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Our Time Now
We were 12 when we first met on that ice skating rink under those bright lights. I was the new girl from the big city and you were the popular kid in a small town. You knew it too, and that confidence showed as you gracefully weaved your way between the crowd to my uncoordinated body against the railing. In one smooth motion you removed one of your gloves and place it on my numbed right hand. And when I asked why just one, you told me you could manage the other one, and you tied your warm fingers with mine.
It was that summer that I rode my first horse. You laughed at my wide, terrified eyes as you helped me up into the saddle. But once you hopped on with ease and snaked your arms through mine and around my waist to grab the reigns, my fear melted away and blew fast with the wind. I almost couldn't tell the difference between you and the summer heat.
It was the same summer that we were playing mini golf in the same big group of friends. You skipped your turn and went last so you could be at the waterfall the same time as me, you didn't think I noticed, but I did. I was the last one through the dark cave to reach the waterfall on the other side, but just before I could step out you slid around the corner and eased me back inside as you snuck our first kiss.
We were 13 on our first day of junior high as your hand on the small of my back guided us to our first class. A ninth grader, who obviously didn't think the knee-length skirt rule applied to her, made eyes at you. But you were too busy looking at me for it to even cross your mind. I remember thinking then how lucky I was to have you, until 2 weeks later you started noticing all the extra attention.
On the 3rd week was when you had your older brother tell me over AOL instant message that it was best we both start junior high single and only as friends. I cried and burnt all our pictures and the notes you had written me.
All year you tried to talk to me like nothing had ever happened, like I was still your best friend. Even when you had all your other different girlfriends every three weeks, I was the last person you would call at night. At first I would pick up and hang up, but after a while I became curious about what you wanted from me. So I would talk for five minutes, the next night for ten, and every night after that it lengthened until it soon became morning. I missed you too much. We talked about everything-except your latest girlfriend-and you'd show me how good you were getting on the guitar. You even wrote me a song once and said you loved me in one of my favorite verses, but I pretended not to notice. And when I did, you boldly would say it again. Then why aren't you with me, I would ask. And every time your answer was that eventually we would be, it just wasn't our time.
Eighth grade finally came after what seemed like the longest year ever, and it still wasn't our time. Though there were more songs and I Love You's and girlfriends, none of them were me. But you were my best friend I thought, if I ended it with you I would have no one. So I kept answering the phone at night and we kept talking. I told you the things I couldn't tell anyone else and you did the same. I would never say I love you though, and that started to really upset you. Why can't you tell me you love me if I already know that you do, you said say. Because you're not with me, I'd say, and that would be lying. I want it to be true.
It took me until 9th grade to realize that all you ever did was lie. So it was then that I stopped answering your phone calls until you eventually stopped making them, mainly because I finally got a boyfriend of my own. He was in 11th grade and when you found out that day he sent me flowers during lunchtime, you waited until we were the only one's left in the hall to tell me that everyone knew 11th graders only dated freshman for one thing. And wasn't ready for that you said. And really I wasn't, but you didn't have any say in that. So I didn't feel obligated to give you an answer one way or the other, and that drove you crazy. And I liked that.
Since your brother had just graduated from high school every one knew you our first day of sophomore year, so you became far too cool to even look at me. It wasn't until that summer that when your girlfriend dumped you that you suddenly weren't too cool to acknowledge me anymore. It turns out my soon to be college boyfriend became too cool for me also, so I became the dumpee too, and on exactly the same day as you. Late that night I got a text saying to open my front door, so I did and there you stood. You were like a stranger to me, but I snuck you in anyways. Immediately you wrapped me close to your body-more built than I remembered it-and began whispering in my ear. You said how sorry you were and that after all this time, hugging me still felt like you never left, like you were coming home. We went for a walk under the clear, country sky and the moon lit our faces just enough as we talked about everything we missed about each other. I said maybe we can finally be together, how it's supposed to be. You said maybe and tried to sneak a kiss but I said not until you call me tomorrow. I'm not the fool for you that I used to be.
You called me as soon as you got done with all the lawns you had to mow and I remember thinking you were so grown up with your truck and fancy landscaping business. I came to your house at the end of that long dirt road and met you out by your swimming pool like you said. We laughed as we splashed our feet in the water. You were still sweaty and muddy from work all day, so I gave you a push into the cold waves we had made with our feet. But as always you knew what I was going to do before I even thought it, so you pulled me in with you. When anyone else held me under water like this I freaked out, but yours was a different kind of hold and I remember cursing oxygen for not letting me stay there with you forever.
Then on one hot day in may before our college graduation you said to me hey let's go ice-skating, and I said okay. You helped me out onto the slick ice and guided me with one, strong arm over to the wall. You were always best against the railing you said and flashed my favorite dimpled smile. Laughing I said yes but at least I didn't forget my mittens this time, and smirked at his bare hands. True you said but that's only so I can do this…and in one smooth motion you removed the left mitten off my warm hand and softly tied your cold fingers with mine. And when I asked why just one, you smoothly lowered to one knee on the cold ice and said to me: because I want to keep this hand warm forever. And as you slid the diamond up my finger an icy tear slid down my cheek, but I smiled as a boy and girl skated past us. Their cold bare hands were tied together, and each with a matching pair of gloves on the other.