High School

The Park was not the same. The flowers were gone. I went there after the snowstorm and walked where the flowers that lined the pathway to the Cloisters used to be. I remembered urinating there in the summer and a park ranger came through the trail. I thought he was going to reprimand me for peeing there, but he said, jokingly, to make sure and get all the trees, that they needed to be watered, too.

Down the hill was where Frances Feinstein kissed me hello. If there had been more people in the park I don’t think she would have done it. She would have chosen someone else. She was an older girl, high school, and very beautiful. She came into the park when I was the only one down the hill. It was drizzling. We got under a tree and she said, Where is everybody? It was and wasn’t rhetorical, and I didn’t say anything. I was shy next to her. I had gone out with her kid sister but always desired Frances. Her kiss and the smell of her perfume were heavenly, but it led to nothing.

I stood still under the tree. And she decided to walk away when she saw this guy we knew coming down the hill. She went up to him, and under the drizzle kissed him on the cheek. I think he was twenty or twenty-one. They sought cover under a big tree.

From the little pouch hanging from his waist he took out some weed and rolled a joint. They puffed and passed. And she looked over at me under my tree, and I’m sure she was going to invite me to their tree, but he must have given her a signal, a vibe that said, He’s junior high.

And then I walked away and got wet. And that was all right. I’m sure Frances knows I’m in high school now.

Miguel Gardel was nominated for a Pushcart in 2017 for a story that appeared in Wigleaf. He lives in New York City.