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Teased by Fate
“Don’t you dare kiss me!”
His blue and golden eyes turned downwards as confusion crossed his face. I continued to glare at him hoping that he knew that I meant it, but also didn’t mean it. I didn’t know what I wanted! His eyebrows raised as his lips remained still and his eyes spoke, “Really?”
I gazed down at my sneakers not knowing how to meet his unusual, no captivating, eyes. His fingers slipped under my chin, forcing me to meet his gaze. Even though I tried to control my expression, I knew my eyes softened as his fingers remained in place.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to put up a little fight?” His voice was so soft that if I hadn’t been completely aware of him and the words leaving his soft lips, I would’ve missed his question entirely.
I tried to avoid answering by lightly turning my head to the side; I tried to take in a glimpse of my surroundings. The couch in front of the window with my fiery red car across the one way street; the leaves changing to burnt orange and rustic yellow slowly floating to the cement sidewalk; the sun beginning to settle below the homes and trees; I found all of it comforting. The leather cushions, which weren’t mine, were tempting me to sit and relax; I knew it was comfy and warm, especially with his arms wrapped around me. I snapped my eyes shut. No, I chastised myself, We need to figure this out – whatever this is.
He twisted his hand so that the side of my face was cradled within the palm of his hand, and this was oddly reassuring. He didn’t say a word as I stood with my eyes closed, and I wished I had known what I was doing.
It seemed as if hours had passed before he moved again; his other hand reached up to hold my other cheek. His touch was gentle, certain. I held my eyes shut, knowing that he meant for me to meet his gaze. Ever so patiently he waited without saying a word, and I eventually relented. Cautiously I opened my eyes. His gaze bore into mine; for a moment I almost believed that he knew what I was thinking, feeling, questioning. I almost thought he understood the turmoil that was rolling through my mind and heart. I desperately wanted him to know and understand because I didn’t. I was unable to put my emotions into comprehendible words. There wasn’t anything beautiful, strong, confusing, or frustrating enough to put them into conceivable perspective.
We never said a word as our eyes gazed into each other’s entries to our emotions. What could I say? I knew I couldn’t explain the confusion I felt. I didn’t think I wanted the feelings to fade, disappear, but I was scared to know what they meant for me.
How long he could put up with me memorizing his face without saying a word, I wasn’t sure of. I could’ve gazed at him for months, maybe even years, trying to understand who he was, who he wanted to be, and who he’d become. He continued to cradle my face and his palms warmed my cheeks; it was comforting.
I could read in his eyes that he was trying to answer a question, but what question I had asked I didn’t know. The golden specks glinted, almost winked, in the remaining sunlight. His childish eyes danced and I swore they were trying to tell me, “Yes!”
The answer was simply yes, but I didn’t know what question my own eyes had asked.
Our history had started long ago – at least it seemed that way, on a holiday weekend. He was my childhood crush. I saw him from a distance – didn’t flirt or even talk with him, but something in my head, or maybe my heart, clicked. I couldn’t explain it then, and I can’t explain it now. I wasn’t even sure it was a crush at first; all I knew was that I was drawn to him.
He seemed ages older than me, but he really wasn’t. I cannot explain what caught my attention that first rainy day, beneath the drenched yellow tent. He was working, and I was supposed to be spending time with my childhood friend. However, I mostly caught myself taking glimpses of him – his baseball cap on, muddy jeans, and cheeks pink from the chilly, fall air.
Our first time speaking came later that night. There was a lot of noise from within the kitchen, from the garage, and from every other direction of the hunting lodge we had for the evening. Amongst all the commotion my friend and I found the main living room nearly empty with a pool table in the center. He joined us, and we played game after game. The three of us would crack jokes left and right; we laughed more than anything else.
That was how that first day ended – two girls and a teenager boy goofing around. There wasn’t any flirting between the two of us, or even a hint that we’d ever see each other again.
We saw each other the next few years on the same holiday weekend. Eventually I became a worker instead of being my friend’s distraction. Nothing developed from that one day a year, but each time I saw him, there was a pull of attraction.
Time went on; life got busy and was full of responsibilities. I had nearly forgotten the tall, blonde boy when he stepped into my life again, but he was no longer a boy. He’d grown up, graduated high school, and had started college. I was still young and in high school.
I couldn’t believe the day he walked into the kitchen of my work. I believed he was the new cook I’d been told was coming in, but why was it him. It had been years since I had seen him, and I still recognized him; I knew his goofy grin. Fate had to be teasing me.
The summer we worked together as cook and waitress was comical, energetic, and all around hysterical. We would nearly be in tears of laughter over the nonsense we came up with in the kitchen, we would play jokes on our coworkers, and yet, we always had our work done. Those summer months together led to a friendship that was light and merry. Eventually our contact moved beyond the workplace; there was entertaining rounds of golf, endless card games, and a single trip to the movies.
The thought of being anything more than friends hadn’t crossed my mind since the first day he walked through the kitchen door; we hadn’t held hands or even hugged. The notion didn’t enter my thoughts until summer was nearly over. It wasn’t happy or energetic that day in the kitchen. I was frustrated and upset, but somehow he was able to take my mind off my unhappy thoughts long enough for me to finish my work. As I was about to leave the kitchen at the end of the night, he was unaware that I had yet to walk out the door, I heard him tell himself, “If only she was older.”
Nothing changed in our behavior with each other. For all he knew, I was completely unaware, but the thought of what if was driving me insane. The summer quickly ended, and he left for college. All I had from him were the memories and a single hug.
Less than a year passed before we were in touch again. I hadn’t thought deeply about him, but thoughts of him occasionally crossed my mind. I caught myself asking if he ever thought of me. A late night text was all it took to start it all again. Those late night conversations lasted for hours. They were about nothing, but yet they were something.
Those conversations led to the occasional date. He’d drive the hour down from college, and I would meet him in town. We always went to a movie. It didn’t matter what movie because we usually missed half of it by talking, and afterwards we would spend a few hours talking in the car. I wonder how we ever had so much to say.
I remember the first time we kissed, but I can hardly describe it. It was eye opening and wonderful, gentle and warm. It was different than any other first kiss. It was strange to think that an elementary crush led to a valuable friendship, and somehow to an amazing kiss.
There were a few dates that followed, but not very often. We both had busy lives that demanded most of our time and energy. Occasionally we were able to fit in a date here or there, but there came a time when that was put to a stop. He said it couldn’t be. It wasn’t the right time, and it was too hard. Strangely, I wasn’t hurt or broken by this. To put it simply, I was relieved. At that point, I didn’t know what was going on in his life, but I knew that I needed time for myself while I finished my high school years. We never completely lost touch, but we hardly spoke and saw each other even less.
Spring became summer; summer turned to fall; fall rushed into winter, and the cycle returned to fall before I saw him again. My educational and career goals led me to the same college as he had chosen years before me. It wasn’t a fairy-tale reunion or the least bit romantic. We met for lunch a few times, did homework together, and talked over the phone. We started on square one, again.
Much of it was the same as the times before, but we were able to spend more time together. The days quickly turned to months, and it didn’t seem to be long until our hours of talking had turned to silence. Not a dreaded, uncomfortable silence, but one we both enjoyed. We didn’t have to make idle conversation; neither of us had to speak with words. The feelings also changed as our time together grew. Before when we had been friends and a little more than friends, I hadn’t had the feelings of frustration, confusion, wonder, or happiness that I had this time.
In the minutes we had stood in the center of his living room, with his hands gently cradling my face, my emotions roared with confusion and sent the memories of us across my vision. As soon as the memories brought me back to us standing together in the living room, I finally knew what my emotions had been telling me, what question they had forced my eyes to ask him.
The sides of my mouth rose in a small grin that meant three big words to the one who held my face in his hands. His lips rose in his boyish grin as he brought his arms down around my waist and hugged me to him. We both knew the question and the answer, but he kissed my cheek and whispered his answer anyway.
“I love you, too.”