Part Two: The Summer
It’s hard to say that one thing really, truly changes our lives. It’s hard to choose the solitary event that sets us on the path to our greater purpose. For most people there is a chain of moments that brought them to the person they were always meant to be. Others may never even find said purpose, and are destined to wander aimlessly through the nothingness of their desolate lives.
When the last of the puddles had been dried up, and the final grey clouds chased from the crystalline sky, I found myself standing at a crossroad. And the birds went on singing their joyous songs and the world went on turning, and I stood by, making my choices as we all must do.
When it came down to the past few months, in my head there had only been him. Loren Hale. Every kiss burned in my memory. No touch had faded from my alabaster skin. Perhaps the choice had already been made. I knew at that moment that wherever Loren was, that too was where my path would lead me.
The door was unlocked. I turned the handle with a faint smile. The breeze was soothing, dancing its way through my straight brown hair. Stepping across the threshold I found myself standing in the foyer of Loren’s house. I’d never thought that two months could so greatly change everything. My life, my persona, my daily routine had all differed. I was barely even the same person. I guess Loren could just do that to someone. Nevertheless, I’d fallen into a whole new way of living, one that predominately revolved around Loren and I. there had been other things, of course. Weekend trips with Elena, lunches with my grandmother, and endless college debates with my mother. In the end it all came back to him.
I did my best to stay quiet as I approached his room. I couldn’t avoid the creaking of the door when I stepped inside. Unlike my own bland apartment bedroom, Loren’s room illustrated a much better portrait of the soul beneath the brown eyes, if such a thing existed. Walls painted red and grey set the stage for the dungeon. Posters lined the wall adjacent to the mirrored closet, a personal favorite of mine. The rest was pretty standard: dresser, bookshelf, computer. My attention was on none of these, but upon the great black bed where Loren lay. My breath caught at the sight of his sleeping form, dark lashes brushing his smooth cheeks, lips so tantalizing…
I was positively smirking as I unlaced my Converse and kicked them off, leaving them in an entangled pile at the end of the bed. Then I was crawling in beside him, placing my arm across his chest, pulling the covers in around me. There was never a time I felt more content, more at peace, than when I was laying in his arms.
I was propped up on an elbow in an instant, my face less than inches from his. “Shh, baby. Go back to sleep.”
Loren gave me a dazed smile, kissed me on the tip of my nose, and then closed his eyes once again. That was how most of my days started, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Never was I so calm as when he was pressed against me.
It was easy to fall into a dreamless slumber then, breaths timed as the day slipped away. When at last I awoke, it was to the midday sun penetrating Loren’s black curtains, and his warm exhales teasing my cheeks and neck. I didn’t speak, only smiled slightly, as I sat up in attempt to shake he exhaustion.
In all the stories, the girl and boy find themselves thrust into endless adventures, braving the turmoil that threatens their love. For Loren and I, our summer consisted of a steady habit of serenity. My stomach tightened as a sudden wave of hunger hit me, so I carefully pushed myself from the bed and headed into the kitchen. I’d barely dropped a piece of bread into the toaster when I heard his approach. By the time I spun around, he was there, staring in that way of his. Only the counter separated us.
“Hi,” I said, a little too breathlessly. Even still Loren had ways to steal that from me. In a moment he was around the counter and before me, pulling me to his chest, stroking my hair. I didn’t quite know when I’d gotten so lucky, but I knew that nothing could ever captivate me the way he did.
“How did you sleep?” I mumbled against his chest.
“Better once you got here,” he replied into my hair. To that I could only smile. An elated feeling washed over me, and so I tilted my head up to meet his lips with my own. The kiss was slow, delicate. Different. Loren and I were the sorts of people who knew what we wanted and wouldn’t waste time getting it. Currently what we wanted was each other. How I so longed to slip beneath the surface of those eyes ad disappear. I longed for the day when he would thoroughly devour me, more than he already had. It wasn’t a question of if; it was when. Loren had given me everything, all the stars and the very sky that held them, and the least I could do was give him all I had in return. Besides, I loved him. I wanted to bring us as close as possible.
Still, I resisted. Each time Loren drew his fingertips across my bare skin, across my collarbone and down my hips, it released a sort of madness within me. Everyday it grew harder to pull away. Loren never pushed me, though. If I were to pull away, no matter how I hated to do it, Loren was careful to do the same. He would turn his head and catch his breath and we would go on with our lives.
“You want something to eat?” I asked offhandedly, returning to the toaster where my own breakfast awaited me. Loren shook his head, flashing me another smile.
“I’m gunna take a quick shower,” he told me.
“Alright.” I tried to focus on the knife in my hand but couldn’t stop from glancing up and watching him retreat down the hall. For a moment I thought the knife had somehow wound up in my heart, because it was just so painful to watch him go. I guess I was sort of waiting for the time he wouldn’t be coming back.
When it comes to spending every minute of every day with someone, its inevitable that things will be revealed about them. In just two months I was beginning to discover what made Loren tick, what made him smile, and what made him stare off into a place so far away I myself couldn’t reach it if I tried. We all had that place, that escape from all the agony.
Even still, Loren remained a mystery. Every day I tried to piece together a few more bits of the puzzle and in the end I realized that I would never fully understand him. Sometimes he told me about Chelsea, but that was usually with hate in his voice. I still so loathed the sound of her name on his lips, thinking of all the days he’d held her when I’d wished it could have been me. She’d fucked him over pretty bad. He’d given her his heart and she’d gone and screwed around.
Other times he would talk of his endless adventures with Terris. I’d never talked much to his quiet counterpart, but I knew he meant a lot to Loren by the way he lit up whenever Terris was mentioned.
There were a few things I knew better than to bring up. Loren seldom talked about his darker days, when Xander Ocher had been selling him cocaine and Loren had spent nights roaming the streets of the ghetto, looking for danger. “I suppose it’s because a part of me will always hate myself,” he told me one night. To that I had no response.
Then there was her.
Melissa Miller. Loren’s personal hell. His nightmare that never faded, even when he woke. When he talked about her, I watched him drift off to that place out of reach. Usually I thought that was merely his coping mechanism. Other times I was sure that he was drifting to a place where he could be with her. Loren told me repeatedly that he was over her. I knew that when a person loved someone for that long, getting over them didn’t just happen. And when a person was truly over someone, they didn’t speak of them the way he spoke of Melissa.
Sometimes I would try to imagine them together. She’d made him happy, loved him for over two years. Could she make him happy still? Melissa knew Loren, possibly better than I ever would. Did that mean she could love him better too?
I didn’t know. What I did know was the way Loren held me. The way he kissed me and whispered my name. the way his fingertips burned my skin. That was real, that was here and now. Nothing else mattered.
Or so I thought, so naïve and so lost in the heat waves produced by the late June sun. Who was I to know that perfection came with a price? That when something mattered, there would always be a struggle to keep it? I went into the summer with hopes of loving Loren and nothing else. But the seasons change, and change things with them.
June 31, 2010
I have so many things to tell you and no idea where to start. I love you, Loren. I’ve always loved you. I want you back. I’m sorry…If you’ll meet me, I’ll explain everything.