You ever get a case of the “what if’s”? What if things were a bit different? What if I had decided to run when things got rough? What if I had been a little more patient with my mom? What if my dad had stuck around a little bit longer? Would my life be a surreal fantasy or just another endless nightmare? Should I stay around to find out or should I just turn around right now and run the other way before it’s too late?
The first boy to ever break my heart never even realized he was doing it. He was never around enough to notice. I still remember the first time I felt my heartbreak. He was supposed to come see me the day after my birthday. I had my mom blow dry my hair and put it up in a fancy ponytail with a pink ribbon that matched my outfit. I put on my favorite jeans and even wore my special gold plate earrings because this was a special occasion. I got my Hello Kitty purse and plopped down on the big, plastic covered green sofa in the living room so I could get a clear view of the time display. I swung my feet back in forth glancing at the clock every few minutes. The first two hours past by quick and I sat there just as patiently on that plastic covered sofa. My grandparents kept glancing back at me with worried looks, but I failed to even notice. Before I knew it the green display read 8:43 and I knew my knight in shining armor was never going to show.
My dad never knew how much he hurt me that day and how bad it broke my heart to see my grandpa pounding his fists on the kitchen counter, yelling at my mom for getting my hopes up. It wasn’t her fault though, it was mine. I was just a girl and yet in my eyes I knew I should’ve known better. Lesson learned I suppose, never get too close. Thanks daddy, you’ve made your little girl real smart.
An old time gangster from Harlem, New York some would say, but to me he was more like an old-fashioned, pipe-smoking, smart-ass kind of guy who always knew his stuff. “Whatz it too ya?” he said when I asked about the good ol’ days. The big curious eyes got him though as he sat me down next to him as he drank his black coffee. “Backz in my day youse could so anything for just a buck. Caramelz waz just a quatar and kids still respected ther mothas, we alwayz knew to stay in place and work hard to get where we wanteds to. Remember that kid, alwayz work for what you want, never take anything for granted.” He patted me on the head as a way of showing the little talk was over. The smell of tobacco and caffeine still lingered in the air as he handed me a crumpled up dollar bill. “Saves it forz when timez get rough, alright doll?”
It’s still in my drawer.
Nobody saw it coming, especially me. T.J was nothing like me with his camo shorts, black band shirts, Boston hats and scruffy blond hair. He constantly blared hardcore music through his the speakers of his green Ford Escort, which I could only assume he understood. Yet, between the dark music and scruffy appearance we clicked and everything was perfect, aside from all the rumors circling around about his past bad habits. High School pettiness I assumed naively.
I should’ve listened.
“I can still smell it T.J”, I yelled as if in that instant my whole world had came crashing down. The smell burned my throat and turned my stomach as I pulled away from a kiss. I slammed the car door to his small, green Escort and tried to run away from everything as fast as my feet could take me. He tried to cover it up, yelling back at me as if he were confused about what the hell I was talking about, but his eyes said otherwise. His bright blue eyes all of a sudden turned a dark grey as they grew with desperation, looking for an answer. He could see it in my eyes, as they welted up with tears. My thoughts were racing a mile a minute and I finally muttered out, “… how could you… try to lie to me… again …” In that moment we both knew it was over. I kissed him good-bye one final time and parted ways.
His name was T.J and he was addicted to huffing.
You may not remember that day I knew we were going to be alright, despite the circumstances. We had just moved into that one bedroom apartment across the old park with the broken swing set. I slammed my backpack down, so mad at you for making us move back. The old mattress with the broken springs sat in one corner of the grey room, expecting to accommodate all three of us. I didn’t even try to cover up my disappointment when I saw your face meeting mine. I turned my face and stormed off, yelling out that I never wanted to see you again and that I planned on never coming out of room. Yet, you just calmed down and sat me down. You pointed out all the little stuff. The small painting I made in Kindergarten that was now on the kitchen’s pale yellow wall. The old, rugged rocking chair you brought that now sat in a corner that Grandpa used to sit me down on and tell me old stories about the Vietnam War. You even brought the quilt Grandma gave me and folded it on the old mattress so I’d still have something from home. I selfishly pointed out how all that stuff didn’t matter and how I still hated it as I got up slamming the door bringing on another tantrum. For this I am sorry. Please forgive my selfishness and know that you and that house you spent your hard-earned money on meant more to me than any grand mansion would. Thank you.
Don’t be so hard on yourself sometimes. You turned out okay.