I apologize for any errors, this is currently unedited.
March break went by really quickly. It had taken forever to arrive and when it finally did, it slipped away too fast. The night of the party was a blur and my memory--or lack thereof--continued onto the next morning when I woke up to a killer hangover with no recollection of how I'd gotten into my bed.
Jeremy had brought me home and apparently while I was drunk I'd agreed to spend the break up at his cottage. And so, Jeremy and I slipped away for a week and had a nice time. The weather was thankfully and rather surprisingly good, my mood was great, and we had a ton of fun.
During that week, any troubles or thoughts that bothered me all but faded away, dissolved with the lake water that was so fresh and pure. Jeremy called it the, "Leave your problems at the door," cottage and it was justly dubbed so.
The week slipped away as soon as we'd been able to grasp it, though, and all too quickly I found myself back in my room, contemplating what I would wear the next morning for school. Everyone was a little happier that first Monday back. They had a little extra kick in their steps. Even pale, depressed and emotionally troubled kids looked like they had gotten a little sun and enjoyment out of the one week. Or perhaps it was just me and not them. Perhaps my good week made everything look and feel brighter, shinier, and prettier.
"What's up?" Ryan said when he caught me at my locker later in the day. I reached out and grabbed my lunch, peering in and seeing a sandwich and apple. I grinned and turned to him.
"Nothing much." I said. His smile was pleasant. To be honest, that still made me blink for a second before my brain accepted lack of danger. His hair looked burnished, probably from being outdoors. His golden skin looked a tad darker and his stance was carefree, and loose.
"Someone's in a good mood." Ryan pointed out.
"Who, me? Maybe I had a good March break, kay?"
Ryan didn't say anything, just looked at me for a minute. His stare made me slightly uncomfortable; I twitched. "Uh, earth to, Ryan!" I yelled.
He smiled but continued staring at me. I wondered if I had something on my face. "What is it? Why are you looking at me like that?"
Ryan's face broke into a full-fledged grin. Very cute. "It's nothing," He shook his head, "You're funny."
"Hmm? Um, okay. Well, how was your March break?" We broke into a slow walk in the direction of the cafeteria. It was the place to be during boring spares.
"It was good; Zach, James and I had some good times." He said. "I think I tried calling you like once but you never called back." He said nonchalantly.
"Yeah? I was up at Jeremy's cottage," I explained, "I didn't take my phone with me."
"Oh, yeah, that's cool. I just wanted to see how you were doing, you know? Because, the night of the party..." He trailed off.
I laughed. "Yeah, I guess I got trashed or something, I can't remember anything."
"Oh..." Ryan's voice was low and thoughtful.
"Why, did I do anything stupid?" I asked. We stopped in front of the cafeteria, not really wanting to go inside yet, I guess.
"Nope. Well, if you discount the fact that Jason totally bruised you up." Ryan said. "I got him good though, so it's alright. The asshole..." He said vehemently.
"Oh!" I said, enlightened. "That's where the bruises and pain came from. That explains so much..."
"Yeah, so other than that...nope, nothing else that I can think of." Ryan said, shaking his head. "Nothing at all."
"Uh...okay." I said, frowning. Ryan was strange sometimes.
"Oh, but Jeremy and Rob were making out!" He exclaimed. "You didn't seem too upset by that. You said you weren't dating him."
"Yeah, that's fine, we're just friends. I doubt it's anything serious with Jeremy anyway. He's a bit of a man-whore." I explained, only joking a little.
"So, you're kind of crazy when you're drunk." He said, then, "Wanna go sit inside?" He pointed to the doors.
"Yeah, that would be great." I followed him inside and we sat down in the far corner by ourselves. I think Laura was in the library and Josh was out with some friends. He'd asked me but I hadn't felt like going.
"What were you saying?" I questioned, feeling as awkward as ever around him. I felt that if I looked into his eyes for too long directly, he'd somehow mysteriously know how I felt about him.
"I was just saying that you're kind of crazy when you're drunk," He smiled, but his eyes were intense. It was subtle but I knew his expressions, his features inside out from observing him so much.
"I don't know, I`ve never gotten that drunk before." I admitted. "That bad, huh?" I winced.
He grinned. "Really funny. So do you just always say stupid stuff you don't mean when you're drunk?"
I frowned, slightly puzzled. What'd he mean? "I don't know. I don't think so. I actually find that I get reckless and say stuff I don't mean to."
He nodded thoughtfully regarding me with that same intense expression. "Right," He said.
"Why? Did I say something stupid?" I felt embarrassed.
"No, no," He assured me, and then smiled guiltily. "Well you did say you thought I was pretty."
"Oh God!" I groaned, banging my head on my textbook. "I did? Sorry about that."
"Hey, I didn't mind. Not every day that you get called pretty. Oh and you asked me if I thought you were pretty too."
"What'd you say?" I grinned.
"Nah, I don't think I'll tell you." He smiled sheepishly.
"Come on!" I urged, grinning.
"Nope. My lips are sealed." He said.
"What will it take to get you to say it?" I asked.
"Wanna know that badly?" He winked. "You don't want me to think you're in love with me or something, do you?" He said it jokingly but paused as if to weigh my reaction. Inside, I was all twisted up in knots. Did he know something? I was obvious wasn't I? I tamped it down though. He was just joking obviously. Of course he couldn't know anything...right? I felt a panic attack coming on.
I put silly assumptions and hyperventilation aside and maintained a cool expression. "That's exactly what I want." I grinned.
"You're flirting with me." Ryan stated, looking at me solicitously.
I rolled my eyes. "Been there, done that."
"Good one." He smiled and took a deep breath as if rushing into a marathon. "Hey did I tell you that I told my mom I had `relations' with a guy?"
"Uh, no..." I said, slightly taken aback at the suddenness of the information. Ryan did that? Ryan Melbourne told his straitlaced and absolutely ruthless mother that he'd had sexual `relations' with another male? It was almost unbelievable. To think that we had come this far, that I had grown up so much in so little time and that I loved this person who had come this far too. For once, I felt a little freedom within my feelings for Ryan. I knew that I could maintain some form of friendship with him, that I actually wished him happiness and no longer merely desired a selfish gratification for myself.
"Well, I did." He said. "She was cool about it, surprisingly. As stiff as ever, but cool. I was wrong; she wouldn't disown me for a reason like that. In fact, it's almost like she likes me more...maybe because of the trust I showed in telling her or something." Ryan shrugged. "She said she had a difficult relationship with her own parents."
"When did you do this?" I asked him.
"Oh, a few days ago, actually." He admitted. "Laura helped."
"Really?" My eyebrows went up at this.
"Yep. We had a long talk, Laura and I. You're lucky to have her as a friend." He added.
I was curious about this talk Laura had with Ryan, though. I had obviously come up. I wondered what they said. I decided right then and there, though, that I wouldn't ask her. It wouldn't be right and it wouldn't be healthy for me to get into that craziness again.
"She's your friend too," I told him, smiling, "If you don't mind me asking, though. Why did you tell her?"
He shrugged. "It's a part of me. I guess you were like my stepping stone into admitting it or experiencing it, but it's there and I had to come to terms with it. I don't hate any part of me. It's only you," He admitted simply, "but that doesn't change that it happened, and that well, I liked it..." It seemed like words wanted to pour out of him, his face lit up in this adorable way. He'd clearly thought a lot about this and he'd clearly wanted to talk to me about it. I had let him open the door to this.
"I don't know if I can understand that," I revealed, "but I'm glad you're being honest with yourself."
He chuckled. "Yeah it was a great march break. I feel like the past few weeks I've really been re-evaluating myself. I know it sounds cheesy, but like I've really gotten to know myself. Like you sit down one day and really figure yourself out, you know?" He said enthusiastically, his eyes were wide and expressive, the majestic green seemed to glow in the bad light. "Then, this march break, I really did some thinking."
"Yeah?" I said, feeling happy for him truly happy. It was almost like his enthusiasm was contained in me too.
"Yeah, I went on a hike and everything. A really long one," He added, "It helps to get your thoughts together."
"I'm so happy for you." I said, smiling.
"Thank-you," He said, then, "I was thinking..."
"Mmm-hmm?" I looked up, taking a bit of my sandwich.
"Do you want to maybe grab some coffee or something later?" Ryan said, rubbing his palms together.
I frowned and thought back to the text that Nathan had sent me inviting me over to his place tonight with the rest of the `gang.' He'd sent it immediately after I'd gotten back from Jeremy's cottage and I'd all but forgotten about it till just now. "Shit." I said. "I completely forgot." I took out my phone and texted Nathan back, letting him now I'd be there. "Nathan invited me over to his place tonight." I explained. "But hey, we could grab some coffee tomorrow if you want."
"Yeah, cool. No biggie."Ryan said, but he didn't act like it wasn't. He seemed really disappointed. I could tell from the way he began tapping absentmindedly on the table.
"I'd ask you to come but you and Nathan don't exactly get along..." I said.
"Oh, yeah, that's fine..." He said. "I haven't seen him in a while. Did he change his timetable or something because I thought he used to have this spare?"
"Oh, yeah he dropped a class, which is why he doesn't have any common spares with me anymore but him and I...well we've stopped talking as much."
"Ah, is it because he was basically in love with you?" He asked.
"Yeah..." I said rather uncomfortably. "He's found someone else though. A girl, actually..." I said. "We're just not as close anymore. I haven't talked to him in so long..." I realized.
Ryan's raised his eyebrows. "A girl, you serious?" When I nodded, he said, "Wow, guess I'm not the only one with occasionally different tastes." He grinned.
I laughed. "I guess not." Funny how we were able to joke about it now, even though my heart clenched a bit every time we did so. I didn't want it to become one of those things you mentioned when you felt like laughing at the old you.
"He moves fast. I didn't know it was that easy to fall out of love with someone." His eyes grabbed mine. For a second, I was breathless in the face of his gaze. Then I began breathing again.
"It's not." I said, smiling a little.
Ryan didn't say anything. He just looked at me thoughtfully. I felt like I was being seen with an x-ray when he looked at me like that. "Well, have fun." He said finally.
"You always say that."
"And you always have fun when I say that, don't you?" His eyes twinkled.
"I guess." I said grudgingly. "You have to buy me coffee tomorrow, though."
"Can I have that in writing?" I asked cheekily. Ryan laughed and shook his head at me.
It was a delightfully chilly evening as I walked up the front steps to Nathan's home later that evening. There was a buzzing in the air, as if something was about to happen. "Hey, Kyle," Ashlynn said, kissing me on each cheek when I walked inside, "I hope you'll forgive me for being invisible."
"Don't worry about it," I laughed, "It's fine."
Nathan's house was really nice, as nicely cleaned and decorated as ever. I felt slightly alien as I walked in though. It had been ages since I'd last been in his house. I'd only met Nathan several months ago, but he'd become deeply immersed in my life, and now he was deeply detached from it. It was an odd feeling but one I realized was a part of life. People came and went. Laura and Josh would always be there for me though. Jeremy too, I realized, who was a new addition to my group of friends but had embedded himself strongly within my life and even the hearts of my friends.
"Kyle! It's been forever." Nathan gave me a one-armed hug. "How have you been?"
"He has been fantastic," Laura's head said as it popped around the corner.
I ignored her. "I've been doing okay, how about you?"
"Freaking fantastic, buddy!" He said. I grinned.
Of course he was, he was probably having sex regularly, I mused. Fancy seemed like she'd be a freak in bed. I stopped my line of thought. "Hey is Fancy here too?"' The last time I'd seen her, it had been fun. Unfortunately we hadn't spoken since.
"Yep." Nathan said. "Come on, let's go inside. Everyone's already settled in. I think they're watching a movie or something. We already ate, drank, and had all the fun."
"Bleh." I said. "My mom came home late so she couldn't drive me over till now. I didn't feel like bothering anyone about a ride."
"Well, you're late," He said.
"I thought you said eight."
"No I said, don't come late." He rolled his eyes. We entered the room and everyone turned to look at us. Fancy came and gave me a warm hug. "Great to see you, Kyle."
"You too." I said honestly, still amazed by the combination of features she had. She was as stunning as ever.
"Kyle, my man!" Josh exclaimed. "Too many couples around," He wrinkled his nose, "Jeremy, you and I should just form our own group."
I saw Jeremy roll his eyes at this and mouth, `crazy.'
I grinned. "Hey. I miss your cottage already."
"I hate you guys, how come I wasn't invited?" Josh complained, pouting.
"You were, you just never answered your phone, Kyle did." Jeremy explained.
"I was?" Josh lightened up. "Yeah, well I was exhausted from the party the night before."
"Let's put some music on," Jeremy proposed, "C'mon." He said to Josh. They got up and went in search of a CD player and music to play. I suppose they could just have asked Nathan.
I looked around tentatively for a few moments. Ashlynn and Laura were cuddling on the couch, deeply immersed in the movie. Ashlynn caught my look and smiled warmly at me. I sighed and looked away from them, feeling a longing well up in my chest again. They looked so utterly comfortable with each other, so right. I wanted that.
"Hey," Fancy said again, sitting down gracefully beside me. She smoothed the back of her black dress and flipped her long rust colored braid over her shoulder. "They're sweet, aren't they?"
"Yeah," I said glancing over at Laura and Ashlynn again.
"True love is an amazing thing to witness." She stated. I envied people who didn't feel funny saying things like that. She said it matter-of-factly, not all-whimsical like as some girls or old women do, but rather indisputably.
I simply nodded.
"You know, Nathan told me about you."
"Oh..." I said, unsure of what else I could possibly say to that.
She chuckled. "I mean yeah, that he had feelings for you, but I meant that you, well-- you know--love that boy of yours. What's his name? Ron?"
"Ryan," I said, "That's his name." Did everyone know about me? Jeez. I couldn't hold it against any of my friends though.
"Don't worry; I'm not planning on coming to your school and telling everyone who will listen." Fancy said.
"I'm not worried." I told her truthfully.
"Good." She said."I just wanted to tell you that it'll get better."
"Thank-you." I said, deeply touched. "I know that but it means a lot to me."
"Why don't we head out back?" She smiled at me. "I find it's a little congested in here at the moment."
"Yeah." I said. "Okay, let's go."
I followed her through the hall and out back onto the patio. It was a beautiful starry night. I thought back to another starry night months ago when I'd been a much different person. The cool night air felt like a relief from the inside of the warm house. I took deep gulps of it and settled into a chair. Fancy climbed onto the railing of the deck. She smiled at me again. Her skin was pale milk in the moonlight. She looked like a painting of an ancient goddess.
"You know, even people our age can experience true love." Fancy finally said. I don't know why she was telling me this. "My parents find it a bit of a joke how serious Nathan and I can be. Most adults will tell you that it just feels real and that you'll know better when you're older."
"Bullshit." I said. "I know what I feel is real. Sure, I know in twenty years I may look back on this and feel stupid, but it's as real as it gets now and no adult can tell me otherwise."
"If my parents heard us saying this, they'd say, something like `Aww, they sound like us when we were younger. They don't know any better, it's not their fault.' Really, how can people forget how it feels to be this age so easily?" Fancy declared royally.
"Time." I said simply feeling sad all of a sudden.
"I think that even if Nathan never even returned my feelings, I'd want to have let him know how I felt." Fancy said absently, running a finger in spirals along her bare thigh.
I thought about what she said. I obviously didn't want the same thing, I guess. I had been trying my hardest to keep my feelings from Ryan because he wouldn't ever return them.
"It was really hard, you know? Being in love with someone who couldn't love me back, or at least it felt like that. I fought it the entire time, and I eventually accepted it but didn't tell him. Then, I felt like I had to or else I'd regret it for the rest of my life."
Her story hit something deep within me. Maybe it was the similarity to my own story of loving from a distance, of knowing that love couldn't be returned, accepting it, living with it...
It was funny, even though I knew the heart was merely an organ for pumping blood and it was the neurons in my brain that were responsible for the emotions I experienced, I couldn't help but associate the pain within me as being directed from my heart. It was purely psychological but it was there nonetheless. Like that, I lived with the knowledge that I loved a person who could never love me back and I did nothing about it. I'd die and pass on, and all the atoms of my body would break down but nowhere would a Ryan know that a Kyle had loved him.
It was a deeply disturbing and depressing thought.
"What are you thinking about?" Fancy asked me.
I slumped in my chair. "How Ryan will probably never know that I love him."
"It doesn't have to be that way." She said, tilting her head and smiling sweetly at me with her cherubic pink mouth. "Telling someone something like that can be immensely rewarding and hearing it can be equally rewarding."
"You're incredibly wise." I said, standing and walking over. I sat up on the railing beside her. She grabbed my hand and held it.
"I get that a lot. Mostly, I think it's just that I'm incredibly strange. It comes across as being wise sometimes." She laughed.
"You meant to tell me this." I said, laughing.
"Of course. I have weird intuitions. I had Nathan arrange all this so I could speak to you." She admitted.
I gaped. "Seriously?"
She shrugged. "Your story broke my heart. It reminded me so much of mine," She said, "I know how that felt, you know. Nathan liked guys and I was definitely not a guy so it was a miracle."
"I'm happy for you guys."
"Thank-you. I'm terribly fortunate." She confessed. "I just hope you get your happy ending."
"You're a nice person." I told her. "I think I will. Not with Ryan, but I will."
"So will you ever tell him?"
I held my breath. "Yes...yes, I will. Now, I'm going to call him...now." I hopped off the railing.
"Now?" She hesitated, looking at me concernedly. "You're certain?"
"Yes," I said, "It's now or never. I don't want to regret never telling him."
"I'm happy." She hopped off as well. "I'll just go inside and tell Nathan I did what I meant to do." She kissed me on the cheek gently. "Fare well, Kyle." She then walked away with the sashaying grace of a feline.
She was like some sort of angel, I thought, as I dialed Ryan's number. My heart beat wildly. Thud, Thud, Thud. I was going to tell him! I wouldn't have to live with thoughts of what ifs and wonder about telling him someday. So this is why they call it closure, I realized. That's what I was going to do.
A determination filled me. Blood pumped within my veins and it felt like I was about to jump off a cliff or out of an airplane. I felt like the sensation of being alive was truly something remarkable. I gripped onto it and fed from it.
"Hello?" Ryan said.
"H-hi." I said breathlessly.
"Y-yeah it's me."I took a deep breath.
"Hey, wasn't expecting to hear from you. What's up?" Ryan said.
"Listen, I'm just going to say it. I know I may regret this later but it feels right, and I've held it inside for too long. I feel like maybe you, uh, deserve to know and stuff..."
Ryan was silent. "Uh, don't do this, Kyle..."
I don't know what he thought I was about to say. I frowned a bit, and then kept going. "I don't think so. I need to say this, I need to get this off my chest and I need you to know so I can get some closure from this, so I can truly move on, you know?"
There was static, Ryan was silent. Then a deep sigh came from the other end. "Wow. Uh, listen, why don't I come over and see you?"
"I-I don't think so. I'm at Nathan's still anyway."
"Well, then hold that thought till tomorrow."
"No, it needs to be now; otherwise I won't ever say it. I'll be ninety and then I'll regret not telling you."
"Shit," Ryan seemed agitated now, "Listen, Kyle, just please hold that thought. I'm coming over there now." I heard movement, the sound of a jacket being zipped up.
"Fuck," I said, "No, Ryan, listen to me."
"No, listen to me; I'm coming over to Nathan's. Ten minutes. Wait for me by the front. Don't argue." He hung up.