Every week

All right, so I sat down to write up what I mentioned cryptically in the last post. I couldn't write a poem, though. I knew that a poem would end up sounding just like hundreds of other poems I've written. The only way I could avoid that was to just tell the story. Prose has been coming easier to me recently anyway. My brain still works in fragments, but they aren't poetic fragments. It's got line breaks, because that's how my brain works, but I really don't consider this a poem.

Prologue

I feel like I'm 16 again
No, that's not quite right
I know more now
I'm slightly more confident
At the least, I'm better at psyching myself up to fight my gut instincts
So, maybe I really feel like I'm 17
Holding steady at 17

---

It's the same every week
Two hours and fifteen minutes of killing time
While other people discuss something I haven't read
Today's distraction was Super Mario Bros. 2
I like Toad the best
He may not have the jump, but he can pick things up really fast
Occasionally I look up from the game
Scan the room, see who is there
It's the same faces every week
(Only four of those faces have names to me)
I don't see her until the break at the halfway mark
She is across the room from me
In the back row, same as me
Same as last week
I feel a smile slip onto my face
My mind starts churning
Playing out scenarios that have never happened
The dreams have gaps
Because I don't know her name

This is an example of how my brain functions (or doesn't) while I'm writing: I just got lost in a tangent thought and completely forgot what I just wrote, and since I'm not sitting at the computer while writing this, I can't easily remind myself.

The dreams loop, repeat themselves
Transitioning into a vague plan of action
With about thirty minutes left in class
I lose interest in Toad
So I put the game away and make it look like I'm paying attention
I scan the room again
She's looking my way
Eyes meet
Her smile triggers my own
Then my brain realizes what is happening
And in a flash, my heart is pounding, my face is hot, and I look away
Scared of a smile
The looping plan in my brain gains momentum
I start to convince myself
Today is the day
Today is when you finally stop the cycle
The plan is easy:
I walk up to her after class and say,
"I should have done this a long time ago."
I say, "My name is Mike," as I offer my hand
The next thing I speak in the dream changes each time
First, I ask her to tea
Then movie or tea
Then movie, or tea, or a walk, or dinner, or an anthology launch, or an open mic
My brain spins around itself
I look over again
The smile is still on her lips
Her head is tilted slightly as she reads along with the professor
I remember that I'm in class
The plan keeps looping in my brain
I can do this
It's not difficult
I've talked to her before
On that one day when we were sitting next to each other
This shouldn't be so difficult
It's an opportunity to see more of that smile
I can do this
Finally, the professor stops talking
I stand and my legs feel like they've forgotten how to function
They feel like liquid, and on the verge of collapse, but I hold strong
I put on my coat, pick up my bag, and start walking
One moment of hesitation, that's all it is
One moment to say hi to someone else
It was just a hi and nothing else
That moment means I don't catch her in the classroom
I don't catch her on the stairs
And at the bottom of the stairs I lose her completely
Again
Once a week I play this game with myself
Every week, we share a smile
Every week, I wonder if I have the balls to just speak
Today, I really believed that I could do it
There aren't too many weeks left
I'm running out of chances
Before this is added to an ever growing list of regrets