“Why did you say that?" He shrugged. “Well why not? Seems like something I should say.” “Really?” “Well I don’t know. I’m not good with girls.”
I had grown closer to Gerard over the next few weeks. We hung out a lot more now, and the uncomfortable silence between us had finally pissed off to the land of awkwardness from which it once came. We were friends. People noticed how close we had become. Frank noticed too.
He never said anything about it. He never complained when I dumped him for Gerard and our hang out at the cherry tree. And as far as I was concerned he never blew up on Gerard or anything. He was still my best friend, don’t get me wrong. I was just scared we were beginning to move in different circles. He had Bob and Minnie and the guys down at the skate park anyways. But it was complicated.
“This place sucks, man.”
We were walking down the canal. Well, what people around here called the canal. It was more of a concrete shit hole with a crap heap that was close to looking like a river running next to it, a few boats bobbing up and down on its surface. The boats were old, with peeling once colourful paint and choking puffs of smoke into the already filthy air from their rusted chimneys. Gerard kicked at a Dr Pepper can lying broken in his way. I coughed.
“Come on, Gerard let’s get out of here before we catch a disease,” I whined. He shoved his hands in his pockets, completely ignoring my suggestion and continued to lumber down the walk way, kicking at stray garbage along the way.
“I dare you to jump into the river,” he said. I rolled my eyes.
“Go to hell,” I replied. “This place is a death trap.”
I stood at the edge of the canal and pointed at a trolley sticking half way out of the water.
“I mean look! How the fuck does a trolley get in there?!”
He laughed and, taking advantage of my positioning so close to the water, gently pushed me forward. I screamed and began to fall forward, bracing myself for the ice cold water to break my fall. But then he grabbed my arm and pulled me back onto my feet.
“Saved your life!” he chuckled and then erupted into a fit of laughter at my expression.
“Not. Funny,” I growled, attempting to gently nudge him off my harm until he suddenly pulled me closer to him until our chests bumped together. For a moment I thought he was going to hug me. I don’t know why. Butterflies exploded in my stomach as he snaked an arm around my waist and pulled me closer still. We were so close now our eyelashes mingled and I could feel his hot breath on my face.
“What are you doing?” I breathed. He tightened his grip around my body and dipped his head in, bumping our foreheads lightly together.
As soon as his cold lips locked with mine a shock of electricity rushed down my spine. The kiss was gentle at first, but then he gradually pressed harder until I found my arms wrapping around his neck. I had to stand on the tips of my toes to reach him but he placed his other hand which was previously running through my hair onto the small of my back for support. He began to nibble softly on my bottom lip and I was freaking out that my heart might burst through my chest from beating so hard. I felt his hot tongue slowly slip through my lips and lathe the flesh of my mouth, cautious at first but then confident as I entwined mine with his.
Now this was all good and well, but I suddenly became aware of the vast lack of oxygen I was running on. Reluctantly I pecked him softly again and then pulled away, secretly embracing the lungfuls of air I was pulling in.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, a slight pinkish blush creeping onto his cheeks, yet a small smile still managing to play on his lips. We were still so close that our noses were nudging each other. I sighed happily and pressed my forehead against his.
“It’s okay,” I replied quietly. Slowly I withdrew my arms from around his neck and he pulled away from me, taking my hand and lacing his fingers with mine.
We walked like that all the way home.
The lunch hall was always cramped. There seriously was just not enough space, or tables for that matter. Usually you could find kids actually eating their lunch on the steps leading to the cafeteria, or even in their homerooms and the library. As Minnie was part of the school board I had probed her over and over again to do something about it, but she just ignored me. Story of my life.
I looked up from my plate in a daze. I had been pretty much like that since the day before; in a complete stupor from what happened at the canal. My brain was buzzing constantly over Gerard’s kiss. His lips, his taste, how he held me as I kissed him back just as passionately. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I liked Gerard. I mean really liked him. I had never been in this position before. Was I supposed to ask him out or something? From my previous experiences, I was happy to decide that wasn’t an option. Dates suck, man. What would I do if he kissed me that way again? Would he kiss me again?
Minnie, Bob, Frank and some kids from Bob’s maths class were all staring at me expectantly, as if they were waiting for me to flourish a bouquet of flowers from my top hat. When I didn’t say anything they all went back to their previous conversations between themselves. All except Frank.
“You alright?” he asked with eyes full of concern. I smiled what I hoped was convincingly and shook it off like it was nothing but an insignificant fly buzzing in my ear.
“I’m fine,” I replied, then at his doubtful expression added, “Honestly.”
“You’ve been acting so weird lately,” he continued. He patted my hand gently. “You can talk to me, you know. I’m your therapist, remember?”
“I know,” I laughed. “I’m just kinda-”
I stopped midway as my eyes drifted over to the person just arriving in the cafeteria. Gerard. I was pretty sure I just died there and then. To make things even worse, Frank followed my gaze and locked eyes with him. His lips were a thin straight line across his face and his eyes seemed to shrink into angry slits as they surveyed each other in silence. Gerard held Frank’s gaze so easily, without even a blink, until after what seemed like years, but probably was only about half a minute, he made a small jerking movement with his shoulders which I decided as a shrug, turned on his heel and walked away.
Frank shook his head and turned back to me, looking so casual it was as if the intense stare down hadn’t even happened. He smiled briefly and then went back to nibbling on a piece of bologna.
“What was that?”
“What was what?”
I glared at him and he sighed, putting the much loved piece of bologna down.
“It was nothing,” he said. I snorted.
“Yeah. Sure. Nothing,” I scowled, turning away. “God, I can’t believe you guys,” I grumbled.
“Can’t believe us how?”
“You! Him! That! What am I supposed to do when you guys hate each other’s guts and look ready to kill all the time, huh?!”
“I, for one, think you’re over reacting.”
“Over reacting?! Go to hell.”
He sniffed. Just a sniff. No words. No reply. Just sniffed.
I was ready to blow up on the spot.
“Goddamnit,” I growled and began to ferociously peel a banana. Frank watched in irritating amusement as I bit at huge chunks of it and swallowed them down, still fuming.
“You know what? You’re right,” he said simply.
“What?” I inquired angrily, mouth full of banana. I didn’t even like banana.
“You’re right. I’m sorry. I’ll be nicer to your little friend,” he said, smirking. It was obvious he was finding it difficult to contain his laughter.
“That’s just so fucking hilarious,” I rolled my eyes and dropped the empty banana skin onto my plate.
“Well what do you want me to do? Give him a box of chocolates and a sorry card?”
“It would just help if you weren’t so goddamn unfair about him all the time. There’s so much more to him than you think.”
Frank stopped laughing and leaned in close to me, peering into my eyes.
“Something happened,” he murmured more to himself than to me. “Something happened between you two.”
Yes. No. Possibly? Man, this kid was good.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Yeah you do,” he chuckled dryly. I didn’t answer him. I didn’t see the point. Frank sighed inwardly and leaned back in his seat, returning to his love affair with the bologna. So, with nothing else to say, I grabbed my bag and marched off. It was the only thing I could think of doing.
It began to rain again. I guessed it was nothing more than high hopes when people thought it wouldn’t rain again this fall. I shivered and pulled my hood over my head, hugging my knees closer to my chest. I was underneath the cherry tree, waiting for Gerard. It was the driest place I could think of and I knew he went there every day after school. He was right. The place was good for thinking.
“Found you,” I heard him say. I looked up and smiled. He was standing with his hands in his pockets just underneath the branches, inches away from the fat raindrops that were cascading down from their blossoms. He then came over and sat down in the grass next to me, leaned against the tree trunk.
“So,” he said.
“So,” I echoed.
“I’m sorry I kissed you.”
My head snapped up to stare at him in shock.
“Why did you say that?”
He shrugged. “Well why not? Seems like something I should say.”
“Well I don’t know. I’m not good with girls.”
I laughed and rested my head on his shoulder. He didn’t flinch away. I could sense, like me, that he had never been in this position before, so didn’t quite know what to do either. Go with the flow. You know?
“I...uh...I think...” This was a lot harder than I had expected. I took a deep breath and took a shot for it. “I...I care about you a lot. Like...well...you know...”
“...I care about you a lot too, Lee.”
A small relieved smile escaped my lips. “That’s...cool,” I said.
Silence. Nice, comfortable silence. He snaked an arm around my shoulders and I snuggled in closer to him. I could feel his hand stretch over my shoulder and begin to stroke my hair affectionately, causing a small elated glow in my belly.
“Do you love me?”
I peeked my head up to look at him. His brow was furrowed and he looked pretty serious.
“I don’t know...d’you want me to?”
He shook his head vigorously. I frowned. Was there something...wrong with me? The feeling of panic started to overwhelm me. What did I do? I seriously wasn’t that resistible, was I?
“I want you to know now, Lee. There’s something...” He sighed in a way that suggested there was something he wanted to tell me but didn’t know how.
“Something...?” I probed.
“If we’re going to carry on like...this,” He gestured to how I was snuggled right between his arm and his torso, “I want you to be careful, okay? I’m not...I’m not all I seem.”
I frowned. What could I possibly have to be careful from? I nodded slowly.
“I’m not afraid,” I found myself whispering.
I didn’t know what I meant by that, but it seemed the right thing to say, so I said it. And judging by the small smile he wore, I could tell I was right. So, I lifted my head up and slipped my lips against his. I kissed him softly and then pulled away, only for his hand to lift my chin up towards him and kiss him again. I felt his arms tighten around my waist as he pulled me onto his lap, cold lips still bonded with mine. I ran my hands through his hair and pushed up against him so that I was virtually on top of him, though I don’t really think he noticed.
He pulled away and his smile broadened against my lips. I brushed a stray hair away from his big shiny eyes and beamed.
He really was a good kisser.
Rate and review, please! Next chapter up soon. It’ll pick up from here, I promise.