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He was sitting on the park bench that wasn’t dedicated to anyone yet. All the benches in the park were dedicated to someone from the community that had passed away. The benches all had little plaques on them, except for the one bench behind the tennis courts that faced the rail road tracks. Trains barreled past on their way to St. Louis, and other places far away from Tevin. Tevin was so small; no one called it a town. Everyone called it “the community”. I found that really annoying. You can rarely find Tevin on a map. Also kinda annoying.
It was a nice summer day. One where it was not quite as hot as normal. The sun was ducking behind big white clouds, hiding its light from time to time. Sometimes, people came to the park with magazine’s or books to read in the peacefulness of it all, but this boy, young man, had nothing. He was staring at the railroad tracks.
I was walking Patrick, my step-dad’s dog. Patrick was a little Puggle, which was a pug and beagle mix. He was just plain, with tan fur and black tipped ears. He growled at most people.
I sat down on the bench next to the boy, young man, and let Patrick jump up on my lap. He sniffed at the boy, young man, but didn’t growl. He just curled up on my lap.
“He’s a cute dog,” the boy, young man, said. He held his hand out to Patrick and let him sniff him again. Patrick sniffed once and laid his head back down on my leg.
“I’m Rickey,” the boy, young man, said looking at me now. He smiled a smile that didn’t show his teeth, but he still looked cute. I grinned back, not showing my teeth to be more casual.
“I’m Carly, and this is Patrick,” I said running my hand down Patrick’s back. We sat in silence for a moment, just watching Patrick who was falling asleep.
“Why are you sitting out here?” I asked looking at the rail road track and back at Rickey.
“What’s wrong with here?” He asked glancing around like he had missed something. I laughed and continued.
“There’s no view, except for the people walking by, the tree’s and the rail road track.” I pointed out in a voice that meant “obviously”.
“I like watching the trains go by.” Rickey looked at the rail road tracks, as if checking if a train was going by, then his brown eyes looked back at me.
“Why? Trains are boring,” I sat up a little straighter.
“Trains lead to somewhere else. This place is boring.” Rickey waved his arms around and to anybody watching us from a distance and couldn’t hear us would think he was crazy.
“I know,” I said glancing down at Patrick, who seemed content. Patrick was content with boring trains and boring old Tevin.
“Someday, someday this summer, too, I’m going to jump onto one of those trains and get out of here.” Rickey looked at me, a serious glaze in his eyes. I felt a small shiver go down my back at how handsome he looked when he was being serious.
“What day?” I asked trying to break the tension.
“I don’t know.” Rickey turned away from me now slumped down on the bench. He leaned his head back on the bench.
“I have to go, my mom will be wondering where I am,” I said pushing Patrick off of me onto the ground. I stood up and looked down on Rickey, who looked beaten up.
“What’s your number?” Rickey asked sitting up normal again.
“What?” I asked looking at him confused, but my heart pounding loudly in my chest.
“Your cell phone number or house phone.” He looked at me like I was dumb. I felt dumb.
“Do you have any paper?” I asked.
The next day I sat in my room, pretending to read a magazine, waiting for Rickey to call. He didn’t say when he would call, or if he would even call. What if he lost her number? She had just written it on the back of his hand with a purple marker she had found under the bench. The marker could have been washable.
I sat worrying, staring at a picture of a girl holding hands with a guy. I only saw their backs, but I could tell they had to be gorgeous. How else did they get into a magazine?
My cell phone on my nightstand vibrated loudly and I grabbed it. I stared at the number, which had no caller ID picture. It had to be Rickey. I waited a few seconds, and then clicked answer.
“Hello?” I answered closing the magazine slowly.
“Hey, Carly,” the voice was female, not male.
“Megan?” I asked, trying to not let the disappointment sink into my voice.
“Yeah, it’s me. I just called to tell you this is my new number.” She sounded like she had a lot to talk about, but what if he called and got the busy signal.
“Ok, I’ll save to my phone, but I have to go.” I said trying not to sound like I wanted to hang up, which is what I really did want to do. What a best friend I was.
“Ok, I’ll see you later.” We said good bye and I hung up. Only a few seconds after I had hung did my phone ring again. I answered it this time, expecting Megan again.
“Hello?” I said in a cold voice.
“Hey, it’s me, umm, Rickey.” The voice sent thrills down my spine, to my toes and back again.
“Oh, hey,” I said throwing my magazine on the floor now. I stood up, feeling jittery.
“I just wanted to know, if you want to, umm go with me to a movie or something.” He sounded like he was trying to be casual.
“Sure, I’ll go, when?” I asked twirling my hair around my finger like one of the preppy girls from TV.
“Tonight,” he said quickly, then added, “Unless you busy.” I just grinned.
“Yeah, no I’m not busy,” I said stuttering slightly. Hopefully he didn’t notice. I heard him chuckle softly.
“Ok, I’ll pick you up around 7. Where do you live?” I laughed at that and gave him directions. After I hung up, I ran downstairs, twirling around at the bottom of the stairs on the wood floor.
“Why are you so happy?” My older sister, Jana, who was always such a downer and wore black all the time, asked in a disgusted voice.
“I’m going on a date, around 7,” I said smiling. Not even her bad mood could upset me.
“Lucky you,” she said rolling her eyes and ducking into the kitchen, where my mom was making lunch.
“Hey, mom, did you hear what Carly said?” I heard Jana’s loud voice and bit my lip walking to the kitchen entry.
“No, what did she say,” my mom said not turning from where she was stirring something.
“She’s going on a date. Around 7.” Jana’s voice made me want to slap her. My mom turned to look at us.
“When was I supposed to be told about this?” My mom crossed her arms. Fear burned in my chest. Jana turned and looked at me with a dramatic looking questioning face. Glad I could pull her out of her depression for some fun.
“I was coming down to tell you, mommy,” I said in a little girl voice. She smiled and turned back to what she was stirring.
“What? You’re just going to let her go? I wasn’t allowed to go on dates till I was 16. She’s only 15.” My sister was shocked now and I was smiling at her.
“She’ll be 15 in a couple months.” My mom said getting a casserole dish from the cabinet.
“4 months,” my sister spat back. I just left the kitchen and Jana stomped back to the living room where she had been watching TV or something.
I pulled open the door and Rickey stood there. He smiled at me, still not showing any teeth.
“Hey, Carly,” he said stepping back to let me out. I shut the door behind me and followed him to his car. He opened the passenger door for me and I climbed in quickly so he wouldn’t see my red cheeks. He had loud music playing, metal of some sort, I wouldn’t know. He turned it down when he got in and pulled out of the driveway a little fast. He drove toward the theater.
“Popcorn,” he asked looking at me, his brown eyes searching my face quizzically.
“I don’t care,” I said looking up at him. He turned towards the popcorn stand and I quickly ran my fingers through my hair, fixing any imperfections. He came back with popcorn and led me into the movie theater. We sat down in the middle and watched previews.
“What’s the name of this movie again?” I asked looking around at the 5 other people in the theater, a couple who was silent and barely looked at each other and then three girls sitting whispering to each other.
The movie turned out to be a dud and the three girls left and the other couple did nothing. We talked the whole time laughing and we were laughing as we left. He changed the radio channel in his car and we sang along to the songs we both recognized. He drove slowly and when we finally made it to my house, I didn’t want to leave him.
“I had a good time,” I said smiling at him as he walked with me to the front door.
“I’m glad,” he said. At the front door we stopped. He smiled at me, no teeth at first, but it widened into one with all his white teeth. I smiled, too, all my teeth. Then he kissed me and I wasn’t smiling anymore, I was kissing him back. When he pulled away, I bit my bottom lip, concentrating on saving the moment in my memory. Then he left.
The rest of the summer was amazing. We spent most days together, laughing, talking, and kissing. Rickey was my first love, and let me say, he was a good one. June came and went and we spent July 4th together watching
“the community’s” firework show, which wasn’t half bad. He bought me a necklace on my birthday, July 16th. It was a silver chair with a heart that said my name on the back of it. He brought me flowers once, daises, which I had told were my favorite.
Then one day during the first week of august he didn’t call. He just left daises on the front porch. I wondered where he was and tried calling him, but he didn’t answer. Then his mother came over to our house. I had met her plenty of times, and she was a kind older lady, who liked red lip stick to much.
“Is Rickey over here?” She asked, her hands clenching each other. My mom shook her head.
“Do you know where he could be?” She asked. I looked into her brown eyes surrounded by red and remembered what Rickey had told me that day on the bench with no dedication. I didn’t say anything, though. But it was only the next week we found the truth.
They found a body on the rail road tracks. Ran over and mangled. Rickey’s mother identified the body. When she told me, I cried. I cried for so long, I lost all feeling, but sadness. My heart ached. From that the boy, young man, I loved was dead and that he was trying to leave, even though he had me.
His funeral was hard, close casket, thank goodness. Rickey’s mom was a loud cry-er, and I wished to comfort her, but she didn’t want to talk to me. After his funeral, my mom offered to drive me home, but I walked away from the church, headed towards Main Street.
The next day I sat on the bench we first met, running my hands over the new plaque. I cried on it, leaving my tears behind on Rickey’s bench. Many people brought flowers, leaving them on the ground around the bench. Rickey didn’t know many people, but many people came. I slept on that bench; my mom didn’t try to make me come home. She must have known I wouldn’t have come home.