I was never a fan of science fiction, fantasy or other worldly ideas or inventions, but I never wanted a time machine more than when I met you. I was convinced you weren’t here for good, here to stay. You did not disappoint, and I was left with an unyielding pining for a craft that would allow me to rewind time, reverse your actions and my words, a metal box that would take me back to when you first noticed I was standing next to you at that concert and invited me over for a drink with your friends, an electrical port that would return me to your sunlit bedroom, sitting on the edge of your mattress and talking about the posters on your dirty walls. While we’re at it, I wouldn’t mind if I had something to freeze time too, so that I could stop everything in that moment, kiss you wholly on the lips without fear that in two months you would never invite me back to spend these days with you again.
we saw the same sunset fall beneath the horizon
and we walked the same gravel path back to our
cars– a beat up nissan sentra and a freshly painted
firebird. we shook hands before driving in opposite
directions to our homes, two separate homes.
I like to lie down on my couch for an hour, before
I retreat to my smallish bedroom and think about
whether or not you really drove home like you said
you were going to do, or if instead you had another
appointment with another friend, or if you got hungry
on your drive home and had to stop at a 24 hour
diner to get your fill of fried potatoes and oily eggs,
or if you turned your car around after you lost sight
of me in your rear view mirror and drove back towards
that gravel path and sat on the bench to wait for the
sun to rise back up in the morning when you knew
I would be sleeping.
He watched the girl studying by the window. She flipped a page every other second. She couldn’t really be learning anything that way.
He looked down at his own hands. His fingers were calloused, and he didn’t know why. His hands had always been rough and dry. He put his head into his hands and felt the heavy weight he was holding. Was his head heavier than other heads? There was a lot going on inside there, but he also thought at the same exact time that it was pretty empty.
He had a heavy, empty head.
He peered between his fingers. The girl was still rapidly flipping pages. He felt like he was going to throw up, so he put his forehead on the table. This is better, he thought. At least if I throw up in this position, it’ll go straight onto the floor, maybe even under the table. Maybe no one will hear me. Unless I’m really loud. Sometimes you just have to be really loud when you throw up.
Trees don’t know when someone is crying. They can’t tell if someone is hurting. They can’t hear a girl’s sobs, they can’t feel her leaning against their trunks for support, and they definitely do not care if she ever feels better.
And still, they never leave. Yes, this is because they are rooted firmly and most permanently into the hardened winter ground. But still, they never leave. So neither does she.
Unfailingly, she returns to the same covered part in the dense forest, to move from tree to tree and cry. Simply, cry.
You would think that the trees would have grown accustomed to seeing her here, that they would begin to expect to see her walking in from the path that leads people away in a different direction. But trees don’t remember, and they certainly don’t remember her.
Her cries are soft and pitiful, honest and beautiful. Loud enough to draw attention from the nearest birds, but not harsh enough to make them fly away.
She cries for an hour at least, walking on top of the pine needles and broken twigs that mirror her broken spirit. How sad can such a young girl be?
The smallest tree reaches out a low branch to her and offers a seat besides the wet earth. The girl accepts, but only rests her tiny, folded arms on the wood. Single tears fall at first, followed by drops that are much bigger and much sadder than the rain that slips away from heavy clouds.
She does not wipe them away, and the trees watch as she walks to another tree, one that has been carved in by others who have long ago forgotten about the life they once had.
The trees aren’t really watching, of course. They are just silently growing and weathering the wind and rain. Dying.
They will last, though. They will last long enough for the girl to stop crying, until she is ready to wipe her face with a sleeve that is so wet and carrying so many tears already. They will last, and they will wait. She is never alone, because they are always waiting.