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Youth Part 1 - Dyanne Pajares.jpg


I waited at the edge of some godforsaken park, freezing my face off and watching cigarette butts swirling in the breeze. Nearby, a child wearing so many layers of coats that she could barely walk tried to heft herself onto a swing. I kicked a pile of slush and checked my watch. Lia was late again.

“Andrea! You’re early!”

Sometimes I forget that in Lia-time, ‘before her’ is always early and ‘after her’ is always late. I’m not sure she knows what a clock is.

“You said to be here at four,” I said, “and I still don’t know why we’re coming to this trashy park. There’s a much nicer one near Woodcrest Estates.”

“It has to be here,” Lia said. “This is the acid test. The final round of Lia versus her mind.” If it was possible for a five foot nothing girl with curly hair and dimples to look fierce, that’s what Lia was doing.

Did I mention she’s a drama queen?

“Are you gonna go WWF on that kid over there?” I asked, pointing to the girl who still hadn’t managed to get onto the swing. I wondered where her mother was.

“No. This is to prove I’ve forgotten him. Next time he tries to talk to me I can say, ‘I’ve completely forgotten about you, actually. What was your name again?’ It’ll be perfect.” She grinned triumphantly.

“What does the park have to do with it?” I asked, though I was focused more on why I needed to participate in Lia vs. the ghost of boyfriend past. She’d gone nearly crazy for a couple months after he dumped her, crying at random times and singing to herself without music. It freaked me out. So much so, that when she announced that she was going to forget all about him starting right now, I saw it as a sign of progress. I think her family might have put her on some sort of happy pills. Even her order to never mention his name around her was reasonable, comparatively speaking.

“We used to come here all the time,” she said. “I need to make some new memories here.” She stepped onto the woodchips, taking a deep breath. I leaned against the swing set, watching for any signs of her psychosis coming back. Lia saw me looking and smiled.

“See? I can just enjoy the smell of the leaves. It doesn’t make me automatically think oh, he had grey eyes.”

Rather than point out that the smell was more like tobacco and wood rot, I asked, “Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of not thinking about him if you spend the whole time thinking about not thinking about him? Er…” Both of us stopped to untangle what I’d just said. Lia looked like she was repeating it under her breath.

“I’m not thinking about him,” she said when she’d gotten it figured out. “I was just giving an example.” To the little girl at the swing she added, “What a pretty pink jacket. Do you need help, honey?”

“But you just said he had grey eyes,” I pointed out.

“I am going to do it all by myself,” said the little girl solemnly, and did another sort of bellyflop onto the swing. She slid back off almost immediately, to Lia’s distress.

“Well, alright, but if I just sort of pick you up…”

“I’m doing it!” said the girl, in the high-pitched tone kids get right before they start screaming for real. I was too cold to deal with a stranger’s temper tantrum.

“Leave her alone, Lia,” I said. “Jeez. You’re going to get us thrown out or something.”

“I was just trying to help,” she pouted, but we retreated to the other side of the park.

It wasn’t much of a park– like I said before, there were much nicer ones on the rich side of town. This one only had four swings and a slide coming off the same platform we were now sitting on, and there were piles of blackened snow around the edges of the woodchips. But there was enough space between the start of the trees and the next building over that if you looked the right way, it was almost like being in the woods. I suppose it could be romantic, if you like that sort of thing.

“How long has it been?” Lia asked.

“Since we started sitting here, or since you got to the park?”

“Since I got here.”

“Twenty-seven minutes. Eight, now.”

She nodded in satisfaction. “Twenty-eight minutes without thinking about him is pretty good. I mean, we came here all the time. I’m not even a little bit sad.”

“Are you sure this is the best way to get over him?” I said. “I mean, you say you’re not thinking about him, but then you go and say that he has grey eyes or that you came here all the time or whatever, and it’s like…” I shrugged.

“You’re so impatient, Andrea.” Lia tugged her skirt a bit further down, which I know for a fact is a nervous habit of hers. “I’m giving it a shot, okay? Stop expecting a frigging miracle.”


The girl in the pink jacket finally managed to get onto the swing, with dirt stains all over her pants for the effort. The sun was starting to set, though, and the girl had barely gotten half as high as the swings could go when her dad showed up leading a German shepherd and said it was time for them to go home. I was angry at him for ruining her fun when he hadn’t helped her at all before.

“Besides,” Lia said, “Dane has blue eyes.”

Youth Part 1 by Dyanne Pajares from Vantage

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