About the Boy Directly After

May 18, 2018

*sitting on the same damn hill, overlooking shitty YMCA*


I feel him before I see him. Either his Vans sneakers are quiet in the soft spring dirt or my mind’s too noisy to hear his footsteps approach, but suddenly I can sense him behind me.

“Hey, you okay?” he says softly. “You’ve been up here a while.”

I nod in the affirmative but my throat is clogged and I’m waterlogged.

“You’re crying.”

I laugh a little and turn my head to look back at him, as if to say, “You think?”

“Oh, man,” he says, looking at my face, and then gestures to the ground. “Sit?”

I nod.

He plops on the ground, sitting closer to me than the boy in the wrecked jeans. He’s loose-limbed in an effortless, lazy way and he threads his leg through mine, almost hooking me in place.

He holds out his hand. It takes me a minute to figure out that it’s a question.

I shake my head and turn my palms up, showing him hands covered in tears and snot and spring dirt and every kind of grossness.

We look at them and both kind of laugh.

“Those are some nasty hands, girl.”

He takes the worst of the hands anyway, and shoots me a sideways grin. “Didn’t figure you for a dirty girl.”

I crack up, but it’s snotcrylaugh and I try to hide my face in my shoulder. He’s always been able to make me lighter somehow.

He also has always been able to cut straight through my bullshit.

“He hurt your feelings,” he says.

“Shut up, asshole,” I say, face still in my shoulder.

“He hurt your feelings,” he repeats.

“I said, shut up asshole.”

“He hurt your feelings.”

I can’t say anything, just shake my head.

“Hey, I’m serious,” he says. “Look at me.”

He is so stupid earnest, this skater boy who looks like a little street punk, all blond spiky hair and checkered Vans.

So I do look at him, but I’m feeling mean about it. I also know that I’ve been crying so hard that my face looks like a jigsaw puzzle, and it’s humiliating.

“What?” I snarl. And of course, I can only look him in the eye for a millisecond before turning it to down to the grass.

He squeezes my dirt-crusted hand.

“Okay,” he says. “I can wait you out. I’m just going to sit here with you. But you’re talking to me. At some point.”

He bumps my knee with his. “I’m not scared of you, you know.”

Suddenly, all of the juice just runs out of me. All of the mean and the let’s keep this fence up and the very brave girl. It just all falls into the ground.

I collapse into myself and then into him. I bend and I break.

Just when you think you don’t have any tears left, you drench a boy’s gray t-shirt and gasp into the curve of his neck and shoulder.

He holds you longer and closer than you deserve.

He holds you, one hand around your waist and one cradling your neck, until you can breathe again. Until you can feel your own pulse under his fingers.

Until the sun starts to sink down, pink and all the shades of orange.

Until you think you might be able to talk this through, but you don’t. Because it’s too nice sitting here, remembering how to breathe again.

If only, you think.

If only this was the boy that you loved.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina May 18, 2018 at 7:52 pm



Sarah May 21, 2018 at 5:19 am

Heartache and grace, woven perfectly together. I love you, Goose.


Dana Talusani May 21, 2018 at 6:36 pm

I love you too, Duck.


Tracy Schmitt May 22, 2018 at 5:55 am



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