The End

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I knew it was coming. Things had changed, She had changed... or maybe it was I. No matter. Things had changed.

I hear in media res is a popular way to talk about things, but sometimes it is better to start at the beginning, work my way through my tale until it reaches the period right after the end. How can i convey everything that happened in those lost months. Every feeling that warped my mind away from the rules and everything that slowly pushed me over an edge.

It’s October. It’s that awkward time when it’s a little too cold for sweatshirts, and still a little too warm for coats. The time when the fact that the world beyond the classroom window is slowly dying and there is nothing you can do about it but watch nature’s hardest hue fade to grey and black. It was a week before Halloween and i had a bender planned that would put the rest of the Fitzpatrick family weekends to shame. Halloween was on a Friday, Crystal Castles were playing the Aragon and i had parties before and after. This truly would be a weekend that would live on the stories of others, for i would be too far gone by the end to remember exactly what happened.

She, Short but graceful, started things. She had long brown hair, cut straight cross the bangs. Her eyes were what caught me though, they were polychromatic, shifting color day by day from green to brown and back again. She asked me what i was doing for Halloween, and i told her. Her face lit up, she loved Crystal Castles too, even had tickets to the show... maybe i would want to go with her. Not as Date, never as a date, she had a boyfriend. I’d seen him around. Tall, built, and if the grapevine was to be believed, shoe-in for valedictorian. I didn’t entertain the thought that crossed my mind then.

I was new to Ignatius, no need to draw any more attention to myself than i needed to. Besides, if the deans had their way, my free time would slowly dwindle away under the weight of 17 jugs first semester. That attention was bad, draining. Made me hate the administration of the school with its inferred rules. No matter, first rule of keeping your head down is not giving the eyes to the feminine half of the Junior class power couple.

Non-chronological works too if Memento is anything to go by.

It’s September, School had been in session for a couple weeks and the warm summer seemed like nothing more than a memory. We were at Theresa’s birthday party and the tension in the air made each second tick by with agonizing slowness. She stewed silently, guessing the secret from the glances i threw in L’s direction. She turned to me, and pointed out the elephant in the room. “Are you going out with L---?”. I said “we are not talking about this here.”
“are you?”
“We. Are. Not. Talking. About. This. Here.”
she went back to sitting in silence. I mouthed the words “she knows” at L. “oh shit” she mouthed back.
Oh shit indeed.

It’s Halloween weekend, and i wasn’t out. I was in bed. my throat raw. Burning up and drifting in and out of dream, I wondered if She was having fun seeing Crystal Castles. I was incapacitated in the true sense of the word. Nothing i could do but be alone with my thoughts in the dark room while the fever slowly roasted my brain to crisp.

It’ late August. Me and L waited for her mom to pick her up under the El line on lake street, right near Johnny Rockets. The roar of a train screaming to a stop overhead drowned out everything. I asked her if she wanted to go out sometime, you know, for real. She smiled as the train above continued on its way west. “i’ll think about it” she said.

It’s September 9th. We waited in the Link sitting against the cold glass talking about music. She loved all the same things that i did. Of course she had heard about Grim Fandango, it was one of her favourite games also. Black Keys, she knew every song. I smiled and cussed myself out at the same time. I shouldn’t be doing this, i was asking for trouble from her boyfriend, but i did it anyway. In a place where i was practically an alien from another world, i had found a kindred spirit. I wonder how much of that was a lie.

It’s was the Last day of Lollapalooza, and we waited for Arcade Fire to take the stage. Thousands of people all pressing against each other, trying to get closer to the stage. Each counting every passing minute. The excitement in the air was electrifying and She was next to me. Something bugged her, only time she ever just stared down at the ground in silence was when something weighed on her mind. I didn’t want to know. Nothing would stop me from enjoying the show. She had been such a downer the last couple days... but it was Lollapalooza and she had technically paid for my ticket. What could i do?

It was a week on from sitting in the link and talking bout our loves. I asked her to make me a mixtape. Songs that she could listen to over and over without ever getting tired of. I offered to return the favor, A token of our new friendship. I looked at the songlist for mine over, Asking if the lyrics of them were too suggestive... did i like like her then? maybe. Either way, didn’t want to send the wrong message with a song like Bohemian Like You.

It was August 3rd and I over-thought my move. L had come over to hang out for the first time at my house. It was a true summer day. Warm, bright, school still just a distant worry beyond my mind. We rode the wave swinger out on navy pier, flying through the air attached to a chain. Over the shallow pool with the toy boats. i turned my head and smiled at her. Knowing what was going to happen and at the same time scared of moving. i waited.

It’s the middle of September. Cold biting wind blew off the lake, cutting through the layers that i had wrapped myself in. She was coming over for the first time. It was storybook. She stood out on the balcony, looking at the view and i stood next to her. close. She turned and looked up at me and our eyes meet. It was storybook.

It’s the dog days of July. I’m sitting outside, feeling a mosquito quench its thirst on my foot. Its night. The heat is oppressive, muggy. A bead of sweat rolls down my face and I am staring at my phone. I’ve just told her that when i get home from DC, I don’t want to get back together. She screamed at me. She cried. She pleaded. And now i sit in silence, on the bench outside the dorm and remember that i left my key in my room. One problem at a time i say to myself as i pick up a rock and try and remember which room Sarahbeth is in. The first rock misses, it rebounds off the concrete and flys off into the great dark yonder. second one hits with a ping. She opens the window. “What are you doing outside?”
“just open the door” i shout at her.

It’s November and winter has come out in full force. We’re waiting for 9:37 train in her car. This was the first time I'd been to the southside suburbs. She lets out a whisper,
I Love You
It hung in the air. A condemning sentence. I didn’t know what to say, so i went with instinct. I love you too. Wrong. Mistake. I didn’t mean it then. Maybe everything would have turned out simpler if i had just been honest that freezing cold night, sitting in the parking lot of 95th street station.

It’s the first or second week of July and i am in a decaying building in a decaying city. I snuck my phone along of course, only one person on the service trip didn’t. I checked the messages, 12 long ones. all from Her. I deleted them without reading past the first one. I didn’t want to hear about how shitty her life was turning. Charlie gives me a knowing look. “Women?” he asks.
“women.”

It’s Christmas time. She came downtown. I was happy, maybe for the first time in a long time. Sid, she called me. Nancy, i replied. A gentle snow fell from the grey sky. We were both wearing leather jackets. Over the Michigan street bridge. we passed a homeless man with a gleaming gold saxophone playing Baby, it’s Cold Outside. she put her arm around my waist as we waited for the light to change. Like i said, happy for the first time in a long time.

It’s early July. I am out in Oak park, being walked to the blue line. L walks besides me, in the last few months she’s become my best friend at Ignatius. Just outside the turnstile at Austin, we hug. I’m going to DC the next day and have been turning one thought over and over in my head. Should I or should i not. The hug is held, i look her in the eyes. silence. Pressing. My mind is screaming “Just do it already”. but i don’t kiss her. Not yet. Instead i stick out my tongue and say i’ll see you in a month. On the El home, i wonder what if. Two men a arguing at the other end of the train, normally i would listen in... but tonight i can only sit and stare as the city lights go by and wonder what if?

It’s February, Valentine’s day. The hallmark holiday. no... that’s not strictly true. my mind still thinks its the day before because i am putting the finishing touches to her present. A seven page story, wondering about our future together. I become a writer, trained at the university of Chicago, and she a architect. It is sweet and cutesy, but pulls no punches either. There are fights in there too, probably the result of me writing whatever crossed my mind. I wonder if i should make a copy, i think it’s good. But i decide its special because that's the only one. I can’t wait to give it to her. i found the perfect present for her as well, a necklace with a propeller that turns round and round. I go to sleep, leaving the last page to do in the morning before i see her.

It’s late may or maybe early june. It’s the first time i really hung out with L. We walk down lake street in oak park, we are going to play capture the flag with a bunch of OPRF people. The heat is oppressive, so we end up playing lap tag in the shade of a big tree. I laugh at L struggling with another girl. I’m happy, and school is out and there is not a single thing that worries me. All i care about is waiting for my name to be called so the game can continue. Out of the corner of my eye though... just every once in a while, the sun on L’s face catches me and the thought of maybe, just maybe, liking her crosses my mind.

It’s April, and i feel something coming. It’s her birthday. April 3rd. the world is just starting to warm up again and we are out on navy pier. At the top of the Ferris wheel, she says that she loves me. I don’t reply, staring off into the distance over the lake. It’s blue, the first time i’ve noticed it being anything other than icy grey and i know one thing at that moment. It’s coming to an end. Soon.

It’s May, and it was raining that melancholy drizzle that makes everything seem like its moving in slow motion. I stared out my window at the grey dreary world beyond the pane and then checked my phone. Seven missed calls, 2 voicemails, both from Her. The first one was standard... i had been getting one like clockwork every few days. I haven’t been picking up my phone.
Hey... i um... i just wanted to talk to you. haven’t in a while.
so um... call me back
The second was more biting. more hurt.
If you don’t want to be friends, just say so and stop ignoring me
would that have been simpler?

It’s that fateful day in the middle of April. I was grocery shopping with my mom and absent mindedly texting her. She knows something has been bugging me for the last few weeks. I tell her i don’t want to talk about it. But she wants to know. She needs to know. She calls me, It’s 11:36 pm. I know that if i pick up that phone, i’ll say exactly what’s on my mind. I let it ring and stare at the mobile above my bed, turning in it’s endless circles.

It’s late april, i think. L sits behind me, we’ve been becoming friends joined in our mutual rebellion against the boredom of the first two periods of the day. There is a math project on sines and cosines that we could work on together. She passes me a note, simple and to the point. Confidential is written in red across the front, and within it is written
you.

me.

Chipotle.

Cosine waves.

Yes?

yes.
I wonder if She is right about L liking me. i Dismiss it. it’s a math project, not a date. We don’t end up working together on it anyway.

It’s the day after i ignored her call and finally i say the words that have been weighing heavy upon my mind.
i want to break up
and she cries. And she says words that twist like a knife, saying that i had never cared about her. that nothing was real. and i am saved by the bell ringing the start of the first class. I felt like shit, sitting in the back of Mr. West’s class. I couldn’t concentrate. Only stare at my desk and wonder if i had done the right thing.

It’s September of the next year, she doesn’t know about L yet, but its an open secret, not many people don’t know. I sit in creative writing. She sits on the opposite side of the circle. We are doing non-fiction essays. She forwarded hers to me to night before. It is called Clothes and it is about us. I stare at the clock. I read the story again. It’s sad and sweet and ultimately... a lie. I count down minutes and doodle. today me and L have last period free. We will walk to the ballpark near Ignatius and lay in the grass, my head on her stomach and simply enjoy the Indian summer and being together.

It’s Lunch. She sits with me and asks one question. over and over.
Why?
and i wonder how long it will be till it’s truly really over.

The End.





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