Ike's Sweater

He arrives at my house at 9 PM or so. I don’t know it then, but this’ll be his last visit. I sit by my window waiting to see his car. I see the headlights, and my heart races. I run down the stairs, jumping over three at a time, and when I reach the bottom I almost fall into the old chest of drawers that my mom uses to store candles. I nearly lose my balance but avert disaster and continue to the door. I open it, and suddenly my body feels limp, as if the cool air has some how tranquilized my senses. This serene moment of muscle failure ends, and I blink my eyes rapidly. As he steps onto the street, the light within the car illuminates his figure, and for a second he appears to be a shadow. He walks slowly with his head down up to the house; his obvious aloofness suddenly makes me feel embarrassed for my initial excitement. He arrives at the door and lifts his head to look at me. “Ike?” I ask, as if I don’t know who he is already. He smirks, and for a moment it seems as if we are kids again. “Do you have any cigarettes?” he answers, and I remember: we aren’t kids anymore.
Ike makes it clear that he is only here to pick up the sweatshirt that he left in my room last summer.
“I really don’t have time for this,” he tells me as we trudge up the stairs.
“Okay” I say, and shrug my shoulders, my hopes of some form of reconciliation already defeated.
We walk up the stairs one at a time. Our pace is slow, without a sense of purpose; in no way does it seem as if we are stretched for time. But I know differently. Ike walks into my room, and opens my closet. I stand behind him as he reaches for his worn out black sweatshirt. He is about to grab it, when he notices the grey sweater hanging next to his own. He stops, and pulls it off its hanger. A picture, obviously drawn by a nine or ten year old, is printed on the front. Two kids play on a teeter-totter, as one girl stands proud, hands on her hips, looking up at some gigantic block letters. The letters spell “SAMO ELEMENTARY5th GRADE.” Ike turns the sweatshirt over, and gazes momentarily at the back, where numerous black signatures are scattered across the grey canvas. I see him squint his eyes at something in particular, and I know right away it is the big, messy “IKE” right in the middle of the names. The looking done, he throws the sweatshirt down. He picks up his own, and we walk down stairs. We reach the bottom of the stairs, and he begins to walk to the door.
“Wait” I say, and my voice cracks.

He doesn’t bother to turn around.
“Remember the days when we were kids? The days when we’d stay up all night playing video games and watching TV or spend all day playing basketball?”
I stop for a moment, letting it all sink in.

“Am I wrong for wishing that we still were young? Is it crazy for me to say that I think you haven’t had time to slow down and realize what has happened to you?”
It is quiet for a few seconds. He turns back towards me. I can tell in his face that he knows I am right. He opens his mouth, slowly.
“Maybe you should think for a second about what happened to you?”
He smirks and begins to walk towards the door.
“You’re too good for us now, right?” he says as he shoots me a vicious look over his shoulder. He places his hand on the doorknob.
“Go back to boarding school.”
Ike swings open the door and hurriedly walks down the patio stairs to his car.
I stand in the doorway and watch him leave my house for the last time.





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