Raindrops and Tears This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Was it a tear or rain droplet that had made the wet splatter on his white shirt? I couldn't tell. We stood apart in that dim room, full of people. I tried to read his expressions. I wanted to know what he was thinking.

We hadn't spoken much since the end of summer. The two of us were together almost all the time then. I think when I'm older and I reflect on one summer of my childhood, it will be that one.

Sometimes at night we would hang out on my roof, look out at space and talk. We talked about everything up there. I remember once when he got drunk at a party, I stayed up all night and guided his stumbling body to the bathroom every 20 minutes so he could exorcise the demon alcohol. Another time we found a cliff that hung over the stream which runs through some nature trails near our homes. We walked to the top and jumped off together. We stayed there all day jumping off the cliff every so often and then lying in the sun to dry.

In the beginning of our junior year of high school, things suddenly changed. He was always busy. We stopped hanging out. His girlfriend from upstate came down to visit her father every weekend. He was with her all the time and just forgot about me. Eventually the friendship ended and we never spoke. During the fall and winter months, I felt resentment growing toward him.

Sometimes I'd see him at parties with his girlfriend and we wouldn't even say “hello.” We were together in school all the time but we never acknowledged each other. Something stood between us but we couldn't overcome it. I could barely stand to look at him.

Now we stood, separated by a room full of people; me standing there like a hypocrite; him shaking hands and hugging people who tried to console him with trite phrases like, “If you need to talk, you know you can call me,” as if they were as close to him as I had been.

His mother's body lay in the adjacent room. I walked in and shook hands with his father, who seemed to be taking the death very well. We talked a little; then I walked away and looked outside. The light rain almost drowned the voices of the friends and family at the wake. I stood in the corner watching people. Some were crying and some were talking among themselves. The dim lights cast crystalline shadows over the room.

I was torn between compassion and anger. I had to say something. I strode across the room and touched his shoulder.

“Can I talk to you outside for a moment?” I asked.

“Yeah, OK,” he answered weakly.

He followed me out into the rain. As we stood face-to-face in the road illuminated by the light from inside, I watched his shirt being covered by small rain droplets.

“We haven't spoken much lately,” I said.

“I know,” he replied. There was a pause. “I'm sorry,” he said. “It's my fault.”

I wanted to say that I could have been there for him, but he knew. As we embraced, I felt my tears dripping onto his shirt. I glanced up at the night sky, past the clouds hovering overhead. The moon glowed large in that dark sky like two moons had molded together to form a unified, indestructible force.

Then we walked inside together.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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