What separated us?
What made you drift away?
I fell for you
I dreamed about you
I enjoyed being close to you
Then we fought
Then we became distanced
Then we didn’t speak as much
They said you still liked me
They said you still had feelings for me
They said I should talk to you
So I talked to you
So I tried to mend us
So I tried to make everything back to normal
We weren’t the same
We couldn’t change what had happened
We looked at each other and didn’t know
You were more distant
You decided you had waited too long
You decided it would be best to forget what we had
What did I do wrong?
I made you wait too long to work up the courage to show you how I felt
Then I distanced myself to figure my feelings out
They said you couldn’t wait much longer
So I finally tried to see you because I finally knew my heart
We had grown too far apart for things to be the same
You had already decided to move on
And so I was too late
I took too long
Sneezing as soon
As you step outside
In the open air
Rubbing your eyes
To chase the itch
Clearing your sore
All of these things
Until the flowers fall
Hearts keep beating
When attraction hits
Leaving a throb
In your chest
Spring is like
A new found crush
Constant and going
Until the flowers fall
And the heart breaks
When he always makes excuses
When he looks away
When he shoves his hands in his pockets
When he distances himself
When he says he’s too busy
When he doesn’t recognize you
When he forgets you
When he isn’t the same
Let him go.
When he holds you tight
When he holds your hand to his chest
When he looks deep in your eyes
When you’re his first thought
When his hugs linger
When he does his best
When he drops everything
When he is your best friend
Don’t let him go.
“How would you want to meet the one you spend the rest of your life with?”
“The rest of my life?”
“The rest of your life.”
Her chin was resting on her palms, her elbows planted on the white tablecloth of the table. Her chestnut brown hair was pulled back in a loose bun, and the tips of her ears and the apples of her cheeks were still flushed pink from the cold outside.
“The rest of my life,” she said. And then she smiled to herself.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
She shook her head.
“Not even like, a cheesy wish or a supposed fairytale?”
“I don’t know.”
She exhaled and sat back in her seat, shaking out her wrists. “Every time I’ve made a wish to meet someone great in the most romantic way, my expectations have always been shattered.”
“Something really nice will happen. I’ll get flowers just like I love, or I’ll get a cheesy CD, but the thing, or relationship, always gets messed up at the end.”
“They always get my favorite flower wrong.”
“What, they forget that you love daisies?”
“They always think it’s the typical red rose. Don’t get me wrong, roses are still great, but if the guy just remembered that the daisy was my favorite flower, he would be even greater in my eyes.”
“What if he really loves you though? You’d still look at him as not as great if he didn’t remember daisies?”
“Maybe!” she said, smiling really big.
I leaned forward on the table this time, resting my jaw on my own hand. She had a cup of Darjeeling tea in front of her, which was also one of her favorites. I had a cup of coffee. The voices around us were happy; excited. Each table in the room had lacy white tablecloths as covers.
“Tell me about this failure of a guy.”
She rolled her eyes. “Why?”
“Maybe I’ll learn from his mistakes and make you happy.”
She laughed out loud this time. “Sure.”
“No really, please tell me.”
“Hmm, well he was a real jerk when I first met him. When we first met, I decided that I completely hated him, because he was truly annoying. It was senior year of high school, and he definitely had not matured at all since middle school. It was the first day of school, and I walked in feeling completely confident and great about my outfit. I was wearing my most favorite knee-length skirt, and it was flowy, and my favorite color, purple, and I had my favorite flats on too. As I was walking past this group of jocks to the art room, this guy stuck his foot out and tripped me. I fell right over, and my skirt flew up. He called me “blue polka-dot” for the rest of senior year.”
I laughed and reached for my cup of coffee.
“I was completely convinced that I hated him after that first day. Then, the art program had our first art show in the school in November. All my pieces were of daisies, and I sat at my display throughout the whole day. He came by with a bunch of his friends and yelled that hideous nickname at the top of his lungs and tried to pat my shoulder.”
“Pat your shoulder, huh?”
“Yeah, I though he was the most terrible, disgusting guy in the world.”
She nodded to herself. “And then he stood back, crossed his arms, and looked at my display. He was trying to look like a serious art inspector or something, but you could tell he was about to burst out laughing. And then, he goes, ‘well, Polka-dot, I think your work is great, but it looks like you need some assistance from the master. Your skills are very amateur.’ And that’s when I blew up. I shoved him into his group of friends and stormed off to the art room.”
I laughed a bit more. “So then what happened with this guy?”
“I couldn’t even stand to look at him anymore!”
My head was down on the table, and my shoulders were shaking because I was laughing so much.
“And then, he even went on to ask me to prom later on! He handed me a bunch of red roses and said, ‘hey Polka-dot, go to prom with me.’ Of course I slapped the roses out of his hands and yelled no. And I stormed off again. For some reason, he got my phone number and called me with the same question, saying he had ‘imaginary roses through the phone’, and I rejected him again and hung up. But he kept calling and calling, and eventually found his way to my house! He wouldn’t leave me alone! So at school the week of prom, just to get him off my back, I bought my own bouquet of roses and gave them to him in the hallway.”
Then, she laughed to herself again. “Well, I wouldn’t say I exactly gave them to him. More like I threw them at him, screamed ‘FINE’, and then stomped away.”
“So you did go to prom with him?” I asked as I tried stifling my laughs.
She nodded. “Unfortunately, yes. But in the end, he turned out to be not such a bad guy after all. It seemed like he still hadn’t matured from the elementary school tricks of being mean to the kid you had a crush on.”
“He still got everything wrong about me when we dated after that though.”
I pulled a single daisy from the vase in the center of our table.
“Well,” I said, “I’ll make sure to never make that mistake again, my Blue Polka-dot.” And I reached over and tucked the daisy stem behind her ear.
She laughed and slapped my hand softly. “You better not.”
“So you never answered my first question though.”
She looked around the room and then said, “I want the person who I spend the rest of my life with to surprise me and make me fall in love with him without even realizing it. And you, Will, you were my favorite one to fall in love with.”
The room was filled with people laughing and smiling, looking towards us and nodding their heads towards us. Each table had a white tablecloth covering it, and a vase of daisies in the center. Above the room, white balloons floated and banner hung. It said:
“Celebrating the engagement of Hallice and William”
And Hallice looked beautiful, with the daisy behind her ear, as we held hands and stood for our loved ones in the room.
What I miss the most is his smile
His smile got me through each long day
I felt his smile through each kiss
His smile was my goal.
What I miss the most are his hands
His hands held mine tight
I felt them warm my cold fingers
His hands were my warmth.
What I miss the most is his voice
His voice was deep and soft
I could hear it through the phone every night
His voice was my lullaby.
What I miss the most is his chest
His chest was strong and warm
I fit perfectly to him
His chest was my security.
What I miss the most is his eyes
His eyes always looked at me with love
I felt them in my own
His eyes guarded me.
What I miss the most are his tears
His tears he only showed to me
I could wipe them away with my fingers
His tears were my weakness.
What I miss the most are his feelings
His feelings were so strong at first
I always felt them surrounding me
His feelings are what hurt me.
He would smile at me from afar, walk over, and introduce himself.
We would exchange numbers, and then part.
He would message me when I woke up, and when I went to sleep, and in the middle of the day just to check up on me.
We would constantly talk on the phone and laugh from our sides.
He would ask me to dinner and tell me to dress up.
We would meet in the evening and go to dinner together.
He would be gentlemanly and sweet throughout the night.
We would see a movie and hold hands afterwards.
He would kiss me goodnight and send me back home.
I would lay awake the rest of the night in the dark, comparing the night to a sweet dream.
He would never call me again.
I would be heartbroken.
About a week and a half after I cried that one night, Harvey and I sat at the park once again. We were about to finish up a game, and just as Harvey always did, he said “checkmate” in his soft, bittersweet tone, winning. I helped him pack up as usual. Tossing the water bottles in the recycling bin, the sandwich wrapper in the waste bin, and the two paper cups that once contained hot, warming coffee. We were in the midst of a cold winter, and yet we still met every day for a game of chess.
“Goodbye Harvey,” I said, as I started turning to head the two blocks to my apartment.
“Ross, hold on a second,” Harvey called after me.
I halted in my steps and turned to face Harvey. Despite my hands being gloved in wool, they were still shoved deep into my jacket pockets, numbing at the fingertips by the bitter cold. I wondered to myself if Harvey had been okay these cold days, walking home alone.
Harvey and I walked toward each other. The chess pack was under his arm, and his free hand adjusted his red scarf he always wore. He told me about a week ago that Ellie and hand-knitted it for him before she left after Beau’s funeral.
“Ross, I wanted to let you know that I won’t be here at the park for the next two weeks.”
“Did something happen?”
Harvey calmly shook his head back and forth and smiled slightly to himself. “Actually, Cole and Ellie sent me a ticket in the mail a couple days ago. They’d like for me to come visit them. They recently moved from somewhere in Spain to the United Kingdom, you see.”
“Well that’s great!” I exclaimed.
A couple people close by in the park glanced at me from my loudness.
“It sure is,” Harvey agreed, “Can’t believe I haven’t seen the three of them in four years.”
I sighed. “I’m extremely glad for you, Harvey. I wish you the best, and I’ll hope for your safe return.”
“Thank you, Ross. I’ll see you in two weeks then?”
I nodded. “Will do.”
We turned our separate ways and departed. I sighed to myself, watching as my warm breath came out in white puffs in the cold air. Two whole weeks without the routine I had gotten so used to.
It had been three days since Harvey departed, and I had decided to resume the daily walks I did before I ever decided to sit down with Harvey that first day. It was still extremely chilly outside. I wore a wool knit cap, pushed down over my red-tipped ears, my warmest fleece jacket, jeans, and plain walking shoes. As I passed the park, I couldn’t help but glance at the same picnic table Harvey and I always met at. It seemed odd. I couldn’t remember the last time it was empty. I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t see Harvey there. I wondered if other people noticed too, that no one was there playing chess for once. I sniffed my nose and rubbed my gloved hands together, and then I walked as fast as I could back to my apartment, thinking about brewing another steaming pot of coffee.
The walks continued for the rest of the week. Same routine, walking in the terrible cold, glancing at the picnic table, and then hurrying back to my apartment for hot coffee. I had been trying to hold myself back from doing so, but I kept catching myself counting down the days until Harvey would be back from visiting Cole, Ellie, and their daughter Audrey.
On the first day of the second week, I decided to get the mail from my small box area on the first floor of my apartment. I hadn’t gotten it in the last week. I always hurried right by the mail area after each of my walks, rushing to get up to my room for that hot cup of Joe to warm me up. I was sitting in my living room when I realized that my mailbox would probably be overstuffed, the most recent envelopes probably shoved in as tight as the mailman could get it. I hopped off of my chair, grabbed an empty plastic grocery bag and my mailbox key, and headed down to the first floor.
As I expected, the mailbox was overstuffed, I had my plastic bag ready to catch the recently stuffed in envelopes that just about exploded out of the small box. I emptied out the box, locked it up again, and headed back up the elevator to my cozy room, my leftover cup of coffee still waiting for me to return to it. Much of the mail was junk. Advertisements for mail services, Chinese delivery, discounted guitar lessons for some place called Al’s Guitar Store, and dry cleaning services. I tossed them all into the trash, along with some bills I had already taken care of.
As I went through a routine of tossing envelopes and opening them, I came across a pale blue envelope. The three stamps were all different. One looked like some tribal totem carved from wood. Another was a lion in mid-roar, and the last was of lush green leaves and grass. I knew immediately who it was from. I eagerly tore the envelope open and opened the piece of notebook paper. The two first words were familiar, written in the fancy script I looked forward to seeing with every exotic-stamped envelope of mail I got. They read, “Dear Ross”.
It was Cecily. She was finally returning to the States after her long time in Africa doing volunteer work, and she wanted to see me.
I stare at him. My chin resting on my fists; my elbows are digging into the wood of my desk. The only thought going through my head is “what if”. What if he noticed me? What if he secretly looked at me too? I let out a silent breath. My eyes flicker down to my half-done worksheet in class and then back to him. And suddenly, when I least expect it, he turns around. Our eyes meet. I quickly drop my hands, grab my pencil, and pretend to work. I can feel my cheeks turning red. He quickly turned his gaze to the clock above me. And turned back to the front. Our eyes met.