Ghosts of the Past

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a letter I wrote to myself the day I realized that it was now too late to make right a wrong that occurred nearly 20 years ago. More importantly this is a letter I wrote to remind myself of my friend who I lost so long ago-a friend who meant the world to me and only now do I realize it.

Submitted: September 16, 2016

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Submitted: September 16, 2016

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The names of people and places have been changed for privacy

It's true what they say-that the past sometimes pays you a visit.  Last night I suddenly was eleven years old again and it no longer was the year 2016 but 1996.   A flood of memories overcame me.  Yet they weren't just memories, they were feelings too.  Last night I dreamed of my friend Dylan in a way that I had never before.

I first met Dylan back in 1994 the year my family moved from our old neighborhood to our current one on Magnolia Street.  I had to leave my old school and start a new one-Audubon Elementary.  My earliest recollection of Dylan was in the school cafeteria, and it was only from afar.  I remember thinking he was cute, with his blonde hair and blue eyes.  Then when 1995 rolled in I headed for my 6th grade classroom on the third floor but was told that I'd been transfered down to the 2de floor to a combined 5th/6th grade classroom.  This was when I noticed that that cute blonde boy was in my class.  Soon I learned his name was Dylan and that he was in the 5th grade.  At first we had little contact in the class but by the next year the teacher sat us next to each other and a friendship blossomed.

Whenever we talked, I just felt so good and happy-and I could tell he liked to talk to me too.  By the end of June 1996 I realized that what I felt for Dylan was something more.  But being a sixth grader I didn't know what I could do.  At my house we didn't date until we were in college, and besides, I wasn't sure if he liked me "that way". 

Yet I'll never forget those moments we had, even if they were small and simple.  I'll always remember how we talked in school and that one day we walked home from school.  It was the first and only time we did that-and I felt so happy, tho I can't recall what we talked about I know we talked and suddenly we had to part to separate streets and that's when I realized that time flew by when we were together.

But I also realized something else that only now do I realize.  I always recall that Dylan had a sadness to his smile-a sadness that not even his sweet smile could hide.  Was he hiding something too painful to reveal?  I never had a chance to know because suddenly summer vacation came and Dylan and I were put in separate classrooms.

The next two years at Audubon were a blur and filled with boys who were at times obnoxious and who teased me because according to them I was "too quiet".  I realized that none of them were like Dylan, who never once made fun of me or put me down.  I felt sad that I never had a class with Dylan again, tho I did see him from afar in the halls and we often said "Hi".  I recall feeling something every time we saw each other and I recall that same smile that I can never forget.  Then I graduated Audubon and started high school in late 1998.

High School was a new world for me-a world that I realized that I did not like.  I missed my old school and my old friends and teachers and for the first time in a long time-I felt truly alone and lost.  Then one day in late August of 1999, the first day of my Sophmore year, as I came out of my classroom I suddenly heard a familiar voice call my name.  I turned and saw to my immense surprise it was him!

Dylan stood there, now aged 14 and taller-and tho I at first wasn't sure if it was him, I soon realized it indeed was Dylan-I recognized his sweet smile.  We said "hello" and I helped him locate his locker because it was his first day of high school.  I was so surprised and happy that he was again so close.  But our encounter was brief and if I had known that was the last time we would talk I would have said more to him-so much more.

The years of 1999-2003 were filled with my struggles of school, family life, bad teachers and myself.  I felt so lost especially after I started college in late 2002.  It was here that I realized I was completely alone-I had no friends at all and I learned to be by myself.  Sometimes I wondered about Dylan and about how his life was going.

I recall that I saw him twice after 1999.  Once it was outside high school and I can't tell you how I knew that he was hanging out with the wrong crowd but I just felt it.  It wasn't because he pierced his ear or because he now smoked (plenty of kids did that)-it was something else.  Then I saw him again in late April 2002.  He stood on the corner with a group of kids-and at first I didn't recognize him, but then I did.  I watched him from the window of the fast-food place I was in and watched him cross the street.  He didn't see me but often I wonder if he had, would he have recognized me?  Would he have said "Hello"?  That was the last time I ever saw him.

How were we to know that barely a year later in 2003 he would die in a car crash not far from our neighborhood?  Just like that, my friend from sixth grade was gone forever.

Through the years I've thought of him and now I wonder what could have happened if fate had been different?  What if we had remained close all those years?  What if I had taken him aside that august of 1999 and told him-"Dylan, want to walk home with me?"  It might be foolish to think that this simple words could have changed our lives or even have saved him from falling into the wrong crowd.  But what if they had?  What if my words or actions could have prevented him from dying that night in June 2003?  

All these years I thought of him and now do I realize that I felt love for him.  I realize that now as I review my old journal entries from 1996 and even as recent as now.  Our coversations were special, and how I wish now that he was still here to talk with and have dreams with.  I will always remember his smile and the way he looked at me those times we ran into each other.

But see, in my dreams he stands there and smiles-but his smile is no longer sad.  We then walk side by side and he says to me that he is happy and that now we never have to walk alone. 


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