For part one, check out last week’s Serial Sunday! 🙂
Maria thought proudly of how she’d held herself together all the while as he’d talked about love and finding a girl who respected his leadership, who needed him, in whose eyes he could look and never need to search anywhere else for love – he was talking hypothetically, she could tell. He wasn’t in love with Jodie or any other girl they knew – that didn’t even matter to Maria, for neither was he in love with her.
Another date flashed into Maria’s mind, and although she fought it and kissed her daughter as if that would erase the pain, Maria remembered it just as clearly: May 4th, one year later…..
— Part Two —
… A lot had happened that year, the year after he’d told her they could only be best friends, nothing more. The two had still hung out, they had still eaten lunch together, they had still walked together, only the regularity died off as he got to know other girls, and as she pulled back in an attempt to let him go.
He had his first date that night, his first date with someone else. They’d walked home the night before, and he’d told her what romantic things he’d planned, and she’d told him what he should wear and how he should open the car door and pay for her meal and do all those little things he’d never done for her. After all, she was only his sister, only his best friend. She’d walked home alone that night, May 4th, walked the long way, as always, away from the soccer field, dribbling the soccer ball – alone this time – across campus, across the street, through the small park. She’d walked even slower that evening – even slower than normal – and as she’d gone through the park, she’d been overwhelmed with tears and sitting on a lonely bent under a lonely tree, she’d finally allowed herself to cry. What a mistake.
Tears burned her eyes even now as Maria lay in bed remembering. What a hard thing to say, now, lying there, holding her daughter close. A mistake? The tears on that lonely bench, the sun that went down slowly, the fateful walk in the dark past the basketball courts – a walk she’d never had to take alone before – the hooded stranger—she shuddered now and shook her head in an attempt to shake the image from her mind. She had run, pulling together all of her soccer and track skills to avoid him, but he was faster, stronger, determined.
He wasn’t there for me – it never would have happened – he didn’t believe me – I needed his support – his life went on like nothing happened, like he wasn’t responsible in some way – I had hard decisions to make with an innocent life on the line – he wasn’t there for me! Old anger ripped through the aching wounds of her broken heart, and Maria choked and kissed her daughter’s forehead. She lay there, angry, crying, wondering why – why now, his offer of love should come … five years too late.
She needs a father, Maria felt herself reasoning with her own broken heart. She knew he loved Courtney; even more importantly, Courtney seem to love him. She’d seen the way the two had talked and played over the last six months since the she had reconnected with him at the local Jewish Community Center. He had been fixing the failed heater in the gymnasium; she’d been dropping Courtney off at the center’s after-school daycare program. She was a single mom, and the center offered wholesome activities for Courtney to enjoy until Maria got off work at the firm at six.
They’d literally bumped into each other as she’d scurried out the building to get back to work, and he’d caught her as she’d almost gone tumbling down the stairs. It had been awkward; old images of what they’d been and the pain of those two recalled dates had flashed into her mind, and when he’d caught her, she’d pushed his hands away, thanked him briskly, and walked away. She’d not even tried to hide the pain and anger she felt towards him. Since then, they’d seen each multiple times at the center – the heaters were constantly dying, or so he said – and they’d talked a little. He was single and working in the electrician’s union, still playing pick-up soccer at the local park on the weekends. The more she’d seen of him, the less that pain and anger had shown its head – it was like she’d somehow pressed the restart button and there was no history to forget.
Today, he’d brought it all back.
The two had had another collision. This time, neither had been paying attention, Maria on her cell phone and looking in her purse for a pen and him walking backwards, pulling a large scaffold-type ladder and looking up at the heating-pipe above that he was about to fix. Somehow, the two had turned at just the right time, and Maria had found herself tripping over her feet in an attempt to regain her balance – a vain attempt – and then she’d found herself sitting, sitting on the floor with the items from her open purse around her and her phone closed and sitting beside her.
Maria opened her eyes as her mind continued to replay that day’s events; and for the first time in years, she found herself smiling at the thought of him.
Almost as soon as she’d landed on that hard, cement floor – she was still sore – he’d apologized profusely and offered her his hand. She’d taken it – it was a sign of a truce (it had been an accident) – but as she’d stood, he’d kept it and looking in her eyes, had spoken so softly it was as if she were hearing his thoughts. “When will I ever stop hurting you? It seems all I do… is add to your pain.” He had gone on to ask her to dinner tomorrow night, begging to rebuild the friendship they’d had, which he now recognized as the greatest relationship he’d ever had with a woman.
Could she actually say yes to this man who himself confessed that he was only ever adding to her pain, who … who …
Six years ago, he’d turned her away for reasons that she knew made no sense. Now, lying in her double bed with her five-year daughter, Maria knew she would be turning him away for reasons that made no sense. She still loved him … even five years too late.
1 thought on “Serial Sundays: Five Years Too Late, Pt. 2 by Ashley Bricks”
Girl, this is amazing. Are ya writing a book?