My beating heart belongs to you...
Mike set up camp: a big fire, food, tent, and blankets, everything I would need and expected for this journey. Except Christian. I could have lived without the thermal jacket keeping me warm in this early November night. I didn’t need a huge blow up mattress in the back of the heated four runner. Fuck the Twinkies and coke. I needed Christian. I was completely lost without him. I wouldn’t even get out of the truck. It had been about three hours since I had woken up and I swear I was hearing him sing to me.
“FUCKING ANSWER THAT, GLORIA!” Mike shouted, about ready to charge me. I looked at him, bewildered, before I realized it was the cell phone I had that was going off. It wasn’t a call, it was a text message. From Christian.
Are you ok?
I didn’t know there was any way for that much pent up stress to leave my body so fast, but it just disappeared. I relayed the message to Mike, telling him it was from Christian’s phone.
Yea, Mike and I are fine. Not even a scratch. You?
I waited anxiously for that reply. I didn’t know how much a text message could mean. But before my phone could go off again, Mike’s did. He looked at it, then smiled a goofy grin.
“It’s Tre! Hello..” Mike walked away from me, chatting excitedly about locations and casualties. I didn’t pay attention because I had just gotten another message from Christian.
Is Mike gone now? I had Tre call him.
Why did you do that?
I need to finish what I was saying to you earlier, and I don’t want Mike reading it over your shoulder.
I know I have said Love is wrong, Gloria. And it is, there is no place for in on the battlefield and today is a perfect example of why. I didn’t care what happe
ned to me or Mike or Tre. My first priority was to make sure you were getting away. It’s because I love you, Gloria. I shouldn’t, I know it’s wrong, but damn it a
ll, I want you. I need you.
I didn’t know what to say. I almost dropped the phone, my hand started shaking so hard. I wasn’t goo d with phones, so it took me almost ten minutes to get it worded just right. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and hit send.
I love u 2
I stared down at that screen, waiting for the reply. It was like my gaze was about boar a hole through the electronic devise, I wanted that next reply. I didn’t know how good Christian was with texting, a good deal better than I was, but it seemed to be taking too long. All kinds of doubt flooded my brain. The wicked voices in my head laughed at me. They wondered how I could be so stupid and blind as to think Christian meant it. Mike had told Tre where we were, and he was bringing Christian to me. Why hadn’t Christian waited to tell me face to face, once he was here. Maybe it wasn’t even him. Maybe Tre was fucking with me.
Somewhere between ‘a long time’ and ‘unacceptable’ I stopped staring at the screen of the cell phone. When the fire dance low enough I was getting cold, I felt my heart shatter. Christian wasn’t coming after me. He just needed me to give him the reason to leave me behind. I did just that when I confessed my love for him. I dropped my gaze from the fire, and I say the hone in my hand. It was shaking. I felt a breeze pick up, and it was then I felt the cold and damp paths down my cheeks. I was crying, I hadn’t even realized it, but I was sobbing then. When I looked up, ashamed that someone might have seen my weak point, I couldn’t see Mike anymore. So Christian had called him back. I’d been left all alone in the woods.
In a fit of rage I threw the phone into the fire, watching the flames give me one last horra to consume the phone in a matter of moments. Christian wanted anger from me, fine. He would understand what it was like with an angry Gloria then. I now understood my mother better, when she used to confess how much she didn’t always like Jesus. That he and Jimmy were manipulative. That Jimmy liked drugs and Jesus liked to whine about his life. Christian too. They only cared about themselves. Like father, like son. And now I was going to have to be like my mother and be burned by an Armstrong boy.
I took off down the first path I saw. I had to leave. If Christian could leave me alone in the woods, I could get up on my own two feet again. And I did, hurling myself towards a new, unknown destination. I should have known it was a bad idea instantly, before I had started. But I didn’t realize I was cold and alone until I’d been on the path for close to half an hour. Suddenly the night seemed to press in on me, and I was afraid. I patted down my pockets, finding I had a lighter, a half full pack of smokes, and a loaded gun. I was screwed. I tried to remain calm as I lit a cigarette, but the more still I became, the more I could hear movement around me. Suddenly I heard a twig break under someone. I drew my gun, pointing it directly between his eyes.
“Gloria, why are you going to shoot me?” Christian chuckled, stepping into the moonlight. His face was dirty and scratched up, his left knee was a bloody mess, and there were twigs in his hair. I wanted to make sure he was ok. I wanted him to pull me into his arms and tell me it was ok when I knew it wasn’t. But I stood my ground, though I did allow him the comfort of me stowing my weapon.
“Why are you here, Christian?” I sounded nonchalant. It was amazing because inside I was trembling. If inside Gloria was on the outside, I would have been a mess on the ground at his feet. But outside Gloria is a badass, and no one really fucks with me. Outside Gloria could make it look like we didn’t care he was such a dill hole.
“I’m here to honor you.” Christian’s voice dropped an octave, and he reached out towards me, like he wanted to hold my hand. I took a step back, putting the cigarette between me and Christian to keep him from getting any fishy ideas. Outside Gloria even managed to scoff, which might have been going a bit too far because that looked like it actually hurt him.
“Why did it take you so long, Christian?” Still nonchalant, still blasé, no worries. Least of all Christian. “If you wanted to honor me, as you say, you could have just come after me.”
“I did.” He insisted. “I’ve walked for miles till I found you. You left the camp site. I texted you, did it go through?” Outside Gloria took a drag off of her cigarette and rolled her eyes. Inside Gloria suppressed the overwhelming desire she had to fall to her knees. Inside Gloria couldn’t hold herself up anymore. Inside Gloria needed Christian. And that scared Outside Gloria.
“I lost the phone, I didn’t really think it was worth anything. You clearly didn’t want to find me.” It was getting harder to keep the front going. And then Christian took a few steps closer, stepping into the same moonbeam I lingered in. His one hand reached out, cupping my cheek. The other wrapped around my waist.
“I told you I love you, Gloria. I’ve loved you since the day I met you. Since you didn’t know who I was, since you took my challenge and sang for me. But if you dare to second guess, rest assured. Gloria, all my love is for you. You are the moonlit-“ Inside Gloria and Outside Gloria came crashing back together as my lips crashed against Christian’s. I had to stand on my tiptoes to reach him comfortably, and wrapped my arms around his neck to stay balanced better. The ferocity with which Christian kissed back stole my breath. The hand on my cheek dropped and both of his arms came around my waist, drawing me in tight. I don’t know how long we stood there, never even coming up for air because we would have had to break apart, but down the path we heard someone calling our names. The first few times we ignored it. But as Tre’s voice came closer Christian pulled away after a parting peck.
“Come on, Gloria. They won’t stop.” I could see him smiling, and I couldn’t do anything besides smile back. My heart hammered in my chest, as if it too wanted to be with Christian. It was trying to beat it’s way out of my chest as if to say “I’m YOURS, Christian!” Together we headed down the path, back to the camp that Mike had set up. Christian filled me in on what had happened since he had texted me, telling about their almost run in with AMEU again, and their four runner being driven in to a pond. They had to walk to our camp. The whole time he spoke he kept me under his arm, at his side. Shortly after the story came to an end we decided to get some sleep, everyone pulling out sleeping bags and placing them near the fire. Christian set ours up together, throwing a blanket over us both before pulling me down with him, holding him against his chest. If Tre or Mike thought this was odd, they said nothing.
Despite the fact we were outside, in the middle of the woods, I slept quite well. Sadly, I’ve never been a good sleeper, so the best sleep for me is still light and I wake up a few times. The last time, however, it was because I heard someone walking around me. The first thing I saw was a barrel of a gun.