Olive Garden of Eden
(originally published 7/10/2019)
It was midway through the apple pie, served by a waitress wearing a large button, dwelling among many others on her vest, that read “Experience Not Innocence” (the letters of these three words forming the shape of a serpent), that the words escaped her lips. Almost offhandedly.
“I just don’t want to hurt you.”
As soon as he heard them he was counting the seconds until he could leave. He smiled and laughed and pretended to listen but all he wanted was out.
He could already feel the night air on his face and when he finally was able to push open the door to the Olive Garden and escape the breeze did not disappoint.
He knew he’d never seen her again.
She didn’t suspect so for a few minutes, for the first time in their rocky relationship, he knew something that she didn’t.
She got into her car and he watched her drive away. The most poignant moment of any teen movie. Except he couldn’t help but fuck it up.
He saw himself in front of the car, holding up a boombox like John Cusack in Say Anything. In Your Eyes blaring out.
He tried to just watch her drive away but he couldn’t even get that right.
She accelerated. The John Cusack-version of him stood motionless, boombox still overhead, and tried to stare through the glare of headlights and find her eyes, as if to say “I want to heal you.”
His eyes found hers and her eyes said “I want to kill you.”
The car got closer and he still didn’t move, her eyes saying “I’m sick of feeling like a shitty person” to which his eyes replied “So stop being a shitty person” and then the car hit him.
He watched her driving away and he felt every bone breaking, the weight of the car rolling over him, ripping his skin, the hair on his head being unceremoniously torn off. He heard the crunching and squishing noises and smelled the odor of gasoline and tasted oil and blood in his mouth.
He stood motionless. Overwhelmed. The weight of the moment rolling over him. The back of her head looked so tiny now. Then it was only the car in the distance. Brake lights like glowing red eyes. Then she was gone.
Somehow the boombox had survived.
Love… I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
He didn’t want to know the details of “I just don’t want to hurt you.” There were no good scenarios. Eve was leaving the Garden with the knowledge of those unoriginal sins and he was leaving the Garden without it, but leaving just the same.
Impossibly the John Cusack-version of him was getting to his feet and brushing himself off.
And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
“Jesus, why can’t I just have a normal heartbreaking moment?” he asked the night.
“Does that damn boombox play any other song?” he asked the John Cusack-version of himself.
Love, I don’t like to see so much pain
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
“I guess that’s a no” he said to nobody, as John had departed as well.