Francine Witte_Me and Eddie on the Boulevard

Me and Eddie on the Boulevard

waiting to cross.  My heart tick, ticking like a stupid clock.  Eddie and his dark hair forest, his blue eye ocean.  Eddie, who is only 15.

But to me, he is a man.  In five years, I will catch up.  By then, I will be beautiful.  My hair will be a riverflow.

Eddie walks me home from school for extra money.  Mama trusts him cause of when she broke her leg.  He was sweeping our sidewalk, and she fell from the garden ladder. Our beautiful Mimosa tree.  Eddie carried Mama 20 blocks to the hospital.  Past Mr. Steinberg with the snaggly dog, past Susie, the rose girl always on the corner, past the lawn chair ladies who look at Eddie – why don’t you carry me?

Your ambulance is too slow.  Eddie tells the hospital nurse.  Mama thanks him, here’s ten dollars.  He won’t take it, and I think maybe Mama starts to like him a little herself.

Every day, before Eddie comes, I tie my hair in a sparkly ribbon.  I borrow apple burst lip gloss from Becky, my best friend.  Outside, Eddie, by the gate.  The older girls look as we pass them by.  We are married, I want to say, so stop looking already!

And that’s how it’s been.  Me, Eddie’s wife in secret.  Together on the boulevard in silent love.

Until this moment.  Waiting for the light.  Cars swim by like metal whales.  Eddie looking over their tops and across the street.  Looking for something on that whale horizon.  And then, there it is.                                                                                         

Across the street, the candy store girl.  Arranging the newspapers outside. Thin, with midnight hair.  She is the beautiful I want to be.  I look at Eddie and the way he loves her.  The tornado starting in his eyes.

When she looks our way, he waves, but she doesn’t wave back.  She doesn’t even see him.  If she did, she would love him, too.

That’s when I know how hard I love Eddie, and how I have to let him go.  A boy/man like that with all the girls looking and him wanting the one who doesn’t.

 I tell him right there on the boulevard, it’s okay, I’m a big girl and I can walk home with just Becky.  I can’t tell if the sadness in his eyes is from me or the girl who is still not looking back.

The light turns green, and Eddie takes my hand.  We pass the cars standing still.  Their metal fronts.  Big frozen smiles. They are waiting, just waiting while me and Eddie cross the boulevard on the way to the next thing that is going to break our hearts.

Francine Witte’s poetry and flash fiction have appeared in Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, Lost Balloon, Stonecoast Review, Moon Candy Review, and many others. Her latest books are Dressed Wrong for All This, (Flash,) The Theory of Flesh (Poetry,) and The Way of the Wind (novella.) She lives in NYC.

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