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Sean's Visit MAG
He didn’t ring the doorbell – he never did – but somehow I always knew he was there. Sean sat on my front porch, hunched over with his back to the door. His bleach-blond buzz cut was growing back and sticking out on all sides.
I looked at him through the glass door, debating whether or not I should open it this time. He was always asking for more than I could give. I slowly opened the door, and without turning around he asked, “You got time?”
Perhaps tonight he just wanted to talk.
“Yeah,” I whispered as I sat down next to him. “What’s wrong?” I looked over and realized his eyes were red and swollen. Every once in a while his lip would quiver, and his hands shook as he hurriedly took another drag of his cigarette.
“Nothing new,” he said as smoke filtered out of his mouth. “Wanna see something?”
“I don’t know, do I?” I asked hesitantly. He rolled up the left leg of his oversize khakis and revealed his pain. The wound, starting to scab over, had stained the inside of his pants.
“I jumped out of my window to be with you.”
“Really?” I asked sarcastically. I could smell the whiskey on his breath and knew something had gone terribly wrong.
“Naw, more to get away from him.”
Sean’s dad was an alcoholic, sometimes more than others.
“They had another fight,” he mumbled under his cigarette. “About me. Jerry’s a real jerk sometimes, and Dad knows how mad he makes me.” I sat in silence, listening. Sometimes I felt more like a psychiatrist than a friend. He had been my best friend all my life.
I remember one time his father took us down to the park to go snake hunting. My mother thought it would be a well-supervised trip, but Sean’s father took off our invisible leashes and left us to roam.
Sean’s goal in life was to scare me. He always said I was the biggest tomboy he knew, and that one day he would bring out the girl in me. While walking through the forest, he began telling me about the most dangerous snake in Connecticut: the red-tailed cobra. All of a sudden he shouted, “There it is, there it is, run for your life!” Like a good little gullible girl, I ran away crying. He told me later he was kidding, but it took me almost a day to recover. Ever since, Sean treated me differently. It was as if that day marked the beginning of something more than friendship. It was the first day he saw me as more than just one of the guys.
“I came home wasted last night …” How quickly things were changing. He knew I couldn’t let it happen again.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he demanded.
“Like you hate me. It was a party and one thing led to another – but it doesn’t matter.”
“You smell like it today.”
He just sat there looking at me. I turned away until he finally said, “When I woke up this morning, they had locked me in my room. I know it was Jerry’s idea because my dad doesn’t care about, well, anything.”
“That’s not true.”
“It is, you know it is. I woke up and there was a note on my door saying, ‘You’re grounded.’ You’re grounded, that’s it! So I sat in my room, just staring at the wall until it finally got dark, and I jumped out my window. So that’s why I’m here.”
“You’re here because you’re grounded?”
“Yeah, I guess so. Mostly because I need your help. Dad says if I don’t get my act together, Mom won’t send Theresa down.”
Theresa was his sister. He loved her more than anything in the whole world. More than cigarettes, he once told me.
“So what can I do?”
“You can help me get better. Will you?” I couldn’t believe what he was asking. Help him get better? Every day Sean would tell me how he was going to give up cigarettes or stop drinking. Some days he would even promise never to bleach his hair again, like that mattered! But help him get better?
“Better from what?”
“Better, you know, better. I want to stop drinking, smoking, jumping out of windows, begging for your help … failing.”
“Failing? What do you mean?
In school? Because school doesn’t matter.”
“It does to my mom, so it does to me. If Mom’s happy, so am I because then Theresa can come and I can stop worrying about her. If she’s here, I can protect her.” Sean was always trying to protect everyone: his sister, his mom, even me. He walked me to school every morning so the thugs wouldn’t harass me. He held my hand as we walked through the metal detectors so the cops wouldn’t take advantage of me. He was my bodyguard, and now? Now he was asking me to be his.
“Will you?” he pouted.
“Oh,” I reached over and grabbed his hands, “fine.”
He just laughed, a small, light chuckle that sent me into fits of laughter each time I heard it. His smile could fill an empty room, and it was with a smile that he looked best. He jumped off the porch, sat on the grass and fell back to look at the moon. I ran over and jumped on top of him.
“I’ve been thinking,” he announced. “I’ve been thinking that you and I should run away together.”
“No, seriously, we need to run away.”
“Maybe.” But he knew I never would. Sean looked up and smiled his big, toothy smile.
“I love you,” he whispered into the sky. “I love you so much,” he said now looking at me. I just laughed, I don’t know why, but it seemed funny at the time. He stood up, offered me a hand, but instead picked me up over his shoulder. He ran up and down the street, laughing and making fun of my screaming, until we fell down on the cold grass.
My mom signaled from the window it was time to come in. Sean saw me looking at her, turned to the window and waved hello. He had always loved my mother. I motioned I’d be there soon.
Sean and I both turned around in unison. It was like a movie. His life was the tragic obstacle the main character had to overcome. He was determined that this movie was going to have a happy ending.
“Now, my lady,” he said as he helped me off the ground, “we must say good night.” I turned to him, saw his half smile and laughed. I laughed so hard, I broke into tears.
“What?” he asked through his own laughter. “What? What’s so funny?”
Suddenly his blue eyes caught mine, and I stopped. There was an awkward silence, which he quickly filled with a kiss. It was like a dream, but as quickly as it had come, it was gone and forgotten as he asked,“So, are you going to run away with me?” I just smiled. “I’m serious.”
“Yeah, sure, just not tonight.” Pretending to be mad, he blew smoke in my face, got up and left. When he was at the corner of my street and his, he turned, shouted, “Don’t forget!” and, smiling, flicked his cigarette into the bush, glowing the whole way home.