It started with coffee.
It was a Thursday and she was walking down the street, two coffee's in her hand. One was for her and the other was for her father at the orthodontist office down the street. I was walking to my mother's house like I do every Thursday and I recognized her from school. I nodded at her and she nodded right back.
A week passed and the next Thursday, she was there again, two coffee's in hand. Again, I nodded and she nodded back as we continued on our way. It became sort of a tradition; as I would walk down Third Street to meet my mother, she would pass me to bring coffee to her father. We would nod at each other and sometimes say hello.
But one day, I decided to break that tradition. That Thursday, at school, I approached her with a dollar in my pocket. I told her that I'd pay her back if she got me a coffee too. She said sure and that afternoon, I traded my dollar for a coffee as we passed and I continued on to my mother's house, feeling a little more satisfied with myself.
When my mom asked me where I got the drink, I told her to mind her own damn business. Suddenly, the coffee's taste dulled and I poured it down the sink.
As the ritual went on, I found myself shoving the dollar at the very bottom of my pocket so we would have longer to talk before we both went our separate ways. I also found myself thinking about her a little more. This shocked me a little too because for one, I knew nothing about this girl, and two, she wasn't my type.
I like tall, skinny brunettes who's names were spelt with i's instead of y's and wore miniskirt's even in winter. She, on the other hand, was average height, blonde and pale, with a crooked button nose, a cleft chin, and blue eyes. Not my type at all. But yet, my mind was stuck on this girl who handed me a coffee every Thursday.
One day, she had a frown on her face and there was faint stains on her cheeks where her mascara spilled down. I asked her what was wrong and she said her boyfriend was an ass. So I kissed her on the cheek, took my coffee, and told her to dump him. And that was the start of our new tradition; we would trade a dollar for a coffee and end it with a kiss on the cheek.
The kiss on the cheek slowly grew to a peck on the lips, which grew to coffee on days that wasn't Thursday's and passionate kisses in the middle of the sidewalk as we both held hot drinks in our hands.
I knew something was wrong when one day I was walking down the street and she wasn't there where we usually met. I decided that the line at the café must have been long and she was just a little late, so I kept walking. But as I walked, the feeling of dread grew and it finally turned into horror when I saw a crowd of people in the middle of the road, huddling around a truck.
I sprinted to the group, pushing past a few people, to what had happened. There she was, crushed underneath the truck, blood staining her clothes and face as she stared up at the cloudy sky. I pulled her head in my lap and stared into her eyes. She was still alive. Still breathing.
At first, I was the one to tell her that it was going to be okay, that the ambulance would get here any second and take her to the hospital. But as the minutes past, she was the one who was comforting me. We both knew it wouldn't be okay. I tried wiping the blood off, but it had already dried to her face.
It wasn't this big moment where she told me that she loved me and we kissed one last time before her eyes shut and she passed. I think it would have been easier if it was; at least then I'd have some closure. It was more of one second she was there and the next she was gone. No dramatic goodbye's. No last kisses. She just left.
The police and ambulance finally came and had to separate me from her. The police gave me a blanket and asked me some questions. What was her name? Delilah Thomson. How do you know her? She was my girlfriend. Do you know what happened? No.
Through the entire thing, I didn't shed a tear. I was too stunned to understand what was happening. I didn't actually cry until days later.
They later told me that the driver had hit a patch of black ice and spun out of control just as she was crossing the street. The driver drove right over her, crushing her under the tire's of his truck. They couldn't find a way to get the truck off her without hurting her any more than she was. So they just left her there, trapped under the truck. They said she didn't feel anything, but I found that hard to believe.
Eventually, they let me go and I walked the rest of the way home. When I got there, my mother was waiting by the door, her arms crossed over her chest and an annoyed look on her face. When she saw that I was covered in blood, her arms dropped to her side and she rushed to me but I just pushed past her and walked inside.
I locked myself in my room for days, refusing to come out as I carved 7 letters into my skin with the razor from a pencil sharpener. After four days, I finally had to leave my room because I had to spend the week at my father's place. He banged on the door until I opened it to show that I was still wearing the bloody clothes and I hadn't even taken a shower. He ordered me to clean myself up and he would come back later. Then he left.
My mother asked what happened and I shook my head. She asked me if something happened when I was walking home and I didn't say anything or dare to move a muscle. I could feel tears well up in my eyes but I didn't let them spill. And finally, she asked where Delilah was and I broke. I cried for the first time since that horrible night and my mother wrapped me up in her arms, letting me cry into her shoulders.
I must have stayed like that for half an hour and by the time I pulled away, I didn't have any tears left in me to cry.
A year passed. The pain dulled a little with each passing day but every Thursday, I still couldn't bring myself to walk the same route and I always found myself taking the long way to get home. I had given up coffee too. Whenever I tried drinking it, it tasted like dirt.
But one day, I was tired and drained and I didn't want to spend an extra twenty minutes taking the long way home. So I sucked up my courage and started walking down Third Street, which was now renamed Delilah's Path. At first, it was okay. I was being hit with small waves of nostalgia, but I was fine.
But then I reached about halfway home and I stopped. It was like running straight into a brick wall and I couldn't bring myself to take another step forward. This was the spot. The spot that our tradition began; the spot where I first kissed her; the spot where I fell in love.
I fell to the ground and leaned up against a lamppost, covering my face with my hands and bringing my knees up to my chest. I don't know how long I stayed there, just breathing into my hands and trying to block out everything around me. But it must have been a while because when I heard the voice and pulled my hands away, it was already night.
"Are you okay?" I looked up to see a girl with black hair, amber eyes, and freckles splattered over her pale face. I shrugged. She didn't say anything and just sat down next to me. "Do you want a tea?"
I looked down at her outstretched hand and back up at her face, studying her eyes. Finally, I took the cup and took a slow drink. Chai.
We sat there in silence, I occasionally sipped at the steaming beverage while she tried to think of something to say. Finally she asked me again if I was okay, and this time, I started nodding but changed my mind and shook my head. She asked me what was wrong.
"Delilah's Path is a hard one to walk." I muttered and she tilted her head. "Do you know how it was named?"
She shook her head. I just nodded and didn't say anything else.
"I walk this way every Tuesday and Thursday, it's not that hard." she said and I glanced over at her.
She said yes. For the first time in a while, I let a real, genuine smile cross my face. She asked why I was smiling.
"If I bring you a dollar next Thursday, will you buy me tea?" I asked and she paused before nodding.
We talked for a little while longer before I finally stood up and walked the rest of the way home, just as I did for every Thursday from then on. From that day forward, Delilah's Path was a little easier to walk.