I saw you at the carnival. You didn’t notice me. I just lost at ring toss. I knew it was rigged but I didn’t want to be the guy who ruins things for other people. That being said, if someone thinks that carnival games aren’t rigged there’s at least a 90% chance they’re below average intelligence. You just got off of the Ferris wheel. You were with your friends and whom I think was your boyfriend at the time. You never mentioned him so I’m not completely sure. The purple lights reflected off of your glasses. You didn’t wear your glasses until our fourth date, which tells me you were comfortable enough with the guy and past the “getting to know each other” stage. Your smile is what made me notice you though. It was one of those smiles that make other people smile because they can just feel the happiness emanating off you.
The girl I was with was nobody. She was one of those people that my friends said I should date, and even though we didn’t really like each other or have anything in common we just dated anyway. She was nice though, so I can’t be that negative about her. Your guy-friend boyfriend thing and you walked away and I thought that moment with you that only I experienced would be the last time I saw you. But it wasn’t.
At school you sat in the front of the lecture I was in. That’s what really made me like you. You cared enough to sit in front of the class, but didn’t care enough to actually volunteer to talk. Anyone who volunteers to talk in lecture halls has to be narcissistic to think that two hundred people want to hear their answer. I wasn’t sure if it was you at first if I’m being honest. Then the lights turned off and the projector was turned on. For a brief second, the blue light from the projector reflected off of your glasses and I swear it was almost identical to the carnival. There was no smile though, so I knew I’d probably have to talk to you to see it again.
I don’t know if you remember but I didn’t sit next to you until the fifth week and the tenth class into the semester. I saw you on the first day. I didn’t have the confidence to go up to you until then. I don’t get scared talking to girls; it’s just that I knew if you didn’t like me I was permanently losing the hope of getting to know you. Thank God for coffee though because the fifth week in and the tenth lecture we had I was hyped up on coffee. Really, I was just jittery as hell. The weird faux confidence I had was nice though. People say alcohol is liquid courage but I will always stand by coffee, that stuff is like a drug, I swear.
It’s hard for me to remember the lame joke I first said to get your attention. I’m pretty sure I just blocked it out because I was so horrified by how terrible it was. I tell some terrible jokes too, so that’s how you know it was bad. If I recall correctly at all, I think I made fun of the professor’s outfit, which I kind of feel bad about. Not bad enough to regret saying it to you, but still a little bad. She retired after that semester. I hope it wasn’t because what I said. She was old though, so that’s probably it.
In the thirteenth class, or the seventh week into semester, was when I got your number. I think I just said we should work on homework together. You probably saw right through that though since we only had online quizzes. At least I tried to make it a little subtle. The highlight of that whole semester was when you said you’d like to get coffee. Of course you didn’t just say that, I had to ask, but still. It was pretty cool.
I got black coffee. I always do, I like the taste. And if I’m being honest, I do feel a little cool when I order it. “Do you want room for cream?” “No, thank you.” You got one of those specialty drinks that are chocolaty and expensive. We talked for a while. You showed me a lot of photos; I showed you some pictures of my cats. I felt bad; I just don’t take a lot of pictures. You didn’t seem to mind though. Or you did, and you just hid it. Either way I had a great time. An amazing time, actually. I said something stupid and you laughed and I saw the same smile I saw at the carnival. It was like a real life mic-drop for me. I almost called my mom to tell her that I made it. If life stopped there, I would’ve died a happy man.
I mean, I’d rather keep living, but still, the point remains. But, I digress.
We were together for nine months. The weird part is, there’s really only one moment I can specifically pluck out from all that time. When we went to a carnival, and I was about to tell you the story of when I first saw you, but I decided it was too creepy. We were on the Ferris wheel, which felt like a big “fuck you” to that guy I saw you with then, so that made me kind of happy. I looked over at you and you were staring out over the town. You must’ve felt my stare, because you looked back at me. You smiled, but this time you didn’t have your glasses. I know you preferred contacts so I was fine with it. Without the glasses I could really see your eyes, which were somehow more beautiful than your smile. I didn’t think that was possible, but you proved me wrong. You did that a lot, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.
We had a lot of memorable moments, don’t get me wrong. I was just too stupid to remember them.
My porch was where you told me you met someone else. It was dusk, and you were visiting me at my family’s house. It was summer. The bugs were chirping but the street was quiet. You asked me why I was crying. To be fair, I wasn’t really crying. I had tears in my eyes, but crying? No, definitely not. I just said it was such a nice night out, it was hard not to appreciate it. I smiled at you. My smile didn’t have the same effect as yours. His name was Joshua. He didn’t go by Josh because “if he was named Josh, then he should be called Josh, but he’s not.” He sounded like a douche. You said I didn’t put enough time into the relationship. I defended myself, but you were right. You were always right. What really hurt was you already liked this guy, which means we were together when you didn’t love me.
I watched you walk away. The sky was purple, your color.
For a final goodbye, I can’t really complain. Just being around you made me happy, and I don’t know how I could be mad about that.
more by TYLER CLIFTON
photograph by Adrianna CalvoHire An Editor