by Mary Redman
You were fourteen and sullen that day
I picked you up from cross country practice.
We bickered, and I couldn’t drive fast enough
to get you home, send you inside to your room.
As I raised the garage door, something broke
in you. That day you’d learned at school
a childhood friend had killed himself
on Friday night, a drug overdose. Breathless,
you raged at the unfairness—
rambled about overnights at his house,
eating junk food and watching movies
late into the night.
He’d played on your baseball team one year,
showed promise you never did.
You said you’d lost touch with him
until he turned up
in your English class that fall—
a different boy—withdrawn, thin,
and silent in a room where no one else was
quiet. You didn’t even speak to him.
He seemed to be a stranger.
That afternoon you wondered aloud
if your friendship could have helped.
With nothing to fix and no answers to share,
I pulled the car to a stop,
turned off the engine and leaned
across the console,
to hold onto you while both of us wept.
Mary Redman is a retired high school English teacher who currently works part time supervising student teachers for University of Indianapolis and volunteers as a docent at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. She has had poems published in Bangor Literary Journal, Flying Island, Nine Cloud Journal, Northwest Indiana Literary Review, Snapdragon: a Journal of Healing, Tipton Poetry Journal, and So It Goes and others. One of her poems received a Pushcart nomination in 2019.