Monday, September 18, 2023

Art in the Age of Algorithms: The Soul of Creation

"Art in the Age of Algorithms: The Soul of Creation"

By Kevin Wasden

©2023 Kevin Wasden

Much like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof, I’m struggling as the values and traditions of the art world change around me.

At the beginning of the century, digital art software and tools became accessible for home computers, significantly changing the landscape of art and illustration. Initially, I resisted this transformation and refused to embrace digital tools in my creative process. I held the belief that creating art digitally was akin to cheating. However, the advantages of digital art, such as increased speed and the ability to secure more jobs and income, eventually outweighed my reservations. But it has taken me a long time to embrace digital tools as a valid tool for creating art. In fact, it has only been within the last year that I have actively sought to use digital art programs, such Photoshop and Procreate, to create what might be considered fine art. 

Today, we are again witnessing a new "revolution" in the world of art, marked by the growing accessibility of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). Notably, even individuals without a background in art are sharing captivating A.I.-generated images, presenting us with a pressing question that continues to gain momentum: Can A.I. generated images be considered real art?

This pivotal question is being examined by artists, galleries, art collectors, and even the United States Copyright Office. In one particular example, Bitforms Gallery in San Francisco challenged the definition of art with its DALL-E: Artificial Imagination exhibition in late 2022.  Ellie Pritts, a participant in this exhibition stated passionately: “I think it is really important to showcase right now that this is a new medium. There are serious artists; this is legitimate work.”

Also of note, the world’s first A.I. art gallery opened in Amsterdam in March 2023. Ironically, the gallery’s name is Dead End. The gallery recognizes, even celebrates, the imperfections and idiosyncrasies of A.I. art, including all the six-fingered and multi-limbed figures.

However, it's crucial to note that among most professional artists, the prevailing sentiment seems to be that A.I. falls short of being tue art. Many artists are deeply concerned about the potential ramifications of A.I. on their livelihoods, spanning various creative professions, including visual artists, musicians, writers, and actors. This concern is so pronounced that it has even become a focal point in the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, particularly regarding the role of artificial intelligence in Hollywood.

Given my roles as both a content editor at a publishing company and a visual artist, I have found myself deeply contemplating the role of artificial intelligence. I've pondered the extent, if any, to which A.I. can play a meaningful role in the various creative fields that I actively engage with. 

It's evident that A.I. possesses limitations, particularly in its current iteration. However, it is clearly progressing toward a future where it will be able to craft remarkable art across various mediums. The time will come when A.I. will generate art adorning museum walls, compose songs that soar into the Billboard Top 100, and produce movies that resonate deeply with our emotions. The potential for A.I. to create great art is both exciting and frightening.

Yet, there is a caveat — this advancement may come at a cost, potentially overshadowing the role of great human artists. This raises a significant ethical and philosophical question: Is that a sacrifice we should be willing to make?

As we look toward the horizon of possibilities that A.I. presents, we find ourselves at a crossroads. We must carefully weigh the implications for both the art it can produce and the artists it may replace. It's a complex issue that challenges us to navigate the evolving intersection of technology and creativity with thoughtful consideration. We must acknowledge the profound depth that great artists bring to their craft. Their talents have been refined by countless hours of dedication and relentless effort, but more than anything, their art is a result of lived experiences, unique perspectives, and an insatiable hunger for expression and improvement. 

Let me share one of my favorite quotes, by the great Japanese artist, Hokusai, in his book, “One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji:

“...until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice. At 73 years I was somewhat able to fathom the growth of plants and trees, and the structure of birds, animals, insects, and fish. Thus, when I reach 80 years, I hope to have made increasing progress, and at 90 to see further into the underlying principles of things, so that at 100 years I will have achieved a divine state in my art, and at 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive. Those of you who live long enough, bear witness that these words of mine are not false.”

This relentless pursuit of self-improvement and the profound desire to contribute to the world around them stand as the defining characteristics of great artists. So, when we stand before a magnificent painting or sculpture displayed in a renowned museum, let us choose to recognize that its greatness is a product of the artist's journey — a journey marked by learning, perseverance, and a tapestry of lived experiences.

In contemplating the role of Artificial Intelligence in my own profession and creative pursuits, I believe that we can embrace A.I. as a tool without losing sight of the core values and identity that define us as creators. A.I. has the potential to support human creativity. However, it should never serve as a replacement. In my own work, I will utilize A.I., but I recognize that it should never come at the expense of my my own endeavors to become a more skilled draftsman, painter, or writer. It is only when these new technologies supplant our inherent need for learning and self-improvement that we venture onto precarious ground.

So, like Tevya, there is a point where evolving traditions push against the core of our beliefs, a point at which we cannot change further without risk of losing our purpose and identity, both individually and collectively.

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Bear

The Bear

By Kevin Wasden

©2023 Kevin Wasden

(La versión en español estará disponible pronto)


            The bell captain, who was a sturdy and methodical man with a dour face, rang the bell at Saint Philip’s Home for Orphans four times each day. The first ring was at nine, followed by another at twelve, and one more at three, each to remind the children to recite the Lord’s Prayer. But it was the fourth ring, at six-forty-five in the evening, that always sparked their fears. It was a warning that they had fifteen minutes before the bear’s arrival.

            At first, the idea of a giant bear wandering through the halls of Saint Philip’s was considered preposterous. But as time went on, it became impossible to deny its existence.  Despite the valiant efforts of great hunters hired to rid the orphanage of the bear—all of whom were savagely defeated—no one was ever able to put an end to this phenomenon. And so, like the rising and setting of the sun, it became a part of the daily routine at Saint Philip’s. From seven o’clock in the evening until seven o’clock the next morning, the orphans and caretakers would remain sequestered safely in their dormitories. And in the morning, the bear simply vanished until the next evening. No den could be found. No trace of the animal remained.

            Tonight, the sound of the six-forty-five bell seemed rather loud as it echoed off the cold walls of the orphanage, jolting the children into action. In the common room, Sister Agnes, her voice stern and insistent, bellowed, “Hurry, the lot of you! To your rooms! Lock your doors!”

            All the children scurried to the safety of their dorms like mice to their holes, except one.

            “Come on, Jack,” said Arthur, a tall, noble-looking boy of twelve. “It’s not safe to stay here.” But the boy lingered, feigning interest in a set of tin soldiers.

            Jack had arrived at the orphanage three days earlier. He was small for his age, irritatingly cocky, and a bully. He was a street urchin, here only because he had been caught by the peelers and forcefully dragged to Saint Philip’s. First chance, he would be back on the streets, but for now, he was assigned to Arthur’s dorm room, and, as the oldest bunkmate, Arthur was responsible for Jack’s safety.

            “Best we avoid the wrath of Sister Agnes,” said Arthur. “She’ll have us off to detention for the night if we don’t hurry.”

            After a long moment of contemplation, Jack finally abandoned the toy soldiers and trailed behind Arthur as he hurried to their chambers. Once inside, Arthur promptly bolted the heavy door behind them. Throughout the orphanage, the children in every room did the same with practiced swiftness—the girls in the east wing and the boys in the west.

            Safe within their dorm, the boys began to talk.

            “Oi, Ernie,” said Jack, reclining on his bunk with his fingers interlocked behind his head. Arthur was sure that Jack knew his name, but he seemed to find perverse satisfaction in pretending to forget it.

            “He’s Arthur, and ‘round here we call him King,” said Stubbs, a round boy who admired Arthur fiercely.

            “Just Arthur is fine,” said Arthur quickly.

            The boys all had aliases that, among the orphans, were more meaningful than their given names. The use of nicknames, even the most diminutive or rude, was a sign of acceptance into an inner circle. And Arthur was not yet ready to accept Jack into that circle.

            “So, Artie, this bear that wanders the halls of this orphanage at such precise times each and every night, have you seen it?”

            “No one ‘as seen it lives,” interjected Stubbs.

            “I’ve seen its shadow pass beneath the door,” said Chip, a nine-year-old, even smaller than Jack, who had been at Saint Philip’s for only a month.

“I’ve heard it, growling through the door, it was,” said Fizz, a freckle-faced boy who constantly fiddled with his oversized, wire-framed glasses because he never could sit still.

            But Jack remained incredulous. “I bet it’s just the adults pullin’ a fast one on us, to keep us in our rooms at night. If you ask me, you’re all a bunch of scared dolts.”


            “Mornin’ to you, Calissa,” Arthur greeted the girl who sat alone on the floor in the corner of the common room—cradling a tattered plush bear in her arms—at seven-o’five in the morning. Her long, unkempt brown hair fell about her face, a veil separating her from the other children.

            Calissa and Arthur had grown up together at Saint Philip’s, both found together on the steps of the orphanage with one blanket and the plush bear their only possessions. It was obvious that they were not siblings, yet there was an inexplicable bond between them, a connection that transcended even familial ties.

In a few months, they would both turn thirteen and be transferred to separate homes for older boys and girls. The thought of being separated weighed heavily on the children, especially Arthur.

“How are you today?” Arthur smiled despite the weight of his thoughts.

             Calissa said nothing. Despite her silence, or perhaps because of it, Arthur had always found comfort in Calissa's presence. He settled onto the floor beside her.

            “Ooh, look who’s got ‘imself a girlfriend,” said a passing boy.

            “Bugger off, Pickle!” Leaning close to Calissa, Arthur whispered, “No need to listen to that git. I already know I’m not your type–not enough muscle and not enough hair on my chest.” Arthur could never make her smile, but he always tried.

            They sat comfortably in silence for some time until Arthur broke the stillness with a question that had been troubling him. “Soon, they’ll try to separate us and send us off to the older homes. What do you think we should do?”

Calissa remained quiet. Arthur didn't expect her to answer, but she listened, and talking gave Arthur a chance to organize his thoughts.

“Do you ever imagine life beyond these walls?” Arthur said after a pause. “There must be a place for us, with families who will love us like their own. Sometimes I wonder about my own parents, if they’re still out there somewhere. But then I think, if they wanted us, why did they leave us here? It hurts to think that way, but sometimes I can’t help it. It would be nice to feel wanted. We all want that—need that.”

            Arthur trailed off, his heart heavy, longing for a life that he never had. It was a rare moment of vulnerability for him, and it surprised him when Calissa responded in her own way, not with words, but in the seclusion and shadow of the space between them, she took his hand. It wasn’t flirtatious but comforting. They stayed that way, hand in hand, until the nuns summoned the children for their morning classes.


            “Oi, who’s that bird?” said Jack brashly as the boys sat down for their midday meal.

“Bird?” Arthur feigned ignorance.

“Don’t be daft, Artie! The lass you sit with every mornin’.”

“Oh, you mean Calissa.”

“Is she yer bird then?”

“Nah, she’s just my best mate,” said Arthur with a hint of fondness.

“She don’t say much, does she?” Jack took a big bite of his sandwich.

“Not often,” Arthur said. “She’s a girl of few words.”

“And that plushie! Ain’t that toy a bit bonkers for someone her age?” Jack said.

“You ask too many questions,” Arthur said, wanting nothing more than to bring the conversation to an end. “You best be off to afternoon classes.”

“You know, you ain’t in charge of me,” Jack retorted, his voice dripping with derision. “Ye’re always telling me what to do.”

“I’m just trying to look out for everyone, to keep you all safe.”

“Safe? From what? A fairy tale bear? Rubbish! The only one who can protect me, is me,” Jack declared. “And before they dumped me here, I did just fine,” Jack said, then pressed on with challenge in his voice, “You ever lived on your own?”

“Nah, never,” Arthur confessed.

“Well, I did for five years,” proclaimed Jack. “You ever lived anywhere else besides here?” he added, his dark eyes boring into mine.

“No,” Arthur said softly, his confidence wavering momentarily.

“You ain’t no bleedin’ king. That title should be mine,” Jack said defiantly. “It’s me, should be givin’ orders around here.”

In that moment, as Arthur fought against his rising anger, he found a glimmer of understanding and hope. He recognized the way forward, and, to Jack’s chagrin, he smiled.


            Jack seethed with the desire to strike out at Arthur, that boy who thought he ruled them all. Jack, though small and useless in a physical fight, possessed a different kind of weapon—one that targeted vulnerabilities. He was determined to unravel the bond between Arthur and Calissa, but to do that, he needed to catch her alone. His opportunity came shortly before the six-forty-five bell, just outside the commons.

            “Oi, you! Calissa,” Jack called out. The girl continued undeterred toward the east wing. “Hey, I’m talking to you.” He quickened his steps to walk beside her. “Arthur sent me."

            Calissa paused, turning to face Jack. Beneath her long mane, Jack heard her sniff the air. “Smell lie,” she said, the words catching in her throat like a fishbone, emerging closer to a growl than speech.

            “You do know how to speak!” Jack jeered, a malicious grin spreading across his face. But Calissa whirled away from him, showing no interest in further conversation. She pushed through the doors into the east wing, determined to escape the boy. Doggedly, Jack pursued her.

            “Leave,” Calissa snapped, her voice so deep and forceful that Jack hesitated.           

            “Or else what? You gonna run to a nun? Or maybe seek refuge with your make-believe king, hoping he’ll unleash the bear on me?” Jack laughed. “That's nothing but a load of hogwash if I ever heard one. This plush toy is the closest thing to a real bear ‘round here.”

            Jack snatched the toy bear from Calissa’s grasp. The girl lifted her head, and for a moment, her dark, almond-shaped eyes glinted with a fierce, simmering hatred. The eyes seemed almost inhuman, and Jack took a nervous step away from her.

            Suddenly, the six-forty-five warning bell resonated through the halls, and all the girls would soon be rushing into the east wing. But first, a nun stepped through the doors, at once recognizing the young troublemaker. “What are you doing here? Be off with you this instant, you naughty child, or I will lock you in detention for the night.”

Jack tried to protest. “But it’s her fault…” he said, directing the nun’s attention to Calissa, but to his surprise, the girl was gone. He stood alone, clutching the toy bear, as the nun forcefully ushered him out of the east wing.


            “Where’s Jack?” Arthur asked his bunkmates as he readied himself to lock the dormitory door.

            “He was chattin’ up that lass, Calissa,” replied Georgie.

            Arthur glanced at the wall clock. It was nearly seven.

            “Stubbs, lock the door after me,” Arthur ordered.

            “King, you're bloody mad! You’ll be done for,” protested Stubbs as Arthur stepped into the hallway.

            “I’ll find Jack and be back soon. Listen for my knock.” Arthur said, demonstrating a pattern of five knocks on the door. “When you hear it, open up quickly, and let me and Jack in. Understood?”


            With that, Arthur closed the door behind him, hearing the bolt click into place. The corridors were deserted, devoid of both children and adults. Arthur found Jack in the commons, sitting on a sofa, pulling apart toys, and flinging the parts across the room.”

            “Oi!” Jack greeted Arthur with a malicious grin. “I’m conducting a little science experiment,” he declared, pointing at the clock. “Look, it’s five minutes past seven, and there’s no bear.”

            “Come on, Jack. We have to go. The others are waiting to let us in.”

            “I ain’t going anywhere.” Jack retorted, throwing the toy bear into the air and catching it.

            “Where’d you get that?” Arthur inquired suspiciously.

            “Your bird and I had a little chat just before the bell.” Jack revealed, rising from the sofa and stepping toward Arthur, once again flashing his hostile smile. “She gave it to me.”

“You’re lying, Jack.”

“It pains me that you don’t trust me.” Jack chuckled.

“You’re gonna get yourself killed, Jack.”

            “By you? You know, I’m beginning to think it’s you pretending to be the bear, manipulating everyone to satisfy your own need to feel important,” Jack accused. “You been locked up in this place so long, I think you’ve actually gone crazy.      

            “The bear is real, Jack. And she’s angry. You stole her most prized possession.” Arthur indicated the plush bear that Jack held carelessly.

            “What are you going on about? This belongs to Calissa.”


“Calissa is just a stupid girl. She ain’t no bear.”

            “She is my protector, Jack. She has been for twelve years. And I’ve done my best to protect all of you,” Arthur stated firmly, “but now I need to protect Calissa most of all.”

            Suddenly, a massive brown bear pushed through the door into the commons. Even on all fours, it barely squeezed through the frame. The animal fixed its dark, almond-shaped eyes on Jack with a fierce, simmering hatred. The eyes seemed almost human, causing Jack to retreat several steps in fear.

            With unexpected speed, the bear lunged forward and swatted Jack with the pads of a paw, sending him hurtling to the floor. He landed hard on his back, and the plush bear slid across the tiled floor. As the bear stepped toward him, Jack closed his eyes and shielded his head with his arms. His voice trembled with terror as he repeated, “It’s not real. It’s not real.”

            “Calissa, wait.” Arthur intervened, and the bear halted at once. Arthur tenderly picked up the plush toy and brushed it off. “We need him.”

            The bear furrowed its brows and wrinkled its nose as if to say, “No one needs this twit.”

            “Trust me,” Arthur assured, placing his hand on the animal’s shoulder. “I know what we must do.”

            When Jack opened his eyes, he found Arthur standing between him and the bear, his hand extended. “Come with us,” Arthur invited.

            Calissa growled her disapproval, but Arthur pressed forward.

            “We are leaving here tonight. Calissa and I can no longer stay. But we’ve never known anything else. We need you to show us how to live out there.” Arthur waved his hand at the world he imagined beyond the walls of Saint Philip’s. “You managed on your own for five years, Jack. Show us how. We’ll protect you. You’ll be one of us.”

            Jack gazed distantly in the direction Arthur waved his hand. If nothing else, he recognized the opportunity to escape Saint Philip’s. Taking Arthur’s hand, he allowed Arthur to pull him to his feet.

            “I will,” Jack agreed, then added, “King.”

            Arthur handed the toy bear to Jack and said, “I’m putting you in charge of this.” Jack accepted the plush toy apprehensively, and Arthur turned to the bear, smiling. “Jack needs a new name. What do you say, Calissa? Should we call him Teddy?”

            The bear rumbled, the closest thing to a giggle that a bear could do.

            “It’s time,” Arthur proclaimed.

            Understanding, the great beast lowered itself, allowing Arthur and Jack to clamber onto its back. Jack safeguarded the toy bear securely in his arms as the real bear plodded to the orphanage’s entrance, effortlessly tearing the doors from their hinges. It carried the boys down the path to the gate, which it demolished with equal ease. The woods lay north, beckoning the children as twilight settled in.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023



By Kevin Wasden

©2023 Kevin Wasden

(Lea la version en español a continuación)

I opened the time-worn cardboard box with the name “Margaret” scrawled across the top in faded black marker. It didn’t hold much, only a few photos, yellowed letters, old drawings, a couple of gray newspaper clippings, and a blue high school yearbook from 1985. I plucked the yearbook from the box and flicked past the photos of students and teachers with disinterest until I arrived at a particular inscription written in perfect penmanship.

“Remember writing this?” I held it up for her to see. 

We sat side-by-side on the couch, and she smiled as she read the words aloud. “Hey handsome, you’ll need a baseball bat to keep the girls away next year, especially me.” She giggled at her own youthful exuberance. “I signed it, ‘Love, Margaret, the girl next door.’” She paused, sorrowfully, then said. “So long ago.”

“I was in tenth grade,” I said.

“My junior year,” she said.

“You look just as beautiful now as you did then,” I said, feeling the same pull of attraction that I had felt my sophomore year. And even though I had grown much older, and the world had changed around us, she looked the same to me now as she had in high school. Her long, beautiful red hair and softly freckled skin were untouched by the years. 

We grew up in a small farming town, with only two or three houses on every block and plenty of livestock in between. Her small, brick house was located at the southwest corner of our block, and mine, with white stucco and a green roof, sat at the southeast. It was as close to being next-door neighbors as any two houses in town could be.

“I remember sneaking through the horse field between our houses and hiding behind your backyard fence,” I said. “You were sun tanning on your trampoline.”

“Really?” she said. I had recounted this story to her many times, but she was kind and her smile encouraged me to continue.

“I had a couple of water balloons, you know, for an ambush, but really, they were just an excuse to see you. I still remember you in your yellow swimsuit, eyes closed, soaking up the sun. So beautiful. I looked for a moment, doubted myself, and walked away.”

“You should have thrown a balloon,” she said.

“I know.”

“Should've said something.”

“I know.”

We sat quietly for a moment. 

"Remember Sunday School, the year your mom taught?" I asked.

"You always sat on the back row, I recall," she said.

“Always where I could see you.”


“You were pretty much the only reason I went to church that year,” I said, revealing a truth I’d never told her before.

Her eyes widened in evident surprise. “But you never said more than hello.”

“You were out of my league.”

“What made you think that?”

“You were popular, gorgeous, a cheerleader dating popular guys. I was the shy artist, a sophomore, who kept to himself. I never thought you would like me that way.”

“Hello?” she said. “Did you not see what I wrote in your yearbook?”

I hung my head. “I read it so many times... I wanted it to mean something, but I was too scared to believe it.”

“Well, you should have. Think how different things might have been if you had tried,” she said.

I put the yearbook back into the box, pulled out a newspaper clipping, scanned it, and then quickly returned it to the box. 

“What’s that?” she asked, knowing. 


“Read it to me.” 



“I can’t,” I said, my voice cracking.

“You must.”

“It hurts too much.”

“It’s time to let go.”

I lifted the newspaper article, struggling to focus through the tears that were forming.

“You read it!” I said, holding the clipping out for her. She waved it off.

“It has to be you.”

I cleared my throat, holding back my emotions, then read, “One southern Utah community is mourning the loss of four young people this week.” I stopped. 

“Keep going.”

“‘The community is devastated. It was such a tragic thing,’ said Sheriff Brenner. Brenner is also a first cousin to one of the four teens who died in a high-speed auto accident this past Saturday following a school dance.”

“Who were they?” she asked. 

“Just some good kids who made a bad decision,” I said.

“Tell me their names,” she said.

“The driver was Tyler Owen.”


“Matt Donaldson.”


“Julie Miller.”

“She was my best friend,” she said, sadly. 

“I know.”

“There was one more.”


“Yes. Four died that day. Read the last,” she said. 

“I can’t.”

“You have to let me go.”

I fought back the tears. I didn’t want her to see me cry. “But I never told you how I felt,” I said. “I’ve missed so many opportunities.”

She leaned close, our faces almost touching. “Tell me now,” she said. 

“I love you,” I said, barely audible.

“I meant what I wrote in your yearbook,” she said. “Now read the last name.”

My tears fell freely now. “Margaret Jo Roberts,” I said.

“I love you too,” she said.

I cried blindly for a long time, and when I wiped the tears away, she was gone.

Spanish Version/Versión en español


Por Kevin Wasden

©2023 Kevin Wasden

Abrí la gastada caja de cartón con el nombre "Margaret" escrito con un marcador negro descolorido en la parte superior. No contenía mucho, sólo unas cuantas fotos, letras amarillentas, dibujos antiguos, un par de recortes de periódico grises, y un anuario azul de mi escuela secundaria de 1985. Saqué el anuario de la caja y hojeé las fotos de estudiantes y profesores con desinterés hasta que llegué a una inscripción particular escrita con perfecta caligrafía.

“¿Recuerdas haber escrito esto?” Lo levanté para que ella lo viera.

Nos sentamos uno al lado del otro en el sofá y ella sonrió mientras leía las palabras en voz alta. "Oye, guapo, necesitarás un bate de béisbol para mantener alejadas a las chicas el año que viene, especialmente a mí". Ella se rió de su propia exuberancia juvenil. “Lo firmé, ‘Con amor, Margaret, la chica de al lado'”. Hizo una pausa, casi con tristeza, y luego dijo. "Hace mucho tiempo."

“Yo estaba en décimo grado”, dije.

“Mi tercer año”, dijo.

"Te ves tan hermosa ahora como entonces", le dije, sintiendo la misma atracción que había sentido en mi segundo año. Y aunque yo había crecido mucho y el mundo había cambiado a nuestro alrededor, ella me parecía igual ahora que en la escuela secundaria. Su largo y hermoso cabello rojo y su piel suavemente pecosa no habían sido afectados por los años.

Crecimos en un pequeño pueblo agrícola, con sólo dos o tres casas en cada cuadra y mucho ganado en el medio. Su pequeña casa de ladrillo estaba ubicada en la esquina suroeste de nuestra cuadra, y la mía, con estuco blanco y techo verde, estaba en el sureste. Eran lo más parecido a ser vecinos de al lado como podían serlo dos casas cualesquiera de la ciudad.

"Recuerdo haberme escabullido por el campo de caballos entre nuestras casas y esconderme detrás de la cerca del patio trasero", dije. "Estabas bronceándote en tu trampolín".

"¿En realidad?" ella dijo. Le había contado esta historia muchas veces, pero ella fue amable y su sonrisa me animó a continuar.

“Yo tenía un par de globos de agua, ya sabes, para una emboscada, pero en realidad eran solo una excusa para verte. Todavía te recuerdo con tu bañador amarillo, los ojos cerrados, tomando el sol. Tan hermosa. Miré por un momento, pero dudé de mí mismo y me alejé”.

“Deberías haber lanzado un globo”, dijo.

"Lo sé."

"Debería haber dicho algo.”

"Lo sé."

Nos sentamos en silencio por un momento.

"¿Recuerdas la Escuela Dominical, el año en que tu mamá enseñó?" Yo pregunté.

"Recuerdo que siempre te sentabas en la última fila,” dijo.

"Siempre donde pudiera verte.”


“Tú fuiste la única razón por la que fui a la iglesia ese año,” le dije, revelando una verdad que nunca le había dicho antes.

Sus ojos se abrieron con evidente sorpresa. "Pero nunca dijiste más que hola".

"Estabas fuera de mi liga".

"¿Qué te hizo pensar eso?"

“Eras popular, hermosa, una animadora que salía con chicos populares. Yo era un artista tímido, un estudiante de segundo año, que se mantenía reservado. Nunca pensé que yo te gustaría de esa manera”.

"¿Hola?" ella dijo. “¿No viste lo que escribí en tu anuario?”

Bajé la cabeza. “Lo leí tantas veces... Quería que significara algo, pero no pude creerlo.”

“Bueno, deberías haberlo hecho. Piensa en lo diferentes que podrían haber sido las cosas si lo hubieras intentado,” dijo con tristeza.

Volví a guardar el anuario en la caja y saqué un recorte de periódico, lo escaneé, y rápidamente lo devolví a la caja.

"¿Qué es eso?" preguntó ella, sabiendo.


“Léelo para mí”.


"Por favor."

"No puedo,” dije, con la voz quebrada.

"Usted debe."

"Duele mucho."

"Es hora de dejarlo ir."

Levanté el artículo del periódico, luchando por concentrarme a través de las lágrimas que se estaban formando.

"¡Leelo!" Dije, ofreciéndole el recorte a ella. Ella lo rechazó.

"Tenías que ser tú."

Me aclaré la garganta, conteniendo mis emociones, y luego leí: “Una comunidad del sur de Utah está de luto por la pérdida de cuatro jóvenes esta semana,” Me detuve.

"Sigue leyendo."

“'La comunidad está devastada. Fue algo tan trágico,” dijo el sheriff Brenner. Brenner también era un primo de uno de los cuatro adolescentes que murieron en un accidente automovilístico a alta velocidad el sábado pasado después de un baile escolar.”

"¿Quiénes eran?" ella preguntó.

"Sólo unos buenos niños que tomaron una mala decisión,” dije.

“Dime sus nombres,” dijo.

"El conductor era Tyler Owen.” 


"Matt Donaldson.”


"Julie Miller.”

"Ella era mi mejor amiga," ella dijo con tristeza.

"Lo sé."

“Había uno más”.


"Sí. Cuatro murieron ese día. Lea el último,” dijo ella.

"No puedo."

"Tienes que dejarme ir.”

Luché para contener las lágrimas. No quería que ella me viera llorar. “Pero nunca te dije cómo me sentía,” dije. "He perdido tantas oportunidades.”

Ella se acercó, nuestros rostros casi se tocaban. “Dímelo ahora,” ella dijo.

"Te amo,” dije, apenas audible.

“Quise decir lo que escribí en tu anuario,” ella dijo. “Ahora lee el apellido.”

Mis lágrimas cayeron libremente ahora. "Margaret Jo Roberts,” dije.

“Yo también te amo," dijo ella.

Lloré ciegamente durante mucho tiempo y cuando me sequé las lágrimas, ella ya no estaba allí.