Reconstruction: the formation of a poetic heart

By S. J. Graham


"Elena, I need to talk to you."

Ben stood outside her apartment door, a pained expression marking his
unusually handsome face. His eyes were darkened with anguish, and yet his
mouth was set in a determined, firm line. Elena gave him a scathing look and
rolled her eyes.
"Ben, I don't think that there's anything we have to talk about. You nearly
destroyed my best friend. Trust me, you wouldn't want to hear what I think
of you right now."
"But I do. I want to hear what you have to say. You're closer to Felicity
than anybody else right now, and I need to know what to do. I think I've
made a horrible mistake."
"Damn right, you have."
"Can you just let me in? I need to talk. Please." He asked quietly, his
eyes intense and pleading.
She sighed. Felicity had been through so much shit because of this immature
guy, but throughout it all, Elena knew that her friend's feelings had
remained the same. Up until yesterday, she thought.
Felicity had called her last night, telling her about the conversation with
Ben on the street, and how she had decided to move on with her life because
she was sure that Ben would never be able to handle the emotions involved in
it all. Elena had been proud of her. She realized that saying goodbye to
Ben was probably one of the hardest things that Felicity had ever had to do.
But it had been right. And then there was the hair thing, but Elena had yet
to see the results of that. She couldn't wait to see her friend's new look.
Elena motioned Ben inside with a wave of her hand and stepped aside, "Fine.
And don't worry about Noel. He's over at the dorm helping Richard with his
new computer. He should be gone for awhile." He headed into the living room
and she closed the door behind him. They sat down on the long couch and Ben
leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and pressed his warm face into his
Elena looked at him curiously. It seemed odd for Ben to be having this
reaction to Felicity's decision. He had given some strong indications that
he wasn't interested in pursuing a relationship with Felicity. And now, here
he was, sitting on her couch and looking like a Mac truck had hit him.
"Ben, listen. Whatever you have to say, I can't guarantee that I won't tell
Felicity. I mean, she's my best friend. There are certain things that I
can't really keep from her."
He looked over at her, nodding, "Yeah, I realize that. But chances are that
she might not want to hear anything about me, even if you did try to tell
her. Right?"
"That's true." She agreed with a solemn nod.
"Anyway, what I need to say is that I think, no, I'm sure that I've made a
big mistake. I mean, Felicity was right in calling me a coward." He gave
her a glance, "I suppose she told you that."
"She left that part out, but I must say that I'm glad she said it."
He nodded, "I am too, actually. I guess it sort of woke me up." He ran his
fingers through his hair and continued in a ragged, tired voice, "She was
completely right. And I'm not ready for a relationship. But believe me,
when I say that I want to be. I need her, Elena."
Her eyebrows rose slightly as she looked at him.
He took a deep breath, "I can't always express myself the way that she can.
I've just never had to. I feel like those feelings are there, underneath.
But I have no idea how to get to them and bring them out, you know?"
She thought about that for a minute. Guys were never very good at expressing
themselves. Even she knew this. Noel was probably the one exception to the
rule. But Ben, well she had never really figured him for an emotional guy.
As she took in his appearance, though, she realized that she may have been
"I see what you mean. Well, have you thought about maybe instead of talking
about it, you should write it down?"
"Write it down?"
"Yeah. I don't mean that you need to write her a letter or anything, but
maybe just a journal or something like that. Don't put any pressure on
yourself to be a good writer. Just write down what you're thinking."
He smiled slightly, "I'm not really great at writing anything."
"Try it. Maybe you'll surprise yourself. But Ben, if you really want her,
you're going to have to reach out to her on her own level. You've tried to
do it your way. It didn't work, and she's not going to wait around for you.
She's determined to move on."
"I know, I know. But I have to try."

Ben sat on a bench in Central Park, staring at the blank white page in front
of him. What could he possibly write? Writing wasn't really his thing.
Swimming and running, now that he could do. But not this. He crossed an
ankle over one knee and leaned his head back. He didn't know where to start.
The park was still brightly lit by the afternoon sun, but did not hold the
warmth that he had hoped it would on this brisk September day. It wasn't
deserted, either. He had hoped for that as well. A few children ran past
him, giggling cheerfully and he smiled at them.
Kids are funny, he thought to himself. They see the world as this huge place
to simply explore and rarely let obstacles get in their way. His eyebrows
rose quickly, and the green depths of his eyes brightened for an instant.
The tablet on his lap seemed to glare up at him, in its stark ivory shade.
And the pen in his hand slowly lowered to the paper. With a trembling hand,
he started to write.
He paused for only scant moments at a time, in between long sentences and
stared at the script before him. Then, the thoughts would come back. Newer,
fresher and ever more important. And then the hand and pen would return to
the paper in a greater fever of activity. He continued until dusk began to
settle on the park, and the shadows around him had become menacing in their
gradual growth.
Finally, he stood. Looking around, he seemed to notice things that he'd
never really chosen to see before. He realized, as he looked at the shape of
the trees, and the light pouring through the yellow and red leaves that he
could write all of this down. Describe every minute detail. And then he

"Hey, what's up?" Julie asked Ben as she threw her backpack down on the
He looked up from his place at the kitchen table and closed his notebook.
"Not too much."
She smiled, "What are you doing with that? Is it for some class or
something? I see you writing in that thing constantly." She settled herself
in the chair opposite his and reached out to steal a French fry from the
cardboard McDonald's carton in front of Ben, "Mind if I have one?"
"No, no. Go ahead." He pushed the fries towards her and got up, taking the
journal with him.
"You didn't answer my question." She reminded him casually, her dark eyes
fixed on him as he threw the carton from his Big Mac into the trash can.
He turned slightly and lifted the journal to his chest, smiling at her, "Uh,
the notebook. It's no big deal. Not really for class. Just for me, I
"Okay, okay. Well, are you going over to Epstein's later? I'm playing
"Um, sure. Yeah, I've got a little more writing to do and then I'll head
over there." He turned and headed up the stairs, his mind racing. So many
ideas. So many words that seemed to come out of nowhere, and they were just
begging to be put on paper.
Ben himself was stunned at the change in his direction. Writing for his
classes was no longer a tedious chore, but a welcome relief from the agony of
hearing a professor's lecture about history or economics, or whatever.
Writing was his drug now. And he had even begun to keep a smaller notebook
by his alarm clock because so often, he woke up in the middle of the night,
needing to write down images from some strange dream.
And most of these dreams centered around a beautiful young woman whose face
was so familiar to Ben that seeing it seemed to inspire more words in him
than seemed humanly possible. Of course, when he awoke and began writing,
sometimes very early in the morning, he knew that these words would never be
spoken to her. These silly, sappy words were more for his mind than hers.
He sat on the edge of his bed and flipped through the notebook, feeling
rather than seeing the pages which were filled to capacity with thoughts and
ideas that had been conceived both in recent days and long forgotten ones.
Some were centered on his father and their tumultuous relationship. Some
regarded his mother, and the anguish he still felt for everything she had
been through.
But few of these hastily penned words involved his feelings for Felicity. It
confused him that he could not conjure up a sentence to describe her.
Describing everything else in his life had been easy, these past few days.
He opened the journal to a fresh page and pulled his pen from the wire ring
that bound the precious notebook together. He once again stared at the page,
trying to develop something inside him that would inject something of
Felicity's character onto the paper. And then he wrote a few short words.
Then a few more under those.

Inside her burns a flame so bright,
It stuns me with its vivid light.
It rocks my restless, empty soul,
To see the brilliance in her glow.

He stopped. It was hard, to write these things. It was hard to just think
about her. But he felt he needed to do this. Not for her. For him, and him
alone. But where was she, he asked himself. And what would she think of
these words he's fashioned together, produced by him and inspired by her
Ben closed the notebook and stood, staring at himself in the mirror over his
dresser. There would be more, he knew. More things to write and a hell of a
lot to think about. But would all of this make a difference to her in the
He hoped so.


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