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Excercises in 'I Love You'
Warm summer nights like this make me think it would be grand to have a big back yard
and a trampoline.
The air is clinging, but not stifling.
More like a hug. And it's dark, and we can see all the stars, and the moon.
So we jump and jump and jump, until today turns into tomorrow, and then we both relent and land on our backs and don't take the opporotunity to rebound and do the fancy moves we're prone to brag about.
We just lie on top of the trampoline in your back yard, on a night in August with air begging you to hold someone close. Except only the tops of our heads touch, and even then just barely, just when the breeze jostles the springs exactly so.
We just count the stars and make up constellations.
I hope yours are all dedicated to me, just like mine are to you, even if I'm not saying it out loud.
Out loud I'm saying our usual banter, a back and forth of random words and inside jokes that is enough to make any outsider roll their eyes but we just curl up our lips at the corner and let our mind's eye recount the memories we tuck away and keep, hoping the other involved is doing the same.
We stay like this for a while.
Not touching, wishing we were, painfully close.
Not saying what we mean out loud, just hiding behind double entendres, with our hopes split between wishing the other would read into it and praying they don't. We are equal parts longing and fear.
Until the rain comes, blowing in on a breeze from storm clouds we can't see.
And we stumble across the bouncy surface of the trampoline, you with your steady legs and me always shaking, or maybe just around you. We use the last bouncing step of the night, or is it morning at this point? to leap off the trampoline and into the slowly-moistening grass, before dropping to our knees and crawling underneath.
Protected from the rain, but we can still feel the cool air it brought with it, hear it pitter-pattering on the woven roof we have keeping us dry.
We can still make out the moon and maybe a few of our dedicated constellations, however distorted they may be through the black fabric overhead.
If we turned our heads, me to the left, you to the right, we would be eye to eye, because underneath the trampoline, we aren't top-to-top, we're cheek to cheek.
We could turn our heads, maybe shift a little, and the nature of our silence would change
and the nature of our friendship would be confusing for a few moments or a few days, depending on just how long we let our shyness take advantage
and skirt around the subject.
Maybe we will and maybe we won't, because you were never one for grand gestures
and I always was, though I am far too nervous to actually make them, and you always struck me as the type to just do it, to see what would happen, although I can count on my fingers the number of times you've started a sentence and trailed off, finishing it in a way that makes me think you maybe lost the nerve to say something bigger.
You see what you make me do, the way I write about you and my mind just ambles off, my fingers just type and type and type with no regards for commas or periods. Anyone reading this out loud, and god I hope no one does, would be gasping, the way you make me think.
Hell, I'm gasping just thinking about it.
We should get back on track.
The way I imagine it, you tell me before I tell you, because I'm scared and I think you are too, but you're maybe less guarded than me. Maybe I don't really have walls, maybe I have fire.
And maybe you're carrying a watering can, or something like that, and you can easily make your way in like no other boy before you has ever been able to do.
So you tell me, starting off your sentence with a drawn out so, as you so often do,
then rushing through the rest, getting it all out before you change your mind.
And maybe you try to sit up and hit your head on the trampoline, and it doesn't really hurt, just sort of stings, but you're embarrassed enough as it is and you need to get out of here.
And when my stupid giddy smile that I don't think you can see at this point, because you always walked so fast, just like me, like no one else I ever met except for myself and see what you're making me do?
I can't finish sentences anymore, and I'm blaming you and I hope you know that.
When my stupid giddy smile actually reaches my brain and I comprehend what just happened, I get up, but don't hit my head, and I follow you in that fast walk we share until I find you tracing the painted and chipped white line of the road with your shoes.
Every pair of shoes you own has got the same colour scheme, and I've always wondered if this is done on purpose or if it just happened that way.
So we're standing on the dividing line, it's very early morning, maybe two or three, and it's hot and it's raining, kind of, and you've just said something I wanted to hear but you don't know that yet.
So I ask you why you left, because even after all this I'm still a very silly girl who wasn't born with the ability to speak and who still hasn't seemed to cultivate the skill.
And you would probably just say some nonsense about how you didn't think I felt the same way, and maybe start apologizing to me.
And I would maybe say you shouldn't be sorry, and maybe by this point you put those words together with the fact that I'm smiling so wide, and you just take the damn hint, thank god, so I don't have to come right out and say it, because yes it is dark but there are streetlights and I blush so easily, especially around you.
So maybe we've finally figured it out.
And our friends will definitely be yelling I told you sos when next we see them, those idiots placing bets on when we'll stop being so bloody oblivious.
But you see, none of this has happened, this is just the way I'm feeling right now. Like maybe it could.
And this is how you make me feel, like it's August, even though as I'm typing it's the dead of winter and my backyard has three feet of snow covering it, and we're in the big back yard that neither of us has, we're in the neighbourhood near our old school that we both live close to but not in, why are we on the road there? We're lying on a trampoline, a big one, but you don't have one (where would you put it?) and my trampoline is really what my mother calls an "urban rebounder," so small it rolls into our basement closet, another piece of forgotten workout equipment that just didn't work out.
There are some truths though, the way we banter and speak in words and phrases that could really mean any number of things, and that neither of us ever knew anyone who could match our pace without panting until each other. Or that you make me think in the most incomprehensible run-on sentences, and that every pair of shoes I have ever seen you wear are black and red, just like your belt. And that our friends really are placing bets in regards to how oblivious we are.
And then there are the things I didn't mention, like how you watched Across the Universe after I told you I loved it, or how we always seem to end up by ourselves no matter how many people are invited. How you always seem to brag about your video game scores the way most guys say they can bench press almost their own weight.
The way you always give me pennies.
The way you occasionally let me touch you, even though you abhorr any kind of physical contact.
This is just an exercise in I love you.
You always said I couldn't tell stories, well, maybe one day if you ever rush out all the words I'd love to hear, in one breath before you lose your nerve, I'll show you this and you'll change your mind.