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The Four O' Clock
“I’m freaking sick of this.”
Blood trickles from my parched mouth, and I sink my teeth even further into my bottom lip. I tap my bare feet against the cool, wooden floor and drum my fingers lightly on the table before me. A wave of despair ripples through my shaking body and I scream, doubling over and collapsing into the space between my outstretched legs.
The clock on the wall beside me ticks steadily, tauntingly. It cackles with each abrupt beat, reminding me that each second passed is a somber second lost. The thunder in the air sneers at me, and my spirits fall even farther. The rain pounds the roof and tears at my heart with every strike. I am nothing. Everything thinks so.
I crumple onto the floor and bow my head as tears flood my cheeks. I try to speak through my sobs, but the words are soundless and only a quiet whimper escapes my mouth. I swallow the lump lodged in my dry throat and begin nodding.
“It’s about damn time,” I force myself to say.
I crawl to the door and heave myself upward, careful not to lose my balance. I shove it open with both hands and fling myself out into the angering storm. Dressed in a thin t-shirt and tatty gym shorts, I stumble forward and begin running, kicking gray rocks and soaked fall leaves behind me. Mud sucks and gurgles beneath my toes and a torrent of water falls from my unkempt mess of brown hair.
I start sprinting as a white flash of lightning hisses above me and I don’t slow down, not when I reach the end of my driveway, not when I reach the highway, and not when I hit town, barreling ahead with no consequence. Dozens of eyes follow my movements, whispers pervade the air. I look past pointing fingers and laughing faces and curse softly under my breath when I see the little hand of the town clock nearly touching the big, bright eleven.
The wind roars against me, warning me to stop. It rushes past me, and my clothes flutter as I push urgently through the gathering crowd. An officer near the doors tries to stop me, but he meets my dark eyes and backs up, nodding.
I hear the lonesome whistle of the train in the distance. People everywhere are rushing, shoving, and yelling, fighting over one another to buy a ticket. I tear through them and throw my hands on the counter of the ticket booth.
“One ticket for the four o’ clock,” I pant, stumbling around for my wallet. The lady regards me with a frightened expression, but I shake my head and beg her with my eyes. “Please, I have to meet somebody.” She hesitantly takes my money and I grab the ticket and lurch toward the platform, searching frantically for the image of her, engraved forever in my mind.
Suddenly, I catch a sliver of gold out of the corner of my eye, and I see her, preparing to board the train, the train that will take her from me evermore. I rush toward her, yelling her name, hoping she’ll hear. My knees threaten to give way beneath me and my heartbeat thuds, thuds, thuds, thuds.
She sees me, and I’m there, pushing her against the brick wall behind her and forcing my lips against hers, drawing in her familiar aroma. At first she struggles, thrusting her cold hands at my unmoving chest, but then she surrenders and kisses me back, slowly and then more passionate.
I stop, my lips still pressed to hers, and begin sobbing, the tears rolling uncontrollably. I rest my forehead on hers and cry as I stroke her cheek with trembling fingers. She exhales and I inhale. Everything else is silent.
I pull away and meet her eyes. “It’s been four years,” I breathe. “It’s been four damn years and I’ve never had the courage to do this.” She stares back with those stunning green eyes. “I love you,” I whisper. “I’ve always loved you and I always will.”
She studies my face and barely touches my hand with hers.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” I say, licking my lips, “but I can’t let you leave. Not without saying this first.”
She gazes at me for a moment and then she laughs. My heart skips a beat as she continues to laugh, holding my hand loosely. She smiles at me and shakes her head.
I inhale sharply.
And she leans forward, takes my head in her hands, and kisses me back through her own tears as the train blows its final whistle and heaves forward.