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There once was a chance I didn’t take. It was about 2 and half years ago to be exact, outside of Charleston Academy. But before I tell you what happen let me introduce myself. My name is Christopher Washington, but everyone calls me Flash because I can fun faster then most boys my age. I’m 17 and very tall for my age. I have light brown eyes that girl’s love to swoon over and shaggy black hair that hangs to my shoulder in an ugly mess. I live in a bad neighborhood just outside of Wash County. My mom works at a gas station and my dad; well I haven’t seen him since my 10th birthday. He left after my little brother, Riley was born. We live in an apartment with one room, my mom and brother share, so I sleep on the couch if I’m not over my play brother’s house.
Most of the time I just sit and admire my life, having done some things I’m not proud of, my life’s not to bad. I run with a decent set of dudes. Dennis, my play brother, is a drop-out who works with his dad at a car garage. Lucas is a nerd with a GPA so high we really don’t understand why he hasn’t graduated yet, but he’s a pretty decent guy and knows how to dress. Greg is a junior like me, with grades so low, he attends summer school every year just to repeat the same grade. We never really knew each other, but when a group of guys tried to jump me, he jumped in and fought with me. Ever since, we’ve been real cool. Last but not least, my favorite person in the group. Shay Benson. The only girl in our circle. She’s just under 6 foot with green eyes that sparkle like shiny emeralds. She has this long silky black hair she keeps tied into a loose ponytail that I love to play with. Now I’ve known Shay my whole life, we grew up as kids till her dad passed away and they moved across the country to be with his family. She came back and we picked up where left off, but now we were in high school. Things change right. I had feelings for her, but I never told her. My mistake.
“Chris, can you walk Riley to his bus stop. Art won’t be in until later and I have to open up.” My Mom said as I came stumbling into the kitchen.
It was just after 5:30 in the morning and my head was still cloudy as I poured a cup of coffee into a plastic cup. I pushed a pile of papers to the corner of the table and sat down.
“I guess, what time?” I asked as I sipped the bitter drink from cup.
“His bus comes at 7:15 exact and it will leave him. So be on time” My Mom warned as she tossed on her work shoes, “I’ve left 15 dollars for you in the cupboard under the corn. He has lunch in the fridge and his homework is in that folder on the couch.”
“I can handle it Mom. I’m not a kid.” I tossed the remainder of the coffee down the drain and shuffled off to take a shower.
When I got out the shower my brother was dressed and eating a bowl of cereal. For an 8 year old he was pretty damn independent.
“Looking good there kid.” He had on his favorite jogging suit. With a blue and white baseball cap, “Did you grab everything you need?”
“Yeah, my folder and my lunch anything else?” He asked as he drained his milk.
“I hope not?” I threw on my red hoodie and walked outside to meet Dennis. He was waiting by the second floor elevators looking high as ever.
“I got the little punk with me today, so change of plans.” I said as I took a puff of his cigar, “Put this out when he comes out of the house.”
“Scared he’ll tell mommy.” Dennis teased
“Something like that.” I wasn’t going to lie, my Mom hated smokers.
Charleston Academy was more of an alternative school, then your regular public school. The majority of students who attended the school were delinquents who had no other option. The principal was a retired doctor who was looking for a laid back job, instead he got hell. We had fights almost everyday, mostly gang related. A former student had gotten shot because he wore all red to school and walked through what’s known as “Crip Hall” He didn’t die, but he never returned.
I found my down the long narrow hallway to the library. Shay was sitting in her usual spot reading another book. I starred for a long moment. I loved her. She was one of the few people I could honestly say I love. She had the most amazing personality and she was perfect in everyway. But she was going out with Greg. I never understood that. Not to knock my friend, but Greg was dumb and never going to amount to nothing. So he’s hot, according to the females at our school. Looks aren’t everything though.
“Another one?” Shay jumped as I sat down across from her
“Yeah I finished the second book yesterday.” She glanced up for a second before directing her attention back to her book, “You’re never here unless you need something. What’s up?”
She was right. I had a huge ego and hated anything that would destroy it. My rep around school was Mr. Bad Boy. I didn’t get in trouble per say but I was more of a rebel did my own thing. The teacher’s gave up on trying to get me to follow the rules, but they wouldn’t kick me out. I was to smart.
“I could use a dollar.” I said as I leaned back in my chair with my eyes closed.
“I only have a 5.” Shay said as she tossed it to me, “Pay it back?”
“Don’t I always?” I replied
“Whatever.” Shay went back to reading her book, completely forgetting I was even there.
My favorite spot to hang after school was the little park across the street from my school. I was swinging on the small swing set thinking when Shay pushed me from behind. I landed with a thud on the floor and felt a sharp, jolting pain go up my arm.
“Damn, what the hell was that for.” I shouted as I stood back up cradling my arm.
“Quit being a baby.” Shay tossed her back on the bench and joined me on the ground.
“I heard you skipped your last 2 classes.” Shay said as she ran her hands through my tangled hair.
These little moments of affection I enjoyed. It made me feel special, but I know it wasn’t special. She loved Greg, or so I thought.
“Me and Greg broke up.” Shay said suddenly.
“Why, I thought you guys were the perfect couple.”
“He said the spark wasn’t there no more, it was just gone.” Shay said, her eyes began to get watery, “I asked him what he was talking about and he said that it just felt like we were getting distant. We had no love for each other anymore.”
“He’s a jerk.” I said as he wrapped her up in a bear hug.
“There’s this other guy. He’s sweet and charming and I feel so rounded around him.” I wanted to block out what she was saying. As a friend I was listening, but as a person who really cared for her I was ignoring the comments.
“Well, what’s wrong with him?”
“He just doesn’t seem in to me. He never really showed interest. Like I’m just a friend to him and that’s all we’ll ever be.”
At the time I never really knew she was talking about me. I wished had though. She was describing me in every way and I never caught the clue. They say boys are dumb when it comes to love, but I guess maybe we’re just one dimensional. Females have so many emotions they can show and be proud of it. But as boy’s we just show one: Pride. My pride is what kept me from really seeing what she wanted. Deep down inside I think I knew she was talking about me, but if I fell in love with her, then my ego would be hurt. My bad boy status would be out the window. I’d become soft.
Sitting here now 2 years later, I often wondered what it be like if my pride wasn’t so huge. I was sitting in my favorite little spot at this café down the street from the university I attended. This girl walked in. She was gorgeous and at that moment I didn’t know who she was. She turned around and caught me looking at her, I dropped my gaze. 2 seconds later a shadow fell over my desk and there she was.
“Flash?” She said as she gazed into my eyes.
I hadn’t been called that in a minute and there were only a select group of people who had called me that in high school. I looked intently into her eyes trying to piece together who she was and then it came to me. That long, silky black hair, those green eyes. Shay, she was standing in front of me after 2 years. She had grown up to be a spectacular woman. She had a tattoo of a guy’s name down her neck; I was to far away to read it though.
“Shay.” I finally said as the realization hit me.
“Wow, it’s been some years since I last seen you.” Shay said as she sat down across from me, “How are you?”
I could’ve answered the question right away, but I gave it some thought. How was I? 20 years old, I had a 2 year old son who I never got to see. I lived with my brother and his girlfriend in their small apartment by the river. I drove an old beat up truck and I was attending college on my brother’s scholarships. But instead of I all that I just said:
“I’m glad to see you’ve finally grown up.” Shay said as she ran her hand down my face.
I felt the electric touch as she ran her hand down my face. The spark was still there. After all these years I still loved her.
“I do have to get going though, but I have something for you.” She dug around in her purse and pulled out a white envelope with my name scrawled across it, “I wrote it a while ago, but after we grew apart I kept it in case I ever ran into you again.”
The letter was old and had stains on the envelope. The edges were yellowing with age and it felt delicate. I watched as she hurried out the door and into the arms of my old friend, Dennis. There was a small little boy with them. He looked just like his father, with a hint of his mother in him. Funny how things turn out. I played with the letter, scared to read it, but I knew it had to be done. Without a second though I opened the letter and read it:
By the time you get this, we done most likely grown up and have gotten on with our lives. But I just wanted to let you know, the day at the park when I told you Greg and I had broken up, there was more to it. I was at home the day before and he called to see me, but I told him no. I was in the middle of drawing a picture which later turned out to be you. At the end I put I love you. Greg decided to stop by anyways and found out. He threw a fit as you could’ve guessed. But everything I said to you at the park was about you. I had such strong feelings for you; they got in the way of me and Greg. I wished you could’ve seen what I seen. But I know how big your pride and ego were for you. I guess I’ve always loved you and figured we were meant to be, but you didn’t so….
The rest of the words had been blurred out. A small dried up ink puddle at the end of the paper. Tears, I figured she started crying right towards the end. There once was a chance I didn’t take and damn it hurts.