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She’d have been better off not showing up. It would have been kinder, more humane. But then again, humanity has never really been her style, at least not in regards to dealing with him. They’d met seven years ago as friends of friends and became partners in crime. She was young and beautiful, straining to take the world by storm. He was a minute older and already on cross country adventures of his own. They’d shared music and stared at the surf, and wondered about life and love with the certain madness that can only be felt between boys and girls under the most perfect of ocean sunsets.
He’d moved on and she went off to school; they talked daily and then weekly and then hardly at all. They grew up a bit and grew apart a bit more. And then she’d drop back into his life at the most unexpected, but most necessary of times. He’d dated others, and been serious about it every time. But then she’d call, usually at night, always just to talk, and he’d forget about whatever pretty young thing he’d been seeing at the time. Her voice brought him back to center, back to home; and we wondered if this was what they meant when they talked about love.
They’d meet up over the years, sometimes it’d be romantic and wonderful and fantastic, and other times it would just be comfortable. Her voice never stopped bringing him a sense of purpose and safety. Her smile was all he really needed in life. One of the few things that brought him peace. He’d known she dated other boys, just the same as he’d dated other girls. Somehow this never bothered him, they were both young and passionate, this was life.
So when he’d booked a vacation to her city, he knew he had to tell her, even though they hadn’t really spoken in months. Come to the party, come to the show, come run away with me he’d said to her, and never heard anything back. He was dismayed, though not surprised, this was her style. The day of the show, he’d gotten a text; she’d meet him there, and wanted to bring friends. He smiled, she’d come through, it was not ideal, but it would work, she’d come through, as deep down he knew she would. And while sometimes it’s a struggle and always chaotic, when it counted for real, she’d show up. Sense could be made of an insane world, because she’d come through.
She was late to the show. Of course she was late to the show. She was late to the point where he didn’t think she’d show. He’d resigned himself to let down, to disappointment, to finally washing his hands of her. To let go of that chaos and uncertainty, to let go of her. But then she showed up, with a smile and a hug, and he was home again. He was honesty and purity, with his faith was restored in the inherent goodness of world. Her smile was his proof that if he lived right, and kept the faith, good things would come to him. That he could be happy too.
And then she introduced him to the boy.
And instantly, he’d known. The boy was pretty and friendly, with kind eyes and an easy laugh. Another do-gooder, this one from the east coast, and he’d known. He gripped his beer bottle until knuckles popped and fingers turned white. He’d gripped the bottle with all the frustrations in the world as he smiled and shook hands and played nice. He gripped his bottle as she and the boy danced and flirted and stole a kiss in the dark corner of the club. More than anything in his life he’d wanted to hit the boy with the bottle, to smash his pretty face, to gouge his kind eyes. To hurt. To make this boy feel on the outside what he was feeling on the inside as he smiled and played nice. He’d watched them and died a little bit, wishing he had the words, or even that he knew what to say.
I’m the hero of this story, don’t need to be saved.