I can see why you might think it doesn’t matter what you do before the end of the world
Especially if God is the only one responsible for anything that ever happens in this or any other world
But for my own peace of mind, I’d like to get my shit together before I die
I wish we could’ve loved each other, but since we can’t, I can’t really love you
Romantic love is only good when it is wanted
But you don’t want my love, so it’s not good for me to love you — at least not in any way that intrudes upon your life
It isn’t love when it isn’t reciprocated.
It’s just a half a love
If a man caught in half a love is kind and gentle, he can float away without doing any harm
That’s my goal here
It’s a good goal, given the circumstances
but it’s not love
and now i feel my love for you spreading out, getting thinner and thinner, becoming a lighter and lighter mist, drying up, forgetting you, forgetting me, forgetting itself
this breaks my heart
it’s ok to love and lose
but it’s hard to watch love die
you see it, you see it’s not helpful, you say it can’t be itself in a meaningful way, you see that it’s wise enough to see that there’s no place for it, you see that it’s wise enough to turn to dust and blow away
and it breaks your heart
it seems like a mistake
but it’s not
not this time
did you grow up in that little town?
did you grow up there?
where i was on my red dirt bike with the metal triangle my dad had welded at the front corner of the triangle made by the meeting of the front, bottom, and top tubes. It was welded there after I jumped a sloping cement retaining wall along a little narrow lot in front of a rowhouse and next to the alley, which was a foot lower than the front of the yard and five feet lower than the bottom of the house.
It was a nice town.
It’s where Sam and Sue grew up too.
A small red-brick factory town with a wide creek winding through it and bordered on the far end by a Great Lake with rolling waves, rotting fish bodyparts, smooth stones and shards of broken glass that had been flattened and smoothed until they may as well have been another smooth gray stone.
The factory was fifty buildings, all in 1910 brick, surrounded by chainlink fences topped with forward-bending barbed-wire rolls.
On one side was a large road followed by a neighborhood with only houses and a couple parks and then the lake, a neighborhood along the edge of a great inland sea.
On another side was a large road and you cross that and go over the bridge over the creek and you’re in the main town, where there’s houses and yards and parks and a Main Street with stores and a bank and a couple restaurants and a couple bars
On the far end of Main Street it meets (in a triangle) another big road and in that little triangular spit of worn-out grey, pebbly, cracked asphalt there is a convenience store that’s always owned by a different chain, a small square Dairy Queen with only windows for pick-up and that is only open in the warmer half of the year, and (on the outermost spit of the triangle) a gas station that I can’t tell you anything more about
If you stand in front of the edge of that asphalt triangle and turn to face Main Street, you are facing the long, two-story white-brick high school.
Turned towards the other big road, you’ll see a police station inside a larger brick building of municipal offices, and (turning further towards where that road comes from as it is travelling up to meet Main Street) a small square low brick library where you can get comic books, The Three Investigators, The Hardy Boys, The Great Brain, and most any other book you might wish for. What I recommend doing is taking out a bunch of different comic books to discover what your favorite is AND THEN start collecting comic books. I think that’s a real good, a real smart way to go about it. that’s what i think
There’s a little asphalt or maybe cement or maybe somehow both or maybe something in between road between the municipal building and the library. Go down that little hill and now the parking lot’s for the redbrick elementary school
I can tell you of a nice walk through a big square park full of giant trees, with pebbled paths crossing high grasses green in the summer and brown in the winter and then under snow a lot
That’s part of how you get to elementary school
I’m sorry but it doesn’t make sense to walk through that park to get to the high school
I’m sorry, but the way to get to the high school is to walk along that wide boulevard with little trees in little grass strips in the middle (the road that goes up to meet Main Street at the triangle I told you about). I know! But that’s the way to do it. That’s the way I know how.
I wanna say that Sam lived in Lawrence Park but Susan lived in Wesleyville. If they’d been born a few years before they were born, they would’ve gone to different grade schools. If they’d been born a decade before that, they’d have gone to different high schools. If they’d been born four hundred years before that, I can’t even tell you, because then there was no United States of America, and they were US citizens — of that you can be sure.
Both of these kids were good, upstanding citizens, and about as patriotic as they should be — given that they lived primarily in some quiet little town with sports meets, cheerleaders, pom pom girls, and a band for the left-over kids to join
I don’t know who there was in all this that I can tell you about.
I want to tell you about how I love you.
That’s all I want to do
But that won’t help you
So then it won’t help me
So then I guess I’ll write a book instead
I know before I told you that they just lived a couple blocks down from each other, and now I’m saying Sam lived in Lawrence Park and to get to Susan’s house you had to take Water Street up the hill (under the steel-walled railway bridge) to Buffalo Road and then continue on that way up some more hills before you could get to Susan’s house there on the (now I’m saying) far end of Wesleyville. I know that’s not really consistent. But it might not even be true. I might only say that now so I can tell you about Wesleyville and how it relates to Lawrence Park. Let’s not talk about Harborcreek, which is big and fat and ungainly. When you go up Water Street to Buffalo road, if you take a left and go down a short sharp hill, that’s what they call “Harborcreek”. There’s a YMCA, a K-Mart, a big modern grocery store, and some shopping plazas, and a Perkins, and a McDonalds, and a Putt-Putt (goofy golf and video games and the occasional birthday party), and more — especially a Taco Bell in the center of the K-Mart plaza.
This Sam, long and lean, filled out some in the small yellow weight room building back behind the high school. Way behind the high school, at the end of a long, upward-sloping parking lot. You have to work out like a beast if you want to become a beast!
That’s not the sort of thing Sam would ever say, though he might smile with white tall teeth if some other kid said it. I don’t know if anyone in that school could say “You have to work-out like a beast if you want to become a beast!” without any irony. Probably. But then he’d see that other people laughed like there was some irony in what he’d said. And then, well maybe he’d pick up on the general attitude without requiring further social cues. If he’s so dense that he needs it directly explained to him, then he’s SOL, because no one even knows that this attitude they have towards that statement is ironic. They just know to kind of smile and laugh, rather than to start bellowing “go team!” They wouldn’t know to go so far as to yell “go team!” in extra, self-exulting irony. Well, some would know about that, but I don’t know if they’d dare it inside the weight room itself. I wouldn’t think so. This is a small town. This is a nice, quiet time. There are no wars going on. Most everyone’s dad always has a job. And it is probably a good factory job at GE, where they make locomotives for the whole world and the world loves the locomotives that we make them and the world ferries freight from here to there with a merry click-clack-click and that’s our locomotives, strong and dependable, that are moving all that freight! And we did it ourselves! Right here! The mechanical engineers work with slide rules and then with big clunky computers that use reams and reams of wide green then white then green … lined paper with perforated edged with little wholes that I guess fit into spinning gears moving the paper along. These great intellects run experiments in the testing lab, which is like all the other rectangular brick buildings except its just got one floor and that’s smooth cement and there’s a big locomotive engine in the center and then tests and gauges all around. You can go there. You can look at it. On Family Day. There’s also free food and you feel kind of special that your dad works there and he builds locomotives.
Susan is very elegant. And shapely. And a smart dresser. And her hair is so bright and clean. She’s very smart and she bends over her books with a look of earnest concern, which gives you some idea of how seriously she’s taking school. I know that she loves me, or not me so much as Samuel
It’s not that I wish for Susan
how could I wish for another man’s soulmate?
It’s just that I feel old and like i missed my chance
and then i see them so young and possible and i think there’s been some kind of a mix-up, though i can’t quite say what
Everyone has friends
Especially these two
They have school friends, church friends, and neighborhood friends. In many cases, the friends are all the same: they are school/church/neighborhood friends
but not always
keep in mind that someone from Harborcreek or even Erie might go to their church, located at the edge of Lawrence Park and Erie set back from that big road between GE Transportation and the part of Lawrence Park that borders the lake and that is called Lake Cliff and that is kind of far from the rest of Lawrence Park because to get there you’ve got to pass part of the golf course and then that one old house on the hill with crumbly stucco interior walls and a baby grand and old furniture and books (you know because of the estate sale) and that was a stop on the Underground Railroad or so they said, and then on past a bunch of woods that no one ever went into and I don’t know why.
Samuel had freckles, an oval face, soft neatly-parted lightbrown hair, and an easy laugh.
Susan didn’t have freckles, or if they did they were not many and not noticeable.
Maybe she had a few freckles dabbed over her dainty little nose.
I don’t know.
Susan was not too tall or not too short.
Samuel was kind of tall but not all that tall.
I wasn’t really there, not in the way they were.
It was a long time ago.
Author: Samuel Hannah
Editor: Bartleby Willard
Editor’s Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andy Watson