hands.
“When is he gonna get here already?” She shifted slightly on the wooden swing. “I miss him. I want him to be here with me and I don’t want to share myself with anybody. Why won’t he see that? I just want him.”
“Wake up you idiot” I whisper into glass and her head lifts. For a moment, I think she heard me, but no the red ford truck is here finally.
The truck’s rumbling engine cut off and a man in his mid-20’s would step out. Her guy is finally here. Her guy exuberates confidence like it was in her sweat, blood and I’m pretty sure if he spit onto the sidewalk there would be bits of confidence floating around in it too.
My ex-friend’s look of anxiety fades into a soft smile as she wraps her arms around her guy. They started to talk and I can guess well what they were saying.
“Baby, can we pleeease do something together for once, just you and me. I can work any other day those guys aren’t going anywhere but I just…”
“Don’t give me that bull Jessica.” The man interrupted. It’s been three days since you hooked a guy and your regulars are getting bored with you” He pulls out a cigarette and puts it between his lips.
“But we never do anything together. Doesn’t it even make you angry that I’m doing things with other guys? It makes me think you don’t care about me.” I could tell it didn’t bother him at all but I knew Jessica couldn’t. Idiot.
“Look you want to get out of this house right? The more money you make the better place I can buy for the both of us. I’m asking you to do this for us. I love you Jessica.” He said, the cigarette muffling his words slightly.
“I love you too honeypot”
“Don’t call me that when you’re working ok.” He patted his back pocket looking for a lighter.
“Sorry” She must have muttered. They hug for a few second and the man breaks the hug to grab the lighter. He lights the cigarette, relieved to have put Jessica’s nagging to rest. Jessica climbs into the passenger seat of the car and her guy starts up the guttering engine. They drive until they are out of sight headed towards downtown.
I heard on the phone ring a week after she gave that guy her phone number. I listen to her screams when she told her mom about her new boyfriend and I heard her scream again at me when I told her to break it off.
I gazed absentmindedly into the darkening sky. Just before nightfall, Ms. Oakson came out and looked down the road. Her face was carved into so many emotions like a mask maker had gone insane with his tools. She knew I always listened and she stared at me in my bedroom window. I hear her too.
“Why didn’t you save her from this? You could have stopped this. I wish it had been you! I wish it had been you.”
Yeah, I know.