QSL / Rachel Cleary

Paper Cups of Liquor

 

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We sat under a birch tree in the bed of my truck, talking for hours. We passed a paper cup full of liquor between us and felt the burn as it slipped down our throats. We talked about stars, about school; about the future. I told him everything about me from my birthday to the reasons I feel insecure. He comforted me and touched my face every time that he told me I was beautiful.

The next weeks were full of one another. It felt as if we absorbed every last piece of each other. He liked taking drives in my truck and getting as lost in Vermont as we did in each other. He was about here and now, making every second count and never letting one go without acknowledging the beauty of it. We went exploring and on crazy adventures. I was living on the edge and I liked it that way as long as he was by my side.

My parents noticed the shift in me. A responsible young lady turned into a rebel, not showing up until hours after curfew with alcohol on her breath. They would ask to meet the boy that was changing me so much but when I asked him about it, he said he would never set foot through their door. So he would wait a few driveways down while I climbed out of the window if I was feeling guilty, or walked right out the front door if I was feeling brave.

But as the trees began to change, so did he. I started to talk about college and where I wanted to go. He would light his cigarette and pretend I wasn’t there. When I did get him to talk, he told me to get as far away as I could because this town would suck the life out of me. I believed him. I worked hard to get out of my little Vermont town, picturing a life for myself somewhere else.

One day, when my best friend asked me what I wanted to do. I told her I wanted to be anywhere but here. When she asked me why, I had no reason that she would accept. I realized my crucial mistake. I had been forging my ideas based solely off of someone else’s. Those dreams I used to tell him where vastly different from the ones he told me to have.

When I told him no for the first time since I’d met him, he only sighed. I told him these things were my choice not his. I told him I wanted him to stay with me through it, we would figure it out. He smiled a little but pushed himself off my tailgate. He stood in front of me and placed his hand on my cheek. I looked into his eyes and he told me I was beautiful before turning around to walk away. I tried to yell out to him to stop but the words wouldn’t come. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of the leaves crunching under his feet. When I opened them, he was gone and so was everything standing in my way.

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