Reasons To Run, Day 601ish
It’s the day after I ran from the goodnight kiss. It’s the day after I ran from the “goodnight” altogether! Ryan has asked me to go for another walk in the woods near our houses. We’ve plodded along, commenting on the weather and other inconsequentials. We’ve maneuvered through vines and balanced on fallen trees, but my carefully pounding heart warns that I’m maneuvering through something more difficult than vines, and balancing on the very thin line between the past and the future.
Ryan is as lighthearted and easy going as ever. His voice holds no malice as he laughs and asks, “Hey, remember last night? Remember how your hand was poised on the door handle of the car a full two miles before we got to your house?”
“It was not,” I say.
“The really crazy part, though, was when you leapt from the car before it had even come to a complete stop, you rolled across the gravel like a combat soldier and when I went to ask if you were okay all I saw was a streak of lightening, that looked something like you, bolting through your front door.”
I force a laugh, shrug my shoulders and look at the ground.
We’re walking through a dried up creek bed now. There is an old green pipe, once used to direct the water, buried in the ground. It’s as big around as the circle of my arms, and sticks out from where it’s buried, far enough to make a bench for two. Ryan sits on it as he continues to tease me, and he motions for me to sit next to him.
As always, we end up in our own private world, even out in the wide open. My legs are wobbly and my heartbeat is visible, but there is a certain amount of comfort and safety tucked away with us here, somewhere in the dirt walls, somewhere in the shelter of the tree branches. I lean my back against his chest and we look out in the direction of those bare tree limbs, crawling out against the background of blue sky.
“So what is it?” Ryan asks, “Why did you jump out of a moving car just to get away from me?”
It would be silly to deny it, even though it is a gross exaggeration. It’s time to be honest, to be brave and say scary things. I feel my spine stiffen against him. “I just think I’m not ready for us to be kissing yet. It’s such a big step away from our friendship.”
There’s no response for a few long seconds, and I break a thin twig between my fingers over and over again to keep busy.
“Okay,” He finally says, with a determined acceptance. “Just whatever you do, don’t endanger yourself anymore by leaping from cars while they’re still in motion! That won’t be necessary. The mutual goal will be for you to get to the front door with as little road rash as possible.”
I sit straight up and turn my head to give him a smile, complete with my two deep dimples. What a talent he has for making me smile and laugh during the most unlikely of circumstances.
He lays a hand on my shoulder and levels his eyes at me. “It’s okay Amie. I care about you a lot and I don’t want to lose you. Whatever you’re comfortable with is alright with me.”
I breathe out and sink back against his chest. The view of the tree branches is so much more like a canopy than it was before.
We enjoy a moment of easy, quiet contemplation, and then he says, “I remember the day I found out you were moving back.”
I sit up again, and this time, angle my body to look at him. “What?”
I was in the hall at school, and I was by Kristin’s locker. She asked me if I remembered Amie Gee. After I told her that I did remember you, she told me that you were moving back. She had a picture of you in her locker, the school picture that you mailed to her, and she showed it to me. I can still remember exactly what that picture looked like.”
The woods have gone so quiet. All of nature has stilled itself, to witness his confession.
“Really?” My response is no more than a whisper.
“Well, who could forget a picture like that? That picture, along with my memories of you and the excitement of you coming back here? I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I remember as clear as anything, laying in my bed that night and thinking to myself ‘I’m gonna make that girl mine one day’.”
Even my own vital signs are hushed now, loving what they’re hearing so much that they wouldn’t dare put up interference. My heart reaches, pulling my entire upper body closer to his. My eyes don’t move from his eyes. My head moves back and forth, gently shaking off some of its own foolishness.
“All of the sudden, I don’t think I feel like running away anymore,” I say.
“You sure?” he asks, with a confident half smile, “Because if you did, I’d just have to make sure and be here when you came running back.”
My only response is to close another inch of the distance between us.
Ryyyyaaaaaan!” Suddenly a deep and booming voice seems to shake the birds from the branches. Our heads both snap in the direction the sound has come from.
“Was that your Dad?” I ask.
“I think so. What time is it?” He grabs my wrist and looks at my watch, seeing for himself, before he finishes the question. “Oh man! How did so much time go by so fast?”
“Oh no! You’re late? Ryan, hurry, we have to get you home! Your parents will hate me!”
I jump to my feet and tug on his arm.
He stands up, but plants his feet. “It’s okay Amie. Even if I get in trouble, it was worth it.”
“No it isn’t!” I continue to tug on his arm. “It isn’t alright. I’m not going to get you in trouble. Come on, hurry!”
“I’ll only go if you promise I can see you tomorrow… that is if I’m not grounded.” He’s half joking, but it only makes me panic more.
“Yes. Yes. Of course, tomorrow! I promise! Just please hurry home!”
The promise of tomorrow. What does a tomorrow bring after the today we’ve had? Will tomorrow bring parental interference? Will tomorrow bring death defying dives from moving vehicles? Maybe… just maybe… tomorrow, there will be no more reasons to run.