A could-have-been-mentor / a former lucky 7 / a half mile too far south,
Not saying hello because you’re fourteen people and half a field away, and I know that if I shout, I’ll embarrass the both of us. Not waving either because there’s no doubt that it would be intercepted by one of the fourteen, and then I’d spend the rest of the afternoon dodging unwelcome advances rather than watching you. Instead, I sit quietly in my chair, unsure what to do with my legs. I forgot my sunglasses, then I laughed thinking of Squints, and I wondered if you too might love The Sandlot.
Not watching your second half because my company turned around and took me with them. I sat through forty wasted minutes, watching old friends who I’ve failed to keep up with, fumble around a field with even less grace than I’d remembered. I checked my phone too often, and I still didn’t know what to do with my legs. I stole glances your way and noticed that you still stand with your hands on your waist, and it reminded me of cattle and spurs. I wondered absentmindedly which you’d hold tighter: boots or cleats?
Letting your parents find me on their way out, and feeling bad for not having spoken to them when there was more daylight left. I wonder still if you saw the conversation unfold, if you wondered what was being said. Same as always, we didn’t talk about you. We talked about me and school and the two years that I still have to waste on something that doesn’t spark a flame in me. When I was younger, I’d hear bits and pieces of your life from your mother’s lips. Perhaps she stopped that when she figured out just how much of my heart I could throw into this. Another case of protection by admission, as if I can’t handle one more damn heartbreak from someone I never truly had.
Waiting for you when it was said and done, but the crowd was dense and smoke-ridden, and I couldn’t bear the looks they gave me. By then I was alone and out-of-place, and there was no hope for a goodbye. I hated leaving not knowing when I’d get another chance. We haven’t spoken a word since the funeral, and I wondered then how you would remember my grandfather, and if you were haunted by my mother’s panicked eyes the same way that I am.
I never got to say it, but I always show up here once a year. It’s always the day that you might be here too, and so far you haven’t disappointed. There were too many people for hello and too much commotion for goodbye. You weren’t home yet when I turned the corner onto our road. You were gone again by the time I left this morning. I’m aching for something, and it could be you or it could be any man with a heart like yours: I’m still a little too shy and shaken to tell for sure.
Until next summer, Love.