Always the one left waiting. If only someone realized waiting wasn't the issue, it was being alone.
I was always the one left waiting. It has always been like that. With my jobs, my family, my friends... I had hoped with you I finally wouldn't have to.
Now let's back track a little bit. I was born the middle child and only girl of three. My intelligence was above average, making a bookish quiet kid, and I was rather independent for my age. To my parents that translated to "we don't have to worry about her let's worry about the other two" but at the end of the day I was still a kid who wanted attention. I was told to wait as they fussed over my brothers and obediently, I did and yet it never came. At least not in the way a child needed. My independence also meant my maturity level was higher apparently and over time my responsibilities slowly merged into a caretaker's role. By high school it was "When your dad get's home heat up the food," "help your brother with homework," "can you run to the store for me," etc. I never thought like a normal kid. The thought to act out to garner the attention you always wanted never crossed my mind. Instead I quietly held it in, waiting.
Being raised as caretaker translated into my friendships as well. Always an empathy, finding understanding in any action or tardiness from people who I cared about and who I thought cared about me. Throughout my life, just a revolving door of people. No one really staying all that long. I'd be surprised if they stayed past year two, although there were regulars. There one year gone the next. Knowing each of their hardships, I waited, believing that they'll come as soon as they can or at least let me know. Being stood up or cancelled on after hours of waiting was discouraging. If they did show words fell from their lips and over time the explanations just felt like excuses. One too many times and I was just numb to it. It was expected of me to wait.
You were supposed to be different and in the beginning you were. If I ever was waiting, no more than ten minutes passed before you texted reassurances and update, showing your remorse... and the fact you cared. We are adults after all and life is full of unexpected events that are out of our control. One month, then two, followed by a third. The heart of my inner child fluttered, hoping that finally she could stop waiting and get to rest. But the fourth brought a rain check here and a "sorry my meeting went longer than expected" there before the fifth presented twenty minutes, half an hour, then two hours with you "I'm sorry I could only get to my phone now, can we reschedule?" Yet I still had hope, after getting a taste of it, I so desperately wanted it to be you. For you to care like you used to. So I let it go on because I was taught that you were rewarded when you were patient and docile, tantrums and arguments only left bitter feelings and wasted energy with no reward to follow.
Thus I watched as the spring flowers dulled in color, stood in the once cozy summer sun only to be scorched two shades darker, and felt the autumn breeze that usually felt like a gentle touch bury deep into my skin to rattle my bones. After all that I still waited for you with your prepared apologies and empty promises to not let it happen again. Things repeated so many times I could probably recite them by heart. Winter was creeping around the corner but before that came the rain. That day was supposed to be clear skies but something in me told me to bring an umbrella so there I was, five o'clock by the park fountain. We were supposed to grab dinner before going to a musical I was excited to see. You had bought the tickets but it was happening again. Waiting.
After the twenty minute mark I was anxiously checking my phone, only sending a message or two as to not be annoying. Please not today, it's supposed to be a make up for last time. One hour. Finally I get a call. Heavy breathing, out of breath, rustling papers. At that I tuned out his apologies, he was still at work. Forcing a smile he couldn't see I said it was fine as long as we make it to the musical. A sigh of relief as I internally sighed of disappointment. I convinced myself it was worth the wait, that you were worth it. Forty minutes after the call I had grabbed a coffee and still no you. The warmth of the drink bloomed in my chest only to be struck cold by a sudden storm. I convinced myself it was the sky consoling me for being stuck playing the waiting game once again, I couldn't handle anymore it any other way. A text: "crazy traffic because of the rain, meet you there?" I huff, trying to keep my composure. Cold, soggy, and tired; my social battery already exhausted without interacting with anyone other than the barista. The rain was coming down in sheets but luckily the theater wasn't far, on foot would be fast than any car right now. Who knew being active would be the worst decision in my life? Impaired vision because of the rain, a missed red light, skidding across wet pavement, barely stepping onto the cross walk, impact. Delirium, I can't tell if I was in and out of consciousness or if it was a surreal dream. Beeping machines, panicked voices, called orders, heavy steps, squeaky wheels, shock.
I thought that in the afterlife I could escape it, the cursed waiting, but I was tethered here and I didn't understand why. I had no grievances in life, at least none so severe it would prevent me from moving on to where spirits went to rest yet here I am at my favorite fountain with the gurgling water in the quaint little park a few blocks from my place still waiting. At this point I wasn't sure how much time has passed. The first few weeks familiar faces came and went to shed their tears, leave their flowers, and talk with me although it was one-sided not on any fault of mine. Weeks turned to months and only a few people visited anymore, one being my parents. My mother to cry over her lost time and my father who came bask in the silence although I could see the sadness in his eyes. Then there was my best friend. At first she cursed me for breaking all our promises, being god parents to each other's children, giving a banger maid of honor speech, not dying before the other... then the tears. We've gone through far too much and understand each other all too well so it especially hurt to see her cry so I never stuck around for that part.
Of course though, there was you. Your apologies for always making me wait, spilling remorseful tears and drowning yourself in retrospect. Saying all the "what ifs" as if it could free you but I couldn't bring myself to feel the same peace I felt when visited by my family or best friend. If I could explain it I'm surprised I didn't resent you for making those promises to be better but never did. The spewing of your shallow "what ifs" sparking anger in me because I would not be here like this if you did good by your word. Luckily for me you disappeared somewhere between my extended family and childhood friends.
Stuck in this hellish limbo, the only thing I could do was watch the people who passed through. My eyes began to catch other waiters dawdling about. Even after death my inherited nosy nature didn't disappear with my physical body. My urge to protect these people who I began to see bits of myself in, had me pulling little childish pranks on those who left them standing there in anticipation. A little trip of the foot or things slipping from their grasp once they arrive. I know these were self-serving acts but looking at these people who are left waiting, if asked they would defend their companions as I did once. So I moved on to something more healing, for the both of us. On those warm spring days I'd blow dandelions at them and in the summer where children were out to play I'd guide loose bubbles towards them. In the colder seasons I just sat with them and waited. It's not like I had anything better to do plus I was a pro, doing it all my life and all that. A habit my soul picked up was to talk to them although communication was impossible. A common phrase that left my lips and the one thing I found tethering me here was:
"Don't be like me, but also don't worry I'll wait with you."
About the Creator
A writer at heart who wants to share my works. I want to evoke emotion in people when they read my writing but I won't ever know if I can if I don't put anything out into the world so this is my first step :)
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