genevieve's letter

Hey Chet,

Oklahoma is strange without you. Remember that old car lot between Fifth and Third? It's still there; but some kids from high school must have scrounged up some spray paint, because it's littered with the oddest graffiti I've ever seen. Some sort of pattern of numbers and square shapes. I think it's code. They're probably on a hunt for some buried Australian gold. Wouldn't that be nice? You should come back, and we'll join them.

I keep remembering when we were kids, and we'd go down to the creek next to your house because Mom wouldn't want me at home for a while. You'd try to catch those little silvery fish, and I'd stay on the bank to make mud pies. I've always been afraid of fish; you've always hated mud. We make a good team. I guess. I mean, I know we do, but I don't suppose that fish and mud are the key aspects of our fantastic teamwork. Relationship. You're my best friend, Chet. I mean, you knew that, of course. But you are. I thought I'd say so again.

Remember when we were twelve, and you concocted a ridiculous plan to steal ol' Mr. O'Malley's yellow airplane? We were going to paint three red stripes across it and take to the skies. You said you'd fly me to Paris, because my mom always used to tell me it was the most elegant city on our planet. Then, you said, we'd take to outer space to find the most elegant city outside our planet. I still have a drawing of the map we made. It's pinned to my ragged wallpapered walls.

Then there was that time in high school. Prom night. You took me because "there's no guy in school that'd ask you, Genevieve Crossing." Your compliments have always been top notch. I squeezed into a creamy silk, and you wore a lopsided bow tie that accidentally matched Cecilia Langdon's copper-colored dress instead of mine. I might have been more upset if we had stayed, but you threw up from the spiked punch, and Cecilia mocked me so cruelly that I cried. What an awful night. It was glorious. You wiped your mouth and wiped my tears, and we stalked away from that pulsing gym with our heads held high. We ran down the empty night streets, flung our hands up toward the sky, and tried to see if either of us could jump high enough to touch the stoplights. Then we screamed our frustration to the echoing brick buildings of our wretched town, and you told me my freckles looked like a galaxy sprinkled across my face.

It was the best night of high school.

Except for the summer of '09. Fireflies. You insisted you could catch one in your mouth. I said you couldn't. You darted around my backyard looking like a drunkard as you snapped your jaw at every poor blinking bug that dared light his wings. Then loud voices protruded from my house windows, and I cringed at the hatred the penetrated through the walls and leaked into my backyard. My safe haven. You cocked an eyebrow and took my hand, dragging me out the gate and into the street. We stole Dad's truck and drove for 87 miles until we reached the Kiamichi Mountains where we stargazed and fell asleep in the sharp grass. I awoke with a rash, and you awoke with three bruises on your back.

Dad was furious; I was appeased. You laughed after we were threatened to be thrown in jail, and you told me you'd do it again if it meant I'd smile more.

Graduation came. Summer heat. Sticky air. You left. I came home to a weeping mother and absent father.

How is college? Tell me you haven't joined a fraternity. Tell me you won't join a fraternity just to spite me.

I'm glad you're not here in this hellish Oklahoma town. One day, I think I will escape, too. Until then, I'll be staring at my ragged wallpapered walls as I plan my inevitable escape. Maybe I'll use the map we made when we were twelve and take ol' Mr. O'Malley's yellow airplane. It's a pity I haven't got any red paint to stripe the sides.

I miss you.


P.s. I love you.

run away with me

The field flickered with sunflowers as the wind whipped strands of dirty hair in her eyes. The truck growled with rusty ferocity, and for the first time in three years, nine months, and nineteen days, she felt on the verge of peace. Blinking softly, she turned her neck, pressed deeply into the ledge of the open window, and watched Jem, his eyebrows furrowed in his odd, determined expression. He was thinking.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked, the linger of salt from watermelon still tingling her lips.

Jem flushed red, and he thrust his shaven chin out awkwardly, as if shoving away the embarrassment that polluted his demeanor. He offered her a quick glance before darting his gaze religiously to the dirt road. “I’m not good with words, Min,” he mumbled, his voice so drowned by the sound of his old truck that she had to strain her ears to catch the sentence.

A smile flickered like a phantom on her thin face, and she hunched her arms around her chest, saying softly, “I know.”

“Is your life …” Jem began and then hitched his shoulder up, drawing back within himself. He bat his hand on the steering wheel, his eyes not seeing the world. Only the spiraling thoughts in his disjointed mind. Mindie smiled, tracing his face in her mind. Funny, she thought, how the boy she once knew still occupied his eyes, his nose, and the thin-lipped mouth that quirked at a half-smile angle.

“Min,” Jem tried again, his knees twitching, “Let’s go.” He glanced at her furtively, his hesitant eyes suddenly on the brink of wild enthusiasm, and Mindie drew up straight, abruptly feeling the urge to fight the breeze whipping her hair.

His eyes flickered but didn’t give up. “Let’s go,” his mouth whispered, urging with honest emotion. “Let me be your ride out of town.” His familiar nose dipped as he ducked his head, searching for the words caravaning through his head. “Let me,” he whispered, “Be the place that you hide.” The truck grumbled on, but Mindie caught every word, echoing distinctly in her whirling mind.

“I have plans--all these plans,” the words started tumbling from his lips, faster than could form, “For a house, and a farm, and a treehouse for kids--and dogs, three--and a wild goat that will escape every evening while we sit on the porch. You’ll strum your guitar, singing with that free falling voice, and I’ll think--and think, and write--and Min, can’t you see? I’m not trying to tie you down. Unless you--well, Min … I’m just saying there might be a life here.” He lifted his foot from the gas pedal, and the truck drifted to a stop in the middle of the hellish, captivating town that held her hostage with all the pain and misery from the past three years, nine months, and nineteen days. Jem reached over and grabbed her hand, massaging her palm with his familiar, brown thumb. “Run away with me,” he whispered, daring not to lean closer. “Run away with me.”

Mindie felt her breath pulsing, caught in her throat and containing the flying pieces of her heart in a whirlwind of turmoil. His thumb massaged her palm, and the touch sent fireworks shooting up her arm and jolting her mind, numb with shock and longing--sweet, utter longing.

“Mindie.” Her name on his lips. “I’m in love with you.”

She closed her eyes, fighting the longing with every ounce of strength she possessed. Fighting the surge of joy heating her heart, suddenly molding the broken pieces into a lopsided resemblance of something whole. She blinked, her fingers trembling as his firm, sweating hand closed tightly over them. Assurance.

“Just run away with me.”

A nod. That was all it took. She fought it, fought the urge, fought the longing, and suddenly found herself weary--very weary--of constantly fighting. The fingers around her own were scarred, but they were familiar and comforting and beautiful because they belonged to him. Finally looking into his face, she found the eyes--so unusual and thoughtful--were swimming with wild emotion, and she leaned her lips over his hand, kissing it with a mixture of salty tears.

“Run away with me,” she whispered, burying her face in his shoulder and melting away from the fighting. “Let’s go.”


(Disclaimer: I have no idea which musical this song is from, but I adore the song
for what it is, and found it incredibly inspiring and full of story.)