She & Him, 2012

When she pulled up, he was sitting on a rock considering all of the things he wanted to say to her, but he saw her face and it all fell away. She wondered if she should just shake his hand. In an instant they were nervous 17-year-old kids again. Sweaty palms, shy smiles and awkward silence. Instead of his hand, he held out his arms and she walked into them. He pulled her to his chest and she couldn’t let go. He asked if she wanted to walk. She nodded yes. She followed him through the trees watching her feet move one in front of the other, watching the swirling dust from the path settle between her toes. She counted three bottles, one broken, and two beer cans. She stopped to mourn a dead mouse. If she didn’t watch her feet, she’d just watch his body move. She’d just watch his gray jeans crease and smooth with each step as he led her further up. She’d just watch his curly black ponytail sway from side to side down the length of his strong back. It had been 10 years since they had seen each other, an unplanned encounter at a concert. She was so excited to see him that she’d forgotten what she’d done three years earlier. He tried to forget. He never forgot. Here they were again, now climbing this hill. Overlooking the river. At the top, a plateau, another rock. He sat down, patted the seat beside him. He looked at his hands. He found his words. She searched his face, knew her place. He belonged to another but all these years his heart belonged to her. They danced around the truth. The grass danced around them. They carved their initials in the sky. The setting sun set the treetops on fire. She watched the birds fly away. She took pictures of his hands. She filed them in the darkest corner of her mind. She recorded his voice and swallowed it down. Saved some love for later. In that moment he knew he loved two women in two very different ways. There was nothing he could do. So he led her away. Back to the path and swirling dust. Back to the dead mouse that was as small as she felt. She regretted the break in the trees. They were back to the top. Back to their lives 10 years old. He walked her to her car. She pulled an old letter and some pictures from her bag. She put them in his hands. The words were proof of some kind. Packed and carried all these years.


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