Since We Were Six
Cindy Kelly
Break
I stood outside, bored, wondering why I let Rudy talk me into walking across campus. I didn't like these kinds of parties in high school. That wasn't going to change because I started college. The music was awful: poppy, heavy bass. I didn't know anyone, and though I tried to be a wallflower, it was difficult at six feet tall with pink spiky hair and clove cigarettes.
I sat on the steps, smoking. People walked past me and smiled. I said Hi. How are you?
They said Hi. They said I like your shoes, or got a smoke? or that's a cool cigarette holder.
I said Thanks, or I don't smoke regulars.
They said Oh, ok. They went in. They came out. The milling crowd outside the party grew, shrunk, grew again.
Rudy musta left. I considered walking back to my dorm alone. Dawn had gone back a few minutes after we arrived. She was probably on long distance with Mary Kate. I knew they were lesbos, but she wouldn't admit it. It woulda been rude for me to go back and interrupt their conversation. I don't know why she wasn't honest about it. I woulda been cool.
More people came out. Hi, how are you?
Cool. They nodded, smiled.
Cool. I smiled, they walked past. I inhaled. Then I looked up and saw somebody familiar. I sat there smoking, staring, and trying to remember who he was. Tall, blonde, thin, attractive. Brown corduroy pants, Chucks and a Cure t-shirt, one of the old ones. I threw my cigarette down, stood up, stepped on it. Who was he?
When I was a kid I always dreamed chronological, in another place, a separate place. My friends were always my friends, but not my best friend. I only dreamed him. I didn't know his name but he was so real he was real. I made him valentines. I invited him to my birthday parties. My mom said it's fine to have imaginary friends, but I was never convinced he was completely imaginary. I heard somewhere that if you dreamed something more than three times it was supposed to come true. And hell, I'd been dreaming that kid from Kindergarten to the end of that last summer. It was him.
He knew I was staring at him. He stared back, almost defiantly, almost like he recognized me recognizing him. I lit another cigarette. I did not smile.
When he walked up to me, it was with confidence. He said I know you.
I said I know. I said I've been in love with you since I was six.
He said Really?
I said Yeah.
He smiled. Rad, he said. I used to draw pictures of you in grade school and you could never understand what they were.
We were silent.
Where do you live? he asked.
Women's Center, second floor, I told him.
I'm Jamie, he said. I'll walk you home.
Cindy Kelly lives in Amsterdam, Ohio, with her Himalayan cat, Ursala Miner. She studies English and Writing at Kent State University. In 2007, her short fiction and poetry has been published in Shine! Flash Fiction Literary Journal, Brink Magazine, and in Ad Hoc Foxtrot Quarterly. She is the editor of Plain Spoke, the Appalachia-Americana Literary publication of Amsterdam Press.