I Thought I Knew Her


I watched Karen walk away, the hem of her skirt flipping from side to side, just like the first time I'd encountered her on our way to the dining hall. She was a freshman then, I a junior. I commented on her dress, an enticingly short swirl of pastel colors. The conversation continued at dinner after we met up with her roommate. Now, exactly two years later, in the noonday sun, at the bench where we'd spent hours talking that first night, in front of a choir of my fraternity brothers--and other students crossing the university's quad--I got down on one knee and stuttered out a proposal. She said no.

 

 

Whispers filled the air around me as people walked away, most avoiding eye contact. One guy, I was too embarrassed to see who, patted me on the shoulder as he passed and said in a soft voice, "Tough, man." I didn't respond. I couldn't. My vocal chords refused to emit any sounds.

 

I watched her enter the library. She had an American Lit test at three and needed to study.





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