But what a fool believes he sees…
Sam loved Erin ever since that day in the sixth grade. They were swinging side by side, white-knuckled chains arcing them further, higher, like eagles dancing. Every single thing was competition between them, had been since the second grade. Recess was no exception. Sam had grown to hate it, almost hate her, but he couldn't stop it. He wanted to so many times, just say forget it, Erin, you win, but he couldn't. They had played into grade school hands for years; their roles were cast. Just as it seemed he could swing no higher she yelled her dare: betcha won't jump! Erin always raised the stakes, upped the ante, ever striving.
Sam was terrified but pride loosed his grip and hurled him in the air. He frantically flapped his wings but they were as wax in the sun. Too high, too much pride. A teacher screamed as he fell face first into the sidewalk edging. Sam recognized the taste of dirt and blood. And then a smell he knew well, her smell. Erin had worn her mother's Enjoli for over a year - "the 8 hour perfume for the 24 hour woman."
In those alternative fairy tales, it's Snow White's kiss that awakens the prince. That's how it was that day. Sam opened his eyes to find her astride him, sobbing, her hands holding his face. Oh Sam! I'm so-so sorry! Please don't leave me! And then to the shock of God and those gathered, Erin Winter leaned in and kissed Sam Merritt's dirt-blood lips. Please, Sam, please don't leave me! And to everyone's surprise the prince rose to her apology: I won't.
And Sam has loved Erin ever since. But Erin never loved Sam.
Somewhere back in her long ago,
where he can still believe there’s a place in her life…
I know these things because I’m Sam’s brother, always have been. I loved Erin too, for a little while, but nothing like Sam.