[mousepoet]: 243.Contest entries-prose.
He blinked. “I don’t get it.”
“It’s called poetry, dumbass.”
“It doesn’t rhyme.”
“Free-verse! Prose poetry!”
“Whatever. It doesn’t mean anything. Just you trying to sound deep.”
I hated him then.
In all honesty, I had never liked him much to begin with. With his thick glasses and crucifix, he was far too close to who I was than was comfortable for me. We tolerated each other all through elementary school, through middle school, and part of the way through freshman year, until an apathetic disregard bloomed into heated distrust. In English class we had been partnered up and forced to read aloud a selection of our creative writing to each other. Our teacher was a former theater major who had plans to destroy our self-conscious
So I read, and cursed, and hated. I can’t remember what he read, but it wasn’t anything special. Something about video games.
I was shy, and near-sighted, and tentatively religious. The poem was my first. It had hit me after I watched a documentary on myths in world history. I was pleased with it in a half embarrassed, half proud way. It felt distinctly rebellious and otherworldly to me, like some of the songs I heard on the radio before my parents changed the channel, sweet and strange, all full of sex and drugs. All things that attracted and repelled me, maybe because I knew I would never understand them. My upbringing had assured that. Church and camp and songs and prayers. Quiet eyes on fire. Those were my formative years. His too, if I read between the lines correctly. So we held each other in disdain, because we were both ashamed, and knew that the other could expose our shame to the world.
The rest of the year passed without incident. We knew that anger had arisen between us, but in high school you either become vindictive or indifferent, and we chose the latter. So we turned fifteen, then sixteen, and I became a poet, and he started playing the guitar. He lost his crucifix and got a new one. I lost my faith, found it, and felt it slipping away again like the tide, slowly. We passed each other in the halls without comment. My friends knew I didn’t like him. He lost his friends in a blowout over a girl.
And then, yesterday, I found the poem in a box of old notes that I was about to throw away. I read it again, and I knew that he was right after all. It was just me trying to be deep, even though the writing itself was good. It was written in a fit of self-absorptio
I knew you’d be here, you always are. It’s a nice library after all, for a school anyway. But that’s not why I came, not for the books.
We are the same, you and I, when everything else is finished. I thought you ought to know. I thought you ought to know that I’m sorry I called you a dumbass. I’m sorry you lost your crucifix. I'm sorry I looked away when I passed you in the halls. I’m sorry that your friends picked her over you. I’m sorry you don’t have anywhere to go at lunch. I'm sorry for these last two years. I’m sorry I hated you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.