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Unrecognizable Words

Brady Cavanagh


Alyvia Stevens

The Words, 

Pulled off the shelf and thrown, with no warning at all.

In the car,

Nothing but silence between us, desperately searching for a knife to cut it. 

Staring in disbelief, not daring to glance his way. 


Eyes fixating on the poorly painted line in front. 

The music in my ears, fading to a close. 

The gravel hitting the car, attempting to break the stillness. 


My bleak attempt to speak, muffled by a broken voice. 


A single hand motion, 

Whisking away a lonely drop off his cheek.

A cleared throat, 

The strain between us, growing by the second.


Trying to make sense of the Words, spoken mere moments ago. 

Said out of 

desperation, reparation, or possibly

Humble honesty? 


I glance over and see nothing

Other than glistening eyes fixated on the road.

Side-by-side but worlds away. 

A stiff frame, still like a structure on the side of a building.


If his eyes shifted away, 

Both our stories would end in an instant. 

I can tell he saw my head move 

But didn’t challenge the tension by looking my way. 


The Words spoken in a guilty manner, 

Hearing the sorrow in his voice. 

It was easy to tell he wanted to say those for a while, 

but couldn’t seem to dust them off for use.

The Words went deeper than their initial meaning. 


Getting closer, without moving an inch. 

Knowing he would be there, no matter what. 

The past is nothing but the past. 


His misery, still wafting around my brain, 

as if it was waiting for more thought to be given to it.

I try to speak but nothing comes out other than a forced breath.

Him waiting for forgiveness, 

not knowing it wouldn’t come, not yet at least. 


Anger starts to brew in my head, throwing all reason out the window. 

Why now? 


What have I done differently to warrant the Words given to me? 

Biting my cheek to pass the time, I see familiar landmarks. 

The gas station that provides too much coffee.

Just past the hood, the unavoidable pothole that makes a perfect metaphor. 

A small speck of blood landing on my tongue.


As we pass the road I traveled every weekday, I gain some perspective. 

It doesn’t matter now. 

It doesn’t matter what I did or didn’t do.

He didn’t care. 

It was the beauty in the ordinary. 

Reminding me, extraordinary circumstances are not required. 

I didn’t have to earn anything with him. 

Miles went by in a second. 


A single tear escapes my eye when he says the Words again.

“Brady, I’m proud of you.”

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