"See You Later" This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

August 4, 2011
She had seen him every day for a year, sat beside him at lunch, and driven in the air-conditioned coolness of her car with him at her side. She listened to his worries, loaned her ear to mend his troubles. She watched the swing of his walk and the expression of his eyes. She had loved him.

But now, the year had passed. They no longer had classes and free blocks together, no longer ambled through the school corridors in conversation. She can no longer imagine his eyes beneath her lids at night, and the sound of his voice becomes stranger in the halls when they pass.

Sometimes – and this is rare – he appears at her art class, surprising her, laughing at her speechless wonder. He sits and watches her paint or draw or cut collages and he talks a little. But the silences, she feels, are conspicuous. She cannot sort through thoughts fast enough to find the magic topic to keep him talking so she can remain silent. So she turns to her project, and pretends to be wrapped up in it.

But even while leaning forward, eyes close to the page, she is aware of him beside her. His very form, his presence, wraps around her mind and she dreads the moment he will rise, take his bookbag and vanish into the schedule which has taken away their time together. Soon the time arrives, some ten, fifteen, maybe twenty minutes later, and he rises to leave.

“See you later,” she says, though she knows she will not. She is happy, but the happiness brings tears because it is elusive and fleeting, and it will not last. It is happiness that glosses over the darkest of despairs and can turn, instantaneously, to grief. She has lost him; she knows it.

But worse is the awareness of his other life. She passes his girlfriend in the halls, looks her over piece by piece, one day the arms, the next the legs. There is nothing wrong separately, but together the slim building blocks make up someone she finds awful. “Awful” doesn’t describe the feeling, but it is a feeling that defies description. There is nothing physically wrong with the girl – in fact, she is beautiful. Is it jealously then? Perhaps, or maybe just the primitive eyeing of a rival animal from a distance, across a clearing, or this crowded hall.

She tries, however painfully, to imagine those arms and legs intertwined with his. Her hands on his chest, or his on hers. The pictures are there in her mind when she chooses to see them, and sometimes when she does not. Hot breath and wet lips, closed eyes, soft skin.

She wishes – what does she wish? There are no definitive ideas in her head, only an empty longing. Does she want that girl gone from his life? Yes, but then there is the fear that someone else would enter it, some other girl. No, it is safer to remain this way.

She played it safe last year and kept her head under her turtle-shell, stayed in the “just friends” safety. If she hadn’t, maybe it would be her hands in his … but there is no room for maybes now. She wants to forget him, but she also tries to hold their hours together fresh in her memory. The memory slips, though, and she cannot grasp its slimy sides …

She passes him in the school yard and smiles, pulling up the corners of her mouth. There is the moment right before passing him to savor, then he’s beside her – “Hi,” he says – then past. It’s over. It’s all over.

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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