Wrong Side of the Tracks
Wrong Side of the Tracks hooligan stories

aknier I occasionally remember to write things
Autoplay OFF   •   2 years ago
The place I met you

Wrong Side of the Tracks

They called it a lot of things

The slums

The hood

Or the more tasteful, "wrong side of the tracks"

When I first started volunteering there, it was because I needed volunteer hours for my resume

If I was going to get into a top school, I needed to prove how good of a person I was

So I signed up

And showed up to my first day completely unprepared

It was a soup kitchen

Which probably should have clued me into the fact that I shouldn't be wearing heels and silk

But I didn't know that then

I stood out like a sore thumb

Trying my best not to spill on my new skirt

With wide, terrified eyes

Everyone there seemed so different than the people I knew

And there weren't nearly enough volunteers

But then there was you

Your face, so delicate even with a cap pulled low over your eyes

The careful way you moved your hands

I could tell right away you were an artist

You were so enchanting I almost didn't notice you slipping extras into your pockets

But when I looked up to confront you on it

The iciness in your eyes shut me up

I'd never felt hatred like that before

The next weeks, I slowly learned

How to dress for practicality, not to be seen

How to talk to these people who seemed so different from me

But really weren't

How to measure out hot ladles of soup without spilling

But I still couldn't manage to catch your eye without feeling a hot shiver of embarrassment down my spine

I didn't know why

I was being generous with my time

We were both working there, doing the same things

But under your gaze I felt wholly lacking

And self conscious in the new work boots I'd just bought

Eventually we exchanged a few words

Nothing much of interest

Just general work related stuff

Until December

When you came in without a coat

I was freezing, even in my thick sweater and jacket

And there you were, the same t-shirt as always

I asked one of the other women working with me if there was somewhere you could go for clothes

She shook her head pityingly at me

And told me you'd never take it

I don't know what came over me that night

But you left about the same time I did

So I just called out


You turned slowly, and I immediately regretted it

"What do you want?" You demanded

I tried to smile at you, but probably ended up clenching my teeth instead

"I just wanted to know if you know if there's somewhere around here I could drop off donations. You know, like clothes?"

"Salvation Army on fifth." You spat out, turning away again

"Sorry, I meant like- like somewhere that doesn't charge people. Like- for people who really need it." I felt so lost, the words just kept stuttering out of me

Your eyes softened a little bit, just enough for my heart to skip a beat

"Yeah, I know somewhere. They won't let you in though." You said, eyes flicking over my ensemble

I felt stupid for forgetting to change out of my new sweater before arriving

"Oh. Thanks anyway."

I turned to walk away

But you called after me


I turned back around

"Bring them next week. I'll see what I can do"

You flinched at my huge smile

But I didn't care

I finally felt like I was making progress

The next shift I worked crawled by

You weren't there

And I felt all too keenly aware of the giant bags of gently used clothing filling up my car that would go to waste if you didn't show

But right before I left you slid in the door, face flushed from the cold

You caught my eye and jerked your head toward the doors

I nodded and turned to follow

Before promptly tripping over my own feet

Half your mouth quirked up in a smile then

The first one I'd seen from you

And it was breathtaking

You helped me carry bag after bag from my car to the back of your bike

Strapping them down carefully

Right as you turned to go, I tentatively placed a hand on your arm

"Wait, one more thing" I practically whispered

I pressed a jacket into your arms

Black leather, with a thick, warm lining

I'd spent all weekend shopping for something perfect

I could imagine how well the tailored fit would flatter your slim body

And how warm it would keep you

"Take this one, please. For you."

You eyed it skeptically

"This was yours?"

I lied

"My sister's. She outgrew it before she even wore it. Please, take it."

I could see the indecision in your eyes as you debated the risks of charity against the warmth of a jacket

But finally you shrugged it on

I pressed my lips together to keep from beaming

But you just hopped on your bike and road away

A few weeks later was the soup kitchen's Christmas meal

The dining area was packed beyond capacity with families

And the air buzzed with carols

A sweet little girl came up to me, dark pigtails bouncing, and asked me to sit with them

She looked so excited that I finally agreed, before looking up at the table she was pointing at and meeting your eyes

I glanced down at the girl, ready to change my mind

But you gave me a soft half smile

So I followed

I slid into the seat next to you right as the post-meal prayer began

And as I bowed my head I noticed the jacket I'd given you hanging off your chair

Throughout the next half hour of singing, the little girl introduced herself as Cara

Your little sister

I could see it in her eyes

Bright blue and clear

Just like yours

And the way you watched her

Like you were ready to lay down your life for her

I also noticed the socks she was wearing

A pair with pink unicorns that had been mine

Without even thinking, I pulled a pair of puppy gloves from my pockets

I liked to wear them when driving because they were so warm

But I pressed them into Cara's hands, murmuring "Merry Christmas"

She squealed and hugged me

And to my surprise, you didn't look mad at me

That night, as we were packing up

You pushed something into my hands

I didn't have time to say anything before you disappeared

But I opened the card

And saw a beautiful portrait of me

Done in what looked like watercolor

Wearing an adorable Christmas sweater

With your scribbled signature under it

That was the best gift I got that year

Even better than the tickets to Mexico from my parents

After that Christmas, you slowly started to talk to me

Eventually, we automatically moved to the same stations, the work fitting in effortlessly with our conversations

I asked about Cara, how she was doing in school

Once, you mentioned her backpack strap had broken

I knew I could help

But didn't know how to say it

So the next week when a brand new dolphin backpack was accidentally left in the lost and found

I made sure it caught your eye

And it was gone the next week

A few months later came the event that my mother had warned me about

I got a flat tire in the soup kitchen parking lot

It was late, already dark

And AAA said it would be an hour or so until they could get out to me

You walked out to see me crying on the ground

And surprising even yourself, I think, you put your hand on my arm

You offered me a ride somewhere, and I tearfully accepted

I was even more shocked when you gave me your helmet and helped me onto the back of your bike

I wrapped my arms tentatively around your waist

And in that moment I felt like I was flying

You got me home safely, and I cautiously invited you in

You were about to refuse, but I explained that my parents were out and I had pizza

So you came in

I was instantly embarrassed of the decor

So "tasteful" and "elegant"

But really stiff and uncomfortable and overpriced

But you politely ignored it

We sat on my bed eating pizza

And I made you laugh

And in that moment I realized that you were the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen

So I did something really, really stupid

I kissed you

I knew I shouldn't have the moment I touched you and you froze

I immediately apologized, but it was too late

You ran from the room, leaving me frozen there in shock at what I'd done

I cried myself to sleep that night

The next few weeks you didn't show at the kitchen

And I tried to forget the way your eyes sparkled and your body moved so effortlessly

I handed in my two weeks notice

My last night at the kitchen, I was just finishing sweeping the floors when you came in

I froze, trying to hide behind the broom

But you saw me

And the pain in your eyes hurt me more than anything ever could

I breathed out your name, and you glided toward me as if you weren't in control of your body

"I'm sorry" you whispered, tucking your hair behind your ear

"Me too" I replied

We gazed at each other for a long moment, tension in the air

"You know it would never work, you and me." You said "There's no connection."

"It could" I argued

You shook your head and smiled at me

"No, it couldn't. We're too different"

"Prove it." I breathed

You took a sharp breath in then, pulling in to yourself

"I'll believe you if you can tell me you don't feel anything after this" I stated boldly, not quite believing what I was doing

I grabbed your hands, pulling you close to me, and pressed my lips to yours

You kissed me back almost instantly, hands winding into my hair

I gasped and moved in closer, pushing you up against the wall

And you responded with a breathy moan that almost killed me

When we finally pulled apart, we were both breathing hard

"Nothing?" I asked

"Nope" you breathed

So I kissed you again

And again

And again

Eventually we had to leave

But not without a promise to keep trying to make whatever this was work

And it did

We made it though long distance, when I left for college

And you losing your best friend to drugs

And even telling my mom I was in love with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks

And our new home is truly a home

With comfortable, warm furniture

And your art on the walls

And a room for your sister, so she can be in a better school district

And you

Laughing, and kissing, and loving me

That's better than anything money can buy

And every weekend we go volunteer in your old neighborhood

Holding hands

On the exact right side of the tracks

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