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This is a love story, not a typical one though. One noticeable difference is that we are no longer together, but there is still love. Oh, Evan why did you put me through this, why did I ever have to meet you! It’s not like it was all bad, but we were just too dangerous together. He was the gasoline and I was the spark. It is hard to explain, so here is the story:
We met inadvertently at Riverview Park downtown. I sat on a bench by myself writing about who knows what, while he sprinted in my direction. Later, I would find out he was running from a store owner who saw him stealing some junk food. He asked me, out of breath, “Can I hide behind here?” I had no choice, but to say okay. After the man left, he came from behind and said, “I owe you one, what is your name?”
Shyly I answered, “Lauren...Lauren Reynolds. What is yours?”
“Well, I…I have to go home now,” I said.
“I hope I see you again!” He shouted as I walked away. A glimmer of a smile sat clear across my face the whole way home.
We Meet Again
I knew we would meet again, just not exactly when. I had to see those big brown eyes and messy brown hair.
The day came the summer two years later, when I was 16 and he was 18 and a half. I was walking to this store for my mom, I don’t know which one, but that is irrelevant. I got there, but returning home was the problem. I needed to get some directions, or I would never get back home. Then, I found a young guy with his back turned.
“Do you know how to get to 24th Street from here,” I asked him.
Without looking directly at me, he said, “Two lefts, then walk about a block.”
“Thanks.” I said
He looked up and said, “Lauren! Is that you?”
“Oh, hey Evan,” I said nonchalantly.
He hugged me and said, “I am so happy to see you! Can you promise me something real quick?”
“Depends, what is it?” I said.
“Don’t ever do that again.”
“Leave me!” He said with a smile.
“Okay, I promise.” I answered chuckling.
Then he walked me all the way back home. This is when I learned about him: how he dropped out of high school, but promised to return one day, the problems about his family, etc. He was rough around the edges, but I liked that about him. My life was too boring anyway.
We had to meet where no one would see. He decided we should ride the subway and pick a random route. We did this, the first day I skipped school.
He was waiting outside for me with a cigarette in the corner of his mouth. As soon as I stood in front of him, he grabbed my hand and we ran to the nearest station. Trepidation built up inside me as I held his hand as tight as I could.
“Which way?” He said as we entered.
I responded, “I don’t know, you pick.”
We ended up taking the C-line which took us straight to 41st street. This desolate street had a café, a sock store, and rat-filled apartments. So, we ended up in the café.
I ordered a stale bagel and a hot chocolate. While he just got a ham and cheese croissant. We talked, laughed, and talked some more. We covered everything from politics to the definition of good music. The only thing to awake us from our trance was the torrential downpour outside.
“Let’s go out there.” He said to me.
“Well, maybe after it clears up…” I said quietly.
How could I turn him down? “Fine.” I finally said.
We walked outside and was instantly drenched. Honestly, I hate the rain, but with him it felt right. I will never forget that pitter-patter, pitter-patter, pitter-patter sound as the rain bounced off roofs. Then, a BOOM was heard across the sky and we immediately ran in between buildings. Laymen’s terms call it an alley, but Evan never wanted to call it that, because it didn’t sound like a place that something so special could occur.
He held me close to his chest, as if a form of protection. Next, he took two small steps back and held both of my hands. This was the first time I saw him look anxious, which made me anxious as well.
“Close your eyes, and take a deep breath.” I did and after I exhaled, his hands slowly held my face and his lips interlocked mine. In that moment, poverty was a tale, unemployment was a nightmare, and evil was a myth. The world was perfect.
Because my parents would never let us date, skipping school became more frequent. Every “date” would be a new place. I would walk out usually before school or after lunch, always taking the left side door. When I would see him, he tried to act cool, but had to smile when seeing me. Trouble began one day like the others.
“You look more beautiful than the day before.” Evan said like usual.
“Thank you, you’re looking pretty good yourself.” I responded smiling.
“I’m going to take you somewhere.”
He stopped me, “Don’t ask where, because it is a surprise!”
It didn’t take long until we were at the secret destination.
“Here we are!” Evan said.
“Where are we exactly?”
“Just come inside, you’ll see.”
As we walked into the dark, tiny building, the repulsive smell was the first to hit me. It was a mixture of hard liquor, smoke, and vomit. Evan turned to me and said, “You want something to drink.” I didn’t know how to respond, so I said, “I’ll have whatever you get.” He turned to the bartender and said, “The usual Rob.”
This man gave us two glasses of a dark brown drink, and then smiled showing his dark brown teeth. I watched Evan take a sip, and that was my cue to do the same.
“Let’s see who can chug it the fastest.” He said.
“Don’t be mad when I win!” I said confidently, hiding my inner fear.
“Ha-ha, okay my dear.”
I ended up winning like I told him I would, but my stomach wasn’t rewarding me. I played it off, trying to fit in with the other sketchy people there.
“What’s my prize?” I said grinning.
“You get to dance with this hot guy!” He said pointing to himself.
“I would absolutely love that!”
It felt so good to dance with him. I can still hear that John Mayer song. He held my hips, while I placed my arms around his tan neck. We danced as if no one was watching. I laughed more than ever after he would constantly whisper things like, “They are so jealous of us,” and “There is no better than you.”
My best memory of Evan and I is on my 17th birthday. Evan made this meticulous plan for what we would do. Luckily, it didn’t go quite as planned and ended better!
Evan’s initial plan was to take me to this nice restaurant downtown for breakfast, and then we would take a road trip to the beach and watch the sunrise. This all sounded great, especially to a 17 year old. The part I didn’t like was him stealing $200 dollars from his mom.
At 8 o’clock that Friday morning he threw a pebble at my window, trying to be romantic. Unfortunately, he had a good arm and cracked part of my window! I still recognized his sweet gesture and wasn’t mad. Then, we traveled to that nice restaurant, Cartier’s, but it didn’t open until 12 p.m. that day. So, we headed to the local Waffle House. We shared all you can eat pancakes with plenty of butter and maple syrup. Next, we hit the road for the beach, after 5 and a half hour of driving; we realized we might be lost. Since we ended up in the country, we decided to stay at a Bed and Breakfast for the night. That is where he gave me my birthday present, a bear charm!
“Do you like it?” He said.
“I love it.” I answered and smiled.
“Do you love me?”
“I love you.”
“I love you more.”
That was the first time we declared our love for each other. That night we ate ramen noodles and my birthday cake, two hostess cupcakes, from a convenience store. My favorite part was him holding me until it was a new day. Hands down, that was the best birthday I ever had.
Things Fall Apart
I was blinded by love and didn’t realize how drastically my life had changed. Evan affected me in so many negative ways: I stopped writing, missed 17 days of school in three months, and my relationship with my parents was in ruins.
I wasn’t the only one blinded, Evan was too. His home life went from bad to worse. His mother was raising four children at that time on her own. She was stressed, and Evan’s behavior wasn’t helping. He also was adamant about not getting a job. He was too busy doing things he shouldn’t have, I know because I was doing them with him. Eventually, his mother was at her wits’ end and decided to kick her oldest son out of the home.
He first came to my house. This was the first time he actually rang the doorbell. Luckily, I was the only one home, because my parents never knew he was the reason for my period of defiance. When I first saw him, he looked pale and worried.
“What’s wrong?” I asked him.
“C’mon, let’s run away together!” He said real fast.
“Because I love you, that’s why.”
“I love you, but I just can’t leave.” “Let’s just walk and talk about this.” I said trying to calm him.
We started walking down my sidewalk.
“Now, what’s wrong?” I asked him again.
“I got kicked out, so now I want us to run away together. We can be just like those couples in the love movies you like.” “Wait, you said you love me, so prove it. Please, prove it!”
“I do love you; I just need some time at least. We are just kids.”
“Obviously, you don’t love me like I love you. Goodbye Lauren.”
He held my face for the last time, and then kissed my forehead slowly. As I swallowed my tears, I walked away from my one true love.
When gasoline comes in contact with a spark, the result is a fire. That is the only way I can describe our relationship. We brought out different sides of one another. I guess because we were young and naïve. Now I know better, because 12 years passed and I am married with a baby boy. I still naturally think of Evan and our young romance. He was not as lucky as I, and his life remained trouble, until it ended two months after I walked away from him forever. My only regret is that I didn’t help him enough. I wish the fire never lite.