The Last Time I Saw You

David Preston

The last time I saw you.

You were laughing too hard at the party of that girl we both agreed we hated. I think you ended up marrying her. I remember you flexing your arm as you pushed back your hair. A beer in hand. You didn’t even like beer then. I think now you own a brewery? I remember that moment because your eyes caught the sparse light and I knew, I knew, it was GAME OVER for you. And for me too.

But no… that’s not quite right.

I last saw you on a motor bike. You pushed your helmet on, slammed the visor down and stormed off in a blaze of dust and sound. We were in the middle of the flat, dry desert. The road met sand, the sand met the dry, pale sky. The dust settled and you were gone. I think I was left choking on the dust you left behind. My eyes watering. My ears ringing.

Last I saw you, you were dancing in blue light. I was with you. You moved to a rhythm I couldn’t hear. Your eyes closed, your hair was long and a bit curly then. You swayed and dipped, your hands moved delicately like you were creating art. You were art. I looked up in time to see billions of stars descend upon us, colliding straight into you. A force of nature, a flash of brilliant light. I pushed my hands against my eyes in adrenaline and fear and when the light had passed, I looked up again. You were gone and I was alone. The world was darker.

I don’t think that was the last I ever saw of you. Maybe we were by the ocean. Maybe the waves were light grey, the sky was grey, the sand was white. You were wearing white. You were glowing in the face of the waves.

I was wearing black. I don’t know why.

All was calm that day. The salt filled my lungs. The ocean called out. I heard her. You did too. The moment you stepped into the water, the waves swept up spectacularly in welcome. You took another step and I thought you wouldn’t look back. But you did for a moment. I remember so clearly that your eyes showed no remorse. You left with conviction. No doubt. No fear. I wanted to come with you. But I couldn’t swim. You turned back to the ocean. Her waves enveloped you whole. You barely took another step before you vanished. The water smoothed and all I could hear was tide.

I might be remembering that wrong.

We were on the roof of the highest building. One hundred stories high. Up there, the wind roared and I felt the building waver. I saw the storm in the distance on one side. On the other was a pastel sunset. Your hair was short. Your eyes focused on the storm. I tried screaming that we should leave but my voice was taken up by the wind. My own hair pulled upwards. My feet, rooted. You stepped onto the ledge. The very edge. My heart caught and my stomach dropped. You didn’t look back when you jumped. Rather than fall, you flew. Arms wide, fingers outstretched. You tamed the wind and soared into the storm.

Or was it I that jumped that day?

Did I move? Climb with trembling knees onto the edge, look down. Breath. And jump into the wind. Did I fly into the pastel pinks of the sunset whilst you stood stagnant? Did I look back at you?
Did you call out to me?

No, the last time I saw you was on the sidewalk outside my apartment. Always a bit busy. People moving from A to B. Cars driving by. The air turning warmer with the spring. I was still wearing a sweater while you wore a light denim jacket with a cool tee. You were so cool standing there. Slouched and athletic, hair a awkward length that caught in you eye sometimes. You studied the cracking grey sidewalk as I said Well, goodbye then. Stupid elementary words.

I moved to shake your hand whilst you went for a fist bump (who does those). Fist bump to high five. Hug to handshake. Eyes never quite able to lock. A puzzle never quite fitting. Two silences that blocked out the other.

I think it was then that I threw my bag in the front seat of that car. I pulled out my keys and for one brief second, I thought you might say something. Do something. Do something. But the moment passed and I got into the car and drove off. I don’t think I looked back at you. I don’t think you watched me leave.

Or maybe it was you who left me on that cracking sidewalk. Maybe you didn’t look back at me.

I think that’s it. Honestly, I don’t know who left first. I don’t remember when exactly or what insignificant things were said. I do remember first meeting you though.

First day of college. You were by the pool tables. Friends brought me to you. Nothing special nothing fancy but it was cosmic. I said something funny (I think) and you laughed. The first and last truthful moment. TC mark

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