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What You Want
The delicate December snow fell downward in a soft, slow, spiral to the dark earth below. A few million out of the billion landed on the wet pavement in a small town on the corner by the church. A petite lamp posts light flickeringly lit the smudged white coating on the ground. At first the only sound to break the silence was an occasional car rolling past streets away, the tires skidding in the slush. Eventually, another sound announced the presence of someone possessing thought entering the scene. The crunch of hundreds of tiny snowflakes groaned underneath the weight of a man’s boot, the interval in between the steps suggested a slow and burdened walk. As the person was revealed in the dim light, their shoulders were indeed hunched over and his head down, as though he carried an invisible weight.
The man, though he looked to be almost a boy, paused at the street light. With a gloved hand, he drew a piece of folded up paper from within his pocket. He clumsily unfolded it and bent closer to the light in hopes of reading the lines scrawled in a shaky hand. However, after reading only a few words his frown deepened and he huffed through his mouth. Re-folding the paper he hurriedly stuffed it back into his pocket. Heaving a sigh of frustration, he reached out and slapped an icicle off the lamp post. It wasn’t satisfying enough. He glanced around for anything else to hit, but finding nothing he frantically began kicking away the piles of snow within any reasonable distance. Soon his moans of vexation were added to the quiet sounds of the scattering snow drifts. Suddenly, unknowingly treading on a patch of ice, the young man’s feet began slipping out from under his weight. After going in every which direction, his legs came flying up over his head. With a grunt, and a heavy drop he found himself flat on his back. His moans now turning to groans of pain, he slowly moved himself into a sitting position.
Scooting over, wincing from the movement, the man turned so that his back was leaning against the post. Gritting his teeth he once again withdrew the letter from his black, dense coat.
However he was unable to bring himself to opening it. Sighing he leaned his head slowly back towards the post. “Liam,” He whispered, scolding himself “Liam, Liam, Liam, Liam.” His eyes scanned the area. “What are you doing? Outside in the snow, in the dark, at night, completely alone! Talking to yourself no less.” After a few moments of silence, he spoke louder than before. “Your cold, your wet, and you’ve fallen on your butt. Go. Home.”
Instead of making any move to leave, or even get up, he instead slowly brought the letter closer to his face. Holding it in both his hands, he unfolded it for the second time. With precise awareness and precision he opened it once, twice, three times before bringing his eyes to the page.
He made an almost laughing sound. Liam bit his lip and forced himself to re-read the letter for the millionth time. Looking for anything he might have missed in his other inspections. He scoffed. “She’s sorry?! She wants me back?!” Ridiculous. His breathing increased in speed, as did his heart, and again he had a strong urge to hit something. His eyes grew darker, and as he shook slightly, some snowflakes fell off his eye lashes and bangs.
Shaking his head Liam knew he needed to calm down before he did anything. Regardless of what that was. He closed his eyes and tried to slow his number of breaths. The snow continued to fall at a steady rate and the post’s light continued to flicker and dim. The only sound that reached Liam’s ears was the sound of his own blood humming in his ears.
His voice quivered slightly as he spoke once again. “She…she was different to me. She wasn’t just some girl. I don’t think she was the girl, but I wondered. Yeah…I wondered.” He coughed and looked around; looking afraid that someone might jump out and accuse him for having too many romantic thoughts at his young age. “I mean, you aren’t supposed to feel that way about anyone in high school. I couldn’t help it! I fought it all I could. She just…made me smile. She certainly frustrated me beyond belief, that’s for sure. Except even then everything was amazing. She has these lines around her mouth when she smiles, and her eyes crinkle up when she laughs. She tries to put up a goofy and careless front, but really…she cares a lot. About everything. Boy, she reads into everything. I couldn’t say anything without her wanting to know the meaning behind it. Another thing that drove me crazy! She wanted to know everything about me; all my thoughts and feelings, but she was on the other hand was so guarded! Could hardly ever give away a genuine thought than could she? I still liked her though…more than liked! I actually cared! I told her about my problems because she wanted to help, and on the rare occasion she shared I listened better than anyone else. We were different than others…but look what happened! Everything was fine, perfect! Then came that phone call no one wants to hear. The emotion in her voice, failing to keep it light and casual like she so obviously wanted. The “its not you, its me” routine. Telling me I was perfect, hadn’t done anything wrong. Wanting to still be best friends, close. And you know what? I was okay with it; I mean I couldn’t blame her for wanting to be single could I? There was nothing wrong with that…but then I found out she lied to me! Lied. Her of all people! I had expected more…did she never care! Ever? Did I mean so much to her that she could just drop me in a second, and replace me the next? With some…guy she barely knew? I at least deserved the truth! They didn’t even last a month! She gave me up for that!? She gave us up for that!? And now, after a year of building back our friendship, my trust, and repairing old wounds, she says sorry now?!”
Liam’s voice had risen to a high pitch and his boots squeaked as he got up and pasted back and forth. His dirty brown gloves were thrown to the side of the road as he ran his hands threw his unruly bronze hair that was dotted with specks of white. “I should say no…this…no…but do I want that? What…what do I want?” His heart was beating fast just at the memory of her. Her flaxen hair, her blue eyes and goofy smile. Then came more memories. Memories of her telling him to move on, and seeing her do things with this guy they had never done. Watching her walk away because she was afraid of getting to close. He had given her roses and she had left them there to die. He remembered how it felt to feel every beat of his heart say “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts,” and “Why? Why? Why?” He was a teenager; he was suppose to move to be able to move on quickly, but it had taken time. However, he had moved on. Had he? Why then did he look at pictures of her and think “My Beth” before remembering that she wasn’t his? Why then did little things remind him of that person who was suppose to be just a good friend? Why then did he want to hold her again so badly it hurt almost worse than her rejection had.
Although, he didn’t want her back either! He didn’t want to get that close again. Not to her. He didn’t want to open up again, not now. He’d be insecure the whole relationship, wondering when she’d walk out again. Wondering when another guy’s brief but meaningless affections would distract her again before she came running back. He didn’t want that. He wanted someone new he could respect and believe in.
However, he wanted the other things as well. She had more of him then all his friends combined,and he understood her better than anyone else. She was his best friend.
Looking towards the gray house with blue shutters across the icy brick road, he thought of Beth Collins waiting inside. Liam had been about to confront her. Tell her how he felt. Except now, he knew he really had no idea how he felt.
Putting the letter back in his pocket, Liam slowly turned away from Beth’s house. The crunch of snow under boots returned as he began the long walk back to where he came from. Beth had taught him to hide what he felt and put off what was going to come eventually. He could walk away now, and prolong the inevitable that was going to come. He just wished he knew what the inevitable was.
And the snow continued to fall.