The Way he Said my NameThe cold wind snatches at my jacket as I walk through the dark. All around me lay a barren field, dead and shriveled with twisted weeds clawing into the ground and snapping underneath my feet. In reality I knew that nothing grew here because of the winter months; because the life of summer had slowly leaked away until nothing but the dry, hollow corpse of what had once been living remained. But how could I see it that way? The fields around us had started to die the same day he had died.
I had to hold back the tears that were trembling inside of me. I’d been locked up in my room too long crying; not doing anything to remember him but sob at the loss of him.
That’s why I had to come out tonight. I wasn’t going to curl up into a blanket and wither away into a sleep as I have done for months. I was going to do something that would mean something, even if it was only in my own eyes.
The sound of his voice is for a moment so clear in my mind, I would almost believe it to be true if it weren’t just a whisper in the wind that runs through the trees, over the fields causing the dead bits of old plants and leaves, gray and no longer recognizable, to skitter over dead, cold earth, rattle the canister in my hand.
Right then I had to stop, I couldn’t move as I remembered his voice, how he would touch my hair and call it corn silk; when we would go to the rundown movie theater, then walk holding hands down Main Street- really the two laned highway that ran through the middle of town.
The memories are beautiful, even sacred, to me. For a minute the pain doesn’t eat at my heart and I can smile, even though tears are running down my face. Slowly, I take a step. Then another. One at a time, just as I have taken my days.
The day I saw him was over two years ago. I was 15, sitting in Sunday school as I did most every Sunday, when the ancient, sticky-white door at the back of the room opened. Mrs. Simmons came in, and then a tall, muscled boy with dark reddish-brown hair and dazzling sapphire eyes.
She told us he was Ricky McCaskell. Ricky McCaskell. I remembered him. He had lived here until he was ten, then his mother had left and taken Ricky with her. In this town it was hard not to remember anyone who had ever lived in it, even if it had been six years. We had stood in the same group to be picked up by the bus even though he was a grade older than me.
He’d been sixteen the day he came back to town. He’d stood in front of the Sunday school room with the white light offspring pouring through the ceiling-tall windows, making his eyes iridescent and his hair light up. His eyes scanned the room without hesitation as he strode into the rows of chairs, into the rows of people he no longer knew. Then his eyes landed on me.
He’d sat next to me, and before Mrs. Simmons began to talk, he looked over, speculatively, at me with a smirk-smile on his face that made him look adorably boy-ish and completely hot at the same time.
“I’m Ricky,” he shifted some in his chair so he’s almost looking at me.
“Daisy,” I smiled, meeting his electric blue eyes and trying not to nervously play with the tips of my sun-bleached hair. It was in that moment, with that smile and the capturing personality that made his get along with everyone, that the biggest crush I’d ever had took root in my heart. When our blue eyes met, everything forever changed.
To this day I still think he only sat next to me because most of the other seats were taken. He’d always told me that it was because he’d thought I looked like an angel that morning.
Sinking onto the rough pavement of the bridge might not be the smartest thing to do. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happens when I reach my destination, feeling the cold through my jeans. I touch the concrete barrier and the metal bars that form a cage around the bridge. They were cold, heartless, and had been the reason Ricky was gone. A slab of nothing but hardened stone took my everything.
I look over to the train tracks that run right next to the highway, the tracks older, the wood darkened by rain and age. It’s hard for me to believe that right next to the place Ricky died, is the place where the memory I cherish the most took place.