He finds you. You’re sitting outside with your back pressed firmly against the canopy. You had been staring into the blur of the fairy lights and he touches you on the shoulder and it swings into focus.
“Hey.” His lopsided smile.
“Hi.” There is silence and for a second you’re afraid this will scare him off. You’re not sure how he handles that moment of awkward.
It’s not prom. We’re too English for that. It’s a day of celebration, though. It’s time for you to move on – your last moments together in the kindling flames of Summer.
His bow tie is askew and you reach out to fix it but your hand falls back and suddenly you feel sick and your world is spinning. You can’t tell how long you haven’t spoken for but it feels like lifetimes or seconds or minutes.
“Why are you out here?” he asks.
You struggle to find a reason. Carried from the hubbub to the silence of outside – watching girls in long peach dresses drift in and tilt their head at you as the curtain opens and there is a swell of music which dies as it falls back into place. You don’t know why you’re here.
You say this all out loud but you sigh between sentences. He is sitting so close to you now. Your shoulder touches his and it’s all you can do not to cry as you feel the warmth of his bones close to yours.
In your mind you begin one hundred ways to say things to him but eventually it comes out – a cataclysmic spill; disordered but genuine; your guts on the grass before him.
“I’m going to tell you something and you’re probably never going to speak to me again when you hear it.”
As soon as it leaves your lips you cringe at how clichéd it sounds. It’s something a character would say – not you. He doesn’t seem to react at first, but then he smiles and your sternum unclenches slightly and you relax a little.
The word is in the air. It seems bizarre to you how important it sounds when isolated like that – but something stops you from finishing. The same thing that stops you from reaching out and mauling him in the most animalistic and cannibalistic way you can.
He laughs. You’re losing him – his eyes are wandering. You can’t have him leave – not again. He has to hear. This is the breaking point – the dyke breaks and forward pours a diluvian mess of emotion.
“I like you… more than a friend… I… love you.”
It is more sounds than words and once again you find yourself cringing. In truth it is somewhere between lust and like and love but too complex to explain and too complex to tell him.
Thunder claps across the sky and wrecks the moment and small drops begin to fall at our feet.
He is stony. You cannot read him – no matter how many times in the past you’ve laughed and told him how transparent he was.
The rain is falling now. Not drizzle but rain and the drops fall heavy on your face and each one feels like a flagellation – a punishment for telling him; for letting him know.
He moves his hand away from you and then he says: “you’re drunk.”
And then you gulp as if someone has punched you in the chest and you’re lost for words. You’re not drunk. You’re fuzzy (where else would the courage come from?) but not drunk.
“I’m not drunk. I’m fuzzy… but not drunk,” you say.
“You don’t mean it.”
A thin dagger plunged into the heart of your bruised chest and now the rain has drenched you and the wetness of the rain mixes with the wetness of your tears and there is desperation in your voice and it cracks as you plead.
“I mean it. I mean it so much.”
You stress the “so”, so he can know – he can know how long you’ve meant it.
In some reality, whilst the rain falls heavy, he breathes long and hard for a minute and you listen to him breathing and watch his chest rising and falling and rising and falling. Then he looks up into your eyes and you see them glimmer – wet hazel. And then he moves forwards and suddenly your skin is numb to the chill of the rain as he kisses you. And his lips taste softer and sweeter than you imagined all those times. And you feel sick again but your hands are in his and suddenly it doesn’t seem to matter. Nothing seems to matter.
“I mean it. I really do,” you repeat.
He is distant. He rises – not towards you or the canopy, but towards home.
“I’m sorry. There’s nothing for me to do.”
And he crushes your world like a careless child running through a moth repeatedly with a model fire truck.