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On the Corner of Fourth and Lincoln This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I don't mean to be out in the rain. I'm walking to the video store a block from my house because it's Saturday night and I'm alone. Not by choice, but rarely is anything up to me anymore ... not when it comes to the people in my life, at least. Anyway, I want a bad movie to watch. Nothing too sappy, I'm really not feeling the whole Kate Winslet/Leonardo DiCaprio thing right now. And I don't want anything too violent either; if I wanted to see the world get blown up, I'd go home to my warm living room and watch CNN. I don't mean to keep on walking; the rain just seems like better company than the video-store employees supporting their cheesy "Thanks For Making It a Movie Night" grins. I don't need to feel like I'm being mocked.

The first steps I take I'm missing him something terrible. He had a good habit of always being with me on dreary Saturday nights like this and tonight, he isn't. He's at work, but even if he weren't, he wouldn't be with me. I remember with extreme clarity how he left my house eight nights ago. It was cold that night, too, but the sky was clear and if I'd had enough gumption to look up after he left, I would've probably seen a million beautiful stars. But beauty, or the lack of it in my heart, was not a priority that night.

We talked, though it was not a happy conversation. He argued, I debated, he pointed out the hard facts, and I instigated a fight so he would have to remain in my front yard a moment longer. I knew this time when he left, he wouldn't be coming back.

I was right, but for the first time in a really long time I was not happy with the achievement. He went to get into his car and after I nearly begged him, he gently pushed me aside. Before slipping into the driver's seat, he gave me one last hug and whispered, "I'm sorry."

Since I was in the midst of breaking up with the only boy I'd ever come close to loving (not to give him any big significance or anything), I was crying. I was allowed to freak out. The little dweeb was dumping me. And, of course, the tears were pushing out of my eyes faster as the seconds ticked by.

"You're sorry? For what?" I asked.

Looking back, I probably sounded terribly snappish and I didn't mean to. I just didn't want him to go ... that, and there was nothing to be sorry for. He was the first boy to kiss me, the first boy to give me one of his warm sweatshirts because it smelled like him. He was the first boy I truly missed when I went on summer vacation, and he was the first boy to tell me he loved me. There was absolutely nothing to be sorry for.

But to his ears, I must have sounded bitter. And he looked at me for a moment, his big eyes staring into mine holding the same desperate, dead gleam I know mine had.

"I'm sorry for making you cry."

Then he was gone, his car speeding away from my house, away from me. I went inside and my entire body went numb. But the tears stopped. And they haven't started again since.

I cross the street, watching the rain drop into the quickly growing puddles on Main Street. My feet in my dirty tennis shoes are getting cold but I don't pick up the pace. There's something sweet about being bundled up in my brand-new, still-stiff fall coat, feeling the rain splash onto my eyelashes.

I don't hate him, I know that. I probably should feel a little dissatisfaction toward the boy when I see him ... but I still adore him. Granted, it's only been a week and I've called him every choice name in the book, but I'm the only one who can do that. If anyone joins in on my bashing, I jump on him or her for saying anything against the kid. I'm the only one who can say anything simply because I know I don't mean it. Figures. Maybe I'll punch him next time I see him. Yes, that sounds like fun. I could whack his left shoulder with my less-than-stellar right hook and maybe, just maybe, make him wince. I laugh at the image of meek little me attempting to bruise my big, buff, now ex-boyfriend. As I walk down the street I start hopping along, shoving my balled-up fists into the empty air, pretending it's him, and I laugh some more.

The next steps I take after my imaginary boxing match, I'm remembering him and our various fiascos. There was the time we were fishing at night (don't ask me why) and he cast his line at the exact same time I pointed out a low-flying bird above our heads. He caught the bird with his hook and the bird not so gracefully zoomed to the ground and his fishing line began spinning and spinning as the line went out. Shoving the pole into my hands, he ran around to the other side of the dock and untangled the bird, saving its life. I laughed through the whole thing and once he was sure he hadn't killed the poor bird, he laughed, too.

Then I remember how he took me to my first demolition derby ... how we would drive around town after huge rainstorms and he'd lock my passenger-side window open and go zooming through the biggest puddles, trying to splash me ... how he let me drive his sacred car ... I laugh as I turn the corner off Main onto Fourth Avenue.

I keep remembering ... how he called me from Spearfish even though he was only gone two days and it was a long-distance call ... how he took me to see the fireworks on the Fourth of July and how tightly he held me that night as the bursts of color lit up the sky ... how soft his shoulder was and how soft his kisses were ... how he told me he loved me ... how I told him I loved him ... how we meant it ... how I still do.

How I still do.

I don't mean to start crying. A part of me isn't even sure if the wetness on my cheeks is tears or raindrops. I stick out my tongue to catch a droplet as it rolls off my cheeks. It's salty. I cry harder.

I stop walking and lock my knees together, making my ankles push against each other so tightly I begin to feel tipsy. My head falls into my hands, which are already dripping from the rain. I gasp for air; I haven't cried like this in nearly forever. I made the effort, I cared about him, I let myself love and be loved by somebody. I hold grudges with a vengeance, I stay angry and I don't let myself out into the world because I know I get hurt. But with him ... it was okay. And I felt safe and I felt confident and I felt fine. I felt good. And now, I feel absolutely, completely horrible.

I know it's shallow and I know it's pathetic and I know it's a girly-girl trait ... but I miss him and would do almost anything for him to speed by in his shiny red car and pick me up from the soaking ground.

The tears stop and I stay on the ground, rocking back and forth slowly like the stereotypical image of an insane person. Maybe I am losing my mind ... and over a boy, nonetheless. That's enough to make me start bawling again. Boys certainly aren't worth this kind of heartache. It's a shame I seem to adore them so much. That could really get to be a problem.

I stand up, shaking off the cold that captured me in my ball on the ground. Looking around, Fourth Avenue is quiet as always and only the trees with wispy, autumn leaves saw my breakdown. The rain is still hitting my eyelashes, the wind is still blowing the branches into each other and my shoes are still getting wet. Everything is still just the same and I rub my eyes with my clammy fingertips, wiping away the remains of my tears.

My next few steps take me to a corner, the corner that separates the block I live on from the street I am walking down. It's the corner of Fourth Avenue and Lincoln Street. It's a corner he and I often walked over on our way to the park by my house and now it's the corner where I turn and look where my walk took me. Taking a deep breath, I shake my head and try to offer the memories I've left strewn about on the sidewalk a weak smile. I don't quite achieve the desired smile, but I feel the spark that's been absent from my eyes light up again. That's enough for right now.

My last steps are down the familiar sidewalk to my house and up my front steps. I walk over the place he kissed me last, the place we spoke last, the place we parted last. I twist my brass doorknob and walk out of the rain and cold and into a warm living room with soft lamplight stretching to the darkened corners where the ceiling and the walls meet. My coat is dripping and the tip of my nose is crimson. Blinking, one last tear rolls down my cheek and I have to smile. I let myself get loved by a boy and I loved him. And we made a few mistakes and we probably should have never gotten together in the first place, but he ranks among the fondest memories of my life. He is the first boy ever to change my life. I will never regret that, and I hope he won't, either. I have not-so-distant memories of him in my heart and a not-so-distant theory of what I'm supposed to do now in my head. My smile grows just a tiny bit and I shut the heavy living-room door behind me.

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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