It seems like just yesterday when we would sit on this bench under this tree and just talk as recess passed by us yet despite that it's probably been over ten years now and she still comes up on my mind. Does she even remember me? Does she think about me as often as I do her? I ask myself these questions every time I come back here hoping maybe one day she would be sitting here the same as me looking out into the horizon of roofs but that day will probably forever remain a figment of my imagination.
As more families started to enter the school grounds I decided it was time for me to take my leave. On my way out there was a family of four playing soccer, another playing basketball and on the other side of the grounds was a father and son playing frisbee. Seeing them reminded me of the time when my life was a lot more peaceful and easy going. As I reached the front gates another family was going in. I didn't pay them much attention then from behind I heard one of them call my name “Junior?” they said it in a tone with confusion yet a little bit confident turning back I saw the person calling my name and it felt as if time had slowed down in front of me was a girl with tan skin and dark brown hair I couldn't tell if this was the same girl whom I've spent a lot of time thinking about yet somehow my heart was beating fast as if it knew who this person was and deep down I thought the same.
“Yeah” I answered back
“Do you remember me? We used to go to this school together.” she said
“Jackie right, we used to hangout all the time during recess.” I said, holding back a smile from the happiness I felt.
“Such a coincidence seeing you back here when did you move back into town?” she asked
“I’ve been back since 6th grade but I went to a different school when I got back.” I answered. I wanted to ask if she wanted to go for a walk but something just felt awkward, the same vibe I got from back then seemed to be gone.
“Um is it ok to go for a walk just the two of us real quick only if i'm not interrupting anything of course.” I asked to finally catch up just after all this time it felt like this would be my last time to do so for some reason.
“Yeah that's fine I just have to tell those two I’ll be gone for a bit and I'll be right back.” she said with a face that almost seemed to scream why now I couldn't blame her after all it does seem a bit suspicious. As she ran towards the others I thought of what I would say to her or what I could say to her. There was only one thing I knew for sure: I would tell her my feelings at the end.
“So how long do you think this walk will take?” she came back while I was spacing out. I would be lying if I said it didn't make me jump a bit.
“Oh it shouldn't take longer than a walk around the block, let's get going shall we?” I didn’t know how long it would actually take but I wouldn't want to waste her time just catching up.
- - -
For the first couple of houses the walk was silent until she finally decided to break it with a question.
“So what happened after you moved away?” That was her question: it was simple yet the answers came with painful memories of the past.
“Well a little after I left I want to say one year was the start of me learning what it was like to live without a home.” I said with little hesitation but by the look on her face it seemed like I should have held back a little.
“That sounds really-”
“Dark yeah sorry about that.” I cut her off because for some reason whenever people gave me that look of pity it made me sad even if I thought about those times I wouldn’t tear up but whenever someone else asked I would start tearing up like the floodgates had been opened. I quickly tried to change the subject by asking a question of my own.
“So what about you, what have you been doing all these years?” I had actually already known the answer. I found her social account a few months ago. I know what she has been doing since I moved but I never reached out. I was too afraid that she may have forgotten me.
“Well after graduating Elementary I started working at my family's farm a whole lot more eventually they let me join a Charrería. Since then I've been following my dream of working with horses. I even got to do some shows outside the states.” She replied with more or less what I had expected but I wasn't expecting her to mention her dream back then because she wanted to be a veterinarian. I guess time really does change some people.
We were nearing the end of the walk by now it's strange the block around seemed to be a lot bigger as a kid. Up ahead were the two people she came with, one man about the same age as us and a small little girl who couldn't have been older than 10. I thought about telling her my feelings right then and there but something didn't feel right like I would be ruining something that hasn't come to be yet.
The little girl came running over to us she seemed to be in very high spirit when she got to us she asked Jackie when they were going to play she said it in that puppy dog face all kids have honestly she looked so much like Jackie it felt like looking into the past she used to make the same face when she wanted help with math tests.
“Your kid I'm assuming?” I asked
“Huh oh no she's my niece I'm still on the fence about whether or not to have some of my own.” Judging from that statement I guessed she was currently in a relationship at the moment.
Without thinking my mouth decided to say what I've been thinking ever since she called my name about 20 minutes ago “Is that your boyfriend back there?” I don't know what made me ask maybe curiosity or just plain stupidity.
“Actually my fiancé we've been engaged for about 3 months now I believe.” She answered and with that my hope of getting into a intimate relationship shattered
“I see well uhm I gotta get going now, I wouldn't want to waste any more of your time than I already have.” After hearing that she was in a relationship I didn't want to intrude anymore into her life. I wanted to sink into a hole for even thinking I had a chance.
“I see well it was great meeting you again after all this time.”
“Yeah definitely we should catch up more at a later date see ya.”
Despite my words at that time I knew for sure that was the last time we would ever interact with each other and even though my first love ended right where it started on the ride home I realized she was no longer the same person I fell in love with and maybe it was my turn to finally move on.
- - -
“What's up with that story dad? We wanted to know how you fell in love with mom, not some woman we don't know.”
“Yeah yeah stop wasting our time.”
“What but you asked about the story of my first love didn't you.”
“We thought Mom was your first love though you always say she was your first love.”
“Yeah what's up with that, have you been lying to us?”
“No, your mother is without a doubt my first true love but that story is for when you're older.”
“No, we want to hear it now, tell us now.”
“Nope it's time for bed so go to sleep. Goodnight my princesses.”
“Fine you win today Papa but we are definitely getting you to tell that story one day.”
‘’As I said when you're older, now say goodnight or no night light.”
“Goodnight then Papa you better remember to tell us the story later”
“Sleep tight, don't let the light bugs bite.”
“There is no such thing as light bugs pa- zoozoozoo”
“Yeah Ye- zoozoozoo”
“Uh finally they fell asleep they're always so hyper but when they sleep like this they look like angels. right Grace? I hope you can see them from way up there?”
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