I Don’t Want the Seasons to Change
byThomas Drakes

          It snowed the winter I met Julia in history class. The other comedians and I were
bothering people when I shot a lucky glance towards the window facing the courtyard.
Their voices faded. Snowflakes fell from out of view and disappeared again behind a head
of pitch black hair. The girl was bored, her lips slightly parted, the lower one jutting, her
brown eyes directed at her laptop. Her cheek, dotted with rosacea, was propped up on a
graceful hand, half the size of mine. She sighed with the world.
          No one had ever looked that way to me.
          The autumn after that, we would be sitting on her second-story porch overlooking
the yard where her mindless little dog jumped around. Her mother was somewhere
behind the screen door fixing us tea. We held hands in the quiet elation that comes from
being with the first person who noticed us–being a couple months into it, sharing the joy
of reciprocated attraction and attention, unaware of the things we were still figuring out
at that age–and there was something else in the air.
          Julia turned to me all of a sudden and said, “Thomas?”
          I saw her years later in the summer at a job fair. I was sitting under fluorescent
lighting, holding a terrible resume, looking for an excuse to take off. My eyes caught black
hair bobbing forward in the queue. I braced for the disappointment of thinking a stranger
in a crowd had her face, the constant sting of things like black hair and little dogs and
white Priuses, those things my brain draws me to in order to place my ex-girlfriend back
in my life. A guttural clarion call sounded within me instead, the one that says, “it’s her.”
          Her eyes met mine. I searched them for the same flashes of love, disappointment,
abandonment, but theyweren’t there. Still, I raised my hand to wave.
Winter. God, who is that? How had I never seen her? It must have been kind of
funny the way I stared before I went over there, the way my friends laughed, but I
managed to make her laugh too for the rest of the period. She told me things. She thought
her favorite animal, the emperor penguin, was kind of like her. She told me she was going
to finish the term early to go visit some family, and I promised I would call her sometime,
see if this would go anywhere. She held up her yellow highlighter and told me, “This was
the highlight of my day.”
          Yeah, I’d call her.
          Autumn. I faced her, the meaning in her eyes dawning on me. We both had a
freckle just below our left iris. Nothing had faded yet.
          “You know the hand thing?” She gave my hand terse squeezes–one, two, three.
She’d introduced the gesture at the zoo the day before while we looked at two penguins.
          “Yeah.”
          “You knowwhat it means, right?”
          I chuckled. Something made me look downwards. “I don’t think I do.”

         Summer. Under the humming lights, she made her way over to the bench where I
was waiting to be called. As she sat down, I could see she still had the red in her pale
cheeks, the hair in her face, her hands clasping her own black folder. Her hands. My hair
stood up on the back of my neck.
          “Hey, Julia.”
          “Hi, Thomas. How have you been?” Almost matter-of-factly. I was hoping I didn’t
recognize her tone because it was more adult, not more apathetic.
          “Oh, I’ve been having… a lot of fun.”
          “Well, I’m glad that you are,” she sighed, looking around. I realized I wasn’t sure
whether she meant the occasion or the years since the last time I saw her, when she wiped
her face and stormed out of my car. I shook the image.
          We exchanged a few more words about our new schools and lives before she was
called away to speak to a recruiter. She got up and glanced at me. Her freckle was there–I
detected the slightest shift in her gaze as if she saw mine too. Until then, she’d been
indistinct, like she’d run into a coworker, but that moment, us, lasted forever. She gave me
a restrained smile, some acknowledgement that it might be the last one.
          Later, when JCPenney told me that I wasn’t what theywere looking for, I made a
point of passing her on myway out, meaning to say something, anything. My heart
pounded as I got close to her. Whatever I wanted to say came out as a brisk “goodbye”–I
thought maybe I heard a somber “bye” in return–and I was through the doors. I couldn’t
believe how fast it was.
           I crossed the white rows and columns of the parking lot, wanting things to be
different more desperately than ever before. I wanted it to make sense for me to throw my
keys over the fence, to rip my folder in half and break out of my shoes running back to the
doors. It didn’t.
          It hasn’t snowed since that winter, but I still dream in the shades of white. We walk
in my old neighborhood under the snow that fell on us before we knew it wouldn’t, hand
in hand, and the houses and trees don’t really render because all my insensate brain needs
to bring is her. Other times, I dream that both of us are leaving our college graduations,
holding our teaching degrees. We run into each other and say that we have plans to move,
laughing about the similar lives we’ll lead, and both of us are biting our tongues waiting
for the other to say something, but we don’t, because really, there isn’t anything to say.
            I don’t want to have to carry a gallon of white paint wherever I go to brush a new
coat over all my regret and longing, to pretend the memories they taint aren’t close to
washing away entirely. I don’t knowwhat I’d be left with. No, I like the first dream. On
that walk, I haven’t lived the years of my life that have passed since high school, since
highlighters, since Julia would take my hand and squeeze three times–
          One, two, three–
          “I love you.”
           I’d have the courage to say it back.

Thomas Drakes is an education student at Lane Community College aspiring to teach high school English.

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