Everyday I walk to the tracks where we met when we were fourteen. We were literally two kids from the opposite sides of the tracks. We were anything but opposites though.
Neither of us felt welcome in our own homes, so we figured neither of us would be welcome in each others. So we’d meet at the tracks and we’d talk. Later, when we were a little older, we’d share pilfered cigarettes and beer. We had to take what we could get. I’d bring Bud Lights and he’d bring Pabst Blue Ribbon.
I think we tried twenty different cigarette brands from Camels to the delicate Virginia Slims. Neither of us actually liked smoking but that thrill you got from doing something you weren’t supposed was very real. Our entire relationship had that feel to it.
It was a little better when we got our licenses, so long as we could get a car for the night. We’d head to the mall and hang out, or catch a movie. We’d always talk about taking whatever car we were lucky to have gotten and just keep going. Never look back.
It always ended the same, one dropping the other off in a place they didn’t want to go. We both wanted to fix each other, we wanted to be the one that swept the other out of Hell.
It never happened though. We’d end up back on opposite sides of the tracks counting the days until we turned eighteen, when we could finally say ‘fuck you’ to our families and just leave. There would be nothing holding us back except are own fears.
I had already started saving cash up for a car or an apartment, which ever we decided we needed first. I’d sleep in a car if I had to. I’d do whatever I had to.
Then it all went to hell. One night we parked by the tracks after a movie. I sat up against him, he wrapped a strong arm around my waist. The radio provided a soft white noise in the background. It was the most relaxed either of us had ever been. We fell asleep.
He woke first and started to panic. It was late, he should’ve been home hours ago. The night was my night to drive so I was in for it too.
I drove as fast as possible to get him home. I felt responsible for him and already started playing the blame game. I dropped him off and hated myself for not waiting at least a couple minutes just in case.
I got the verbal beating of a lifetime for being so late and so irresponsible. I cried myself to sleep like I had on numerous occasions, My head was swimming in a stew of guilt, anger, pain and panic. I decided right then and there that this was the last time. Car or no car I had to get us out of there.
The next day we met at the tracks as usual and I knew immediately he got it a lot worse than I did. His face was swollen and purple. He was physically beating, not just verbally like me.
I could sense a change in him. He talked about being beaten like it happened to someone else. He was there with me talking yet a thousand miles away. The way he stared off into space scared me..
We parted that night with the same promises of escape. I could tell his heart wasn’t in it. He was losing hope in our happily ever after. I couldn’t blame him.
I never blamed him, even when I found out he had hung himself. I took the blame for that too. If I could have gotten my act together and gotten us out it wouldn’t have happened. Being verbally abused for years was one thing and terrible all to itself but being physically assaulted by people who should have loved him no matter what was too much.
I ached when I thought about him dying like that, knowing I was partially to blame. Then I’d ask myself, why did he pick death over me. No matter what, he knew I would never give up on him and yet he gave up on himself.
I tried to convince myself that it was irrational thought. It wasn’t a choice of death over me. I also knew when you plunged into the dark parts of your mind nothing outside that pain and darkness made any sense. Sometimes you just wanted it to stop. He made it stop and I couldn’t fault him for that.
But now I was alone. I was also barred from his funeral by both his and my parents. It was clear his parents blamed me and took no responsibility for their hand in his downfall. My parents didn’t want people talking if I showed up and was seen. God forbid.
It was okay though. The day of the funeral I did what I always did. I walked to our tracks, sat down and cried. I felt closer to him there than I would’ve in a place filled with people who tortured and tormented him.
Earlier that day his sister brought me a card and told me to open it in private. She had been the only ally we had and she hugged me and apologized for her parents.
When I got to the tracks I opened the envelope. The simple slip of white paper said “I love you and I’m sorry.” Then I pulled out a small stack of mix matched bills. It looked to be about 150 dollars.
I had a fit of sobbing, laughter. He still wanted to help me get away. He never got the point that without him it didn‘t matter anymore. If he got that he still might’ve been alive. My question now was should I stay or should I go? Was life worth it without him in it? Only time would tell.