Friday, 5 August 2011

A Night On the Black River

She remembered like it was just yesterday, the cool feel of smooth stones under her bare feet, the sound of tree frogs, the dancing reflection of the stars and the sharp slash of moonlight cutting through the trees and dancing along the rippled surface of the Black River. The condensation from a can of Budweiser trickled along her wrist as she leaned against the back of her truck, looking into the abyss of eyes the color of rich dark chocolate.
It was unusual for there to be no one else there. It was a quiet comparison to typical nights on the river bank when the younger crowd would gather around a fire and have a few beers in the late night hours of summer.
He had a smile that could melt the heart and soul of any bitter old shrew if he were only to turn it on them. But, he wasn’t smiling now, and she wasn’t a bitter old shrew. Instead, he looked at her with something like regret. Probably not so much because of what he was saying, he knew he was doing the right thing, but because he knew what he was saying was hurting her.
She always knew it wouldn’t ever be anything other than what it was. But now he was saying it, and it just hurt so much. The words, with the effect of a dulled blade, scratched and tore at her fragile heart. But, she wouldn’t cry, not as much as a single tear would fall and clue him to the screams of her breaking heart.
What was it with those ridiculous words? That terrible cliché about the friendship being too important to muck it up with romantic notions rang shrilly in her head. She nodded and smiled. She said it was okay. She said she understood.
But, she knew she would go home tonight and cry herself to sleep. And, she knew that somehow, when she saw him again tomorrow, she would suck it up and pretend all was right with the world. That again, they would sit on the banks of the Black River, drinking a Budweiser and listening to the tree frogs, and he would never know how much she hurt for him.
So she lied. She soothed his ego and told him not to worry, that she was fine. She ran barefoot across the river rocks, faking laughter and beckoning him to follow her in for a late night swim. Because he was her best friend, and that friendship was just too important to muck it up with her romantic notions.