You were only slightly more than a stranger to me- someone I occasionally glanced at in the hallways, a smile on the way to my next class. Although you had never formally introduced yourself, I only knew of you by name. I had heard it in passing, nothing more than empty gossip- what had you done this time? You broke it off with her after she had given you the only thing you were after her for? The longest amount of time I had spent with you was with a large group of friends at a dodgy bar near school, but we hadn’t talked. All I remember about you that day was the wisps of smoke surrounding us, and the lack of enthusiasm in your voice when I asked you if you did it often.
I still liked to smile at you. Your smile was sunshine to me. You know those clichés you hear in every pathetic romance novel? That was how I felt when I saw you smile. It was like sinking into a hot tub on a cold day- the feeling of being enveloped with warmth, a cacoon of comfort and safety. I liked the way your cheeks would turn slightly red when you smiled at me. You looked like a flushed little boy who had been out in the sun for too long. Soon, I realized that I looked forward to seeing that smile every day.
I remember what I was wearing the first time you talked to me, how I did my hair- black and white, a skirt speckled with hearts, hair tossed messily over one shoulder. I was studying on the table to the right, slightly behind the rest. I usually studied here alone. I remember seeing you approaching, and I smiled at you. I waited for the smile back, the rays of sun, the gold-infused warmth to flood over me. Instead, you slid into the chair on my right. I had always preferred being on the right of other people, but I didn’t tell you to move. Perhaps that moment, although it sounds stupid, should’ve told me that you were not made for me. I remember our conversation flowing as effortlessly as the waves in the deep sea. Okay, there were some awkward pauses, scattered eye contact, self-conscious giggles- but even waves tumble over one another sometimes. I remember putting lip gloss on the toilet after our first conversation. “That was weird,” I had said to my best friend. “I just talked to him for an hour.”
I could tell from that very first conversation that I was in trouble.
Our first conversation was the start of many. The table to the right, slightly behind the rest, was no longer was my study table, but ours. Every day we pretended to be surprised every time we saw each other, but I made sure I sat in that same spot every damn day, and you took the long way on the way to the bathroom just so you could feign a casual ‘bump’ into me. We messaged each other twenty four seven. I couldn’t listen to the bing of my phone without thinking of you. I stayed up typing to you, head under the covers, my thumbs tapping at speed time on the surface of my screen until the lazy sun peeking through the window told me that dawn was upon me. You continued to be my ocean, and I rode out the wave beneath me every time you talked to me, the wind roaring in my ears and brushing against my skin. I guess what I didn’t realize was that waves all have to crash at some point.
The first time I held your hand was a week before my finals. I was scribbling something about Sigmund Freud on a piece of paper when I felt your arm snake around me, carefully, slowly, like a viper within long grass approaching its prey. My heart was pounding against my chest and I hoped you couldn’t hear it. It was so innocent. I had never let a boy so close to me before. Your hand gently nudged my shoulder, pulled me closer towards you. Like a timid rabbit, I made no eye-contact as I reached up ever-so-slightly to interlace my fingers with yours. Just like that, you had caught me.
I knew “are you still up for watching that movie?” was an invitation for me to kiss you, yet I could have never been fully prepared for that moment. I had always been afraid of the cold, and damn, was it cold- but I’m very certain that the goosebumps rising up on my skin wasn’t purely from the air-conditioning in the cinema. I was so scared. I had never done it before, and I didn’t know how to. It took me almost one hour to pep talk myself into it. You started off rubbing your thumb against mine, then it moved to my shoulder. Every touch had electricity surging through my body. The moment your thumb moved to my lip was the moment I decided to do it. Come on. What’s there to lose? So I lifted my head from your shoulder, turned it to the left. 10 degrees. That was it, and I was kissing you, and it was twenty seconds of too much tongue and teeth crashing and our noses bumping. I pulled away. No more for you that night.
Once I had learnt how to do it, you kissed me everywhere- on the escalators in busy shopping malls, standing one step below me. You kissed me on the railing of the closed playground, mumbling that you didn’t care that there was a security guard watching us. You kissed me in multiple cinema seats, even in the scariest most climatic part of the movies. You kissed me in stairways, the pavement outside my house, the backseat of your car. The backseat of your car was your favourite. You would play your favourite playlist, then pull me into you. Then, after five minutes, when cuddling got too boring for you, you would slowly tilt my head towards yours. One time we hung up your sweaty football kit in front of your windows so no one could see inside, and kissed for so long your playlist had started to repeat. You pulled me on top of you and kissed my neck. Your hands were all over me that night.
I remember when you gradually started talking to me less. I was confused- you showed all the right signs of wanting me when I was with you- thumb always stroking my hip, arm always around me- you were physically close, yet you were so, so far. What used to be “I miss you” and “I wish I could hold you” and “I like you so, so much” turned into half-assed messages at midnight, “sorry, I was with my friends”. I started to attach myself to you. I knew I was I was suffocating you but sometimes being in the ocean made it hard for me to breathe. The more I clung on, the more I felt you slipping through my fingers.
I remember the first time you made me cry. The tears had slipped from my eyes to my white pillowcase, forming a small, circular patch of grey that gradually grew bigger and bigger. I remember thinking to myself that I had never cried over a guy before.
I remember the first time you didn’t speak to me for a day. I waited and waited for the bing! of my phone, one I had heard so many times before. One I had smiled at so many times before. It didn’t come. I went to sleep for the first time without a goodnight message from you.
I remember when you told me the reason why you were so distant was because you had some problems of your own. You felt useless, like you didn’t deserve to live. I had cried over you plenty of times by then, and as you told me this the familiar feeling of a tear slipping down my face repeated itself once again. I knew I couldn’t fix you, no matter how hard I tried. Everything will be okay. I’m always here for you.
“Do you think it would be better if we were friends for the moment?”
“Yeah, I think it would. I’m sorry, things are just really busy right now.”
“It’s okay, I’m always here for you.”
“Me too. Whenever you need me.”
I remember crying myself to sleep every night for three weeks on end. I remember watching you slowly fade away. I remember feeling like I was the only one who cared.
“So, why aren’t you two together anymore?”
“I just couldn’t deal with her anymore.”
How painful it was, to hear that. How mortifying it was to have defended you to everyone, thinking you were different. .
“Are you over me?”
“Yeah, I am.”
Humiliation. Absolute humiliation.
I remember how you made me feel. Ambivalence- happiness and sadness all at once. We were both waves but we just never rolled in at the same time. I tell myself I don’t need you, and that I don’t miss you. But I do, every single day. I remember how you feel against me, how you smell, even how you drive with only one hand on the wheel. remember it all. I just hope that one day I am able to say that I remember the day I got over you.