Missing You

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Click. Clack. The squeak of my snow boots skidding on the marble floor is all I and everyone else in the hallway can hear as I walk towards the first class of the day with my books pressed up against my chest and my face hidden underneath my damp hair. Classmates stare at me, probably making constant judgements in their minds and coming up with clever nicknames for me. They aren’t sympathetic enough to try and understand my situation. I can feel the trace of their eyes on my hunched back like bright red lasers, and I try not to care, but there’s always that guilty feeling in the back of my mind. It’s not like I killed anyone, but in the eyes of the high school, I was no longer accepted. I don’t look up, because I know that I will meet his gaze as he struts past with his basketball posse. Like he rules the school... like this isn’t a democracy.

I can feel his presence even though I haven’t spotted him yet. He’s not hard to spot considering he hit puberty in the third grade. He breaths hard and heavy, smelling of sweat and the rubber from his basketball. He carries it around with him like a trophy, along with the headphones that he tends to blast in his ears during free periods, strutting solo down long corridors where every footstep echoes. Sometimes I wonder if he thinks of me when he’s alone and has nothing else to distract him from the truth. Maybe he tries to forget, tries to blast music in one ear and hopes it all comes out the other, all the things I told him, all the secrets we shared. But that was then... and this is now.

I have distant memories, the kind that you can see playing back in your head when you’re in a place that holds sentimental value. I remember sharing that piece of pizza with you while we sat on the bench outside beneath the oak tree. Remember we picked off the pepperonis even though you loved them but I didn’t? You were such a gentleman... you still are, but the awkwardness looms over us like a never-ending nightfall. Remember when you held my hand for the first time in the school auditorium during a lecture on school lockdowns? Everyone in the seats above us giggled like they were stuck in junior high, but your grasp remained strong as if you couldn’t imagine letting go. I felt like a prize then, being paraded around the school in your arms as my friend’s faces turned a summer evergreen shade that still remains when the subject of our long- gone relationship is brought up in conversation.

That conversation isn’t widely spread anymore. Its been months since I broke it off. I don’t know what happened. I left for only a week, and came back to a torn page, a piece of the puzzle that you choked down because you got scared. Is that what guys think? You stick around for too long, and a girl will just lose interest? You were too much to me, I attached myself to you like barnacles attach to whales, and you tore me off like a scab. I deny the pain now, say that I could have cared less because I, in fact, had lost interest. And I’m sure that story I tell makes its way back to you, making your heart pang with guilt and sorrow. But I wish I could make you understand that I’m just afraid of what people will think when they know I still have feelings for you.

I’ve always been that way, the insecure shy girl in the back of the classroom, the one that blends in with every other face in a photograph. You know that, and you’ve put all your effort into changing me into the person I want to be. But sometimes I felt like you wanted me to be something I’m not. You are the one who’s front and center, not afraid to take a shot in the dark just to know in your heart that you tried. I contemplate, but you go for it. We are such different types of human, you and I. But as every cheesy chick flick has made painfully clear, opposites attract. Every girl in the school had their heart set on you, and you had your pick at the beginning of the year, but you chose me. That I never understood because why choose me when you could be with someone more suited to your lifestyle?

I know we couldn’t start over, fresh as Febreeze. We could try, but that faint odor of our past would still stench every opportunity we would have to truly be as happy as we were once. I don’t think either of us want to waste the time and energy when we don’t even know if the other feels an ember inside that could spark if ignited by our intimate love. So we resort to those awkward sideways glances in the hallway, looking at the face of the one we used to laugh with, the lips that we used to kiss, and the eyes that we used to stare into freely. But those glances aren’t long enough. It’s as if we’re sucking quick slurps of a milkshake out of a tiny straw and only have a few milliseconds to reach the bottom. The connection is then lost, and we return to small talk with our friends, but when I look back at you, I can see you look back at me, and then I feel it.

I don’t want to feel it. I don’t want to churn inside like a pool at the bottom of a waterfall. I want to be a river, passive and unchanging for my own safety. I don’t want to go home at night and ponder in my sheets if you felt it too, that magnetic pull, that absence of gravity as you stared into my eyes. And so this time, the first time since our story came to an end, I don’t look up. I chain my eyelids to the marble below, eager to look up for a second, but stopping myself because I know I’ll suffer later. You brush past, and I hear you sigh, knowing that you expected a glance, but were denied even that. I walk off, and I feel like the one trying to drive you away when I want to pull you closer. The click clack of my boots with pain in every step echoes through the halls as I find myself missing you again.





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