Eleven Miles

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Remastered Edition


Confession #6

Shell Out

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I realize I haven’t mentioned anything pertinent to the current situation. But I guess that describes life. Significance never happens, yet everything comes together in strange ways to place two contentious people along the side of the road for reasons neither understand. The fact that nothing ever happens with Abby and then, BAM, Rachel comes along and screws everything up undoubtedly reinforces my theory. I guess deep down I’m still upset she disturbed the order of my life. I mean, the low expectations and the great-scent thing were awesome. That both characteristics of my relationship with Abby demanded nothing in the realm of change had made it even better. But when Rachel invaded my life, she introduced a whole new factor of excitement I’d never found in Abby, and thus brought into my life an unnecessary shift from nothing to something. That, of course, was my newfound love for Jet Skis.

One day Abby and I headed off to the park to watch the lake ripple. There was no reason for it; we just had nothing worth watching on TV. As usual, we sat on the bench, put our arms around each other’s waist and said nothing for as long as the situation allowed. The lake undulated; we watched it with gaping mouths, and I savored the fact that her hair was up my nose. But then it happened: Some girl on a Jet Ski flew by. My jaw hit my knees. The machine looked amazing, and I felt fuzzy, and the girl and her teal one-piece bathing suit looked nice, too. As I sat there watching her, I thought for sure I had made a prize-winning discovery that day.

To this day, I don’t know how Abby reacted. Since I made a point to never look directly into her eyes, I just focused my attention on the Jet Ski and assumed she was equally mesmerized. She didn’t speak of it, but I figured she dreamed of riding it. I mean, the machine was unlike anything we’d ever seen before. Literally. We lived in a backwater town that believed lakes were made for fishing, not fun.

When the skier docked her watercraft, I felt compelled to ask about her crazy device. So that’s what I did. I didn’t wait for Abby to follow; I just assumed she’d find her way. I was wrong. Looking back, I think she was shy. After all, she had an aversion to meeting strangers and their strange toys. It didn’t matter, though. She had a right to support her quirks.

Anyway, I started talking to the skier girl and became immediately hooked on the topic. It was the only thing I harped on for twenty minutes straight. The girl seemed interested in my interest. She kept watching my face and smiled every time I punched the sky. So, after my excitement dwindled, she invited me to give it a ride. That floored me. I went for it.

And I loved it. The adrenaline was more intense than riding a lawnmower. It was a rush in a can, a Red Bull on the water. By the end of the day, when I finally docked and called it quits, the skier congratulated me for making it through my first session in one piece. I shouted my joy at the treetops.

It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I realized Abby was gone the whole time I was out there.

To confirm the obvious, Rachel was the girl on the Jet Ski, and I never saw Abby again. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to find her later that month and was even willing to apologize—I really didn’t want to lose her awesome scent. But I couldn’t. I don’t know why, but sometimes I wonder if she just dug a hole next to that bench, jumped in, and covered herself up. That was the only logical explanation.

But to get back to the current problem, Rachel and I started dating that very night. We hit it off pretty well: talking about jet-skiing, how much we thought weird people should keep their thoughts to themselves, penguins, and more jet-skiing. Eventually, we made special trips to Jet Ski camps, which meant spending entire weekends in ecstasy. Of course, that meant I had to buy my own Jet Ski, which was naturally the greatest investment of my life, if not one of the priciest. To compensate for the financial hit, I ate cheap for a long, long time. I’d gained weight in the process—the price for fun is often expensive. But Rachel liked hanging out with me anyway. She was cool like that.

But as the order of something became something more, things started to change. I realized we were in an actual relationship: not a small movie-watching, bench-sitting, jet-skiing thing, but one that involved talking to and looking at each other. Sure, we got to spend a lot of time on the water, but we also had to pay attention to each other’s words and pretend we cared what was on the other’s mind. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that.

I don’t know, somewhere along the line, what became something more started becoming too much. Rachel always asked why I didn’t care, even though I said I did, even though I really didn’t, and she’d accuse me of lying. I’d buy her flowers on the advice of friends, hoping to prove I could’ve cared, but she’d always get picky saying that plastic flowers from the dime store was not a proper make-up gift. After watching a few of her tears fall, and getting frustrated that I wasted twenty-five cents on the stupid flowers, I’d walk away to see if there was anything good on TV. That, of course, was when she’d come to my side, apologize for being so rude and tell me she loved me. And that would piss me off. What did she think she would accomplish by saying that? Abby never said the word love the entire time I knew her. The girl was obviously loony.