I didn't know what to say. In that moment, what I felt couldn't be expressed in those 3 common words that we humans use to convey affection. I was at a loss for words but a part of me insisted that the silence said more than words could. So I just stared at her, watching her smile as the wind ruffled her hair, memorizing the way her face looked when it was flushed. I noticed how there was a light in her eyes that I rarely saw in other people. She wore a small smile that made me a little frustrated inside. I wondered what she was thinking. Was she remembering something funny? Planning a practical joke on her friend? I wanted to ask but I didn't want the magical silence to leave right away.
"What are you thinking about?" She asked me, turning to look at me suddenly. I looked away, feeling my face warm up. It felt like she had caught me spying on her.
"You." I answered honestly.
She grinned then turned back to the lake. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"
I wanted to say not as beautiful as her but it sounded too common and cheesy. "Yeah."
"Do you ever think about tomorrow? Like the near future?"
"Not really." I tended to live as much in the present as possible. Thinking too much about things I had no control over made me depressed.
She was quiet for a second. Then she looked at me and inched closer. She leaned on my shoulder seeming a little hesitant. "What do you see yourself doing? Like in 5 years?"
I shrugged. "The same thing. Waiting tables."
"What about me?"
"What about you?"
"Am I a part of your future?"
She silenced me for a moment. I didn't really think about it. Because whenever I did try to picture a future with her, it would always be too perfect to be believable.
"That depends on you, doesn't it?" I mumbled, turning my head so she couldn't see my face even if she looked up. She did. I felt her head leave my shoulder. I continued. "Do you want to be a part of it?"
"Of course. I love you." She put her head back on my shoulder.
"I love you too," I said, pressing my lips to her hair.
I sincerely hoped that this would be enough to shield us from whatever obstacles that the universe would put in our way.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
“Hi,” I said boldly.
“Hi,” she replied.
“So…” I began awkwardly. I was mentally scrolling through all the other scenarios of how I had asked girls out before. But something in me knew that navigating the waters with Skylar would be different. I was at a loss for words.
“So?” She prompted. “Still hoping to know more about me?”
“You want to tell me?”
“Not really,” she said.
“So where’re ya from?” I asked, trying to sound conversational.
She looked at me again, her expression quizzical. “Everywhere.”
“You move a lot?”
“Where was the last place you lived?” I asked.
“New York,” she answered.
“Wow. Busy city. I went there to visit my Aunt one Christmas. It’s happening even at night.”
“Sure is,” she agreed.
“Why did you come here?”
She bit her lip lightly, probably thinking what to answer. Or she could be wondering if I was a serial killer who wanted to know her personal details. She was hard to read. That was the difference between her and other girls. I knew my way around the average girl. But Skylar – her expressions and her curt replies. She was something else.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. It’s just that this town is less exciting than New York. Most people here want to go to places like that. Like New York,” I explained. Her expression smoothened a little, understanding coloring her eyes.
“I have a relative here. My uncle.” She said cautiously as if afraid to reveal too much.
“So, you liking Johanna High?”
“Is this some sort of interrogation?” She asked suddenly.
“Uh… no.” I glanced behind me and saw Troy and Matthew laughing. I gave them what I liked to call a death glare then turned back to Skylar. She had her lips pursed.
“I was wondering if you’re free on Saturday night. There’s this party – a”
“Now you’re asking me out, Jason Hunter?” She looked annoyed but I thought I saw a trace of humor somewhere in those hazel eyes.
“Just being friendly.” I muttered.
She laughed then, unexpectedly.
She ignored that. “I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s something else you want to know.”
I kept silent but felt my eyes tighten.
“You’ve been asking me a lot of meaningless, generic questions really, really quickly and trying to have a conversation or ask me out or whatever. But there’s something else you’re curious about, aren’t you?”
“Fine,” I allowed. “I’m curious. Why the first impression nonsense on the first day?” Truth is, I had been wondering about that since she spoke it.
She shrugged. “To introduce myself was to assuage you that I was not an outsider. I thought it’d be cooler to prolong the mystery.”
I thought about it for a moment. “Okay.”
“So what did you think about me? When you first saw me.” I saw the curiosity in her eyes.
“Beautiful. Exceptionally so,” I said easily. “Uh… different. Hard to please. Talented.” I said.
She considered. “Hmm.”
“So are you going to tell me your first impression of me?”
“I was right. I made sure of it,” she said. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I realized that her opinion mattered to me. I wanted her to like me as a person.
“Well, what was it?”
She sat a little straighter, squared her shoulders. “Shallow. Jock. Ignorant. A little haughty. Brash. Tactless. Average.” I couldn’t find one good quality in the truckload of words she used to describe me.
I reacted defensively. “You don’t know me.”
“Numerous pranks last year including graffiti in the teachers’ bathroom, cheating in tests, terrorizing other students. Only friends: football team and basketball team. Cheerleaders as girlfriends. Sounds about right to me, Hunter.
I felt my ears go hot. “I’m not some ignorant bastard. I have goals. Like…. Well and, do you realize I said great things about you and you said nothing nice about me?”
“I thought we were being honest,” she said, her eyes wide with innocence. My fists clenched. She was wrong. She made me sound like a jerk. Surely I wasn’t a jerk.
“Am I wrong?” She asked.
“Not entirely,” I admitted, feeling the sudden anger leave my system.
After a while, she said, “For what it’s worth, you’re wrong about me.” Before I could ask, she continued talking. “I assume this conversation isn’t what your friends pictured you’d be getting. They look edgy.”
“Yeah I guess I should get back to them,” I muttered, feeling deflated. I stood and pushed the chair in. Surprisingly, she rose too. She walked right up to me.
“Something for you.” She smirked.
Before I could ask her what she meant, she grabbed the collar of my shirt with both hands and kissed me. On the lips. I felt her tongue caress my lower lip and her warm breath in my mouth. My lips moved with hers automatically. Like my lips were created specifically so I could kiss Skylar Breanne Robinson. Her right hand moved to the back of my head and my hand was on her forearm. The kiss was so perfectly packed with life that what must have been 5 seconds, seemed indefinite to me.
When it was over, she smirked again, grabbed her untouched sandwich and left the cafeteria. She left the perfume of her presence to confuse me further.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
I walked to her house after work. I didn't know what I was thinking actually. I didn't know where I got the nerve to walk to her house at night, knowing that her fiancé might be the one opening the door. The thought of that made me sick and I almost turned around. Almost. The air was cold and uninviting. It was snowing but only very slightly. Flecks of white drifted down from the sky but before hitting the ground, got carried someplace else by the wind. I thought back to the time when I could find a scene like this beautiful. A time when snowfalls made me want to be better for her. It always shocked me how much things had changed in a few short years. Now every snowfall was like a blizzard. I caught myself walking down memory lane again. Then I had to exit that place because even now, my heart wasn't whole enough to bear the atrocities.
I walked right up to her door and knocked it twice. Part of me was hoping she wasn't home so I would have to force myself to leave. I took several steps back not trusting myself. I had just mustered the courage to leave when I heard the door open. She stood in the frame with her lips pursed. Her green eyes were unmistakable to my heart but the better, more rational side of me told me that she wasn't who she used to be. People change.
I stood there, with my hands shoved into the pockets of my jeans, not sure what to do now.
She glanced behind her for a second as if checking if anyone was there. Maybe Brandon, her fiancé, really was at home. I thought she would close the door and pretend she didn't see me but after a minute, she came out and met me by the edge of the porch. I hated the way I still found her so beautiful. I hated the way that even her unsmiling face set my heart beating faster than normal.
"Lucas," she said. "You shouldn't be here."
The words stung but I ignored it. "I just wanted to wish you a happy wedding. You'll make a breathtaking bride, you know? I would love to see you there but… I really don’t think I’ll be welcome…so…" I trailed off, feeling stupid. This was pathetic.
"Are you okay?" She asked and I wondered what I looked like through her eyes.
"Of course." I lied. "You know me. Anyway, you need to promise me something, Julie. Just be happy. Promise you'll be happy with Brandon. Just please. Promise me."
"S-sure," she stuttered.
I wanted to give her an acceptable parting gesture but nothing came to me and the silence lengthened. Finally, I awkwardly held out my hand for a handshake.
She stared at my outstretched hand for a moment, deliberating. I had the feeling that she would reject it. Unexpectedly, she took a step towards me. Then, she wrapped her arms around me, pressing her cheek against my chest. She used to hug me this way, years ago. She had said that hearing my heartbeat reminded her that the world was a lot less complicated than she thought.
And I suppose she was right. The world is not complicated. It's just unfair. Because how could this be justified? I watched her walk back into the house before I turned to leave realizing that this would be the last time I'd see her.
It was like watching her walk out of my life. Again.