Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Brooklyn Huerkamp
Loveland, Ohio USA



The Keyboard Lacks the Romance of Pen and Paper
So Tonight, I'm Traveling Back in Time.
He smiled when he saw me.
Not just any smile, but a real, genuine, full mouth, show all those perfectly straight teeth, absolute grin. And I couldn't help but smile back.
I remember trying to be sly and find out everything I could about you, half hoping you would catch a glimpse of me doing so. Or at least, I'd catch a glimpse of that smile again. We met, informally, at church. You sat two tables ahead of mine, girlfriend in tow. But that didn't stop me; I would try to selfishly derive as much attention from you as possible. I'd wholeheartedly give my best effort at a loud laugh, and sure enough- you would react right on cue. Our eyes would meet and I'd see that smile again. I would be floating for the rest of the service, perfectly content with my performance. And you stared straight ahead. To keep from further disturbing others, I would play games in my head. I bet you weren't aware. I would role-play the ideal, fake relationship; I, the woman and you, the man. I acquired a knack for replacing her existence with myself. It wasn't out of anger, or jealousy, simply hopeful wishing if you will.
I remember when we were finally introduced; just getting my foot in the door. We were right on our toes then, capable of fooling anyone. "Oh. Scot, did you say?" I'm not sure if I said it then, but it was a pleasure to meet you. You still had a girlfriend at the time, but I held no ties to her. The rush of deception still fresh on my lips. I stayed up some nights wondering what was to come of this. When would I see those lips again? And, that smile...I wanted you to teach me to smile like that.
Phone calls 'til dawn kept me close at bay. It must've been reassuring to have a backup plan, but I didn't mind- you were always my only plan. I never expected much from you. I never brainwashed myself into thinking you would leave her. But I hung breathlessly onto every uttered promise: "We'll be together someday. Someday. I just know it." And I could feel that smile through the telephone wire. That secret smile. The one only I knew, because that's what I was- a secret. The very concept that had begun to describe our relationship; secret escapades, secret phone calls, secret attraction. Ah, the exhilaration. Almost too good to be true. But that was just it- 'the forbidden fruit'. A mere taste of something I could not call my own. All the secrets piling up, yet I never lost trust in you. And you weren't the only one at fault, I had my secrets too. Buried deep in pockets not belonging to me.
Months went by and "someday" had become our inevitable destruction. "Someday" wasn't as soon as I had anticipated. But keep your head held high, and don't wipe that smile off of your face because of me. Don't feed me any more lines, spread any more lies; there's no use in wasting your time trying to convince me my absence was anything but a sigh of relief. You had her. And I had...? I had memories of a time when you brought out only the best in me. You embraced my immaturity, and even accepted my then gap-toothed smile; held together by metal wiring, rubber bands, and destiny.
I saw you from time to time even after my disappearing act. It was never the same. You stopped by one morning to take an extra ticket off my hands for a friend of yours. It wouldn't be far from the truth to assume my face lit up when I saw you walking up that driveway. I smiled. You know the one- where every muscle in my mouth is filled with nothing but high hopes. Coincidentally, I saw you at the concert that night. Palms sweating, heart racing. Were you responsible or was the loud music to blame? Then I saw it; that famous Gilmo' smile that had made me fall in love with you only a year earlier. Maybe it was sudden realization, or perhaps the drug concoction finally taking effect, but I froze. I couldn't smile back. There she was. The 'friend' you had taken a ticket from me for. Obviously, faulty understanding or pure misconception on my behalf. You must have forgotten that one, semi-important word before 'friend'. That one word 'girl' that contained so much. Do me a favor, bury that smile.
I prescribed myself distance. I would walk away and begin living for myself. Self medication at its saddest attempt. I filled the space with anything that would suffice. Anything at all. Fool somebody else, Scot. Fool somebody else. While ironically, I continued to fool only myself. I became a 'man-eater'; stomping on the heart of every boy I encountered. None could compare with the likes of you. You two had broken up, and your number appeared on my caller I.D. more so than ever before. I was stubborn; I would not let myself fall for you again. I would no longer chase those lips. I had lost faith in those lips. Saddest of all, I had lost all faith in that smile of yours. The one that said more than words ever could. I convinced myself I didn't miss you. I didn't want to miss you. Certainly, you understood my rationality and obscure tactics. There were a handful of those unexpected nights when I would give into temptation. I would dial your number, and then with every ounce of strength I could muster, hang up. Me, fighting back tears, on my knees, screaming to the sky: "Let's go get fucked up tonight! I'm in the mood to forget."
We lost touch, and I almost forgot your name. Until they played that song that night. I touched base with you; the mundane. You had never lied to me before but in that one instance, I wish you would have. But instead, you were as you always were. Honest. I should have known better than to assume you'd still be single. Nothing you said after that could revive me. So much for the promises you never intended to keep. So much for 'being the only girl you could see yourself with'. We had become strangers. Strangers with a past. I said I was sleepy, but it came out wrong. I meant to scream, "Make me smile. Make me happy. Me,."
Boyfriends and girlfriends came and went. I know we can't forget everything that has happened, but what do you say to second chances? There are a million things to think about, but I swear this time it's only you I want by my side. Silence echoed through the receiver. This is the worst time of the year for secrets, but we gave into each other. I dressed my best, hoping to appear composed. And so it worked, I suppose. We parked and watched the Christmas lights fight brightly with their will to stay alive. The sounds of the silent night made me anxious. Deviously, I tested the waters. I knew batter than to assume you'd think it unexpected. I wanted to take a picture of the smile spreading across your face. And store it with the others, collected over the past four years. For once, you showed me a smile that needed no deciphering. That genuine smile. Like the one you used to show me. I couldn't help but smile back, and I'm sure I'll never stop.