If I tell you that I miss you, go ahead and ask me how I know. Most likely it will be a moment in time captured on film or more likely a collection of long ago moments that we shared. I hope it was a deep, wet kiss on the evening shade of a clapboard house’s porch. Maybe it was years ago watching the Homecoming game and I was wearing that white silk shirt with the geometric design. It was cold, but I wanted to show off. It may be that you were wearing a denim skirt that showed off the new curve of your hips. You were probably walking across that bridge at the end of your street where the dogs gathered to bark at those peacocks that nested, unreachable, in the thorn brush. You were probably turning fifteen later that year and I was seventeen and heading off to college. I had a feathery mustache that I would be loosing soon to the gravel and pavement in a head first fall on my last bike ride–ever. You would be losing your Father to diabetes.
But, go ahead and ask me how I know today that I am missing you and let’s see if it’s time to take a new picture…time to create new memories…time to know each other again in a real and meaningful way.
I was picking up lunch for a friend at Spiral Diner on Beckley in Dallas, Texas the other afternoon when the door opened and a face that had not been seen in fifteen years walked in. Just like that. I was mid payment and a little distracted with the whole exchange at the register so it took a minute for the both of us to take a second look. Fifteen years ago she was married and moving between the ravages of ending a job and the end of her Mother’s life. I was in the midst of a marriage issue and work issues and traveling to promote my anthology while figuring out the teen years of a growing daughter. Her husband was a new Pastor. We had missed lunches and birthdays and births and illnesses. We still had our lives pressing in around us as adults and the result was more missed lunches and phone calls and …well, things change.
Twenty years before that time she was my last high school girlfriend. We had been at different schools and were a year apart in grades but shared Saturday mornings at SMU in the Upward Bound Program. We kissed a lot on her Mother’s porch after I drove her home in my red and white Ford Mustang. We experimented with the emotions of young love, but steered clear of what the Upward Bound Director, Mr. Tommy Edwards, and our parents, called “Public and Private Displays of Affection”. Two of my sisters were teen mothers and already three girls had dropped out of that program and the hope for college due to pregnancies. There were those things and then, well, there was something else.
One of the weird things that tied us together beyond young love and the heartbreak of going off to college ahead of a younger girlfriend was that my best friend, David, had almost died in my car in front of her house. Had I not left to walk her to the kissing porch, then I would most surely have died that day in front of her house. Had our friend, David, not climbed over from the back seat when she got out, then everything would have been safer for him.
Had the two brothers not been fleeing with their grocery bags of stolen drugs crumpled on their laps and weaving thru the South Dallas streets, including Reed Lane, on their way to Oakland, then Pine and on down to the freeway…. If the older brother had not panicked and weaved and lost control of the heavy Buick with the cloudy headlight, broken mirror and rust-lined hood…. Had I not parked on that side of the street, in front of her house, facing oncoming traffic…Had David, not yet buckled in, not have been watching for my moment of making out that we would talk about for the whole ride back to Oak Cliff to drop him off at 3458 Georgia Ave…. Had only that fleeing, drug stealing brother bothered to swerve…to slow…to press gently or even stamp down hard like pressing out the useless butt of a cigarette…. Had the car not been pushed so far up the block after the hit…. Had David’s eyes not been opened so large in his shock, pressed against the cracked safety window shield, as the car fell from the corner of that porch five houses away and thumped against the hard, barren earth that did not ignite in the spray of the ruptured gas tank….
The way that I missed her before that Saturday afternoon, after a morning of pre-college preparation and the too short drive back down Hwy 75-to Reed lane-was by the anticipation of a smiling collection of kisses. It was by an embrace with the warmth of her dark-skinned cheek against my own yellow-reddish hue. I missed her in the distance of telephone conversations and mid-week letters with hearts and a fruity girl’s perfume with the opening of each envelope. I missed her in the hard alto singing of songs from her school play and the sweet, honest laughter of young love. I missed her in the dedicated resolve of keeping my palm at the hard edge of her bra’s cup and the one time that she took it off before slipping into safety behind the turning locks of that badly painted door.
Now, after the cashier has agreed to take both of our cell phones and snap the mega-pixel, retina friendly display pictures of this absolutely uncanny reunion, I can already feel the flesh of a newly birthed, and time-worthy, reason for missing her coming into my mind’s and heart’s eye. Her voice is so much deeper but sweeter still. Her eyes are older and more beautiful with all that getting older can bring to a stare. Her frame is a precious delivery of those fifteen year old promises from the distance of a boy’s constant yearning. Her surprise is a wet-eyed welcome that is worthy of a long-lost soldier’s sudden return…and my car…is nowhere near this side of the street.
How Do I Know That I Miss You is excepted and/or rewritten for the 3daysinthecity blog from the short story collection, That Boy, There, by Jas. Mardis