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Lost For Words
This piece relates to those who have a hard time expressing themselves in emotion filled or abrupt situations. You would enjoiy this piece if you liked heartwarming?comedic story about relationships and friendships. If you would like to leave me feedback, feel free!
“It is now or never,” Mindy sternly stated, but was frustrated, “give me an answer” she pleaded.
“This is too much for me,” John Joseph replied, he took a deep breath in, “I do not not know what to say, and you know how I am.” he stated as his eyes fell to the floor.
She gave him an “are you kidding me?” frown and glare with her eyes. “We can continue our lives together, maybe get married, I thought this would be an easy decision. We have been happily committed as adults for seven years now. This is the last time I will say it; Come live with me and support me in Florida, or stay here and we have to end things. I have to do this, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said flustered.
He kept replaying the question in his head and nothing came to mind. Except, how he could get lost in her big blue eyes or her adorable smile, even while screaming she was the most amazing girl on this planet. He really could not imagine losing her and would do anything just to be with her. Then he realized the word she had just suggested; married. She had never brought that up before. His heart started pounding faster and his armpits began to feel damp. The same feeling came across him five years ago the night before they moved into the apartment together, and the time when she spontaneously opened a bank account in both of their names.
“Go,” John Joseph said softly. He barely knew what he had just said, but it came out. His eyes began to develop little salty drops that rolled down his face. He tucked his hands into his pockets and rubbed his fingers back and forth against the seams.
“Oh,” Mindy stated in a lower tone than before. She gripped her leather suitcase with the same pink bow on top that John had tied for her so that her luggage was distinct from everyone else's when they went on trips together. John saw that bow and all he could think of was how he would never go on another trip with her again. No more late night conversations about wacky families, no more Netflix cuddle sessions, no more one on one basketball games at the park, no more cliche sharing the same milkshake with cute red striped double straws, no more watching the sunset on the beach like in the movies, and most importantly no more Mindy Gathron.
John Joseph O’Brien’s favorite saying is “Emotions are for the weak”. Even as a young kid, he would never give mercy and show a single tear drop after wrestling his brother and sustaining a bloody nose. The idea of therapists and psychologists are outrageous to him. “What kind of person pays a random stranger to talk to them about s*** going on in their life? I’ll go out and do that for free” he told his brother after his mother died when he was 19. This concept of avoiding emotions is not exactly great. For example; after he failed out of college he did not know what to do, and the next day he was on a plane to an atmosphere filled with colorful cartoon characters walking the brick paths, thrills of roller coasters, loud hoots of joy, and a marvelous towering princess castle. He figured visiting Disney World for a week would supress how he feels and help him avoid dealing with his emotions.
The next morning John Joseph awoke to blaring The Real Slim Shady, like every morning. He then, like every morning, put on his red and yellow cotton uniform that reeked of greasy fries. After that, like every morning, he walked down his winding staircase to the smell of crispy bacon. “Mindy?” he questioned as he sprang down the glass stairs, almost falling.
“I love you!” John screamed as he leaped into the kitchen wide eyed at 6:30 AM.
“Oh hey babe. I missed you too, but don’t you think it’s a little bit too soon in our relationship for the I love yous?” Liam said as he sarcastically kissed John Joseph on the cheek.
“One: Yuck. Two: what the hell are you doing here?” John Joseph asked embarrassed.
“As your bestest friend in the entire world it is my obligation to be there for you in the midst of heartbreak,” Liam stated thoughtfully.
“Ha! Heartbreak? Please it was just another relationship, said and done,” John explained to Liam.
“Bro, besides Suzy Warthol in the sixth grade, Mindy was your first and only relationship. And unless you came to profess your undying love for me, you were hoping to jump into someone else’s arms in this kitchen,” Liam snarkily told.
“Get out of my apartment,” John Joseph announced as he stole a plate of bacon, “I have work soon.”
“Ah yes the job of your dreams, your passion, your calling,” Liam sighed, “McDonalds.”
“It is just for money right now,” John Joseph stated agraivated.
“Those are the very words my mother used before she got pregnant with me!” Liam laughed at his own joke.
“Very funny. Now I really do have to go, and look at that, so do you!” John told as he tried to get some quiet time to himself. Even Mindy would give him the time he wanted to be alone.
“Oh fine, I am going,” Liam said with a suspicious grin on his face. John knew Liam always had a new trick up his sleeve. Like in Ninth grade, when John Joseph was upset his family forgot his birthday and Liam threw him the biggest birthday party, but it was filled with rainbow colored streamers, giant balloons, the entire freshman class, and Hip Hop music blasting. Not John’s style, but he tried.
In the free time finally granted to John, he did a lot of pondering, especially about his goodbye with Mindy. He missed her of course, but he figured she wasn’t thinking about him. She was concentrated on her successful career as a nurse at a world-renowned hospital. He strolled around the brick loft apartment, that Mindy and him had rented out together. He feared that he had to move soon, because first, he did not want to deal with all these memories, and second he just could not afford this all alone. He noticed a square black mark on the wall in the shape of an old picture frame. Mindy must had taken it with her. It was a picture of them holding each other, slow dancing underneath a disco ball with huge smiles on their faces as they stared romantically into each other’s eyes. That actually caused him to almost choke as he sipped his steaming caramel coffee. There was one other picture that was left for him. It was a short boy with huge pink glasses next to a girl with brunette hair and a silly mustache. The kids still had chubby cheeks and were standing in front of a glittery background. In it, there was a banner that read “Happy Birthday, Mindy!” in giant bubble letters, this was one of their first pictures together as good friends.
Mid-way through second grade year John Joseph remembers her transferring to the fragile and musty smelling Calef Elementary School. He saw her across the puzzle rug, and mess of giggling little kids with their apple juice boxes and overalls. That was the moment when John believed in love at first sight. John remembers everything from that day oddly enough, including her pink polka dotted shirt, her lavender scent, her hair bow, that same beauty mark on her face, and the light yellow and green Ticonderoga pencil she carried as he watched her do her multiplication tables. In elementary school fashion during recess on the the black tar and pained colorful map of the United States, he worked his confidence up to introduce himself until he was red in the face.
“Hello I’m J..J...john Joseph,” He stuttered to get the words out.
With the left side of her face she smiled “Nice to meet you, wanna play basketball?” She asked as she thrusted the ball to him.
“Sure!” John replied, as he almost fell trying to receive the forceful ball.
They continued their 1 on 1 game, and he was pleasantly shocked to find this time he did not throw the ball in rage across the court after his defeat. He shook his opponents firm but soft grip to congratulate her.
From that point onward, John Joseph and Mindy played a new sport together every recess, had snack together, told corny jokes, and would make funny faces and laugh across the room during lecture time. This bond lasted for years, until freshman year of high school. John Joseph O’Brien would look at Mindy and want to be more than friends, all he could think of was wrapping his long arms around her. The feelings that had festered inside him all these years had spontaneously exploded. One night they were studying Algebra 1 together, (the most romantic math course of them all) he gazed directly into her big blue eyes and laid a big wet kiss on her cheek. This was a huge deal for John as he had never done anything like this before, and had been building up this courage for five years now. Scared to see her reaction and to lose her, he began to sweat onto her pink flowered bed sheets.
“I’m so sorry, I don’t know what jus-” John started but was interrupted.
“Yes, you do,” Mindy said confidently, “because it’s about time,” Mindy told as she planted John’s exact same surprise on his left blushing cheek.
“Woah,” John said shocked. They then stared at each other awkward as John’s stomach churned and he shook violently. Not knowing what to do, and instead of talking things out, impulsively faster than a cheetah he was gone down the wooden staircase and met the cold brass doorknob. On that crisp winter evening, he walked down the cement sidewalk past his favorite brick pizza shop, and suddenly John was wrapped with the same leather jacket he left on Mindy’s bed. Mindy connected her fleshy hand with John’s, they made eye contact, and exchanged a tender grin. The two, without words, then skipped into the building containing an aroma of oven cooked dough and cheese.
Back in 2017, as John’s dark green mini van (bought with the assistance of Mindy) pulled into the empty parking lot, he noticed a different car from the usual morning set up crew. He went up to the window of the familiar dark green jeep. He immediately recognized a Frozen soundtrack on DVD and an image of himself with his potential new enemy.
The following words must be John’s catchphrase, “Liam,” was screeched as he entered the glass McDonald’s entrance. In fear, John’s voice cracked as he explained; “You can not hide from your newest one night stand at my job again!” John then viciously searched the dining room after his comment was not replied to.
“Hey coworker!” was suddenly announced on the microphone. John’s jaw basically dropped as he stared in the opposite direction out at the morning cars rushing to their successful careers. He then turned a complete 180 degrees to face the steaming kitchen producing grilling noises. John then spewed out incoherent words and still had a jaw that was touching the french fry invested, poorly swept, tile floor.
“I needed a job, and why not work with my bosom buddy!” he beamed with a clap of his hands.
“Stop saying that,” said John finally using real words.
“You do not have to say you are excited, but I thought we can work together, and plus we get to wear matching outfits and bond all the time,” Liam explained as he jumped this time.
“Ok,” was all John said. Liam clearly, loved expressing his emotions which John never quite knew how to understand. John still cared, a lot actually, he has fought someone bigger in size than both of them combined who was picking on the more scrawny Liam. He retained a black eye and was black and blue all over, but did not complain once. That was his way of showing he cared. Liam’s way is by talking about his feelings and with big gestures. Opposites really do attract.
After a long day of mentoring Liam and showing him the ropes of the job, John walked into his front door, tore off the grease stenched uniform until all he had on was his underwear, and face planted onto his brown sectional couch. John dozed off for a solid two hours and was woken up by the sound of keys unlocking the door. “Mindy?” John questioned knowing she was the only one with a key, as he sat himself up on the couch completely straight, and swiftly opened his eyes wide. Holding a huge cardboard box in front of his face that was labeled “Bedroom stuff” in dark sharpie, Liam’s round and freckled face appeared from the left side of the box.
“What is up roomie?” Liam asked as he entered the room with glee.
“Is that box full of things you “borrowed” over the years?” John asked with a puzzled look.
“No, I figured you could not afford this on your own and you wanted me to move in!” Liam told delighted with himself, “You practically implied it when you asked me to work with you too.” he confidently explained.
“I did not ask you to do either of those things Liam,” He explained beginning to clasp his fist.
“It went without saying,” Liam told thrilled as he dropped his box onto John’s hardwood floor.
John, after hearing this, and without thinking announced; “What the hell, man! Get out of Mindy and my apartment. I do not want you making me breakfast, I do not want you working with me, and most definitely I do not want you to live with me. Grow up! We are not the best friends who are going to hold hands and skip through the damn green grass and daisy fields together in slow motion,” he hollered as his bushy eyebrows lowered and he clenched his jaw.
Liam broke down into a mess as his lip quivered and tons of tears fiercely traveled down his cheeks. He sniffled, “I am sorry I wanted to see you happy. Mindy left you and I knew how close you guys were. I saw it as my responsibility to make you feel better. In school, I was always the weird kid people made sit next to the trash cans at lunch and would literally walk all over. But you, you were there for me. You introduced yourself, let me sit with you, taught me confidence, and even invited me to hang out after school. That was the greatest gift anyone had ever given me, and I thought I could never repay you. I come off too strong, I know. I will leave and take the bunkbed out of your room,” Liam said as he wiped his runny nose and rubbed his irritated red eyes. That entire time John Joseph was left speechless with a plain expression on his face, not for the first time this week. He stared at the slumped over and pouty lipped Liam.
Liam then shuffled his long legs towards the door. “Stop,” he said softly, breaking the silence, “I am sorry, I am so sorry, this is my fault because...well..I am me. I am the type of person who screws things up by not doing or saying the right thing. I can not appreciate everything-”
“Anything,” Liam interrupted.
He started again, “I can not appreciate anything from those closest to me, I take them for granted. I did not deserve Mindy or a best friend like you. And just like before, I was blessed with this great person in my pitiful life, and again, I am about to lose that someone forever, because I am me,” as he said this his eyes began to get shiny and water up. He took a deep breath in, closing his eyes, trying to hold it back.
The emotion on Liam’s face drastically changed. It was lit up with a smile reaching both sides of his mouth. “You have never said those three words in a sentence before: Best. Friend. You. This can’t be the John Joseph I know, because this is too many feelings from him,” Liam said with good posture and the same goofy grin.
“How about this?” John Joseph asked lightening up, “We move in together, but with a few rules that will be printed out and laminated for your convenience. To start, you will take that bunkbed out of this building. But we try to make this work, and help one another through this life thing” John giving an upbeat facial expression and now wiping his eyes of any possible tears.
That crisp November month with falling orange and yellow leaves, the duo then began unpacking cardboard boxes, arranging picture frames, and furniture the way they wanted. John Joseph left his job at the burger and fry emporium, McDonald’s, to find a part time job at the local military supplies store. With that, he applied to the local community college to begin working on his general eds. His specific area of study will be determined later, but for now one step at a time. Liam started working where he best fits, at a local preschool assisting kids to wipe the snot out of their noses, and create colorful hand turkeys out of construction paper. Liam springs out of bed every morning and always creates a new short story to tell his kids. Once they both get home from work, they would eat their italian juicy meatballs with noodles and red sauce, or if in a time crunch, it would be simple macaroni with melting cheese, but they would always enjoy their meals together. Every friday night they would watch a new action packed adventure movie and eat milky and crunchy cookie dough ice cream. They would spend hours talking about their wacky families, adventures in their day, or their next target in a female, for John that would be Mindy. Liam has in his active imagination a master plan for the grandest of gestures to display John's love for Mindy. Whenever he is ready, John may even take him up on this.