I don’t know that I ever touched Ice in the short time we knew each other, really touched him, not just knees knocking together in the steam room. I’m sure I never felt the warmth of his body against mine. I can’t recall thinking much about it, back then, though I thought of other things, thought of what it might be like to pull him into an empty classroom, put my lips against his, let it go from there. Maybe I thought about it then, what the heat of his body would feel like against me, but then again, I wanted him too badly to think of much.
To this day I don’t know why or how or when it started. I know that when I tried to reason it out it was always, he cheers me up, being next to him makes me a happier person, I enjoy every moment in his presence and every inane word that comes out of his mouth. Is that love? To this day I don’t know that, either, but it was the closest thing I’d ever felt. It’s still the closest thing I’ve ever felt.
I don’t think it was the same for him, or maybe it was, maybe he just knew better than me, knew that love was something else. Maybe one day I’ll know, too. Maybe this is what friends are supposed to be like. Maybe I’ve just forgotten.
He made me want to do things I never thought myself capable of, just to call him my own. I don’t know if that proves or disproves my theory, I don’t even know what my theory is, but it has to mean something. For him I could have been the guy on the side, the one he sneaks off to at odd hours. The other man, I guess you’d call it. I’d have been his other man, if he’d asked me to. I didn’t know for sure what was going on with him and that boy, the one who slept in his bed and looked at me as though I were a threat. If he had asked me I would have smiled pretty and followed him into that empty classroom regardless. But he would never have asked me.
How do you live with yourself once you realize you’re that desperate? I manage it somehow.
When everyone parted ways at the end of the school year, my last but not theirs, Vanessa ran up and hugged him tight and others did the same. He turned to me and smiled. “Did you want one, too?” he asked, half-teasing. I shook my head and he turned and headed out to where Rocko sat parked across the street. I waved at him through the window, though I turned away when I heard the engine rev.
The next day I lay in my bed and wondered what his body would have felt like pressed against mine. I’m glad I never found out.