I’m sitting on this bench and I don’t know why. Avoiding him. Mad at him. Frustrated with him. The cement is cool on my legs, a sweet fall reminder to breathe.
I’m right off Main Street, straight at the heart of campus’ four-way-stop. I’m where all the passing cars can see me, yet I feel invisible. Protected. I am somehow masked. As if the bench that reads 1925 somehow transports me somewhere new. Old actually. Private maybe.
It’s the first place I thought to go when I knew I wasn’t ready to go home. Wasn’t ready to face questions about my irrational outburst. Wasn’t ready too see those aching green eyes. Wasn’t ready to shrug. Wasn’t ready to tell him “I don’t know why.”
I ran by this bench last week. I’ve run by it almost every day for the past three years. I never noticed it, nestled up in the wood chips under the shade of the huge tree standing above me, no doubt growing well before 1925. There are a few saplings sprinkled about, trying a chance at growth. I wonder what they will look like in 2115. Will this bench still be here? Will someone else be resting on the cool cement, hiding in plain sight?
The strong branches somehow pull me out of myself. I hear footsteps approaching, and I look up. It’s Zach. He’s found me. I mask my shock at the fact that I’m not invisible. He continues towards me, his eyes asking for a sign that he is welcome.
My eyes reveal nothing, but he still approaches.
Tentatively, he sits next to me. He doesn’t have to say anything for me to know what he’s thinking. He’s wondering why I’m here. Why I didn’t come home.
I’m wondering why I can’t say anything. Why I won’t say anything. So we sit silently together. Neither of us speak for some time, content to let the branches of the tree shade us.
I lay my head on his shoulder, feeling my unpredictable frustration dissipate. His body relaxes at my unspoken apology.
I wonder if anyone can see us on our bench.
I hope they can’t.