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The Last Time I Saw Him

Short story By: Jaymi K

Children never see the harsh reality that we call Life until they grow up...

Submitted:Apr 30, 2013    Reads: 1,343    Comments: 33    Likes: 30   

The last time I saw him, had been many years ago. He passed by me as if he didn't know me, as if he didn't remember the childhood we had shared or the memories we had made along the way. The part of him that I had once knew was gone now, replaced by something society had made him into.
When we were children, we didn't care about material things. Our friendship was based, not on social standing, but on the basis that we enjoyed one another. We never noticed the difference in our clothes, our homes, or even our families. We only knew we had fun together.
But as time moved forward, thrusting us into the thoughts of a materialistic world, we began to notice things; how his clothes were expensive and stylish, while mine were hand me downs and thrift store finds. How his mother brought him to school in their shiny new car, while I caught the bus outside of the run-down camp house my family called home. We had began to notice, began to see how things really were beyond the rose-colored lenses of our childhood.
But it wasn't until we reached the beginning of our adolescence that it pushed us apart. Our worlds were beginning to change even more. It wasn't the same as it was when we were children; no, now his eyes began to linger on my tattered dresses and my dirty, worn out shoes. Whenever we would meet out on the playground, his 'new' friends surrounding him, he would look at me with shame in his eyes.
And then one day as I searched for him among the other school children, I found him surrounded once again by his new friends, all of them laughing. I walked over, a slow smile going to my lips as I wondered what joke had been told this time. But I stopped as I heard my name.
"Did you see Caroline? I swear, it looks like her mother gets her clothes from the garbage dump!" exclaimed one of them.
My supposed friend looked down at the ground, scuffing his new white shoes in the dirt. "Carrie's alright. . She's just . . Well. . " He broke off, using the childish nickname he had given me so long ago.
"She's just trash!" another exclaimed, causing the whole group to burst into giggles. He gave in and joined them, never once defending me against those boys.
With tears in my eyes, I crept away as silently as I could, not wanting to bring any more shame to my once best friend.
As the years passed, we drifted further and further apart. At school, we would pass one another in the halls, sometimes offering a smile or a nod, but never breaking away from our places in society.
I was the daughter of a lowly coal miner; bound to a life of dusty camp houses and no hope of ever getting away. His father owned the mines and the camp my father and and the others lived and worked; his son would grow up one day, an education and a job waiting for him from the time he was born.
We had met in the coal fields as children; both of our faces black from playing in the midnight powder that littered the ground, neither knowing what we were supposed to grow up to be.
The last time I saw him, had been many years ago.
As he walked through the camp where all the miners and their families lived, along the side of the dirt road as he surveyed the legacy his father was handing over to him, his pretty blonde wife on his arm. They passed by my house as I sat on the porch, telling my children to be silent as their fathers boss made his rounds.
He looked away from his wife, his eyes glancing around at the run down houses that lined the dusty road that lead to the mine. He never once looked my way, never once saw the girl he had called his friend, nor the woman she had become. He smiled down at his wife, the look on his face all to clear to me even from my perch.
They would never have to live this life, never have to raise their children in this kind of poverty; the kind of life that grabs a hold of someone and never lets go until they leave this earth.
But I smile as look down at my children. At their smudged faces and their coal dirtied hands that no amount of water will ever get rid of. The coal is in their blood, even in their very soul. I think of the poverty that made me who I am and took away the friend I had all those years ago and I can't find it in me anymore to regret.
The last time I saw him had been many years ago, because since that day, I never once again saw him as I did before.


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