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October 29, 2022

Wet Grass

Bridget Shea

Hey, Abby. Can you talk right now? If you can talk, please let me know because I think I fucked it all up with Ted. I know you’re going to say it’s not as bad as I think but it is, okay, don’t discount my feelings this time. Please.

We went out to Mona tonight and it was great and then afterwards we drove down to the beach because we thought it would be romantic, and it was. But we were walking on the wet sand and off in the distance I saw a family, it was a mom, dad, big sister, and little brother. The little kid probably wasn’t more than six. As Ted and I were walking along I watched them get ready to leave, all their toys and stuff was packed into a little cart except for a mold, like a sand castle mold, you know. He was making castles in the sand, but it was time to go so the mom tried to grab the mold from him, so he ran away, just a few steps.

Ted’s talking to me about his internship, his project manager or something, but it just goes in one ear and out the other. Then, both the parents tried to guide the kid by the shoulders away from the water, so he just starts crying and crumples into a ball. Fetal position on the wet sand. The parents give each other a look, don’t even need to say anything, and the dad calls the big sister over—it’s like this was planned—the three of them stand in a semicircle crowding around this little boy. They’re just staring at him as he’s crying on the ground. He’s a little kid and he’s crying; I just couldn’t look away. It was natural, like it’s just something they do in their family. I felt so sorry for him.

Ted—I don’t think he noticed because we both stopped walking—turned around to face me and he grabbed my hands. I’m still looking at the kid to see what happens. Ted looked me in the eye and told me he loved me. I started panicking in my head. This was the first time he’s said that and it’s when I haven’t even been paying attention to him. I felt funny then, a little bit lightheaded, like I needed more space. It’s not like Ted was crowding me, but with everything it just reminded me of when I was in second grade.

It was during recess. We were playing soccer on the playground. I think I’ve told you this before, but I slipped on the wet grass, fell on my hand weird, and broke my pointer finger. I knew that I broke my finger in second grade, but when Ted was there in front of me it’s like it all came back. I was on the grass on my knees, looking at my finger, it was bent backwards all wrong, and the other kids must’ve wondered what happened because they started crowding me.

And I remember crying and I remember it taking forever to a teacher to come and take me to the nurse’s office, because for ages it felt like there was a mass of people around me, crowding, hovering, poking me, yelling for the sake of it, everything and everyone smelling like wet grass and young sweat. Around me, my broken finger. The bone must’ve snapped already but it felt like it was teetering, on the edge of something. If someone touched it then it would’ve fallen down. I couldn’t do anything to protect myself. On the beach, I felt just a little bit of what I felt there. Scared. Small. I started tearing up a little bit just thinking about me and about that little kid falling apart on the sand...

To Ted, it must’ve been awful. We went out to a nice dinner, walked down the beach, had what must’ve been an excellent conversation, then he tells me he loves me and I start crying. I didn’t explain it to him. He never even noticed the kid or the family at all, I’m guessing. He just put his arm around me, walked me to the car and drove me home. We didn’t say much. I don’t know what happened to the kid.

I know that I screwed it all up. I just really need to talk to someone. Call me back when you get the chance, okay?