Root Beer Float

I wrote you
a letter,
and I think it’s
long past
time
that I write
a different letter
that I can
actually
send.

So here it is:
your letter
letting
you
go.

Once,
I was in
a gas station
and my mom
and I
were having
Root Beer Floats
when,
just outside,
there was
a car crash.

It was so near where I
grew up—
where I
went to
school—
that it remained
a part of my life
for longer
afterward
than usual.

Stories about
the firemen
cutting the
tangled
seat belt
and
how young
the boy
had been.

D.O.A.

They used it as
an early warning
for us:
middle school
students;
children,
really.

They hadn’t heard
the screeching tires
like I had.

Or looked up so fast
from their
Root Beer Float
that
they’d pulled muscles
in their
necks.

They thought his life
was good
for a warning,
but
they hadn’t seen smoke
and plastic,
smelled burnt rubber,
heard
shearing metal,
or seen
the red
mist.

I lost
my innocence
at the A&W
just in front of
the fire station
and at the
site
of an auto
collision.

Things hurt
me;
always have.

It’s not fair,
but
being with you
was the only time
for me
when
nothing
hurt;

That’s not
your
fault.

I know
that the answer
can’t be
to hurt you
by trying to hang on
to you
after you’ve
let go
in order
to save
myself
some
hurt.

I
love you,
and I’m
sorry
that
the spark
didn’t catch.

I don’t think
I should be telling
you
all of this,
maybe I should just
smile
kind of sadly
as I always have
and say:

Someday,
life will be
less of a
heart-breaking
mystery
to me,
and I hope
one day
to hear from you
again,
and I hope
your
children
never leave
behind
a half-finished
Root Beer Float.

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