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You’re different. But then again maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you’re the same as the others. But, I have a feeling you’re different.
The first day I saw you, well saw you properly I should say, was when you came up to me behind the counter and asked my name.
“Kelly.” I said. You nodded and walked off.
The next day, you came back in and asked my age.
“Seventeen.” I said. You nodded and walked off.
The day after that, you came back and asked my favourite colour.
“Red.” I said. You nodded and walked off.
I didn’t see you for three days.
After those three days, you came back. I was surprised to see you. You gave me a weird feeling. I felt exposed. But, this time you did not ask me a personal question. You asked could you have a chicken sandwich with lots of mayo.
I nodded and walked off to make it.
That day, you sat at your table staring at me. I knew because even if I wasn’t watching you, the hairs on the back of my neck would stand up every time. And every time they did I would look around and find you looking back.
Eventually you left. Relief and disappointment washed over me. You made me feel exposed, but you also made me feel good. Kind of tingly and cheery. I realised I might never see you again. I brushed that thought to the back of my mind.
You were beautiful. For a guy. You had a head of black hair and you were tall. Taller than me, which is always good. Those few occasions that you had spoken to me, you had looked at me. You didn’t look around the room. You looked at me, like I was somebody. Like I mattered. Maybe to you I did, but I wouldn’t know that until later.
I forgot about you. Its embarrassing to admit it, but I did. I had stuff going on. Before summer I had tests and school and prom. And after summer my mom died and my dad closed up completely. I didn’t have anyone.
But suddenly you reappeared in my life.
I saw you at the funeral. You were at the back. I didn’t know how you had known, but you were there. You caught me staring in the grave yard. You nodded, but this time you stayed put.
I watched as my mom’s casket was lowered into the ground. A tear escaped from my eye and rolled down my cheek. Suddenly there was a tissue in my hand. You were next to me. I wiped my eyes and thanked you, silently. I was afraid my voice would betray my now tearless exterior. Instead I wrapped my arms around me and watched as faceless people dropped white roses, my moms favourite, on top of her casket. I didn’t drop one in. I couldn’t see how a rose would help. It wouldn’t bring her back.
You moved from beside me. I pretended no to notice. I thought you were leaving, again. But you walked up to her grave and dropped in two roses. One was white. The other, red. You remembered. You walked back and stood beside me. A few minutes later I looked at you. But, you were gone.
I continued to hug myself. As soon as it was over, I power walked out of the graveyard. I kept going until I reached the sea. I looked down at the rocks. I saw the way the way the waves smashed against them. I imagined being those waves. Being smashed effortlessly against the rocks. I wished for it. I wanted it. I needed it. I knew, in that moment I needed to take action. Otherwise I would talk myself out of it. My thoughts flashed to my dad. But I also knew he would hardly notice. He had lots of family on his side. They were close. They were well knitted together. His pain was only for the loss of mom. I knew he loved me, but only because he felt it his duty. I wished it wasn’t that way but it was.
I climbed up on the railing and swung myself over. I ignored the caution signs. I edged closer to the edge. I looked down. The water was stormy. It was perfect. I took off my shoes. I don’t know why. Maybe because I imagined death to be an eternal sleep. And, I don’t sleep with my shoes on. I took the band out of my hair. The wind whipped around it. I closed my eyes and stepped out over the edge.
Two hands were around my waist. Pulling me back in. “No, please. Let me have this!” I didn’t know who it was pulling me in. I didn’t care. I just wanted everything to end. I was still flailing around kicking the air. The somebody was lifting me. Before I knew it we were over the railing and on the path. The somebody set me down with my back against the railing. I looked up at the somebody. It was you. And you were angry.
We stared at each other for a long time. Your eyes were filled with an unspoken fury. I always knew something was wrong with me mentally, because I felt fine. I felt fine even though I had just buried my mother and tried to kill myself. I felt fine even though there was a stranger in front of me who was angry at me. I felt fine even though I didn’t know your name. I decided to break the ice.
“What’s your name?” I asked you hoping the anger would seep away from your eyes. It didn’t.
“Andy.” you almost spat the word at me.
“How old are you Andy?” I asked.
“Twenty.” you snapped.
“Well Andy, thanks for saving me, but no thanks. I have to go.” I said all this with no feeling and a blank expression. But inside I felt giddy. Maybe adrenaline or something. I don’t know.
“What are you talking about?” you asked, still furious.
“I, well- I want to die.” I said. It was true. I did.
You studied me for a long time. Some of the anger seeped away, and in its place pithy and sympathy and something I couldn’t quite place arrived.
I didn’t understand. I looked at you questioningly.
You shrugged. “I don’t want you to die.”
“You don’t know me. Nobody does.” I added the last bit quietly.
You smiled. “I do though. You’re name is Kelly Tate. You’re seventeen years old. You’re favourite colour is red. But I think you like green better. You like most music as long as its not bubble gum pop. You sing along to the radio way too loud, but you don’t realise its loud enough for the customers to hear. If you did, you probably wouldn’t. You are unsure of yourself most times. You like to have something in your hands because if you don’t you fidget. You don’t have much confidence although God knows why. You don’t notice that every guy who comes to the restaurant goes to your till. You don’t notice the guys who argue at their table about which got the best smile from you. You don’t notice the girls who look enviously at you. And, you don’t notice me.” You looked at me with your piercing eyes. I was speechless.
“You love murder mystery novels and doing the Sunday crosswords. You want to be a teacher, or a paediatrician. But I think you’ll be happy doing anything as long as it involves helping kids. And your best friend was your mother.”
You finished the last sentence with a sad smile. I couldn’t understand. I didn’t know how you knew any of this. I looked warily at you.
“I don’t..” I trailed off. What could I say? I didn’t know you. But you knew me. You were still looking at me. I guess you were trying to decipher my thoughts.
“You’re right. She was my best friend.” I smiled at you.
“It was obvious. I was there sometimes when she came in. You lit up completely.” You didn’t look shy or bashful like any normal person would be after admitting to have been staring at somebody religiously.
You hopped over the railing and got my shoes. You put them on the ground next to my feet. I slipped them on. I looked questioningly at you. But you just smiled and held out your hand. I eagerly grabbed it and you lead the way.
I was finally on my way home. With you. Where I would stay forever.
As we walked down the path, I turned to look at you.
“What’s your favourite colour, Andy?”
You grinned at me as you replied “green.”
I smiled and rested my head on your shoulder. This move would soon become so familiar to me, it would become second nature. But till then we had a long road of questions and laughs and love in front of us. And I was looking forward to every second of it.
I stood looking at all the different faces in front of me. All dressed in black, except for a green ribbon on each of their outfits. I saw sympathy and sadness aimed at me. Some people were crying from my words. A tear slid down my cheek. My son, Michael, reached for my hand.
“Jason was my life. And I have enjoyed every minute of it. He saved me. Not only when I was seventeen, but everyday. He made me a better person. We were together forty two years and I am so thankful. I wish we had more time, but I am also grateful that I had the honour of knowing such an amazing man. My only wish is that one day we can be together again.” I smiled a sad smile at the crowd and stepped back to take my seat. The priest continued to say prayers, but I tuned out.
I sat there and watched. I watched them lowering a green coffin into the ground. I watched them lowering the love of my life into the ground. I watched them as they lowered all my memories and dreams into the ground. I watched them as they lowered you into the ground. And I smiled. Because one day we would see each other again. And the love would kick-start again.