I sit up in your bed and rub my eyes, dazed. I slept here last night, I guess, after the party, one last hurrah before you go. I smell like the cheap lager we picked up at the liquor store down the road. The empty bottles are lined up on your windowsill, the caps turned up like crowns on top. Bottles, you insisted on, even though the box was heavy and awkward. Bottles were classy.
You’re already up, showered and dressed and fixing your hair in the mirror. “Morning,” you say, and I grunt a reply, slipping out of the bed and running my fingers through my hair, stiff and gross with gel. My things are already in the bathroom when I get there, and I shower and brush my teeth until the sour taste in my mouth is gone. Your blow dryer is sitting on the counter for me but I leave it, let my hair hang down wet in my eyes.
You’re sitting on the bed but you stand when I come in the room. “I’ll miss you,” you say, and you’re smiling at me. “I’ll miss you too,” is what I’m supposed to say, I think, or maybe I’m supposed to muss your hair and throw an arm around your shoulder, tell you everything’s going to be fine. I used to do that all the time, I remember. I wonder when I stopped. I step closer to you, and you frown a little in that way you do when you’re scared, but you don’t move. And I step closer. Closer, closer. We’re almost touching. I used to touch you all the time. I wonder when I stopped.
I think I’ve always loved you. I love the way your hair curls at the nape of your neck. I love your weight, warm and heavy against my shoulder when you fall asleep watching kung-fu movies with me. I love the way your hands move when you play your bass, the way your fingers pluck at the strings. I love your smile, loved the time I was the only one who got to see it. I love your voice. I love your weakness. I love knowing everything about you. I love being the one you call when you’re scared. Do you remember the first time you tried poppy tea? You bought the flowers from an old man who lived in the flat a few floors down, he grew them in his window boxes. You just wanted to sleep so badly. You were almost crying when you called me. We listened to David Bowie and you fell asleep on my shoulder.
“I don’t feel it,” you said when we ate ice cream together strolling down Abbey Road like tourists. “It’s too weird. I love you but it’s too weird.” I agreed and tried not to think about how beautiful you were. I started dating that girl, Amber, you remember her, she was nice, she liked the band, her eyes were blue like yours, but you were still more beautiful and I tried not to think about it. I’m still trying not to think about it and you are still the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen in my life.
I place my hands on either side of your face. They’re trembling. Your skin is warm and soft under my palms. I can see your suitcases in the corner of my eye, piled beside your bed. I don’t want you to go. I want so badly to kiss you. I’ve been waiting and waiting ever since that night I elbowed some hipster in the face so you could move to the front of the crowd and listen to a band neither of us even remember the name of. Maybe I’ve been waiting forever. I don’t know. My thumbs move, stroking across your cheeks, and you know I was lying all those years ago when I said I wasn’t in love with you. Maybe you’ve always known. I lean in closer, and I kiss you, and your lips are dry and you grip at the front of my t-shirt, pull me closer, and I know you were lying too. I don’t know if I should laugh, or cry; I kiss you harder.
I push you to the bed. My lips are at your neck now. I remember the day you came to school with your soft, blond hair clipped short. The back of your neck was so pale, the skin almost white where it disappeared beneath your shirt collar. I remember licking my lips and all I could think about was kissing you, but that was all I could think about most of the time. I wanted to tear off your clothes and press my fingers against that smooth white skin, from the nape of your neck, down the curve of your spine, along the backs of your legs, down to the soles of your feet. You’re ticklish there. Not many people know that, but I do. I’d kiss them, as pale as the rest of your body, and you’d laugh and kick at me. In my imagination you’re violent and beautiful and you smile at me all the time.
I’m kissing down your neck when I feel your chest heaving beneath me. You’re sobbing. I lift up my head and tears are falling from the corners of your eyes, falling on the pillow and into your hair. I’m not sure if you even know you’re doing it, but then your arms are up, crossed over your face. “Fuck.” Your hands are clenched into fists, and I see you bite down hard on your lip. “Fuck,” you say again, and you’re still crying.
I sit up, slowly. I let my hand rest on your chest for a moment, feel the flutter of your heartbeat against my palm. There were a thousand chances for me to do this, chances before you knew him, before you knew what you’d be missing and before it had to be a choice, me or him. But it is, now. You know, now.
“I love you,” you tell me as I’m heading out the door. “If you told me to pick you I’m not sure I could tell you no.”
“You could,” I say. “You would. If it was supposed to happen, it would’ve happened ages ago.”
Your arms are around my chest before I know what’s happening, and I feel you breath warm at the back of my neck. “Thank you,” you say, words I didn’t know you were capable of. My hand comes up to hold yours, and maybe I don’t know everything there is to know about you after all. “I love you, too,” is all I say, and then I kiss your soft white fingertips and finally let your arms fall away from me.