by Tim Hillebrant
photo by wafflley123
You know they say if it’s meant to be, love will find a way. Six months ago, I might have argued, but now I’m having second thoughts. Very happy second thoughts though it took a while to find them.
Katie had been my best friend since the third grade, and I’d loved her for almost as long. I’d always kind of figured she loved me too, or hoped she did anyway. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to assume things. The reminder of that slapped in the face so hard I was left reeling and stumbling through six horrible months of my life trying to make it stop.
Practically inseparable, we’d done almost everything together, Katie and me. Including going to that damn end of school party the last Friday of May, the weekend before school let out for junior year.
“C’mon Jimmy, go with me. It’ll be fun!” She’d said.
How could I refuse those bottomless brown eyes? That rich, luscious hair the color of dark chocolate? All with a face that could stop traffic on a major freeway? Not this guy.
“YES! Thank you! We’ll have a great time, you’ll see.” Truer words were never spoken- for her.
So we went to that party up in the hills where so our friends and classmates gathered. Katie was so happy to go, I couldn’t help but smile. That party was the last time I’d smiled for a long time.
People stood around the fire laughing, and having a great time. Katie was there with me when I’d left to answer nature’s call. When I returned, I saw her. With Todd Kimble. They were playing tonsil hockey with his hand up her shirt and her hands on his ass.
In one single moment, the air left my lungs, and a corkscrew slowly began piercing my heart. Every breath I took added another twist to it. Every time I closed my eyes and saw them together just twisted it more. I had to leave.
So I did. Not just the party, though I did that too. I left the party and walked into the hills not stopping until I found an old dirt road. The road only stopped me long enough to decide which way to turn. A problem solved with the flip of a coin.
I also left town that night and everything it contained; my family, friends, and all reminders of Katie Stinson with it. Like Forrest Gump, I just continued moving forward. Only instead of running, I walked. When I got hungry, I’d scrounge around until I found something to eat. When I got tired, I’d crawl into a hole to sleep, thankful for the exhaustion that took my waking mind away from my thoughts and memories.
That was six months ago. Six months of agony and of not being able to remove that vision from my eyes or the pain from my chest every time I thought of it. Maybe I had a few screws loose, but after six months of never ending pain, I finally had enough.
I wanted out. No, I needed out. I needed it to end. Which is why I’m here now. Back in the town where I was born, grew up, and fell in love. I came home to die.
The thought of leaving a note crossed my mind, but by now I figured nobody really cared anyway. I thought of trying to see Katie, but the thought no sooner formed before I banished it. It was like grinding rock salt into a road rash wound. So I came to the old Canyon Bridge that spanned the canyon outside town. It was six hundred feet down to the rocky bottom. The thought of dying scared me a little, but the thought of ending the pain appealed more.
Slipping off my shoes, I stood there and planned it out. The idea was simple, I’d climb up on the rail, say good-bye, and jump. Now I just had to do it.
Once up on the rail, I looked out over the canyon below as the sun set. I didn’t hear the sound of the car coming up behind me, or the person getting out of it.
“Oh my God, J-jimmy?”
It was her voice. My mind must be playing tricks on me.
“Jimmy! Is that you?”
Holding on to the light post next to me, I turned.
“Jimmy! What the hell are you doing? Get down from there!”
“Why would I do that?”
“Jimmy, what happened to you? You disappeared! Where did you go? Your Mom and Dad, they’re so worried, what about them?”
“’They’ll live?’ Is that all you have to say?”
“No, but that’s all I’m going to say. The rest doesn’t matter.”
“Jimmy, talk to me. What happened? The last time I saw you, we were at that party.”
The reminder was a sudden jab into my already festering wound.
“Go away, Katie. Go back to Todd Kimble.”
“Todd Kimble? What does he have to do with anything?”
“It doesn’t matter. Go away, I have to do this.”
“No, I’m not going anywhere. Jimmy, I don’t know what’s wrong, but we were friends once. I’d like to think maybe we were even more than that, or going to be. Can’t you talk to me like you used to?”
“Why, so you can run back to Todd and tell him all about it?”
“WHAT THE HELL DOES TODD FREAKING KIMBLE HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?”
The tears in her eyes and the pain in her voice confused me. Why should she care? I tried to take pleasure in her pain, but couldn’t. Instead, I sighed and explained.
“I saw you that night, at the party, with him.”
“At the party?”
“Yes. At that stupid party. I saw you kissing him. Well, trying to remove his tonsils with your tongue is more like it. I saw your hands on his ass and his going up your shirt.”
Katie stared at me, but I didn’t understand the look in her eyes, so I went on, “I loved you Katie. I loved everything about you. You asked me to go to that stupid party with you. I’d hoped that we were actually going together. How was I supposed to know you only wanted a ride?
When I saw you two like that, it gutted me. That’s when I left. I couldn’t stand seeing you like that with him. I’ve seen it in my head every day since. Time hasn’t let it get better, and I’m tired of waiting for it to try. So, I’m done.
Get out of here, Katie. Go back to Todd and finish what you started that night. You don’t care about me. So don’t let me doing this stop you. God knows I never mattered enough to you before, don’t lie to me and tell me it’s going to matter now. I’m out.”
Hurt beyond belief, I knew I needed it to end. Seeing Katie again had done nothing more than pull at the corkscrew driven into my heart, just to rip it out like a cork from a bottle of wine. All I had to do was take a step.
“JIMMYm WAIT! If you loved me once before, hear me now, please?”
Her voice was a sob, but I froze. Half of me wanted to jump and hurt her like I’d been hurting all this time. But the other, stronger half had to hear her out. It was a lie to say I didn’t miss her, so I nodded and Katie spoke. Her words tumbled out so fast it was impressive she didn’t mash them all together.
“Jimmy, look, I’m sorry. I never should have done what I did with Todd. For the record, things didn’t get a whole lot farther than what you saw. I stopped it. He didn’t like it, but I didn’t care. It was a test.”
“What do you mean a test?”
“See, Jimmy, I thought about it. I knew you liked me. The only thing was, I wasn’t sure how much I liked you. I was confused. We’d known each other for so long, I couldn’t tell if what I felt was just an amazing affection from our friendship or something more. So, after the first couple beers, the idea came to me to try something. It was a bad idea, but it was the only one I could think of. I grabbed Todd and we went into the bushes. I figured if I kissed him and didn’t feel guilty about it, then my feelings for you were just friendly. But that’s not what happened.
I felt horrible. I messed up, and I knew it. So I called it off with Todd and went looking for you, except you were gone.”
“That’s a great story. Too bad it isn’t…”
“Don’t you dare tell me it isn’t true! Damn you, don’t you dare. Do you know what I’ve been doing every day for the last six months? Every damn day?”
“Wishing you’d kept up with Todd?”
“No, you idiot. I’ve been looking for you. Every day. I spent all summer combing the streets and nearby towns. Even your parents haven’t put in as much time as I have. No one has.”
“Sounds like something only a guilty person would do.”
“Or a girl in love.”
I scoffed, but Katie was already shaking her head, “What do you think I’m doing all alone out here in the middle of nowhere at dawn? I’m not going to work, and there’s no one out here I know. It’s to look for you. And here you are. Finally, after six months. It’s kismet.”
“Kismet? What do you mean?”
“I don’t think I’d’ve found you if we weren’t meant to be together. Out of every place you could be, out of everywhere I could go, we meet here? It’s kismet; it has to be.”
“Okay, so it’s kismet. What are we supposed to do now?”
“Well, you could get off that rail for one thing,” Katie sobbed.
“I don’t know. But I can tell you I’m not ever letting you out of my sight again. I learned my lesson. I love you Jimmy, I know that now. I’m sorry I hurt you the way I did. Believe me when I promise you I’m never going to hurt you like that again.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Then don’t say anything. Just come down from there.”
“I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out together.”
There was no way I could not take the chance. My body was moving before I realized I’d made the decision to do so. No sooner had my foot touched the ground when Katie’s arms were around me with crushing force. Then her lips were on mine. Hard. And I was kissing her back. As I did, I felt it. All the pain I suffered left in a rush. It was replaced by a warm glow that started in my heart and spread from there. I knew then Katie was right. It was Kismet, and she’d just saved my life. Suddenly my future looked a whole lot brighter.
Tim Hillebrant is an author/photographer from Southeast Idaho where he was born and raised. Currently living near Boise, Idaho, Tim is a husband, father, and passionate reader. His other interests include camping, fishing, cooking, movies, music, and trivia. Tim can also often be found helping out with Writers Carnival, where he serves as a member of the administrator’s community support team. You can see other examples of his work at; www.writerscarnival.ca