Speed

There comes a time when even the fastest legs can’t take you distances you once dreamed to go. Wrong time, wrong place, and your leg’s gone.

When you rode that bike and I was afraid of falling off of it, you held me tight. You let go of the bike so that your hands could tighten the hold on me, so that I’d know I was safe. So as not to hurt my tender heart. You knew hearts heal slower than bones ever do, and I didn’t see it back then. I wish I could tell you now how much I’ve grown up. How the last time I rode on your bike was the last time I ever did. How sometimes I still walk beside one and imagine you walking with me. I long for your presence in your absence, your voice, the things you used to say, the lies you used to web together to cover up for me. I stood on your feet as you helped me take my first steps, slowly letting go so that when my feet touched the ground you ran to tell the world I could walk. The girl you saw walk began to run, she made new friends, she lost many and slowly you let go. Slowly you watched me grow up in a world where conversations were no longer stolen time and voices didn’t shake as often. I dreamed dreams, you crashed yours. I hid backstage watching shows being put up while you were somewhere hiding behind yourself. Distance between us was only a dialed number away but that number only managed to convey lightly crafted words of new year wishes and “call me when you get home”. Calls that were never returned, messages that were never read. Time played with us, we played with distance. The instants in which my eyes looked into yours were limited to those in which someone brought up the times before smart phones could trace back to secret girlfriends and hidden profiles. We grew up, but we also grew apart. You were eight, and eight was never a number smaller than seven so you were never a name I mentioned into my notes. You were there but you were outsider. The one with fast legs and smart eyes. The one who’s legs could carry you distances neither you nor I imagined. A shared fear of animals that sent you running so fast that you ran right into your school sprint races. The one who wished to share something as close to your heart as your speed with me. How we both let go of our hands and took the long road home and let it take where us wherever it  wanted  to. You and I were two dreamers who let the wind speed past us. A secret so well kept that you and I are still the only ones to ever know how the wind felt on our faces that day. How you fell into the mud so that you could break the fall for me. Shared moments of life’s best times when the only thing you lost was your family, and when the only thing I lost was a game against you. We couldn’t be half as good as them and they couldn’t be half as good as us. We made a pact, we were a team. You with your speed, me with just my presence. We knew we couldn’t make it out on our own. I learnt to run but I only walk now. I learn to ride a bike but I never get onto one now.
Today, I sit miles away from you with nothing but all the things I hear about how you were too fast for the world. How a lonely night took away everything they thought you had. You lost your speed, but you never lost me. It was never just your speed that made us the best team – it was also your presence. And here now, without all the words they used to define us, you can hold my hand. I’ll help you take your first steps back into the world, and I’ll run to tell the world you made it. When you let go of your hands, I’ll hold your heart. Hearts break faster; I learnt that from you. We’ll never be as fast, but we’ll still be the best.

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