Just when it starts getting good.
Never Let Your Guard Down
June 29, 2006
Park bench seats on warm afternoons set long conversations in motion. Without the suffocating tension of the apartment surrounding them, Lindsey and Andy were able to speak freely. Through, their honesty brought more understanding than intimacy to their relationship. Who ever sets to fall in love anyway?
In between their coffee shop shifts and band meetings unplanned encounters sparked smiles as mysterious as both pretended to be. Bright eyes made it obvious that they had something to share. Their whispers and sideways glances left Pete, Patrick, Joe, and even Sarah to wonder exactly what had changed.
Andy waited on the same park bench where Lindsey always found him. He held a comic book up to read just to pass the time. Shadows shifted with no sign of her from the coffee shop across the street. Sarah waved shyly from the window; Andy forced a smile to be polite. Sarah was a sweet girl, pretty in a simply plain sort of way, but there was really nothing beyond that. Either that, or Lindsey dominated his thoughts too much to leave room for him to notice anything special about /Sarah. The sour feeling that pulled at his stomach anytime he watched Lindsey leave a room made him perfectly aware that now he had fallen for her he couldn't bear to lose her.
When Andy first noticed Lindsey approach their park bench meeting place, she was balancing on the curb placing one foot carefully in front of another and looking up at the sky. She had been walking like this for almost an hour already. The worry that was normally obvious in her eyes seemed to have relaxed into a state of content or at least hopefulness. Andy watched her carefully as she walked with her arms stretched out on either side of her. She was walking a tightrope between the kind of life she had grown to fear and the kind of like she lived to hate.
Happiness only lasted so long with Lindsey. She only knew smiles as the calm before the storm. Gulping every time her left foot hit the ground, she was waiting for the rain.
"Lindsey!" Andy called to her when she walked completely passed him without notice, "Lindsey, what are you doing?"
She turned on her heels to face him toppling off the curb with the sudden motion. Landing just barely in the street with grace, Lindsey watched silently as Andy jogged over to where she stood. It seemed like he was always chasing after her. The only others she had known to do that were the police, and they always returned her to the places she feared. Shivering, she closed her eyes tightly and hoped that Andy had better intentions. Lindsey wasn't sure exactly what she feared anymore, but she always woke up in a cold sweat swearing off dreams she chose not to remember.
In a life that had become fast-paced pace and full of living, Lindsey didn't take much time to simply observe anymore. The way smiling crinkled up her eyes seemed to hinder her unpleasant view of the world. It was much harder to watch from the sidelines now that she was always playing the game. Now she was too busy handing out her trust and grasping feverishly at the lock on her heart.
Andy began to worry when his quick steps stopped him beneath her stare. Her eyes were distantly studying the nothing that had materialized just to the right of his head. She had a look in her eyes that promised that everything that was hidden behind them belonged somewhere apart from that park.
"Is everything okay?" Andy asked her hesitantly.
Releasing a bout of fear and insecurity with a breath she hadn't noticed she had been keeping trapped within her lings, Lindsey simply nodded. A slight smile appeared on her lips as his eyes drew her in for the first time.
"I got lunch," She told him shyly, their steps inadvertently leading them back to the same old park bench. Plopping down just beside the comic book Andy had abandoned, Lindsey tore open the brown paper bag she had gripped tightly in one of her hands and graciously offered him the first white carton full of rice.
"Thank you," He smiled understanding the simple gesture meant more then that she was thinking he might be hungry too.
Pulling out the second carton, Lindsey concentrated on the chopsticks in her hand and the pair ate in silence. Although they had spent every afternoon for two weeks in the same silence on this particular afternoon the air carried a feeling too heavy for June. Andy feared it mirrored a heavy feeling Lindsey was hiding from him.
A dog yelped breaking the silence that was holding their fragile pieces together. The bark, as simple and ordinary as any other dog bark, set fate in motion again. But, fate doesn't always steal scenes from your favorite romantic comedy. And the times that it does, are usually only setting up for tragedy.
The dog barked again.
Lindsey took in an unsteady breath and watched a school bus chug by.
"Lindsey." Andy whispered, "Are you sure everything is okay? You seem dazed today."
Lindsey let out the breath and checked the sky for rain once more. Placing the carton of rice on the bench beside her, she tucked one leg beneath her and turned to face Andy.
"I feel like him," She sighed nodding off somewhere in the distance as the same dog barked for a third time.
"I...don't understand," Andy replied knotting his brow beneath his glasses.
"How could you not?" She asked with a maudlin shrug, "We're all living the same life. We're all just as foolishly trapped."
She bit down on her bottom lip, pausing to collect her thoughts. Wisps of every though and every fear swirled around her head in unorganized clumps only confusing her more and more. Andy sat besides her patiently waiting for the same thing he did every day: the one sentence, the one revelation that would prove to him that he could understand her. That he could be a part of her. He was waiting for the moment he would know that together they were right. Lindsey was trying to understand why she couldn't leave.
"The dog is," She muttered shaking her head to loosen the thoughts that struck together, "We're all more like that dog then we ever want to admit. We think we're free, that we're invincible, that we're strong enough to pick a fight with the moon. But it's all a lie. We're trapped by the need for human contact, by the need to feel this close to someone. We've got chains wrapped around us like a leash, keeping us from chasing squirrels, or dreams, or anything. And...those that get free, the strays, they're unloved, they're exiled and, and, they're no more free than the rest of us."
"Lindsey," Andy whispered letting her words soak into his skin with the sunlight.
Biting her lip again, she looked down at her hands and muttered the closest to a cry for a permanent relationship as he would ever hear, "I don't want to be a stray anymore."
"Lindsey." Andy whispered again lifting her shin slowly meeting her gaze. Her eyes fluttered closed and she could feel his warm breath across her lips as they neared one another.
Turning just before their lips could meet, Lindsey hurried to her feet, letting the remaining rice in her carton spill out only to slip between the cracks of the old wooden bench. "I should really get back to work," She insisted, but Andy refused to just let her go.
His fingers caught around her wrist lightly causing her to jerk back to face him. Her lips quivered with fear that he would try to kiss her again.
"Listen to me," He told her with all the cool ease of silk against bare skin. His hands cradled her face gently as her spoke to her, "You don't have to be alone." She whimpered desperately pleading for either reassurance or escape. "Lindsey. I'm not going anywhere without you."
Nodding her head still in his grasp, Lindsey gathered her tears and silently turned away from him again. He watched her dart across the street to reenter "Sip" to work as though nothing had happened.
Fate does not steal from romantic comedies or even carefully written stories about star-crossed lovers. But with all the same deliberation as said authors, destiny discarded happy endings long before Lindsey and Andy had any idea exactly what they were a part of or how little they could do to avoid it. All dogs do not go to heaven and fairytales were never meant for rock stars or runaways.