The Heart of Caroline

July 12, 2017 by Patrick Starks 

44954075 - halloween night background with man pushing woman on swing

Caroline… She was only sixteen when we became official partners in crime. We were just teenagers then—high schoolers, with no clue to what the world had to offer us. Caroline was of course drooled over by all the boys, the jocks, in which I hated the most. They’d always come around us during lunchtime singing that song by Outkast called “Roses”. And it was obvious they only sang it because her name was in it—and man did that song get stuck my head, still annoys me today. I on the other hand, I was just the opposite. I was the loner, the rebel, if you will. No one really cared about me, not any girl, but Caroline did.

It was hard for anyone to understand the relationship she and I had. I mean, I couldn’t blame them. Caroline and I lived two separate lives, and because of this, we were nicknamed the Ying yang twins—not like the rappers though, neither one of us had the skills for such, although they weren’t great rappers themselves—that’s what we thought.

Caroline was a cheer captain and I… well I was just I, I guess—if that made any sense at all. But what people didn’t see after school was where the true facts lied, about the connection of Caroline and I—more so of who she truly was. No one would ever believe me, but Caroline was quite the master Yu-Gi-Oh player. And I know what you’re thinking, “what a bunch of nerds.” But screw you, Yu-Gi-Oh was dope, you’d be the nerd not to play such a memorable game. But as good as I thought I was, that my card deck was, she’d always find a way to beat me.

Three years went by and we were now seniors. It was a happy time for our peers, however not such happy of a time for us. We knew, we figured, that this would be the last time we’d ever see each other.  Caroline had been accepted to Harvard and I was to go on to a technical school, where I would pursue in the arts. As usual, the senior class had to go out with a bang. Tom Alevera was throwing the senior party, the ‘meat head number one’, I called him. Rumors were spreading that it be the biggest party ever, and bigger than most weddings. I figured since Caroline and I were seeing each other for the last time, that this would be a good chance for me to ask.

I asked her poorly. She wasn’t all that impressed, I thought. But then she gave me the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. I’d never seen her smile that way, so seductively it was. ‘What took you so long?” she asked. I hesitated, I couldn’t think of any excuse but for the fact that I was a coward, and thought a girl like her would never want to be seen with a guy like me, at least not in a romantic setting.

To get down to the gritty, I picked her up an hour before the party. I figured we could get something to eat, some alone time. Besides, you and I both know that no one ever shows up to parties on the dot. You always make a late appearance, it shows people you have a life, not just waiting for one single party to pop off.

I took Caroline to not a Mcdonalds, if that’s what your thinking, but a fine restaurant. One a princess like her deserved. My mother always taught me when you find the right one, treat them like queens and respect them. I agreed, but I was a full-blooded gentleman—even if a girl was shitty to me, I’d still treat her in a way she wasn’t deserving of.

The restaurant I took her to was in the Space Needle of Seattle. And I know what you’re thinking. ‘How the hell can a teenager afford the space needle’. Well… all I can say is I have my ways, and that would be another story to tell.

As we ate she gazed at my eyes and I gazed at hers. She was so damn beautiful that night, I just couldn’t keep my eyes off her. I stood up as my dad would do. She looked confused, she was wondering what I was up to, but remained calm. The song from that movie “True lies” came on, I believe it was called “Por una cabeza” by Carlos Gardel. If you’re still listening, you should go youtube it—it’s a very intimate song.

As the music played I reached my handout to her, a tear fell from her cheek. I couldn’t tell if she was happy or sad. For any girl or woman listening, guys… well, we sometimes get confused on how you feel in particular moments, so please be patient with our ignorance—we honestly just don’t know. But out of all the confusion, we can never keep our eyes off you.

We were now on the dance floor, her head laid against my chest as my chin rested on her head. I’m sure she could feel my heart getting ready to burst through my sternum like an alien. Although, that wouldn’t be good either, for that it probably go through as well—but what a romantic way to go out, don’t you think…probably not. She then pulled her head from my chest and looked me in my eyes again. Any other guy would have thought this was my chance to go in for the kill, but no, sadly this was not the opportunity. As she stared at me, she asked me was I ready to head out. I felt horrible, that maybe I was a bit too romantic. I’d date other girls before her and they’d always say, ‘oh your too nice’ or ‘o your like a brother to me’. I know right…bullshit, but moving on.

As we were leaving she coughed a few times, I’d figure it was nothing. I’d bring her a glass of water as any gentleman would do. And after a few sips she was ready to go. She insisted on taking a walk. She loved walks, and always went on hiking trips with her family every summer. We’d walked for miles that night talking about the future, our goals, who’d we become—even found an old playground, where I pushed her on the swing like back in the day—when we were kids. Before we’d realize, we were at least three hours late to the party, but we didn’t care, we enjoyed each other’s company.

It was getting late, I figured I’d take her back home before her father round house kicked me in the short shorts he wore—he was a strange man, but her mother loved him more than anything. I thought and laughed to myself, he must be a gentleman as well.

As we walked back to my car everything seemed to be like a dream, it was beautiful and perfect. But then things went bad really-fast. I didn’t hear it nor see it, but Caroline did. A car came dashing from the road swerving right in to us, but as it approached us, my body went sideways—it was as if someone pushed me. Everything was in slow motion and all I saw were flashes. I eventually came to my senses and got back up to my feet stumbling a few times in the process. I looked for Caroline, but she was nowhere to be found. The car that once swerved into our direction had done a burnout, getting the hell out of dodge. I’d thought why the hell would they take of like that unless it was…

My hands started shaking. I yelled for Caroline but heard nothing. I turned a few clicks to the left and their she was. I was scared, I didn’t want to believe it so, but I loved her, I always had and there was no chance in hell I was letting anyone nor god take her from me—not on this night, not now. As I approached she was unconscious, she was like a sleeping beauty. I’d thought, I’d hoped, if I gave her a kiss she’d be with me again, but I knew it was unlikely. Why her? I thought, why now. I eventually became angry, promising I’d kill the asshole who ran her over, that I would find them. But then she awakened, with a final goodbye. She looked up at me with her chocolate colored eyes, and smiled. She told me it hurt and that she was happy to see I was okay. I cried, I didn’t want to. I’d always felt that men shouldn’t cry, but my dad told me the opposite. Told me that weak men don’t cry, because their trying to put on the mask that they aren’t. But strong men don’t care to cry, because they know that deep down their tears are what strengthens them.

I thought about it, and remembered how Gohan cried in Dragon Ball Z. How when he defeated Cell, he defeated him crying—his tears brought him strength—remembering his loved ones did that.

Caroline grabbed my face smiling again and told me she loved me. She told me that night was the best she’d ever had. I cried harder. She wiped the cheeks from my face and told me that she wishes she could keep me, that the world didn’t deserve me—such a kind person. But deep down she knew it wasn’t true. As she began to fade, she reminded me of my purpose in this life and how much I meant to her, how I kept her spirit strong. She left me with one last saying.

“Don’t be afraid to show the world what you can really do, who you are. What lies inside instills true power of what we as humans can do, and this part of us will always start with one, that being you. So swing through life gracefully, with purpose, and never let anyone nor life break the chains that soar you closer to the skies.”

I know deep right… Although we sit here in this church today, It honestly sounded like something out of the bible, but I knew it was truly her words, and how she really felt about me. As I stand here at this podium today, I’d like to thank you all for being here for Caroline. She was the greatest person in the world, she was my world and I’ll never forget what she taught me. Caroline would want us all to be ourselves, as she never got the chance to do so. I know she watches over us today and is with us right now. So please lets us remember who she really was, not who she wasn’t—let us remember the heart of Caroline.

44954075 - halloween night background with man pushing woman on swing

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