This is a short story I wrote about my friend and I. It talks about how our relationship towards each other changed as we grew up. The feelings and events in this story are true and many of you may or may not be able to relate to the things that I wrote. I hope you can, however. I like my readers to be able to connect to the things I write.
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Please check out my other story "Letters From A Nobody" if you have the time. Thank you for your time.
Where the Path Divides
Where the Path Divides
She came to school every day, lunch box in hand and an abundance of confidence in her stride for such a little girl. She had braids in her hair; adorned by colorful barrettes in no particular color scheme. Baggy shirt and baggy pants to match; a tomboy’s fantasy style. Her light skin made her stand out in a school that was predominately white, but children are only taught to see color. Her brown eyes reflected her honesty and many times, her competitiveness and ambition. She was unconventional in her ways, outspoken, and could get a conversation rolling in less than 5 seconds. An extrovert to the fullest, she was.
There was never a dull moment with her or ever a quick hello and goodbye. There was never not a person she made it her priority to talk to and there was no one she felt that was out of her league to befriend. Everyone was fair game and she could even manage to coerce a conversation from the introverts.
After lunch, her competitiveness showed. Recess was filled with screams of bewilderment as she kicked the ball over the roof in a game of Kickball. Or shrills of fear could be heard as she ran through a swarm of wasps just for fun followed by cheers as she emerged with only a sting to the cheek. She always knew where the best tasting honeysuckles were near the fences bordering the playfield, how to hang upside down the longest on the jungle gym, and was always the last person to be caught in a game of tag. She knew all, and understood all that manifested in her world of 4 ft. She always knew what to say, until she met Him.
He was a boy of a skinny, tall stature. His greenish-blue eyes were always looking at his feet when he talked, which that in itself was a rare occasion unless he knew you. His mother kept his brown hair cut short and he was an introvert of a special kind she had never seen before. Never really bothering to make friends, friends sort of made him and he was always a go with the flow kind of guy, which puzzled her. She always had a plan, a scheme, an elaborate idea and a path to take. She didn’t understand. What was the flow, and where was it going?
Every day, when time to go to the library, the girl noticed that he would disperse from the group of children and sit down on the floor with a Dr. Seuss book. Most likely to keep his creative thoughts and ideas flowing, she presumed. She decided to go over and make herself and her opinions known. After all, Dr. Seuss was, to her knowledge, the zaniest and best author of their time.
She walked over, undaunted, but her mouth was slow to speak. She hadn’t really thought of what to say to a boy who puzzled her. She had always figured everyone out.
“Whatcha reading?” she questioned, quite obviously.
The boy looked up at her with a slight confusion as to why someone he didn’t know would ever walk up to him and strike up a conversation just on an impulse. Yet, she persisted. As she was known to do. No one was a lost cause. If she were to be successful in gaining his friendship, she would have another line of experience under her belt. And it didn’t take much to make friends. The girl recollected that Suzy and Jessica had become best friends because they both favored the lavender colored crayon and shared it every day in arts and crafts.
“I like Dr. Seuss too…. What’s your favorite book?” She asked with an air of reluctance and sat next to the boy with a hesitant nature.
“Horton….,” He muttered. She was just pleased that he gave an answer and became animated at the thought of a conversation with the introverted boy.
“My friends call me Danni… What do they call you?”
“….Ethan.” Danni nodded. She decided she liked that name and that it was a good one.
“Would you read it to me?” asked Danni, feeling more comfortable as the silences and pauses interrupting the flow of their conversation began to diminish.
“Uh, sure,” responded Ethan, and the boy began to read.
She liked the way he read. It wasn’t of a goofy, out of the box tone that her parents usually took while reading any particular Dr. Seuss book but it was a tone that of a learned scholar. Someone who could tell you anything just out of the sheer fact that they had the knowledge to do so.
A tone that would never hide the truths of the world and held more secrets buried underneath it that she became increasingly inquisitive as he spoke and hung on every word. Suddenly, it wasn’t Dr. Seuss they were reading anymore and she could feel herself being transported down a certain road but to where it was going she had no clue. But she knew she’d love to find out more about what she could see so plainly in him.
As the days turned into months and the months made the seasons turn round, both grew into middle school through personalities that were not their own. Ethan became immature, as middle school boys are, but Danni believed the old him was still inside. Lying dormant, pretending to be someone he wasn’t in order to be accepted by people he was nothing like. Danni became increasingly boisterous and more boldly opinionated. More intrepid than ever, she had a few detentions lined up throughout her middle school career. She was lost and confused about what she was and who she had to be in order to be received on all cylinders. All the while, Ethan stayed out of her sight.
Both separated and belonged to different factions that never clashed. Ethan ran with a gang of boys while Danni moved around and covered all perimeters readily available to her. And they would always be readily available if she was willing. Occasionally, they would run into each other. There never was a conversation but only a definite glance asking the tired old question, “Didn’t I know you once upon a time”?
But through it all, she never forgot the boy whose greenish-blue eyes stared at his feet wherever he walked. And she stayed wondering if he ever remembered her from a better time.
High school fell upon them with a heavier load and once again the two of them found themselves further and further from one another. Ethan found comfort in another group of guys and Danni, as per usual, resumed her omnipresent position. Over the years, they both found their niches and this time, they clashed. Junior year, the universe was exceptionally kind and allowed them to reunite, picking up where they had left things last. Ethan admired Danni’s ability to spin words and shape them into anything she wished. She had always been good with words and he insisted she become an illustrious author. Danni saw, in him, the same learned scholar she had seen when they first formally met on the library floor all those years ago. She was just happy to have him, the real him, back.
They talked and laughed and as time went on, their relationship became more and more complicated as they tried to define what it was. Going into their senior year, with feelings expressed and promises made, they were over masked by responsibilities that divided their attention. College, as it should, meant the world to the both of them and was the only stairway leading up. Some days, Ethan seemed cold and distant. Other days, Danni was just as equally cold-shouldered, trying to pretend it didn’t bother her when they didn’t talk or when Ethan acted detached. In reality, it drove her up the wall, but she was never one to act weak.
Danni always had a mind of her own, and with her head in the clouds she always dreamed of a kind of love like those in movies while she waited for a sign she secretly knew wouldn’t show its face. She had seen nearly every Disney movie, knew all the songs, and her mouth could articulate the dialogues, verbatim. She claimed to know that it was just the stuff of fairytales but her actions spoke the latter.
She always had a good number of suitors coming forth to claim her but she never loved them like the movies described she would…. Should. She turned to looking for a different kind of guy but came up empty after many a fruitless endeavor. Always getting her heart ripped out turned into something normal and after a while, she felt nothing.
Ethan noticed the decline in Danni’s spirit. For the girl he cherished the most, he made it his mission to pick her up, dust her off, and make her his. Late at night, he would whisper sweet nothings to her over the phone like “I want you”, “You’re beautiful”, and “You make me so happy”. He always asked her if he made her heart happy and told her that she did that and more for him.
She was irresistible to him but the truth was and is that irresistibility sexually just isn’t the same as emotionally. Like many of the other boys Danni never thought he would turn into, Ethan just couldn’t love her the way she wanted. He told her that he was afraid of losing her if they were to be in a relationship and that the only way to keep her in his life forever would be to stay friends. He couldn’t bear to lose her. His old buddy, his old pal. Danni inquired that if he really wanted her, he would have tried harder. She could light a fire in his pants but it never reached his heart.
After putting on his coat and stepping out the door, her door, another piece of Danni was stolen from her yet she was numb. She said nothing, and certainly felt nothing for the introverted boy who no longer needed his mother to keep his hair cut short and no longer looked at his feet wherever he walked. Not anymore. Not on the road, where the path divides.