You Wished He Could See You Like How You See Him

Previously Published in Blank Slate Elyria

You try to encapsulate him on the page. It isn’t working.

You try to trace out the subtle wrinkles you’ve noticed on his forehead. He really is getting older. You try to draw his hands, get every single line and pore right.

You slam your pencil down in your notebook and bury your face in your hands. This just isn’t working even though you wished it was. You want to encapsulate him on the page. In your book. In your memory.

You remember when you first met him. He looked like a drug dealer, black hoodie with the hood up over his wild hair that he constantly kept sweeping to the side so that it was out of his face. In high school, you thought boys who did that were utterly ridiculous but now it’s charming, especially with the rugged stubble dusted across his face. You could barely see his eyes which you now know are a light brown with specks of grey in them. He looked liked a badass.

But he wasn’t a drug dealer. He just looked like one on occasion. He was actually a social worker. A person whose job it is to care for other people. You came to know how much he loved the clients he worked with. How much he cared for them. Sometimes you wonder how such a rugged drug dealing looking man could have such a kind heart. In school, you talk to one person for one second and you’re already exhausted but he can chat with everyone so easily, just passing his heart out to people like it’s flyers for a bake sale fundraiser. It’s surprised you that his heart hasn’t shattered into a million pieces by now. You wonder if the universe is playing tricks on you. Was he obligated to care about you? Was he obligated to care for these people?

Did he really care about you?

You close your eyes and conjure him in your memory, something you’ve done so many times by now that anytime you close your eyes you can see him as if he were standing right in front of you. You could see his swooping hair, his brown eyes with specks of grey in them, his rugged stubble dusting his face, how he always stands with his hands in his hoodie pockets and one leg popped to the side, his kind heart.

This time, you really focus on every little detail. Every little hair, every little pore, every small crinkle in his clothing, everything. You take him in.

His eyes looked tired, as you predicted. Someone who cares so much for so many people would be that tired. Your heart pulls at its strings. You want him to take care of himself for once. But he just won’t.

As you sit there, you conjure up memories of watching his eyes go from tired to sad to happy within seconds as he laughs with his clients. You notice how his eyes move left to right while reading, intently tapping on his chin as if he was trying to decode some mystery from whatever he was reading. That one time he made a pun that caused you to continue laughing days after it had been said. You noticed the same tired look in his eyes, even way back then. Your heart continues to pull at its strings. For all the times he’s told you to take care of yourself, he never actually takes care of himself. He just keeps passing out his heart to people. Is he trying to fix some hole in his heart?

Does he not realize that you’re there, clearly ready to try to fill the hole in his heart?

Was he obligated to care about his clients? Was he obligated to care about you?

No. He wasn’t. He truly cared, all of those times he told you to take care of yourself. All of those times you’ve heard stories about his client’s difficult lives and how passionately he speaks for them, his eyes lighting up every time. All of those times he’s dropped everything to help his friends.

Is the universe playing tricks on you? Can the rugged drug dealing looking man you’ve grown to love truly care the same way…for you?

You feel like you can see him, really see him.

You feel like you know him.

You wished he could see you like how you see him.

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