Tuesday, August 5, 2014

a boy you once loved.

Once there was a boy you liked who you never kissed or even held hands. Why? Because why. Because a myriad of rules and a million reasons not to and if you did, the impetuous to do it right. Lunch once, that was the most of it, though you drove together. He drove you. You had no license. For one reason, you prayed thanksgiving. It took five minutes to get from your house to Church, and there was a specific structure for each ride. The first two minutes, a gradual relearning of the others voice, of hearing words directed only to you. By minute three, someone would laugh and that would loosen your insides. You would uncurl your hands. The last two minutes you prayed that you could spend a lifetime making him laugh. You hoped for different things then. You were a smaller soul, no, not better, not worse, just not fully grown.

Once, when your Church was a Church and your family a family, he drove you and your sister to a movie at midnight. The Hobbit. You remember this watching the movie at your grandma's house with your sister and the man who will become your uncle. These details matter. Back to that night. He carpooled with four other boys, who crammed in the backseat with your sister. She flushed and stayed quiet. You felt a sliver of sharpness for her but would not give up your seat beside the boy. One boy in the back you disliked. He disliked you. It didn't matter. They left you waiting in line for the movie while they went out and bought snacks. Several boys, not men, made a motion to join you and your sister, but you barred your arms like your space was a door only you could open. They left, the boys came back. Two more boys, your friends, boys you used to sing with and dream simple dreams with, came, and with them, your insides unloosened all the way. The boys you didn't know went into one theater, the three boys and another you loved like brothers, though you didn't know it then, went into another with you and your sister. She was quiet then, not shy, but shut away.

You sat by the three boys who you once loved, yes, all three of them, but the one who drove you the one whose mouth you still watched and eyes you glanced under hoping he carried you in them. Maybe he will make a move, your sister said. You laughed it off and it was like popcorn, salty and smooth and gone with only the taste behind, but still, you hoped. The theater was full and humming like a hive. You sat on the right side, in a curved row. You sat between two boys, almost men, not quite, as they talked to you, and what a glorious day to be alive. To be surrounded by these people you loved and everything was simple and everything kind, even if you did not know it then. There was much you did not know, and they were deeper things than holding hands. The movie began and you tilted your heads toward him and inched your hand on the arm rest and once, the faintest heat of his skin brushed yours. Maybe it was a dream. Maybe it doesn't matter.

Afterwards, you said goodbye. Sometimes you hugged the boys you loved like brothers, but not tonight. The boy you once loved and knew as well as your own family drove the three boys you did not know and the one you did not like, home. Then he drove you and your sister and his brother back. Your sister and his brother sat in the back. You sat in the front beside him and held the taste of the evening in your mouth, refusing to swallow. You would suck on the sweetness of this evening for weeks. Your tongue still knows the texture. It was three in the morning and the freeways were silent and smooth and sloping forever into the distance into a deep blackness like a road that could go on without end and the only way to find out was to drive. The streetlights were silver. The lines were slivers. You laughed and called it eerie and he laughed back, more an answer. This wasn't a time of questions, though you did not know it then.

Thank you, you said, when he dropped you off to a silent house with the porch light still on. I love you, you wanted to say and never did. He waved and drove off. You shut the door. You did not sleep until near dawn. And why. The boy you once loved grew into a man and you a woman and with only the memories of each others names printed like ticket stubs and theaters you cannot enter together anymore. You did not know it then.