Cherry Stems

Life had once been defined by linears and absolutes. We learned how to survive on the base knowledge that we would eventually die, fading into memory and ground into dust. We worked and lived and grew older, never considering the possibility that there was something more, something beyond the falling sand of the hourglass, beyond the slow moving hands on the clock.

And then, as if someone woke the sun, he came into town.


I was eighteen then, taking classes at community college and working at the diner in town. The first time I set eyes on Jeremy I didn't know what he was, didn't know what he could do. He came in, sat at the counter. 


"Chocolate shake, extra cherries."


"It doesn't come with cherries," I said, studying the strangeness of his eyes. They were so pale blue they were almost white. Staring into them was like getting lost in a snow storm. 


He smiled at me, but offered no other words. I added the ice cream and the milk and extra chocolate syrup, blending them together and topping the whole thing with whipped cream. And four cherries. They all shared a single stem. I had never seen cherries do that, not in all my years of maraschino-pinked fingers. He placed the cherry to his lips and sucked it in, his eyes never leaving mine.


"What if there's more?" he said.


"I have a whole jar, if that's not enough."


"No. More than this?" He opened his palm, gesturing to the diner, to the world.


"I suppose there is," I sighed. "But not for me."


He offered me his hand. "Come with me."


"What?"


"Come with me."


There are moments in our lives, moments where we decide the kind of people we want to be. We get in a car after having a few beers. We say "I do" all in white. We follow a stranger out into the rain. We take that first step into the unknown, seemingly unaware of the potential consequences of our actions. We make decisions beyond our sense of self, forming new paths to follow. Touching his skin was like being lit on fire, like living all those paths at once. It was like breathing underwater and flying and learning how to be a person all at once.  It was like seeing in black and white our whole lives and then suddenly seeing in color, the blues too blue and the flowers too bright. 


And then, there was music. And the sense that I was waking up after being a sleep for too long. He led me out of the diner and into the real world, the world beyond. Life was a series of puzzle pieces we didn't know how to put back together, books out of order, shades of light too bright to stare into. Staring into his eyes-- those eyes-- I knew.


I had arrived.



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