Teenage Love and Heartbreak
by Eric J. Krause
No one cares. No one listens. Everyone sucks! They babble on about how she's my first love, and I'll have plenty more, but they don't get it. She's my everything; my only, for now and forever!
"We leave in two weeks," Nat told me. "Dad got a new job in Bakersfield. Bakersfield! Can you imagine? What am I supposed to do there?"
"Don't go." That's all I said. I should have elaborated, maybe proposed. But I left it at that. "Don't go."
She laughed without humor. "Yeah, right. That'd go over big with my parents." Then she gave me a gentle kiss and a hug, and left. I watched her go. Why hadn't I followed? I should have followed.
I tried texting and calling her over the next few days, and even went to her house, but she wouldn't talk to me. Jenny Brewster, Natalie's best friend, explained why.
"She loves you, but if she sees you, this'll be way harder for her. She doesn't want to forget you, but she knows she has to."
It made sense. Sort of. I guess. But it didn't make me happy. We could have had an awesome final two weeks together, but I obeyed her wishes, relayed through Jenny, and stayed away.
Honestly, I didn't plan for it to work out the way it did. What happened was spur-of-the-moment, seat-of-my-pants. I doubt many people would believe that, but it's the truth. Cross my heart and hope to die. But I never actually hoped to die. That's just the way things worked out.
Two days before she was to leave forever, I saw her at Royal Pond Park, one of our favorite hang-out spots. Like I said, I didn't plan to meet here there, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't hoped. In fact, I'd hoped so much that I'd raided my piggy bank and converted that change to bills. I'm sure you're thinking it's silly for a fifteen year old to have a piggy bank, but I'd had it since birth. And I'd never once taken anything from it. So there I was, cruising around on my skateboard with a fortune in my pocket -- over 300 bucks.
So I hadn't planned, but I'd prepared. When I saw her across the pond, everything entered my mind at once. She saw me coming and didn't run off. That's when I knew it'd all work out.
I'm not quite sure how she died. I mean, I know it was the fall from the roof of the 7-11, but I don't know if it was an accident or murder. She yelled at me, I shoved her, and she stumbled. If that ladder hadn't been there, I don't think she would have tumbled down. But what do I know?
"I want to be with you. I do. I love you." She paused, and the look in her eyes told me I wouldn't like what she had to say next. "But this is crazy. Stupid even. We're way too young to run off together, to start an adult life. I know I am."
I tried to reason with her. I said something along the lines of we weren't too young, and I wasn't stupid. She didn't listen, but turned to climb down off the roof. I tried one last thing, this time proving how incredibly stupid I really was.
"If you leave now, you're dead to me."
A ton of different emotions flashed across her face until anger stuck. "This is why I didn't want to see you anymore."
That did it. I shoved her. I didn't do it to hurt her. Instead, my emotionally overcharged brain used the physical to show the symbolical. I pushed her away. She stumbled backwards, her feet smacked into the top of the ladder, and she tumbled off to the pavement below. A fall from that height isn't usually fatal, but she landed awkwardly. I saw right away that she'd died instantly, and a little bit of me died with her. It wouldn't be long before the rest of me joined her.
I shimmied down the ladder and bolted before someone came out of the convenience store. She'd fallen to the side, in an alley. Pretty convenient for me. I still had 300 dollars and change in my pocket, and I'd need it in my new life on the run from the law. Or so I thought.
I wish I could say my death was symbolic, as in the loss of my youth and innocence. Or that I offed myself in a perfect Romeo and Juliet-type suicide. Or maybe even that I'd gone out in a made for the big screen action sequence. But no. Late the next night, I bedded down on a park bench in a strange town. A floating sensation jarred me awake, and I found myself rising to the sky, my body lying in a pool of blood from a gushing wound in my neck, while a scraggly man, presumably my killer, ran away with my cash clutched in his fists. As I moved towards that proverbial white light, my thoughts focused on Natalie and a possible reconciliation. Maybe it had worked out for the best after all.