BelieveA Story by Java Bum
This is an older piece, written over ten years ago, but, hell, I still think it's pretty decent.
Quiet needs always moved to allusive motives.
This is true. I always seem to find out the hard way.
I remember, years back; a phone call brought her into my world in a manner that couldn't quite be depicted correctly. Humming thoughts and a tender voice that drove my blood. It made me stop. My words to her beguiled what it was I had felt. I shook my head, cleared my thoughts, and let the early spring night fill me.
The area was darkened, only lit by the orange lamps set up every seven feet down either side of the narrow, outdoor walkway. Bushes were there, next to the walls and these planters made the passage slim, though it was easily seven feet broad. Before me was a gate, black iron shaped like rectangular spears; just beyond was a step, that if you weren't watching where you were going, you would take that calculated step and hit air, automatically setting your body into a defensive position as you stumbled like a fool.
I'd done it plenty of times.
Hell, my friend and I almost broke expensive equipment as we moved the stereo parts from the first-floor apartment to the truck in the awkwardly shaped tee parking lot.
I was trying to convince her to give my friend a chance.
I was trying to convince myself I didn't think this woman would be with me.
Years past, and their lives grew together"to the point of her giving up her virginity for the love that she had had for him"and they grew apart. That open hole always left me wondering. His words of vindication about and to her always baffled me. That wasn't the girl I knew. Maybe, just maybe, that's how things went.
Sitting in US History, my sixth period class"the last one in a day of my Junior year in High School, showed me a flaw that I had been neglecting to get taken care of for a long, long time. I couldn't see; I need glasses. Of course, this would happen when I was supposed to take a test. There wasn't any making it up, but that was just fine with me. Melancholy, I sat there at my desk, staring blankly at a sheet of paper that I couldn't read. I remember swallowing. I remember trying to focus and how my heart leaped into my throat, almost choking me, while I couldn't even do that. I looked up, at the direction of the blonde teacher"her wonderful physic I couldn't see, but imagined without trying to. I caught her eye and she came over to my desk. I whispered my dilemma.
Needless to say, the school paid for my trip to the Optometrist, and I got a free day off of school for it. I went. There, in another town of my city, I stood at the bus stop, looking in the direction of the street that would lead to my friend's ex-girlfriend's apartment. If my bus takes me there I'll stop by. The erratic scheduling of the bus made it a one-third possibility.
The bus came; we went down Orchard Avenue.
I didn't see her that day.
Two weeks later, though, I had to go back to pick up my prescription. I did so without hesitation. The further down I went, the more I thought of her. Their last blowout, and their second chance ruined it all for them. I began recalling that day in my head as I rode the bumpy ride it took to get to the office.
"I'm going to tell her that I want to be with her again." A different apartment"only down the street from his old one"but it was the same situation.
My friend's words lingered in my head, freezing mine. I had called him to tell him something, and he said that he had to talk to me, and asked me to come over. I had done so. The moment I was about to tell him that I wanted her, he told me that he did, cutting me off. I swallowed back that bubbling anxiety of knowing that I couldn't compete with him for a girl who had already loved him once. I shook my head.
"What, you don't agree?" he asked.
My voice came out soft, almost weak, "It's not that. I just don't want to see what happened last time happen again."
There was a shot in the dark.
"Alright, bro, let's hope so." I sighed as I said it.
Six months had passed since that day, and her and myself were Juniors; her ex, my friend, had transferred to Bowman"a correctional course school; though, he was also working full time, which his age allowed him to do.
My feelings for her had changed. I just hadn't known it yet.
The glasses worked perfectly; I could see again. A powerful feeling that everyone seems to take for granted; just like their hearing, something I'd lost in full in one of my ears twelve years prior. Reading "To Have and Have Not", I stood against the iron post of the bus sign. The sounds of the cars didn't distract me from what I was enthralled in. I mean, how often can you find out about Harry there on his friend's boat, lying on his back, bleeding profusely from his gut, wishing he had a bottle of liquor that was on the deck.
The bus pulled up; it's squeaky breaks signaled its arrival and its shadow that loomed over me told me it was now there. I closed my book and boarded, looking at the driver. Someone I didn't know. As I showed my pass, I looked off down past Orchard Avenue. If the bus takes me down there, I'll see her.
We made a left onto Newhall and Lyons; I pulled the cord.
We stopped at a corner in front of Hart High, and I disembarked. I turned on my discman and found an odd sensation. My hands were trembling. I looked at my watch. One-thirty. School wasn't even out yet, but I figured she had a free sixth period. Down a road that led me away from the school, took me closer to her place. I looked up at the apartment building that had its side facing out instead of its front, deeper than it was broad.
I turned the corner into a concrete walkway. I couldn't remember the way to her apartment by this side, so I walked through the narrow parking lot to the other set of stairs. I put one foot on the first step and I stared down at the fourth, as if unable to make myself move. Incoherent thoughts shot through my head like a stream bursting from a dam. I was still trembling. I closed my eyes, painful as they were, and clenched them. With a deep breath that shook my chest, I stepped higher. From step to step, I ascended the stairwell...chewing on the inside of my left cheek.
I could hear my breathing in my ears, as if they were plugged up. How could this be? I was known for my apathy; my ex-girlfriend affirmed that much. Apartment number four. I stopped, looking at it from a side view. Slowly, I turned my body, shoulders and then hips, to the door in which held the answers and questions and memories that I wasn't sure I wanted to remember, that I couldn't get rid of, and including those I wanted to make.
I knocked on the door.
I waited for her mother to answer, obvious as it always was, and I was prepared to ask for her by name, though I haven't spoken it in so long, since my friend had so maliciously disregarded her existence. That unspeakable word was about to slip from off my tongue. Though, no one answered at first and I rallied my courage that had all but dissipated, and knocked again, lightly this time. Pathetic. What the hell was wrong with me? Even now, I don't know what I was thinking. Nothing.
My body began to turn away, fleeing while I still had a chance"but the lock twisted, the knob turned and the door opened before I could even take my first step away. She stood there staring at me. She blinked, as if coming back into consciousness. She did long before me. More power to her. Her gaze darted around the edges, as if trying to see someone else standing there.
"Where is he?"
"I'm alone," I said. Funny how a woman can make you say anything they want you to when you can't make yourself do a damn thing.
"Did he want you to come here?" she asked.
I shook my head, my eyes closing again. "No, I wanted to see how you were doing."
Stunned into silence, she watched me inquisitively. She wet her lower lip.
"Look, I know what happened between you two, and I just wanted to know if we were still friends."
"You two are joined at the hip," she said, her conviction more than accurate...a year ago.
I shook my head again. "Not for a long time. I'm my own person."
"Would you like to come in?"
That hold that we had then grew, and in and out of her life was how I stayed. She ended up with a man who she came to marry. But before she did, I had my moment with her. The kiss was soft and velvet and I knew then that I was in love with her. More and more my life altered around me, so much happening, and I couldn't stop recalling her face, and it always brought me back. Her fiancé might not have ever knew about me, and I hardly knew about him. But the touch of her emotions for me sent me trembling into disarray.
Two years had passed, and she asked about her ex, and I told her, without remorse. I allowed her the chance to confront the man who cheated on her with her best friend, who in turn, he cheated on with her other two best friends. Funny how things worked out.
Though, she knew how I saw her as a strong point: the quiet movements inside a candle-lit room, the touch of her skin to mine as we hugged goodbye. When she talked with her ex and confronted him, I was there. I stood by her side, on her side, and I never knew if she knew it was my love that I gave to her when she asked for strength.
I hadn't known that it was love that she gave to ask for it.
One day, inside her car in front of my house, she cried, on my shoulder. "That day," I began, "that you gave him that second chance, I was going to ask you instead of him."
"But you were with your girlfriend," she protested quietly.
"No, I wasn't. I had been single for six months."
"Can I tell you something?" she asked in reserved quietness.
Through her tears, I knew it was important for me to say yes, "Of course you can."
"If you would have asked me that day, if you both would have, I would have said yes to you."
Even now, I’m not sure if that was a figment of my imagination, or if those words really did leave her lips. And, it’s hard, it seems, when you know that your feelings are nothing more than sinful decadence. Charming to know that your way-forward nature could be halted by the simple glance from someone you love, whether you know it or not.
Shot down. It was another spring morning, nearly five years after meeting her and a year since our lips touched in affection, shattering the platonic nature of our friendship. I stood there, with her, pleading to God for a way. Something. Anything.
"If there's any chance that one day you're..."
She cut me off, "There is no way that we would ever be together, with or without him."
My whole world shifted around me and I couldn't seem to focus. And there she left me, walking away with a casual goodbye, saying her lunch break was over. I could hardly hear her. Everything that I had known was swept away in that instance. Every time I thought of the past, I wondered if I would have had the chance so many years ago. "A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste" kept playing in my head like a broken record for so long, that when I was there, short of receiving a: "if things were different" from her, I could have stood and moved on as a content person. But I hadn't the strength left now.
Almost a year from that point, towards the end of winter, I was working at a hole-in-the-wall location, outside for a cigarette while customers came up and walked inside. I was the only employee on duty, so I stubbed out my smoke and proceeded behind them.
"Afternoon," I said, allowing the winter-wonderland air-conditioning to slam against my body from the contradiction of summer-like weather outside.
"Hi," the couple said in unison.
I went behind the counter and handled them, noting the other three parties to come in one after the other. Serving them was a simple task and typical on a weekday lunch hour. Efficiently handling my job was one reason why I remained an employee, and a reason why I was an equivalent to an assistant manager. With a smile, I returned the change to a customer who was a regular, and I looked up to the glass door.
A ghost of reality was standing there, brow furrowed and hair pulled back to match the business apparel she wore. With a jerk of my eyes, I responded to the goodbye with a light voice and wet my lips, looking back out the window. The ghost was still there, and as the door opened, she stepped in after the customers.
"I didn't know you worked here," she spoke, that forgotten voice causing my lungs to contract.
“Yeah," I said, possibly because I wasn't even coherent in the position again. Maybe someone else saw that I was talking to nothing, and I was timid on responding.
"Hi. It's been a while," she said. She looked to her side and smiled at a customer, who returned the gesture. I hadn't been imagining her...
"Yeah, I called, but you moved. You didn't even give me your number."
She nodded, putting her purse up on the counter, close to her body, timid. "Yeah, I've been really busy." That was all she could say? After what happened the last time I spoke with her, I'd say she wasn't even worried about me in the least.
"Do you have a moment?" asked the love I dreamt of and once knew.
My heart cracked.
"Yeah," I said.
Times change and people do, too, and sometimes the past is the only way that you can ever learn what's to come from making mistakes in the future. My mind still can recall almost everything that occurred years ago, from when we last talked, from when she walked away without even saying goodbye. In time, people usually learn how to forget and learn to block the memories of better times, romantic and enchanting times where fantasy and reality always crossed the threshold between one another.
There are times when you hear that voice on the wind like a forgotten tomorrow, knowing that the future would have been different, if you would have only given it a chance to develop, to grow and to become what it was that it had so much potential to do. Help and forgiveness are so hard to come by, and when you finally reach that point where someone is willing to not lay down their life and claim undying love, but to be willing to stand their ground, give you their support and never let life take you without an army behind your back; sometimes that fantasy becomes reality, and sometimes that chance is taken.
Maybe that, too, is a fantasy. And maybe, just maybe, when you find something you believe in, you should do just that. Believe....
© 2012 Java Bum
New York, NY
AboutWhile my writing spreads over a few different genres and categories within them, I like to focus my work here on fiction and nonfiction titles that center on pieces of me as a person. My website will .. more..