903 readings

53

FINALIST
Jury Selection

It had been nearly fourteen years, but there you were on my morning commute. On your way to work like nothing had happened. Both of us on our ways to work as if nothing had happened.

You looked good. Older, sure, hair starting to thin. But I could see the remnants of your tan, summer, teenage self, even now: your long limbs still slender under work clothes, the same dark eyes.

I’d never seen you in a suit before. We were children then, not enough a part of each other’s families to tag along to weddings or funerals, or even to church. It made you look—please forgive me—a little nerdy, and in that instant I could imagine the last decade working out for you the way it had for many of us: college to job, job to job, job to the grocery store and home to make dinner and deal with the bills and the broken sink and the entropy. 

Did you have kids? I couldn’t decide.

You left before Mark Zuckerberg was a household name, which is to say we’d never made any lasting internet connection. You never had a Facebook account, or at least not one I could find. But your younger sister did, and over the years I’ve glanced at it occasionally, hoping to see photos of you.

I’ve thought of you, sure. Of those long limbs sticking out of a trash bag that time I picked you up in a rainstorm, those dark eyes grinning as you used the quarter vacuum at the town carwash (why you loved that thing, I still don’t know), or a dozen other scenarios, too ordinary to mention, except they’d happened to the both of us when you were more than just a face I thought I recognized on the subway.

The subway moved underground through the center of the city. You didn’t look up. I wanted to text someone but there was no one to text. None of my current friends had ever met you. This was happening to me alone, and when I walked out of the car onto the platform, I was leaving you behind again.

I think this to myself and it surprises me. Again? You’d done the leaving. But I had too: I’d gone college to job, boyfriend to boyfriend to husband. I’d dealt with the dinners and the bills and the broken sink. I’d moved on, like one does, and was on my way to work, wearing clothes that hid my summer self, staring at a stranger with my own dark eyes.

It wasn’t you after all. It couldn’t have been. You weren’t older, with thinning hair. You were twenty forever. I’d moved on and you were dead.

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53

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Image of Marilynelaine
Marilynelaine · ago
I liked your story's structure in the way you matched the beginning and ending. Having the surprise ending was really great. Thanks.
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Image of Tanjamaltija
Tanjamaltija · ago
This reminded me of my poem: If Only…
I had my chance and I blew it
I wanted to come… and you knew it.
A resisted temptation is
A missed opportunity.
Why didn’t you ask outright?
It wasn’t for a woman to do so.
Was it because you were too proud
To admit that for once
Your horizon had broadened
To include
Someone else…
And that someone else was me?
And now you’re back in town.
I watch you
Through the window of the cafe
As you sip your coffee,
Oblivious to the world,
At the same table
Where you
Could have
Might have
Should have
Asked me to come with you.
The waitress sees me, and waves.
And, just out of curiosity,
You turn your head.
You start as you recognise me.
You shift in your chair, making to stand up.
It’s too late. I’m getting married tomorrow.

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Image of Keith Simmonds
Keith Simmonds · ago
Congratulations, Saracrownow!
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Image of Thara
Thara · ago
Good luck for your story...
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Image of Makaila Keyes
Makaila Keyes · ago
I loved your voice and imagery in this
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Image of Philip Svoboda
Philip Svoboda · ago
I was there on the ride with you! Thanks for sharing.
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Image of Roger
Roger · ago
I found the ending enigmatic Sara, I liked the internal conversation about the boy. Were they lovers or just childhood friends? The story raised a lot of questions. I enjoyed it. I hope you'll take a look at mine 'Dia de los Muertos' I hope you like it
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