All it takes is one ungraceful move, in reaction to meeting a new beautiful man, who has stumbled into your life, and you’re back there again. Back to your teenage girl hysterics, back to him. And it’s not his deep green stare you remember. It’s Jackson’s pathetically unsymmetrical nose your mind desperately tries recalling.
He was the ultimate dream to just about any other seventeen year old. The kind of guy that just doesn't know what he has is everything the opposite sex wants. The kind of guy who may try to sneak into class unnoticed, trying not make a fuss, but manages to bump you on the way to his seat. It’s the innocent clumsy collision that has somehow pulled you out of childhood stupor and awakens the knot in your stomach, the deep felt longing to be held by someone of utmost attractiveness; he and his seemingly simple bump have managed to pull your subconscious desire to be in perfect unison with one other person to the very surface of your skin. He has to be able to see it on the fronts of your teeth, which you now foolishly show off in a frightening toothy grin.
“I’m sorry, Margaret,” and for the first time, as he lightly rubs where his well proportioned arm crashed into your knobby elbow, you swear you feel your atoms cry, eureka! before setting themselves on fire.
Somehow, completely unknown as to why, he’s asked you out. Every day this perfect creature waits for you outside of your class for homeroom to be over, for lunch to start, to offer you a ride. But instead of calling your friends to tell them what it was like to be kissed or be truly important to someone else, someone hot!, you play a comparison game.
Jackson is tall. He walks with his shoulders pushed back and his long neck carries his baby face like it’s made of helium, but just the right amount. Not like there’s so much he’s going to float up in that arrogant way. He smiles as if saying, I’m here and I may or may not be extremely handsome.
You walk in like a balloon that has almost been entirely let out of air. It’s a miracle you’re here at all. But you don’t see things like that so you walk in with shoulders slouched and your belly out. You see yourself choosing over-sized sweatshirts because there is nothing for anyone to look at anyway. You keep your head low and avoid looking anyone in the eye in fear the blotches of red tinged freckles scaring all away.
“I love you, Margaret,” he says.
For a second you feel your soul buzzing electricity, but it stops and you hear yourself ask, “Are you sure?”
For weeks this goes on. I-love-yous and no-you-don'ts. Jackson’s words are relentless but you just can’t find a logical way to explain them. But then something changes. Now you are thirty-two and can’t remember what exactly happened, but it was just one glance gone wrong. That’s all it took and you realized you and Jackson were square even.
You may or not have been walking toward the laundromat because one of your mothers had told you to, or perhaps it was on the way out of a gas station, but it happened. That beautiful person tripped on a hardly visible ledge and one second later that baby face met pavement and pavement met tiny streams of blood.
He didn't miss one day of school, though, like you thought any rational self-conscious teenager would. But he was never like that, even after breaking his nose.
When it finally healed it was better than new. It was crooked. When he smiled there was a new awkward charm to it. When he was serious it was almost silly. So when he walked with shoulders back, long graceful neck, baby face proudly held high, ridiculously bent nose and all, and said:
“Damn it, I love you, Margaret.”
You just let out a laugh. Because you finally saw how this could be.