The sun didn’t even have its chance to set behind the picturesque scenery, before Sam and Travis began to roll their own vapid and dead greenery. The Ziploc bag filled to the top Travis clutched close to his chest like it was another organ of his body. He only eased up when Sam came around, probably because the smaller boy forced him. The mysterious girl dressed in black hovered around them, watching and trying to spark up a conversation with Travis just to get closer to the drugs, while he shrugged her off, showing that he could defy his male instincts. The girl, who I learned was named Nicole, then tried her efforts with Sam, running her fingers through his hair and giggling, as she complimented him on his long locks. I winced as I watched, knowing that it had probably been days since Sam washed his hair, and it would be even more since there was no real bathroom here. There was a toilet, but there was a limited amount of water in the house, so we all had to abide by the ‘if its yellow, let it mellow rule’, which everyone had broken a few times already. It grossed me out, but I figured that I wouldn’t be going to the bathroom much when I was there anyway, and I could go outside if I needed to. That was one advantage to being a male; the world was your urinal. I was not a fan of outside urination, but desperate times called for desperate measures. And everyone here, not just me, was pretty desperate for something in their life, whether it was love in the form of a man so forbidden or in the dead leaves on the table.
There was barely any food beyond chips or small candies, and the only form of liquid to drink was the cases of beer and the vodka bottle that was being passed around the small living area as the dope was being prepared. Sam and Travis hunched over the small end table they had dragged to dump the stash out on, rolling a few joints with the thin papers Travis kept in the outside pocket of his bag. I watched in amazement as they placed a fine green line in the center, before rolling it around the substance and licking it off to seal everything. And then start the whole process over again.
It had been ages since I had watched them do this, I realized, and I didn’t know if I was happy or sad about that. In a way, I missed the way the substance made me feel; loopy and calm, but I hated the connotation it had now. I hated the memories it brought back, though there were some good ones mixed in there, like the time Sam and I decided to roll down a hill to see who could make it to the bottom faster. There were also memories the strong pungent smell triggered, like the flavored papers Travis had bought one time. I remember most of the being revolting, except for the banana one, so I hadn’t smoked very much that day. I tried to focus on the bitter memories all of this brought back, and shifted my thoughts to my other addiction to keep me satisfied.
I had cigarettes to smoke instead of weed, even if I didn’t feel like I was going to need them anymore. I hadn’t smoked when I was in the back with Jasmine; I hadn’t really done much of anything. She continued to bounce up and down on her childhood toy while I watched for a little while longer, leaving soon when we exchanged no more words to avoid feeling like a stalker. I was pretty sure she was mad at me for some reason, probably thinking I had scoped out her chest along with the others. I moped around the house for a while after, generally in a pissy mood before everyone in the living area had started to buzz with anticipation of this new arrival.
Sam and Travis finished with rolling only a few joints, before packing them away for themselves later and loading the rest of the stash into a makeshift beer can bong. They were going to share their stash, but fuck, they weren’t just going to give it away. The individual joints were for themselves, while everyone else would get high from the communal bong, or just the dense smoke in the room. Despite the ‘no sharing’ attitude of the two teenagers, I saw Sam slip Nicole one of the finely wrapped sticks as she squealed with pleasure. I almost wanted to go over to warn Sam that she was only using both him and Travis for the same reason, (and that she had probably done it to a dozen other guys) but I didn’t bother. What had Sam done for me recently? Not a goddamn thing.
I stayed at the back of the room, sitting down on the floor and leaning my back against the wall while the others sat across from each other on the floral couches, a hum of laughter and smoke starting to form. Travis lit the bong, being the most knowledgeable out of everyone there, then took a hit for himself before passing the object on and down the couch. He and Sam lit up their own joints soon after, and began to settle their backs down onto the couch, Nicole sliding right next to Sam. The smoke immediately calming Sam, he slid his arm around her waist as she nestled her head on his shoulder. He let her take a hit, her mouth sucking in way more than I thought her lungs could handle, then blowing out a thick cloud, as the bong reached her lap. No surprise, there were no limits for her and she took another hit, passing it around the couches that people were crammed like sardines on.
Soon, the highly pungent odor of the noxious substance began to fill my nostrils, making them flare and my lungs shudder. It had been so long since I had felt this sensation, and it shook my body. It made my muscles tighter instead of looser, and I was grateful for it. I didn’t want to get high from this. I watched as the thick smoke began to fill the room and the other teenagers’ brains, making them either loosen up or start talking in a mindless banter, which Travis had now started. I watched them, and realized that I didn’t want to be like that anymore. I didn’t want to change myself completely just because of a drug. I wanted to be the one to change myself, even if it was the hardest task I had ever done. I had changed so much in the past few months, but I still felt like I was the same person. I only had extra knowledge that I couldn’t use jammed in there, along with about a million memories that I just couldn’t take at that very moment.
I wanted to be with Gerard. I wanted to watch him smoke his cigarettes, making art into the dangerous task. I didn’t want to watch these bumbling fools attempt to suck a plant dry, and then only acting like fucking idiots afterwards. The only one that even bordered on intelligence when he was high was Travis, and even that was a stretch. He only went off on his nonsensical ramblings when he was under the influence, never voicing his true opinion without the aid of the plant. That just seemed like a fucking waste to me.
Gerard may have drank wine a lot and smoked pack after pack of cigarettes, but he was still the same person whether or not the substances were in his system. Once, he had even gone the whole day without a cigarette, a task he didn’t even realize he had done until the next day. He hadn’t been surprised, however, because he knew that he only smoked when he felt like it. It was an addiction, yes, but apparently it could be substituted for other substances. And I was his addiction that day, he told me, bringing me to his lips instead. We were probably both as deadly.
He could have as many addictions as he wanted, he told me soon after, lighting another cigarette and pressing that to his mouth as well. It was all in how you felt.
I didn’t want another addiction, though. I had plenty to keep me happy, even if they weren’t at my fingertips at that point. Even as the vodka bottle was passed around, counter to the bong and someone reached it over towards me, forgetting I had only wanted to be a fly observing, I declined the liquid. It was only alcohol, but I didn’t want that kind anymore. It represented my youth, like the beer did and I had gotten rid of that aspect of myself ages ago in Gerard’s apartment, in a shower of amber liquid and copper glass shards. It was done and over with, and I wasn’t going to digress anymore. I had done so enough already. I drank wine now. Wine was supposed to be there to create the memories I wanted to keep, and I didn’t want to remember any of this.
The smoke filled the room more and more, one of the girls stumbling to her feet and closing all the doors around us so they could successfully hotbox the room. She stumbled back, her voice choked with the smoke that consumed her, instead of the other way around. She fumbled back onto the couch, pressing her lips to the vodka bottle and then the random guy next to her.
I felt my insides cringe and flip around, not wanting to see a public display of affection, especially when it was all fake. I didn’t really even know why I was in the room anymore at that point; I was only sitting against the wall, hugging my knees to my chest in the fetal position, my eyes cast downward and a pissed off expression on my face. I was just there to be bitchy, to complain even though no one would listen to me, even if they weren’t high. At least watching the people I never wanted to become was better than counting and recounting how many shoes there were in the front hallway and reading my chemistry textbook, which was what I had done for the hour before the addictions became a manifestation in the room. Sam and Travis weren’t talking to me anymore, and didn’t even seem to notice my presence. They had brought me here for a reason, but they weren’t following through on with their plan, whatever the fuck it was. Maybe it had been just to make me miserable, to sit and stew in my own juices while wishing I was someplace else. They had wanted to get me laid as well – to turn me straight from the gay they didn’t even know I was. But the public displays of affection on the couch weren’t really doing that much for me, other than making me want to vomit profusely.
It didn’t matter how high they got me, I knew I would always want Gerard. The smoke hadn’t even begun to affect me, other than the smell, but I realized I was still being consumed by an addiction, and being effected by its withdrawal. Fucking Gerard was an addiction in itself, right alongside cigarettes and wine. And really, he had been the catalyst for those vices, too. Gerard was the person I always thought of, always wanted and always needed. I missed him so much right then I could feel it in my blood. I wanted to dry heave, because I had missed our meeting that day and it killed me inside. My addiction was getting to the point where I just needed to see Gerard in order to move on with my day, even if it was only for a few seconds. It was a staple; something I did without even thinking about it anymore, like brushing my teeth. Though my consumption of the smokes and wine were sporadic at best, Gerard was always a constant. He was always there, always with me, and always inside of me. He was in my system for hours after, and hours before, building anticipation. And now, I was beginning to feel my withdrawal – the part of addiction I had forgotten about, and was being exposed to. I was relating everything to this man, his voice invading my head and probably, when I went to sleep that night (if I slept), my dreams. He was everywhere. He was everything. I even thought I had seen his face as we were driving here, but it had only been some other middle aged man with dark hair.
Gerard was everywhere, and fuck, I hated him for that. I hated that he was everywhere I didn’t want him to be. I cared for him so much, but I didn’t want to be consumed by this. I didn’t want to be struck down weaker if I wasn’t around him. And most of all, I didn’t want to be like this, because I knew we were doomed.
We wouldn’t get to spend everyday together like we had been; the situation I was in right now was proof of that. We would have to end eventually, Gerard told me that. He was preparing me to leave him, when the time was right. I didn’t know when the time would be right, but if he still felt like an addiction by that point, then the timing would never be right. No time would ever be good enough. It would just keep growing and growing. I would always be addicted to him.
It was easy to give up cigarettes and wine. You just stop using them. They held no real feelings or purpose. But Gerard – he was a fucking person. There was no patch I could place on my arm to rid my body of his effect on me. I couldn’t even pinpoint his effect. He was just there. And if he was there in presence, I couldn’t take the actual being away. I just couldn’t. I wasn’t ready yet, and I didn’t think I ever would be at the rate his lessons were helping me.
Despite the substances he consumed, he never taught me about addiction. He never taught me a lot of things, and I knew our time was running out. I hated him for that, almost as much as I cared for him. I felt so lost then, sitting in this room full of addiction and not consuming a single bit of what was offered, but still being riddled with the effects. And no surprise, Gerard’s words came into my head once again.
You need to destroy the things you love, he had told me when I walked in on his complete and utter annihilation of his artwork. I let out a slight scoff in the room, shaking my head. That statement I had always found to be very true, in spite of the fact that I hated seeing him destroying his work. The words resonated a meaning in that moment that I could finally grasp and hold in my hands, something concrete one of his lessons had taught me. If you destroyed the things you loved, then fuck, I wanted to destroy Gerard.
The presence of a body beside me next to the wall snapped me out of my thoughts. I turned my head to see the blonde girl from the trampoline sitting beside me, her shoulder right up against mine. She stared straight forward, but leaned into me slightly as she blew out a hard sigh, pushing her lips forward, causing the air to branch upwards and knock her soft bangs around.
“This is dumb,” she finally breathed, glancing over at me. Her face displayed an exaggerated unimpressed countenance, her eyebrows lifted high, opening up her light blue eyes as she pursed her lips almost comically.
I stared back at her, surprised that she had taken a seat next to me. I was used to, and almost preferred the people in the room to ignore me, but she hadn’t been in the room before. It occurred to me that I had no clue where she had been since I had seen her on the trampoline last. She must have come into the room and blended into the background of the smoke, from her white tank top and small-sized jeans. I had just been too off in my own thoughts to notice anything around me. Now, I was noticing, and I liked what I saw.
She was a tiny girl, a little shorter than me and thin, but not all bones. Her clavicles were visible, the skin below them seeming to hollow out as she stretched her arms forward, grabbing her knees like I was, but there was enough flesh to cover the bones. Around her hips and thighs, more skin was allocated, giving her a feminine quality. Her light, sandy blonde hair was to her shoulders, the ends fading off, showing that she had not cut her hair in a while. In contrast, her child-like bangs that went across her forehead, just above her darker eyebrows displayed a fresh clean cut, framing her oval face.
I still had a hard time believing that this was Jason’s sister, because of her almost innocent appearance and small body. She was delicate; breakable, but she had appeared so strong on that trampoline.
“Uhh, yeah,” I finally uttered, snapping myself out of my stare.
She sighed again and we both looked forward at the display in front of us, as if looking for justification of its absurdity. We didn’t have to look far.
Travis was now standing up from the sardine packed couch, waving his hands wildly as his eyes twitched and danced in front of us, so bright that we could see them through the dense fog. He was spewing words from his mouth like they were water, flowing down and out like white rapids, and hitting everyone else’s ears, making them look back at him in awe, or giggle hysterically. I could barely tell what he was going on about, but it was something to do with sex. It was almost always about sex with him. He was going on and on about the mechanics of it all; the exact movements and using technical terms. It looked like he was a crazy perverted biology teacher on crack and teaching to his equally perverted students.
“And then, the penis –” he began, his words tripping over the last.
With the mention of this genital term, Sam erupted in laughter, leaning forward onto his knees as his hair fell down over his face. His laughter was coarse and seemed to be stretched on longer than it needed to be.
“Penis!” Sam shouted, and it was then I remembered his affinity for finding funny words when he was high and saying them over and over again. God, I thought to myself, rolling my eyes as I heard Travis not skipping a beat and starting to go into more terminology. This was going to be a long night.
“…and then the penis ejaculates –”
As Travis went on, Sam found another term hilarious. Even the other people on the couch had started sniggering, Sam’s general aura was just fucking infectious. Nicole laughed especially hard, sliding her hands up his shirt and rubbing the small of his back to help him calm down. It did nothing of the sort. Jasmine and I both sighed in unison, but didn’t say a word.
Travis continued talking, but it didn’t even seem like he had a point to any of his sexual babble. Usually, he would talk about mundane things like that, but he would be trying to argue something or add his own theory to the mix. His theories were never as good as Gerard’s in my mind, but I was slightly biased there. Even still, at least Gerard’s thoughts were always done without the aid of something else. Travis didn’t seem to have a point that night; he was just being a crazy fucker. I was about to shrug it off as nothing, until I heard the real point of everything come out.
“But that’s how it’s supposed to be –” he argued, waving his hands even more in the air. “Guys fuck girls. The hole is there for that. What’s with this fucking psycho-babble about ass fucking? That would fucking hurt. That hole is small. And, you shit from there. Do you really want shit on your dick? Fucking disgusting, man. Fucking sick.”
My heart stopped. It literally stopped beating in my chest, and I prayed to God that no one noticed, especially Jasmine who was sitting beside me. I didn’t know how she felt about gay people; if she shared the same views as my so-called friends. I had a feeling she didn’t, judging by her show of charisma from earlier that day, but I wasn’t entirely sure, and it wasn’t something I was going to risk. I didn’t know her that well, and I shouldn’t have cared about her opinion on me as much as I did, but I couldn’t help it. She was the only one there so far that seemed to be even halfway decent. I couldn’t let her slip through the cracks so easily; I had to hold onto her.
She didn’t seem to move much at all either, and was still paying attention to the conversation in front of us. My heart started to come to life again, but it only started to pound hard within my rib cage. That was one crisis averted; she didn’t say anything. But there were many other people in that room, Sam being one of them. Though the gay sex reference that had spouted from Travis’s mouth had not been about me, I knew Sam would take it there.
And I was not let down.
Within moments of the pot induced philosophy coming out of Travis’s scorned lips, Sam seemed to perk up and actually pay attention. He stopped laughing, and no longer spouted single words that he found funny. And for the first time since we had fucking arrived at the cottage, he noticed that I was in the room. He looked straight at me, seeing my panicked glare through the thick fog. His coarse lips turned into an evil smile as his arm extended and pointed, singling me out as if I wasn’t enough already.
“Why don’t we ask Frank how he likes it?” Sam asked in a weaken voice from the noxious substance, but the implications still quite clear.
My heart stopped again, and I thought I was going to be the first ever teenager to die from a heart attack. Or a brain aneurysm.
“How do you like shit on your dick, Frank?”
I let out a heated breath, not even trying to respond to him anymore. I was so fucking embarrassed, but probably more indignant than anything else. What they were saying was just wrong… on so many levels.
Yeah, ass fucking, as they put it, hurts. It hurts a lot. But you get used to it. If you’re with someone that cares about you, then they’ll prepare you properly and try not to hurt you too badly. And if you love the person, then God, it’s fucking worth the pain. And yeah, shit comes out of there but…just, ugh. I didn’t even want to justify my reasoning in my head. I didn’t have to. I shouldn’t have had to, anywhere or anytime. If I was gay, then fucking leave me alone about it. For someone who considered themselves straight, I thought bitterly, Sam was sure obsessed with the idea of it all.
I didn’t say anything out loud, of course. I couldn’t, not even to Jasmine beside me. I didn’t know what I would say, other than to plead my non-gayness once more. I had done that before; in the car on the way here and it had only ended up badly. Sam was going to find some way of turn things around again, making me gay either way. And I had this nagging feeling at the back of my mind that even if I was going to get laid this weekend, he would call me gay no matter what. He would find it easier to be around me, because by then, he would know that I was fully able and capable to have sex with the opposite sex, but the gay jokes would not stop. They were there for his own amusement, for his own sadistic joy. And fuck, I didn’t want to fight anymore.
“Let’s get out of here,” I heard Jasmine whisper in my ear, nudging my side. I snapped out of my death glare I had been giving Sam (since it was all I could do) and looked over at her, my countenance surprised. I had forgotten she was there; she was no longer a threat.
“Let’s go,” she said again, emphasizing her point and starting to get up. She held her hand down to me as her legs extended in front of my face. I put out my hand slowly, taking hers in my own and having her help me pull myself to my feet.
I was surprised she was acting the way she was. Though she wasn’t a threat to me, not making any rude jokes like Sam or harping on my gayness, I still didn’t think she would want to be associated with me, Frank the Ass-fucker. But it seemed as if those insults hadn’t even hit her small ears tucked behind her blonde hair. Her face was the same as it had been when she sat down, slightly annoyed but mostly just tired. She wasn’t tired of me, but the laughing idiots around us. That final act had proven their idiocy so much, it had snapped something within her and now she was ready to go. Before, we were just complaining; now we were actually acting on these complaints.
Though still in shock, I was glad as took her hand, because my knees were still weak from all of my anger. She let go when I was fully standing up, and I brushed the wrinkles out of my clothing while she led the way, cocking her head and getting me to follow. I heard cries of laughter and some other shouted insults as I left, but I completely ignored them. I had something else to focus on.
She led me through the kitchen and to the back door I had discovered earlier that day. She walked with her head up high, her shoulders splayed back and taking tall strides, adding an extra foot to her small height. She had this confidence about her, but it wasn’t an arrogance. It was merely a self assurance that she knew who she was and where she was going. It was her place after all, so I figured she felt more at home there than I ever would. It had begun to feel like a strange prison where I was trapped, just waiting for my sentence to be over. My term was looking more like a life sentence, and my inmates weren’t helping matters. At least she was starting to become the prison guard I could depend on, not treating me too badly, I hoped.
I followed close behind, her head checking behind her shoulder once in a while to make sure I was still there. She smiled each time she did this, and I merely smiled weakly back. I wasn’t used to someone being this nice to me since Gerard. I began to wonder what her intentions were and suddenly got very paranoid.
“I’m not gay,” I blurted out, without thinking very much. She probably didn’t care if I was gay or not. If she was just taking me outside to make fun of me for it, she could have done that in a roomful of people who would have been right alongside her, joining in. I was still in shock, and it was affecting my brain.
“I know,” she replied as she got to the door, holding it open for me. She gave me a smile and shook her head, laughing at me a little. It was one of those looks that wasn’t demeaning, just joking with me on an equal level, even if I wasn’t laughing all that hard.
“And if you were, it wouldn’t really matter, now would it?” she added, ushering me out the door with her hand. I nodded my head weakly, unsure of any actions that were happening.
I walked in the grass again, the sky turning a shade of orange and yellow as the sun was just starting to set behind the rows of houses and trees. The way the light came through the opening of the branches and leaves looked like sequins on an evening gown and it made me stop and stare for a while. My feet sunk into the grass as I stood and watched, Jasmine coming up beside me again and linking her arm with mine.
“Let’s go to the trampoline!” she exclaimed, a big smile on her face as she began to tug my body forward. I stumbled a bit at first, but was still pretty determined at staying in my spot, watching the view.
“No thanks,” I said, laughing a little at her efforts to move me. I wasn’t much bigger than her height-wise, but I was definitely stockier and it was so funny watching this small teenager pull at my arm with all her might, trying to move me to her wanted destination. She was pretty strong though, and I found my feet giving way and dragging them along with her.
“Come on,” she whined mockingly, knowing that I still had some reservations. “It’ll be fun.”
“I guess,” I shrugged, still dragging my body, mostly to watch and giggle at her struggle.
Honestly, I didn’t really want to go on the trampoline all that much, mostly because I didn’t really see the point. It was a child’s toy and I was trying to stay away from my youth. My youth had been horrible; filled with images of a damaged father and shitty friends. I needed to stay away from it. Gerard and even Sam had told me to grow up. Even if I didn’t feel like I was succeeding in that area, I still wanted to try. And besides, I wasn’t in the mood to jump around like a maniac. I was still trying to pinpoint my feelings that were coming at me in a rush.
“You’re no fun,” she stated, sticking her tongue out at me as she dropped my arm like dead weight in front of her desired destination.
She squealed slightly as she kicked off her shoes and climbed up onto the huge object, starting to jump and flail her limbs immediately. She over exaggerated her movements as she jumped and turned and twisted on the object, sticking her tongue out at me each time I met with her eyes. I stood there and watched, my brow furrowed and an unsure smile on my face. Jasmine was a weird girl, a very weird one indeed. It was refreshing, though; a nice change from what I had experienced only a few minutes ago. I was glad she had decided to drag me out here with her, even if I didn’t quite understand everything yet.
“How old are you?” I found myself asking, tilting my head to follow her as she bounced. She looked about my age, maybe a year younger, but the way she carried herself and acted made her seem like she was about seven.
“I’m your age,” she said, her voice jagged a bit from her actions.
“How do you know my age?”
“I’ve seen you in school,” she answered, not missing a beat in either speech or bouncing.
Her words struck me for a moment, making me cease any type of movement. I hadn’t really been moving before, just standing with my head arched up as I watched her jump, my hands in my pockets, but I still felt my body stiffen. I didn’t think I had ever seen her in school before and if I had, I would have thought I would have remembered someone like her. She was quite the character. The fact that she remembered me though and had seen me, made me feel a little awkward. Maladroit. As far as I was concerned, I was no person to commit to memory. And I hadn’t even been in school all that much within the past few weeks.
“Yep,” she replied clearly, and I thought she was done until her voice picked up again, a few jumps later. “You’re in the Chemistry class right before mine. I see you coming out all the time. I’ve never talked to you, though, but you don’t look like you want to talk most days.”
Even though her hair was bouncing around all over her face, I could see her shoot me a sly smile at her last remark. And again, I felt my body stiffen. She had seen me then? How the hell had I never seen her before? And why was she noticing me of all people?
“Yes, really,” she said, poking fun at my skeptical tone. She nodded her head at me, wide eyed while I still looked at her perplexed.
“Sorry I didn’t look like I wanted to talk,” I found myself apologizing after a few moments, though I wasn’t really quite sure why. I never really looked like I wanted to talk to anyone in school, let alone some girl I had never seen before.
“Don’t be,” she insisted, giving me a sincere smile. “Mr. Zalig is tough shit. He can scare the conversation out of anyone.”
I laughed at the mere mention of our chemistry teacher, feeling a little bit of the tension ease off my back. I pictured the middle aged man, curly gray hair falling everywhere in front of his face, his thin eyelids almost like a reptile over his condescending gaze. He was always so damn tough about formulas and calculations, and fucking hated it when you skipped, which I had been doing a lot of. Needless to say, I was not his favorite student.
“You have him, too? You see the fucking assignment he gave us last week?” I asked, my smile finally coming through. I was almost about to start to tell her about a horror story I had had with the demanding teacher when she beat me to it.
“Nope,” she answered, catching my laugh in my throat and leaving me confused. I gave her an incredulous look, asking my question nonverbally, which she answered with a sigh.
“I have Mr. Carter for biology in the same room. I just know that Zalig is in there before me, and that it’s always Chemistry. And I always see you come out of there with a scowl on your face, so I just put things together.” She paused for a second, then smiled at me and my still utterly perplexed countenance.
I had never thought I had been anymore than a glance to most people, let alone a whole series of complex thought patterns strewn together about my day. I wondered if she knew my whole school schedule, and if there was anything else she knew about me besides classes.
“I can’t believe you remembered all that,” I finally said, looking up at her in amazement as she bounced. She giggled, putting her hands over her face and then brushing her hair out of her eyes. Never once had she stopped jumping, or lost her breath for a long period of time.
“Thanks,” she uttered, smile still planted on her cheery countenance. “I just pay a lot of attention to details. I can’t help but just watch people some days.”
I let out a scoffed bit of laughter, knowing exactly where she was coming from. I found myself doing that action of just watching more and more, as influenced by Gerard. I wondered who had influenced her in this feat, and why the fuck I had never seen her before. She stood out from the crowd, and if I had passed her as many times as it seemed, then I was positive I would have seen her.
“Like you,” she said suddenly, pausing her movement on the trampoline for a little while and causing me to stop analyzing my thoughts for a moment. She looked down at me and furrowed her brow a bit before she began talking. “Or people like you, I should say.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was watching you today,” she continued, her voice clear and concise, despite the other implications it could have held. She went on with her statement quickly, not allowing my thoughts to dwell in the gutter. “The way you don’t remove your eyes from the ground as you walk, they way your shoulders hunch down, and how you don’t even bother to tie your shoes. You don’t care that much.”
I suddenly looked down at my legs, wondering if her presumptions were correct. I saw my black laces undone, and dragging through the grass. This girl was good.
“And I can tell that you definitely don’t want to be here.”
I stifled a laugh at how just obvious that observation was. A deaf, blind, and mute could tell didn’t want to be there even if her other observations had taken real skill to complete.
“I can’t say I blame you, though,” she continued, wanting to connect more. “Your friends are real asses. And it sucks that we’re both stuck here for a few days with them.”
“We’re stuck?” I asked. “Do you not want to be here, too?”
She stopped bouncing for a bit, and shrugged her shoulders, pursing her lips to the side. “Not really,” she agreed, pausing a little before starting to jump again. “I mean, look at how fucking moronic my brother was acting tonight.”
I thought back to the limited memories I had of Jason, and could only pull out one of him in the room before they were all high. He had been drunk already, and probably since he had first arrived at the cabin. He was stumbling around the room, touching every girl he saw in either a hug or an arm around the shoulder. He was spouting just as many words as Travis had only moments earlier, but his made no sense whatsoever, some of it not even sounding like English. Again, I looked back up at Jasmine and wondered how the hell they came from the same parents. She didn’t even looked like she drank that much, if at all, and if she were to get smashed, she almost seemed like she would still be the same person she was then; a childish goof with an air of intelligence to her.
I nodded my head to her statement, agreeing with her and feeling slightly connected, even if it was from unfortunate circumstances. She was stuck in this cabin with me, but I highly doubted her brother had dragged her along in a car like I had been. This was her house, after all; wouldn’t she have a choice to come or not? Her brother was a big boy; he could handle himself, even if he was still in high school.
“If you feel stuck, why did you come?”
Again, she halted her movements slightly and shrugged her shoulders. Her jumps weren’t as energetic as when she first begun, tiring out a little, but she refused to stop entirely.
“I guess I wanted out of the house,” she stated, her high feminine voice taking on a serious tone. Her eyes met mine from the trampoline. “You know, maybe have a good time. It’s better than sitting at home and doing nothing, then regretting it later.”
Her last statement held another added bit of seriousness to it, pinching her vocal chords and making her voice drop a tad lower. It was still high by normal standards, but coming from her, it almost seemed sad. I recognized the vocal change right away as something else, because I had seen it before with Gerard. There was some other meaning behind these words that she wasn’t telling me. Unlike Gerard, though, I wasn’t going to ask. I didn’t know her well enough yet, and it had taken me weeks upon weeks to finally pry that information out of Gerard. I was quite aware that she was definitely not the same as the artist, but again, I found it hard to get him from my mind and stop comparing everything to him.
“Besides,” her voice came back into my thoughts, chipper attitude resonating it again. She had pushed her somber qualities away, acting like it had never existed, and she was so good at it, I was almost convinced it had never happened. Almost.
“Besides… This is where our trampoline is!”
She found a sudden burst of energy within her and began to jump up and down, over and over again, her hair flipping out at all directions. And in spite of the awkward tension from before, I found myself laughing hard at her. She was so youthful, without being an inexperienced baby; it made me laugh. I never thought such a thing was possible.
“You’re missing out,” she teased, watching me with a side glance as I looked on wonder. She bounced from the black center out forward, extending her hands to me. I still shook my head and backed away, remembering the lesson I had learned before.
“No thanks,” I declined for the second time as politely as I could, getting another pout from her as she bounced away again. I was silent for a moment as I watched her, my thoughts on the infernal object leading me to my next statement.
“Why do you even like the trampoline?”
“How can you not like the trampoline?!” she asked, her mouth agape in mock surprise. She giggled at her own joke, causing me to laugh in spite of myself before she answered seriously. “I love it because I can be a kid again.”
“That’s exactly why I don’t like it,” I shot right back at her, no menace in my voice. We were just having a heated discussion. “I don’t like to be reminded of my childhood.”
“Me either,” she said, again her voice changing to that other range. She quickly recuperated, adding another bit on. “But there’s a difference between feeling like a kid and your childhood. This makes me feel like I have control over things.”
“And,” she added, her voice for once showing doubt. She looked at me skeptically from behind her bangs, screwing her face up and debating whether or not she wanted to tell me the next part. She gave in with a sigh, breathing out the next part quick. “You’re going to think this is childish too, but… I don’t know,” she struggled to find the right words, her hands grasping forward and trying to pluck them from the air that whooshed around her. “I feel like I’m flying here.”
She stopped and looked down at me, her eyes exposed and open, the blinding pristine center almost as white as her teeth, trying to sense if I was going to judge her or not. This was one of the first times I had not seen her confident and it surprised me, even though I had only known her name for a few hours. What probably added to my shock factor even more was that for the first time, I finally agreed completely with what she was saying. Agreed wasn’t even the right word. I knew what she was saying; I felt it like she did. I wanted that flying feeling; I wanted to be a dove. And suddenly, I had the urge to climb up top that black surface with her and jump my heart out, hoping and praying that I would magically sprout wings and just fly the fuck away from here, away from Sam, Travis, and all the drunk teens in the other room. I just wanted to fly away and go to Gerard’s place, where he could keep me as his dove and never let me go, even when I was ready. I never wanted to be ready, which is probably why I didn’t bother to climb upon the trampoline with Jasmine, though my body and mind ached for it. I could feel my muscles try and leave the bone, just to be one step closer to that infernal object. I wasn’t ready yet, and I never wanted to be.
I merely nodded my head to her statement, letting my voice spill my thoughts in a clear and crisp manner. “I don’t think you’re childish at all for thinking that,” I stated first, letting my own head wrap around the idea and debating if I should share or not. “I want to fly, too. I’m just not ready yet.”
I suddenly became aware of how corny my words sounded as they left my mouth. I was a seventeen-year-old male, and I was going on and on about how I wanted to fly and be a dove. That was all well and good for the tiny and petite girl in front of me, so delicate she probably could fly if someone gave her real wings, but not for me. I probably sounded even more gay than I already was, saying those things, and under normal circumstances, I knew I would have regretted them leaving my mouth. This was far from normal, though. There was something about Jasmine that compelled me to tell her these things. She was so open and carefree – I knew she wouldn’t judge. We were sharing together for the hell of it, because there was nothing else better to do in this godforsaken place and we seemed to be the only two people with any kind of logic in our heads, even if they were compacted in an urge to fly. We were trying to escape the judgment from the other room, so we wouldn’t do it to each other.
And my feeling had been right; Jasmine didn’t judge. She merely nodded her head, continuing to jump - but fly in her mind. This time, though, she didn’t pressure me to join with her. She understood where I was coming from, even if I didn’t tell her the full story. She seemed to sense my thoughts, because the next line out of her mouth was something I could have never predicted.
“If you were a bird,” she started, her tone fun, but serious as she slowed her jumping, “what bird would you be?”
I smiled and looked down for a moment, a warm feeling coating my insides. I didn’t have to think long before I answered. “A dove.”
“Good one!” she cried almost immediately, a happy smile planted on her face. I had been smiling before, recalling the memory of that day in the park with Gerard, but hearing her approval of my choice made me bare my teeth even more.
“I think I would be a weird bird,” she started to answer before I had even asked. She scrunched up her face as she racked her brain, going through an imaginary index of winged creatures inside her head. Her face lit up when she thought of a few choices. “Like a flamingo, even though I hate pink. I just love their long and weird necks. Or I could be an ostrich,” she countered quickly, her thought process leaking out of her mouth before she had a second chance to consider it. She was getting into her conversation and it was clear that as I watched her bounce and theorize, that this was not her first time thinking about this. “But ostriches don’t fly. And that’s the whole point of being a bird!”
She began to jump really hard and fast again, her knees bending upward towards her chest as she raised them higher. I stood there and watched, almost amazed at the act she was doing. She folded her small body up and out like a flower blooming and re-blooming. And she seemed so far from me. Each time she jumped, she’d get farther and farther as she increased her delicate nature. She was so graceful. She was a bird in itself; she already knew how to fly.
“But I really like your choice,” she continued her tangent, flying back to me. I looked up at her face, which was wide and nodded steadily.
“Thanks,” I said, feeling my cheeks blush from the attention. The bird had so much more deeper meaning to me than it did to her, but I could still tell she appreciated my choice, sensing its sentiment.
“I think I would be a turtle dove, though,” she added, cocking her head to the side and looking far off.
“Hmmm?” I questioned, furrowing my brow, because I didn’t really recognize the term. What the hell kind of species was a cross between a turtle and a dove? Warped images came to my mind, making my face twist slightly and causing her to laugh at my clear misunderstanding.
“Turtle doves,” she started, her voice taking on a mock lecturing stance, “are just another form of doves, only they come in pairs. You know, two birds that are meant to be together.” She paused, looking down at me and smiling as if she had something other than birds on her mind. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it yet and it felt like I stared for hours trying to figure it out.
“I’d be a turtle dove,” she suddenly concluded, still looking at me.
I swallowed hard, my body stiffening yet again for a reason I knew, but didn’t want to put my finger on it this time. I jammed my hands inside my pockets more, clinging to the inner fabric as the sounds of the trampoline filled the air. We didn’t talk for a while, some tension building up and only being cut through as her jumps filled the air. I took my gaze away from her, and noticed that the sun was almost completely absorbed by everything, the sky swallowing it whole. I didn’t know how long we had been talking for, or how long we had been outside. It had all seemed to go so fast that we didn’t even notice the upending darkness around us. I suddenly felt the air around me sting with chill, and though I shivered, I didn’t know if it was the temperature making me.
“Do you know what I think we should do?” Jasmine’s high voice came into my head as the squeaking of the trampoline faded out. I looked over at her from the dark sky I had been staring at. She was standing in the center, the rippling of the jumps she had completed still jostling her. Her face was calm and resolute, trying to bypass the first awkward moment we had experienced.
“What?” I asked, my voice shaking for some reason that I blamed on the cold.
“Let’s sleep outside, on the trampoline,” she clarified, her eyes darting back and forth, showing her excitement. “We’ll get away from the fuckers inside and just spend the night here. The house probably smells like shit right now and I don’t want to be around when they wake up with a hangover.”
“Sure,” I said immediately, not needing to be persuaded by her justifications.
Her face had been serious beforehand, but now a relieved smile spread across it. She jumped down off of the trampoline, the soft grass cushioning her bare feet and ran over to me and wrapped me in a strong hug, showing her excitement. She squealed something that sounded like a thank you, before she ran into the house, shouting that she was getting blankets. She left me standing in the middle of the grass, a dumbfounded smile on my face, feeling excitement for our night building within me.
I walked over to the trampoline and touched it, feeling the black bottom give way to my pressure. I slid my leg up on it and lifted my body up on top of the large object, crawling out to the center and waiting for Jasmine to return. I didn’t want to jump on the trampoline, but I wanted – needed - to sit. I figured it was the closest thing to flying that I was ready to do.
Jasmine came out with the blankets and a few pillows ten minutes later, and we set ourselves up on the black surface. We decided to take opposite ends of the trampoline, even though it was quite spacious. She had suggested the plan, and at first I had been somewhat upset she was casting me aside like that, but as soon as I started to crawl in under the blanket and pillow, I felt myself slipping and sliding into the center, where Jasmine came crashing to as well. That was the thing about trampolines – they gave way to every ounce of pressure pressed on them, and though a nice sensation for jumping, did not prove so well for sleeping. Jasmine told me she had done this before with one of her friends when they stayed overnight at her cottage in the summer, and despite the first few crashes being awkward, the rest of it was so much fun, especially after you were asleep. I had to trust her on that one, because it mostly felt weird crashing into her constantly and trying to move away within the next second. Eventually, I just gave up and let our bodies touch shoulders in the center of the object as we talked.
We didn’t converse for too long and about much, but the way Jasmine bopped around when she got excited about something (or everything) made our conversation seem more stimulating than it really was. We spent most of the time laughing and giggling, her infectious attitude spreading into my system.
At first, my main reason for my inept feeling was the image of Gerard in my mind. I wondered if he would be jealous or upset if he knew I was sleeping with a girl that night. Even though that’s all we were doing – sleeping. Sure, we were touching (just our shoulders and hands) sometimes, but we couldn’t help it. The trampoline just did that to us, and there was no use fighting it. I began to feel a little guilty, though, when I actually enjoyed feeling her next to me. It felt like it had been ages, when really it was two days at most, that someone had been with me in my bed or even touched me at all, without a negative connotation to go with it. Jasmine and I weren’t doing anything sexual, and fuck, I didn’t even let my mind go there, but it was just nice to have someone beside me. I had grown accustomed to having someone next to me at night, someone to look over at and know that I wasn’t sleeping alone. Jasmine and I didn’t cuddle to the extent that Gerard and I had been doing, but when our conversation started to run low and our eyelids grew heavy, I felt her rest her head on my shoulder, and I didn’t stop it. It felt nice. Good. Like I belonged again, even if it was only for a temporary redemption; I was saved.
Jasmine was out a lot faster than I was, her actions from before probably tiring her out. Her mind certainly wasn’t as doubtful and over-clouded with rapid thoughts, too. Her small snores (and crickets in the distance) were different from the nocturnal noises I was used to hearing, but they were soothing nonetheless. I tried to calm my thoughts, and before I felt myself fall into my own slumber, I pushed any notion of guilt out of my head. I was not going to feel guilty for being here with Jasmine, doing what I was doing. I was not hurting Gerard in any way, shape, or form, because it had been him, after all, who told me the emotion was useless.
In the morning, I had no clue where I was. Again. This feeling seemed to be happening to me a lot, but there was no déjà vu to snap me back into the reality around. Just the nature surrounding me.
I felt the slight dampness from the morning dew on my nose, the temperature changes from the sun rising creating condensation for form on my forehead. The tarmac of the trampoline was an awkward thing to sleep on, my butt sinking into it more so than I would have liked and giving me an interesting awakening. When I opened my lazy eyes and saw sky, however, I forgot I was on the infernal object and tried to leap forward, only being successful in sending a shockwave of moment through everything. It sent Jasmine’s half wakeful body out of full slumber and worse of all, rolling right on top of me.
Suddenly, my images of a blue sky were filled with the blueness of her eyes. She groaned a little, still groggy and grumpy that I had woken her up so violently. Though I had the immediate urge to fling her off of me, I just couldn’t do that. It was mean and she’d probably end up bouncing right back on and who knew, into a more unflattering position. She was so small and tiny that she barely even added any weight to me. I started to feel her slipping off, because of my startled movements and grabbed her tiny waist so she didn’t plummet yet again.
She began to fully wake up by that point, opening her sleep encrusted eyes a bit and taking me in. I looked back at her with a startled countenance, while she merely glanced at me, completely calm. She let out a breathy laugh and then buried her head on my chest and looked as if she was falling back asleep. I felt my heart start to pound with a fury inside my chest, and I wondered if she could hear it, and hoped it woke her up.
“Are you okay?” I finally asked.
Her laughter came as my response.
“Calm down,” she joked, looking back up at me, her chin still poised on my chest. Her words did nothing to calm me, but only made my chest ache.
“I am calm,” I lied, just to say something to fill the air. I felt the awkward tension we had experienced the night before, even if she seemed to be as tranquil as anything. I still knew something was there, something that I didn’t need to deal with. And yet, I still found my hands on her waist, keeping her from falling off of me.
I was just being nice, I told myself. Just being nice. She was warm, too, despite her lack of body fat and she was keeping me warm in the cool morning air. We had possessed four blankets by the time we had fallen asleep, but I only saw one at the moment, half on my body, half strewn haphazardly on the other side she was not taking up.
“You’re a bad liar, that’s what you are,” she joked again, calling me out on my bluff. I felt my chest ache more as she giggled slightly, and I bit my lip. She pursed her own as she saw this, lifting herself up on my chest more.
“Don’t bite your lips,” she scolded, unabashedly batting my fingers away as she pursed her mouth disapprovingly. “It will leave marks.”
“Sorry,” I apologized, trying to recede my face away from hers that was getting dangerously close. As I pushed my head into the trampoline, the material only seemed to push back ten times harder. I was still stuck staring at her face, my chest feeling like it would crack under her small weight.
“It’s okay,” she insisted slowly, letting her hand relax, her finger touching the inside of my lip, almost as if she was inspecting for wounds. We both seemed to pause then, our breath stopping along with our hearts, ceasing any and all movement. Her small and fragile index finger hovered at the base of my bottom lip, where my hot breath had been coming out of before my lungs collapsed.
Jasmine was the first to regain her composure, moving that dreaded finger away. I thought I would be able to breathe soon, but just as I took in air, I felt her place her dry lips over mine slowly. She stayed in place a while, both our open mouths running over each other’s ever so slightly, but no tongues meeting at the center.
Just as quick as it had begun, it was over. Her lips were gone and her body was off of my own, attempting to scoot across the trampoline. She curled her hair behind her ears, her back to me as her small body hopped off the large object and started to walk away.
“Where are you going?” I asked suddenly, sitting up and watching her.
“I’m getting breakfast,” she answered, like nothing had gone on. She looked over at me and smiled again, adding a little bit of a weak twist at the end. She turned around quickly, and disappeared around the side of the house to the door. She was gone, but what had just happened wasn’t going to disappear anytime soon.
I brought my hand up to touch my lips, the lips that she had fucking kissed, and I felt something inside me snap. My chest seized, my ribs feeling as if they were breaking or being crushed, because of the organs inside me that either beat too hard, or stopped working all together. I tried to bite my lip again, but I didn’t go near it without feeling too much pain. Even as I sat there for what felt like hours, I couldn’t decipher what had hurt more; her lips on mine, or the fact that I had liked it.