April showers bring May flowers

After young, hopeless romantic Kevin is shut down by his true love he is distraught. She sends him away into the rain like a wounded puppy, and Kevin is a lost cause. Will April come around or will Kevin jump the bridge as he is tempted to?

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1. April

I ran up the drive to April’s house, nearly coughing up a lung from running. I wanted to quit but by God I knew I was only steps away from having her in my arms. I slipped coming up the steps, landing hard on the concrete and slicing my hands open. Swearing under my breath I scrambled up, knocked on the door and stood back. The door swung open and there was April. She was still in her makeup from the dance recital she had just returned from, yet she was still as beautiful as ever. Of Chinese descent, her gentle features and eyes burned with sympathy for me, now standing on her front stoop catching my breath and soaking wet. April said, “Come in out of this weather I, you look terrible!” I contemplated before saying, “No I am here because I am risking it all, I have one more shot and I am taking it. From the moment I met you I was in love with you. I loved your personality, how beautiful you were, your laugh, the way your hair falls when you take it out of your bun. I just need to know if you like me right now, or ever will.” April stood there for a moment before saying, “I think you should come inside.” I finally obliged, stepping into the warmth of the house and sitting on the couch beneath a towel April had brought him due to the fact that I was soaking wet. April sat across from me and I could feel the tension rising Finally, I began by asking, “Well, do you love me?” “No I don’t love you and I never have. We are too young for love.” “You don’t honestly believe that do you?” “Yes I do, lave is for mature people. You are trying to be mature and its making both of us look stupid.” At this I rose from my seat and made for the door. I murmured goodbye one last time and prayed she would yell after me to stop, to fulfil the fantasy of true love that media had spoon fed us since our diaper days. Of course, she didn’t say a thing and I walked back into the rain, trudging down the street and splashing subconsciously through the puddles toward home. I was steaming with anger as I walked. I had done everything right, I had been the perfect boyfriend and all she had to do was say yes. All she had to do was tell me what I hoped and prayed she was really feeling: love. By the time I had reached home I still had not riddled it out and so abandoned the idea. I let myself into the house, then into the adjoining garage. It was cold and damp in the garage, so I cranked the heat up by way of the ancient thermostat on the wall. Flicking on the light, I spotted my punching bag hanging on a chain. I walked over to it, wrapped my hands with cloth and then slid on my gloves. As I took my shirt off I smelt the sweat and blood on the tearing fabric of the bag and I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. In the beginning of tenth grade (it was now the summer), I had started boxing for the first time after watching a film about a fighter who ends up getting the girl. I perched myself on the workbench and thought of how I had gotten into boxing. At that point in my life, I had no girl. I did, however, have pent up anger from kids bullying me at school. One day, after a particularly annoying jock named Tyler poked me I snapped. I jumped across the table and tackled him to the floor. He stood up and put his fists up but I swung my fist into his large gut. He doubled over and so in one fell swoop I grabbed him by the shoulders and drilled my knee into his face, knocking him to the floor. When he came to, we became good friends; training each other to fight in the promise we would never actually knock each other out again. Falling out of my memory, I wiped the tears of pent up emotion from my eyes and braced myself in front of the bag. I started with a few jabs, then after working up a sweat I began to kick the bag. With each kick or punch my emotion lessened and I began to feel significantly lighter. Finally, dehydrated, I took one last punch at the bag and then headed to my water bottle resting on the workbench atop all of the junk. As I grabbed the water bottle, I also grabbed with it a photograph that was so dusty it was faded. The photo was of my Uncle Chris and I, taken while we were on a canoe trip the previous summer. I shuddered as I held the photo and realized that was the last time we had been together in health. In April, my Uncle Chris was caught up in an ATV accident that left him hospitalized. It was later discovered that the cancer he had beaten twice before had returned. After only a month of treatments, he was cleared for remission, but the intensity of the chemo-therapy had done a job on him. Only a month ago, I buried him, April throwing shovelfuls of dirt upon his coffin next to me. Tears of sadness rolled down my cheeks as I flipped the photo over I saw the caption read, ‘Building a Boat’. That was a metaphor my uncle used as a child whenever I asked him what he was doing and it meant he was doing what he wanted to do with his life. I put the photo down, shaking the thought away and imagining my uncle himself telling me to get on with my life and build a boat. As I took a swig of water, I heard the garage door swing open. I replaced the bottle on the bench and saw Tyler standing there. He was wearing a casual dress shirt and dark denim jeans, accompanied by discreet runners on his feet. As I went in for a handshake I noticed he reeked of booze and since Tyler was the only jock at our school that didn’t drink I prayed he hadn’t started now. I asked, “Have you been drinking?” “No I went to a party and everybody was getting wasted so I decided to get out of there. I thought I’d come here for a fight, seeing people drink so much unsettles me.” I had to agree with him. I had seen alcohol end lives and destroy entire families from the core. I invited him in and threw him is gloves as he shrugged out of his dress shirt, revealing a tight fitting T-Shirt. We got into a fighting stance and began to swing. I jabbed left, he dodged right and drilled a fist just beneath the ribs. As I looked at him, holding my gut and attempting to catch my breath I saw the old Tyler beneath, the Tyler that had bullied me. I was shaking with sudden anger and tears rolled down my cheeks as I ran at him, swinging a solid punch at his mouth. He fell back in surprise and was soon unconscious on the ground. I was worried I had seriously injured my best friend and so I dumped my water bottle on his face. His eyes opened and he swore. I attempted to pull back but before I could he had jabbed a fist beneath my sternum. I fell back but Tyler steadied me by the scruff and smashed his fist at my teeth. I hit the floor cold, my jaw bruised but not broken, and as my vision faded I saw Tyler step out of the garage and close the door behind him. It was in that moment, laying there pooling in my own blood, that I was scared I would die here, alone. When I came to I was oblivious to time and space. I lay there on the floor what seemed like hours, staring at the flickering ceiling light and feeling the floor beneath me. I racked my brains in an attempt to find an experience from my past to equate what I was feeling. I decided that this experience could be equated to my father’s black out experience when we lived in our old house three years previous. I had been asleep, and when I woke up the lamp shade was on the floor and the ambulance was tearing toward the hospital. I later found out my dad had collapsed in the bathroom after getting surgery on his appendix. When he got home I asked him what it was like to be blacked out. He told me all six senses were in check but he could not move or speak. This was exactly what I was feeling right now. I smelt the sickeningly rusty smell of my blood as it filled my nostrils, I felt the cool of the concrete floor, I saw the annoying light above me, and I heard a noise from the house. A noise from the house! Someone was inside! With all my strength I tried to yell, to move, to do anything but found myself paralyzed by pain and emotion. Suddenly, I heard the door swing open and I heard the chime, my escape from this world. I heard a shuffling of feet and a slight scream before I saw someone come into view. It was a woman, I knew that, but my vision was slightly blinded from the light and I could not see her well. The woman leaned in and kissed me full on the lips, tears flowing down her face and onto mine. As our lips connected I was reminded me of the blinded Saul of biblical times being healed by the disciple Ananias and recognizing that scales fell from his eyes. All of a sudden I could move (not well but I could move), talk and see. The girl that was kissing me with passion I had never felt before was April. The make-up from her dance recital was still on her face and her lips were sticky with make-up. I pulled myself to a standing position, stumbled and then fell again, this time into April’s arms. She supported me on my shoulder and helped me into the house. After I had regained my ability to walk back I stumbled to the bathroom for a shower. The water dug deep into my cuts and I winced as the soap ran into them. After I had showered, I snuck off down the hall to change. Painfully, I pulled on a pair of sweats and a T-Shirt. Heading back toward the living room I saw April soaking wet, her clothes damp and her hair in a towel. I offered her some clothes and she almost accepted but she looked up and saw my condition and refused them, rushing me over to the couch. She disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a cool rag. As she began to wash my cuts on my face she whispered, “What has the world done to you?” “I have been asking myself the same question since I met you.” “Listen, I thought about what you said and I realized I didn’t mean to say what I said back there.” “What did you want to say then?” “I wanted to say that I have been in love with you since that faithful night five months ago. My parents, my friends, they all knew you liked me and for the longest time I was blind. But now I see that you are the most beautiful man I have ever met. I love you Kevin!” “Really? You love me?” “Yes without a doubt. And I wanted to yell after you but I was in shock because for the longest time I did not know you felt that way about me, I thought you might break my heart so I decided to play it safe.” “I would never hurt you for the world. You are the most important person in my life right now, you were there for me when no one else was and I don’t think I can thank you enough for that, but I am going to spend the rest of our relationship trying to thank you.” “You know there is one way to thank me, although I hardly deserve it.” “Yeah, and what’s that?” “Oh never mind, it’s silly” “Tell me, don’t send the cripple to bed crying.” “Back in Junior High no guy had ever slow danced with me so I was wondering if maybe you could… dance with me… only if you want to though.” As those words slipped out of her mouth I sat in shock and awe. This beautiful creature that could make the world’s political enemies stand up and sing “We are the World” had never been noticed enough by a guy to slow dance with her. I stood up, looked at my shirt and considered putting it on but then decided against it. April knew what I was about to do and so all I had to do was hold out my hand. She took it willingly and I drew her close, inhaling her gentle aroma and not letting it go. We were so close our eyelashes brushed each other, as I removed the necklace from her neck and felt the bristles of hair on the back of her neck. I placed my hands on her hips and she draped her arms around my neck as we swayed to the music I had put on. The feeling was amazing, dancing with this girl I had unofficially been with for five months. It seemed to make the relationship official. The song was about six minutes long, providing ample time for us to sway and stare into each other’s eyes. Those dark hazel eyes of hers made me fall even deeper in love with her. Of course, all good things must come to an end, and soon the dance was over. We kissed one last time just as the last notes disappeared into the stucco ceiling I had grown to hate. After another moment or so we pulled apart from each other and stared each other down for a moment, no pressing need to say anything. Finally, I said, “You are the first person I want to see in the morning and the last person I think of when I fall asleep at night, I love you April.” Her eyes widened and she whispered, “I love you too Kevin.”  

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