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Tomorrow

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I had seen her multiple times this past month. She’d always wonder around the park for a bit, dawdling thoughtfully, her eyes underlying a gloomy tone, and yet still funnily curious all the while (she’d always make me want to laugh, although I don’t know why). Sometimes there would be a man with her, tall and quite handsome even compared to me, but I noticed he hadn’t come in a few weeks or so, and today I began to wonder if a split had caused that horrible expression upon her face.
I wasn’t sure at all how I felt about that. But I did wish she would smile at least once.
I had an interest in her.
I didn’t know how to introduce myself. Never had I been a shy type of person—anyone I’d ever dated called me either arrogant or cocky or loud and I supposed the description was at least fairly close. But this girl, she was unlike anyone I’d ever met. Not in high school or college or anywhere, really. She was different. She felt pure. And when I saw her face I hadn’t wanted to harass her or anything like that; I felt as if I could blush thoroughly, or as if I’d developed a strong urge to turn the other way (yet that wasn’t good either; I’d much rather be looking at her face or eyes).
Today, though, was quite different from the other times I’d seen her, as she sat on one of the many vandalized benches scattered across the park and looked to the sky with such an expression that could break any man’s heart. She had never looked weak, not even now in her sadness, but rather as if she could use a few minutes to break down pathetically in a friend’s comforting hold (or mine), just this once at least.
I wondered why she was alone at such a time. Perhaps she wanted to be left alone.
I gave her a long look from a little ways away, as she preoccupied herself with thoughts I wondered if I’d ever know. She was ordinary. Not beautiful. I didn’t even know if I could call her pretty.
But I felt attracted to her, and I longed for her more than anyone else ever would. Maybe it was her smile, but she’d captured me in nearly every way regardless.
Her hair was short and swerved slightly to the left, almost long enough to cover her eyes, which I’d observed were left plainly without makeup or anything alike. It made her seem younger than I imagined her to be, and I hoped she wasn’t too young, although I knew it wouldn’t matter to me in the end. How would she feel on the other hand, dating an older man?
But I was getting far too ahead of myself. After all, I didn’t even know her name, much less anything else about her life. I do always get ahead of myself. It’s much too easy to get wrapped up in such a dream when the dream’s as good as this. If I could have one thing, it would most definitely be…
I hear a distant tone, musical. A ringtone. I know it’s hers before she realizes it herself, and I wish also that I could have her number even if I never gathered the courage to call it. I strain my ears and try to listen (such an eavesdropper, what ever would my mother say?) although there’s a family of obnoxious kids arriving and it’s practically impossible, as she answers it reluctantly and runs a hand through her hair steadily. She doesn’t say anything for awhile, I watch her lips.
She checks her watch. I wonder desperately when she’ll be leaving today. But I don’t feel the same as the day before, when my eyes followed her until her figure disappeared and I knew I’d see her again the next day, have another chance to talk to her. I check my watch. I’ve stayed far longer than I usually do, than I should have.
I look at her and I don’t seem to care.
I should be working on my thesis, when it’s the weekend and I don’t have my job to worry on about. I should be at home. Studying would do me good; we’re supposed to be having a large exam next Monday, I remember. I check my watch.
I’m leaving although everything’s telling me I shouldn’t, heading towards my apartment that’s hardly being paid for. I can see my breath. I can see her. It’s cold. I think I’m going to brew a hot cup of coffee once I arrive back home. Maybe I’ll just stop by Starbucks. No, Starbucks is too expensive; I’ll have to do with a bit of Maxwell House.
She’s looking sad again. And maybe a little bitter.
“Are you feeling alright, girl?” I say coolly. I think maybe ‘girl’ sounds too fatherly.
She looks at me. It’s probably the first time our eyes really meet directly. I should be home and I know it, but I sit on the bench as she does without breaking contact and try not to let on that my heart’s beating faster than it ever has.
“Not really. Do I know you from somewhere, sir?” She responds without pause and I give a tight smile at the ‘sir’. Have I been ruined?
She does look better, happier, but I wonder if perhaps that’s just a façade. Although it makes me feel better at once regardless.
“Not really,” I mimic rushedly, “Would you like to talk about it? Call me Drey.”
I smile and try to make it warm. She stares at me, nodding, but doesn’t smile back, and holds out her hand in greeting.
I take it. It’s just as I thought it would be, touching her. I wonder humorously if my hand’s a bit too clammy, if she’ll notice the way I look at her, and if she’ll respond how I most dreaded if she does.
But I’ve held her hand, so I don’t mind that thought so much.
“My name’s Ivana. Everyone seems to enjoy calling me Ivy, though. And, you know… Maybe I’d like to talk about it with you, guy, since my family’s been avoiding the subject altogether. I’ve no one to talk to here, besides.” She tells me drearily, tilting her head this way and that and making small motions with her fingers as she talks.
“Which would you rather me call you?” I say, and she begins to smile something I know is genuine. I feel like smiling too.
“I’ve always liked ‘Ivana’. Although I like the way Ivy crawls along the sides of mansions and such too. I think it’s pretty. Do you? But I suppose that’s a bit off subject. I’ve been feeling a little off today, you know. I just have to go to a funeral in a few hours. I hate them.” Her voice lowers, Ivana’s does. I wish I could do something, anything, but I feel so completely helpless, and in the end I decide to stay silent for a minute.
“I hate them too. My brother passed away in a car accident when I was a kid,” I’m saying, telling her things I’ve never told anyone else, never wanted to tell anyone else, “And he was just sixteen. I was four at the time, I think. I saw the open casket and I thought he was alive still. How odd it was that he was lying there in front of a church filled with people, crying people! It’s horrible, really.”
“Ivana,” Her name sounds odd as I say it, feels odd that she had even given it to me, “I’m extremely sorry for your pain. I hope you’ll feel better soon. May I ask who it was you lost?” I tell her, probably more serious sounding than I’ve ever been, and I wonder what this girl’s done to get me this way.
“Well, I suppose I can’t hate them yet,” She tells me quickly, “I’ve never been to one before this. But I know I’ll hate it. It’s my Dad who went. I guess he’s been sick for awhile. Cancer or something. I came to stay here around a month ago since he’s gotten worse. I’ve missed a bunch of school by now, and I don’t even know if I’ll be able to pass.” She sounds worried. I purse my lips.
“You’re in high school? What grade?” I ask, trying not to sound too anxious as I think of such an age difference. It was a relieving change, anyways, since the previous topic had been about death. Although this… was a bit uncomfortable as well.
“I’m a senior. It’d be bad if I had to retake the last year,” She says absentmindedly.
“I sound as if I care more about my grades than my dad, huh? Sorry. He’s my father, but we never got along, really. I don’t find it possible… To be so sad for a person I hardly loved.” She adds. But I can see she did love him, truly. By the look in her eyes.
I want to ask her how old she is, but I don’t know if that’d come off a bit creepy.
“So you’ll be going back?” I ask sullenly. If she could stay I wouldn’t mind how old she were, or who she was. None of it would matter. But she’d already practically told me the answer to begin with, after all.
“Yeah. Tomorrow. And just after I made a friend, you know. I know, I know! Here,”
She pulls out a red-inked pen and grasps my hand. Is this how it’d go, after all? Her leaving without even the chance of getting a bit close to her? But I had to admit, as she said I’d been her first friend here, I felt a bit happy. How pathetic.
“My number. I’ll call you whenever I come to visit, right? Perhaps we can get to know each other.” She’s smiling. Smiling at me. And in the moment I couldn’t help but smile back at that damned kid.
“Perhaps it’s too soon? But I’ll miss you, Ivana. I’ll be looking forward to that day, too.”
I hold out my palm. There’s a truck stopped near by, and as Ivana stares glumly I imagined it was waiting for her.
“Better remember to call me, kid. ‘Else I’ll be pissed as hell.”
I look at her. I stare at her.
I wonder if perhaps I’ve fallen in love with this little twerp.
Nah.
“Oh, I most definitely won’t forget.”
There’s a honk radiating from her truck, long and loud and possibly the most irritating sound I’ve yet to hear. But that’s just because it interrupted such a moment.
I see that guy. Mr. Tall and handsome.
“Ivy!” He shouts, sounding irked and a bit worn. He reminds me of her. Ivana.
“Hey, who is that guy? Not your lover, eh?”
She’s already a ways away by the time I ask it. But she hears, as she turns, looking horrified as she cracks a grin. That grin. I’ll remember it for always.
“Brother!” She mouths.
And just like that, she’s gone. So, here I am all alone, sitting on this bench in the bitter cold. Thinking of her. Wondering if I can gather that courage to call her, as I stare at my stained palm.
My eyes are locked on that silver Ford until it disappears in the distance, smiling as I think of the tomorrow when I’ll have the chance to see her, to have a chance to know her.
That Ivana kid. Charming me into such a foolish game.
But only two can play here. I suppose I’ll just have to wait.
FIN.



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