It's just one of those fucked up things. You wait so long for something and then there it is, right in front of you, and it feels like the dream already died.
It's luck, anyway. You'd already packed the alarm clock so, since you both overslept, your mother ended up going to the ten o'clock mass when you'd agreed to be on the road by nine. You walked slowly down the stairs, wondering if you'd ever be in this house again after today. It was the only home you'd ever known. Your breath caught when, from the kitchen window, you saw Terry for the first time in just about a year. He was peering into the car which you'd filled with boxes the night before. Was it your imagination or did his shoulders slump? Terry's a year older than you, so he was already eighteen when he ran away. Even if his parents had wanted to bring him back, there was nothing anyone could do.
You opened the front door and walked outside into the thick, humid summer air. "Hey," you said, casual, like you just saw each other yesterday.
"Hey. You guys moving out or something?"
"Yeah, we're going."
He was holding a pale wooden cylinder and when he noticed you looking at it he held it towards you. "I got this for you."
You took the gift reluctantly into your hands and examined it. "A kaleidoscope?"
"Yeah." He leaned back against the car and crossed his arms over his chest. The thin black cotton of his t-shirt was stretched tightly over his muscles and his skin was very tan. "I remember - do you remember?"
"That night we broke into the church?"
"You were so drunk, you were lying on your back on top of the altar and you said, do you remember? You said the stained glass was spinning all around you, you said it was like-"
"Living inside a kaleidoscope. Yeah, I remember."
"So where are you guys going, anyway?"
"We're moving out to California. My mom's brother lives in Berkeley."
"Man, it's supposed to be real cool out there."
"Yeah, that's what they say."
"We talked about hitchhiking to San Francisco once, remember?"
"We shoulda done that. How come we didn't go?"
You shook your head. "It's a long way to go if you're bumming rides."
"This is kind of a drag. I mean, I just get back into town and you're already heading out. Hey, you got a number or something? You got an address where you're gonna be?"
"Listen, you can write me, can't you? I mean, when you get all settled and shit, why don't you write me?"
"Send it to my parents' house."
"Is that where you're living now?"
"Shit. I just got back yesterday. I don't know what the hell I'm doing yet."
It'd feel good to hit him, to punch him right in the fucking face. "Where the hell were you?"
He shrugged. "You know, around. Miami."
"Yeah. Good weather down there, nice people, beautiful girls. You should've come for a visit, buddy."
"Yeah." He moved his hands up and down, doing some wiggly shit that you assumed was intended to illustrate a girl with a small waist and a big ass.
A pink tinge spread across his cheekbones and he shrugged again. "I'm just saying you can have a good time in Miami, that's all."
Yeah, right. It'd feel good to pick up a fucking crowbar and knock him down. "I gotta go, man. I still got shit I need to do in the house." That was a lie, everything was ready, just like you told your ma it would be. You're methodical, a planner. You say what you're gonna do and then you do it. You're not like Terry, you're nothing like him. You're not a liar and you're not a coward. "Thanks," you said, holding up the kaleidoscope. "See ya." You started walking back towards the house and he followed you.
"Hey, come on," he said, tugging at your arm. "Hey, come on, don't be mad at me."
You stopped and turned to face him. "What the fuck did you expect, Terry? Man, fuck you."
His only answer to that was to kiss you, just like he used to, he grabbed your face with both his hands and fused your mouths together. How long did it last? Long enough to remind you of everything you'd wanted but not long enough to forget everything you'd lost. When he pulled away from you his cheeks were burning and he averted his eyes as he awkwardly adjusted himself. "Sorry," he said. "I just-"
"Don't be sorry."
He met your eyes, then. He really could've been a movie star. Put him up on the screen and he would have broken every heart that saw him. "You'll write me, won't you?" he said, wiping his mouth with his hand. "Promise me. Promise me you'll write me."
"I promise, Terry."
"And I'll come visit you, yeah? I'll come for a visit and we'll go to the beach. Like old times, right?"
"I'll come for a visit," he repeated, over his shoulder, because he'd already started to walk towards the street, and that was how you knew he never would. If he said it twice it meant he was already in the middle of talking himself out of it. When he reached the end of the driveway he spun around. "See you in California!" he called out to you, and then he broke into a run and was out of your sight so quickly even you wouldn't have believed he'd ever been there, if not for the still pulsing electrical charge of your lips, your body.
"See you in California," you yelled back, and then you swung the kaleidoscope against the brick side of your house as many times as it took for the wood to splinter and the contents inside to shatter. You bent over, breathing heavy, to see all the brightly colored pieces reflected in the shards of the mirrors, a hundred rainbows, scattered over the dirt.
You picked up a single blue bead and put it in your back pocket to keep, delicate and miniscule, but still beautiful as your chances.