You don't me very well. You wouldn't, we never talked much. Never really at all. You did ask me for a pencil once. I remember that moment in history class, for the first time we were seated near each other for the test we were about to take about the Middle East. You were nervous cause you didn’t really study due to a game last night that went overtime. Whenever you were nervous, you would shove your fingers through your long brown waves and push your bangs back (though they always fell back in place). You also would bounce your left leg; the same leg your car keys were in so a loud jingling was always made. You had looked around after the test was passed out. Dug into your pocket and came out empty handed. You looked to your left but that person was already working on the questions. Then you turned to me. I had just got passed the test and was delivering it back when you cleared your throat.
“Hey, um, you got an extra pencil?”
I couldn’t believe you were speaking to me. You were looking at me with your crystal blue eyes that held the whole Pacific Ocean in those perfect irises. My hand had started to shake and my brain literally had shut down. Somehow though my arm was capable of movement and reached out, giving you the pencil in my hand which just so happened the be only pencil I had. My face had grown really hot; I know it was a fiery strawberry. I was frozen for a while until the teacher brought it to my attention that I hadn't begun my test ten minutes in. I rushed to start but there was a problem. I didn't have a pencil.
Right now, I’m giving you a freshly sharpened pencil and freshly picked flowers. What I hold cannot compare to all I wish I could have given you. All the times I passed by you in the hallway while you, flanked by buds and bodyguards was two feet and a galaxy away. Even when only a body separated us, it felt like you were in another universe and I was watching through a little peephole. If only you knew that my heart was beating to the rhythm of your name. When that cheerleader broke your heart, I was ready to jump into her place and into your arms. When that calculus teacher gave you an F, I wanted to kick him in the integrals. I had my overflowing heart in my hands, lifting it above the crowds, stretching my neck, shouting your name, offering a wonderful alternative life that could’ve began with a simple act of acknowledgement.
Last Valentine’s Day, your last Valentine’s Day, you received a corny heart shaped card with a sweet simple poem, signed by initials and a smiley face. On the back, I made an offer, a place to meet, a chance to address this admirer of yours. I had a drum in my chest and sweat on my forehead the whole day. And waited outside the library all afternoon. You never came.
If I was with you that night, you wouldn’t have been at that party. You wouldn’t have been out throwing back shots with irresponsible friends, buds and bodyguards who roped you into their pleasurable poison. We would have been snuggling on my living room couch, watching movies, watching each other, eating sticky, buttery popcorn and picking the kernels from our teeth while trying not to laugh at the other. If I was with you, you never would have been in that car, next to the last person who should have been at that wheel. There wouldn’t have been any sloppiness, any swerving. There wouldn’t have been a tragedy.
You would still be here.
I blame myself and my shyness. Maybe if I had taken a bolder step, broke through your crowd, broke through your wall of Jericho, crossed the universe between us, given you more – more than a pencil, a stupid, little pencil that I saw in the hallway days later, more than just a pencil…maybe if I had given you more than a pencil…I wouldn’t be here at your gravesite.