“I almost thought you’d never ask.”

A Short Story by Megan E Day

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Seventh Grade

I was thirteen when I lost my best friend. I didn’t know it at the time, either.

Peter was like a brother to me. We would always go back to my house together and play videogames instead of doing homework like we promised my mom we would, and we would pawn cigarettes off the older men in my congregation and smoke them out back when Dad thought we were listening to the service and had just “gone to sit somewhere else.” We thought we were such badasses because everyone else was still clean—no smoke in their lungs or alcohol in their liver.

I never thought that that would end, but one day we were sitting on my back porch and Peter looked at me with this curious spark in his eye and asked, “Hey, Dave, have you ever kissed someone before?”

“Like a girl?” I replied, only half paying attention as I lit a new cigarette from the pack Old Jack gave me a week earlier.

“Or… just anyone,” Peter replied, and I heard a sort of hindering in his voice.

“Well, what would I want to kiss a boy for?” I laughed because I knew I was supposed to, but there was a small part of me that stung when those words left my mouth. I couldn’t figure out why at the time, but a small part of me wondered if I was wrong. What would be so bad about kissing a boy?

Peter’s voice softened. “Oh, yeah. Me neither.”

Pause.

“So do you like any of them? The girls at school?”

I thought for a minute. None of them really had struck my attention, but I knew that wasn’t the right thing to say. I knew I was supposed to like someone, but Peter and I had never talked about things like that before. I took a drag from the cigarette before passing it to him and saying, “I guess Mary’s alright.”

Peter took a drag from the cigarette, holding it between his thin pale fingers and nodded in silence. The conversation seemed to be over.

That is, until the next day when he asked me about her again, and suddenly everyone in the grade knew. Mary Sue was pretty, sure, but I wasn’t into her like that. But no one believed me.

And that’s what got me to this point. I was walking towards the slides when I saw her. Mary Sue, I mean. She was alright, I guess. She wore a plaid skirt that was just a little too short, and sometimes the guys would laugh about how they could see her underwear when they walked a flight behind her on the stairs.

Apparently everyone wanted her. What did that even mean? I mean, why was it so great to see her underwear? It’s not like they were anything special—they were white with little butterflies on them like the ones my little sister wears. Honestly, sometimes I was tempted to let her know the guys were looking at them, but I couldn’t because then I wouldn’t be “cool.”

Shit—was I staring? Why is she walking towards me?

“Hey, Davis?” Why is she looking at me like that?

“Y-yeah, M-mary?” I asked, suddenly nervous and feeling my palms start to sweat.

“Do you think I’m pretty?” she batted her eyelashes. “Jessica told me that Matt told her that Peter told him that you think I’m pretty.”

“S-sure, you’re alright, Mary Sue,” I said, wondering how I was even talking. All the while planning how I would kill Peter later for landing me in this mess.

“Do you want to kiss me, Davis? All the other boys want to.” Again with the eyelashes. And now she was trying to hold my hand.

“Uh, sure, I guess.” Wait, what?

Have you ever had one of those sort of out-of-body experiences where it’s like you’re watching yourself say and do things, but you have absolutely no control over it? Yeah, this was one of those times.

But before I could even try to backtrack, I could feel her lips on mine. Mary was a good kisser, I think. The only other girls I’d ever kissed were my mom and aunts when they insisted, but this was different. She didn’t try to pinch my cheeks or have heavy red lipstick on. Her lips were soft, and she smelled like strawberries, and Hm. I guess I could get used to kissing girls if it’s like this. This isn’t so bad.

Something felt weird, though. I opened my eyes slightly and noticed people had began to gather, watching as Mary worked her lips against mine, clearly knowing what she was doing while I was still a bit clueless. I eventually pulled away, and half our class was clapping—the boys were yelling for me to “French her.”

Someone was missing from the crowd, though. I took a look around and just barely caught sight of a flash of Peter’s ginger hair as he ran from the playground back into the building. Why did he leave? Wasn’t this his idea? Something about him leaving hurt, and I was painfully aware of the growing distance from him and the closeness I felt to Mary Sue as she slipped her hand under mine and laced our fingers, pulling me close to her and whispering in my ear “I guess that means I’m your girlfriend now.”

And for some reason, I felt the urge to cringe despite the cute smile on her face.

High School—Freshman Year

Having a girlfriend since seventh grade wasn’t so bad. Especially since I no longer had a best friend to hang out with. Peter ended up transferring to a different school a few weeks later and I hadn’t seen him since. I taught Mary Sue how to play Call of Duty, and she came over almost every day after school. We’d talk and kiss, and she’d hold my hand under the table at dinner with my family, then I’d walk her the three blocks back to her house, sometimes having to lend her my jacket if it got too cold out.

She was sweet, and she told me she loved me, and I said I loved her, too, but at fifteen, I still barely knew what that meant. It seemed more like an obligation because of shows I’d seen on TV, but it was simple, and she barely argued with me, and I liked her company enough.

About half way into freshman year, though, something changed. She started wearing lacey underwear and low cut shirts and wearing a lot of makeup. She’d bring me to parties with alcohol and get drunk and beg me to take her home because her parents were “away for the weekend” and she wanted “company.”

It turns out, her parents were barely ever home—always on business trips since she was pretty young. That’s why she always stayed at my house for dinner and never wanted to leave—which had never really been a problem until now.

Now she wanted more—if you know what I mean. Whenever I took her home after those parties, she’d beg me to tell my parents I was sleeping over at a friend’s house so that we could be alone together. I’d always end up putting on a movie because that seemed safe, but before the opening credits were even half way done, she’d be straddling me, forcing my hands under her shirt and hers into my pants. I knew what she wanted, and I didn’t blame her. We had been dating for almost two years by now, and a lot of our friends were starting to experiment with sex, but something about it made me feel weird.

I loved Mary, but something about the idea of seeing her naked freaked me out. I kept telling her I just wasn’t ready, but we both knew that wasn’t true. Hell, I’d been watching porn since maybe the sixth grade. I was fifteen, and my hormones were crazy. Of course, I wanted sex. I just don’t think I wanted it with her.

Nothing against her at all. She was my girlfriend, and she had grown up a lot over the last two years. She’d probably grown at least three or four inches, and all her baby fat seemed to evaporate. She was tan with these amazing blue eyes and long, soft hair that made her look a little like Kate Upton. She was hot, and all the guys still wanted her. I just couldn’t find it in me to fuck her.

“Davis, are you seriously going to be a baby about this again?” Mary Sue groaned as we drove to that Saturday night’s party. Mary had just told me that her friend offered for us to use her guest room if things got heavy during the party, and I had shut her down. Again. “I’m telling you I want to have sex with you, Dave. You know how many people would kill to hear me say that to them? Pretty much every guy at that party. I always liked you because you didn’t treat me like an object like they do, but seriously? I can’t even believe you sometimes.”

As I drove, she continued blabbing on and on about the other guys she could be sleeping with if she wasn’t with me, and after a while, it just got tiring. “Are you done yet?” I asked as I parked across the street from what seemed to already be a pretty busy party.

“I guess,” she shrugged before leaning over and grabbing me by the collar of my shirt for an intense kiss. And then I felt her hand creeping up my thigh the way she’s done every time we were alone together for the past few months. Suddenly, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I slapped her hand away and got out of the car, starting toward the party.

“You know what, Dave? Fuck you!” Mary yelled as she got out of the car to follow me. “I swear, I should just break up with you sometimes.”

I turned on my heel, looking at her in disbelief. Two years I had been with this girl, and now she was about to throw it away. I wasn’t sure if the disbelief was in her or in the fact that it didn’t really even bother me. “Why don’t you, then?”

“W-what?” she asked, finally at a loss for words.

“Why don’t you just break up with me, then? You keep saying how other guys would satisfy your needs better. Why don’t you just fucking go to them?” I asked, unable to control the pent up anger in my voice.

“B-because I love you, Dave,” she replied, her eyes glistening from the start of tears. I hated how Mary had been treating me lately, but goddammit I hated when she cried. I did love her. I really did. Just not the way she needed me to.

I took a minute to reply, knowing my next words could possibly be all that she would remember me by. “I love you, too, Mar, but you aren’t happy. You’ve made that clear. This needs to stop.”

“Well, fuck you, too, then,” she began in a yell, but faltered to a broken whisper by the end.

It killed me seeing her like this. I just wanted to wrap my arms around her and tell her it would be okay. That she’d find someone a million times better for her than me. But I couldn’t. I knew it would just hurt her more, so I did the only thing a reasonable fifteen-year-old would do—get wasted.

Before I even realized what I was doing, I was in the kitchen of the Forbes house with a shot of vodka in each hand. Usually, I would never let myself drink hard liquor. I didn’t like not being in control, especially when I had to watch Mary and drive her home afterwards, but tonight was different. I was only a few blocks from home—if I even decided to go back tonight—and I didn’t have a girlfriend to babysit anymore, so I downed the first shot, then the second, a third for good measure, and cracked open a beer to carry with me back to the living room.

The party was crazy. Lights were flashing different colors each second at strobe levels so erratic I could barely see where I was going. I barely caught a glimpse of Mary dancing on a table with some guy from the football team before I felt a warm hand on my wrist.

I turned in instinct to flash a dirty look at whoever was trying to grab me, but what I saw made me lose my balance slightly—or maybe that was the vodka kicking in. The hands on my arm were pale and slender and they connected to an equally pale and slim body of someone who looked only vaguely familiar except for the hair. That was hair I’d know anywhere—clean cut, orange like fire. Peter.

I met his eyes and noticed something I never had before. They were this gorgeous blue color, like the sky at sunrise—pale and promising of what the future had in store. Wait, what? Why the hell am I staring at my ex-best friend’s eyes? Davis, stop being weird. Shit. Did he just say something?

“Did you just say something?” I had to yell over the music, “I couldn’t hear you. Music’s too loud.”

Peter laughed, and it triggered my chest to lighten and I was suddenly aware of how fast my heart was pounding as he pulled a pack of cigarettes out from his pocket and leaned into my ear to whisper, “I didn’t think I’d see you here, but one of my friends made me come just in case. Wanna go out on the porch like old times?”

I nodded and he grabbed my hand and pulled me outside. That simple act made me go light-headed. What is going on with me tonight? Davis, you like girls. Cut it out.

            When we got out to the porch, Peter let go of my hand in exchange for a lighter, and I couldn’t help but stare at his lips as he placed the new cigarette between his lips, suddenly wishing I was in the cigarette’s place. Davis, get a fucking hold of yourself. This is Peter. What the fuck is wrong with you?

I felt flushed and noticed my peripherals going foggy. The alcohol must be kicking in, I thought.

“So what’s been new with you?” he asked in a voice even smoother than I’d imagine his lips would feel. Stop thinking about his lips, Davis. I swear to God. Just cut it the fuck out.

“I just broke up with Mary,” I stumbled through the words, trying so hard not to slur.

Peter looked shocked, his eyes widening and turning even bluer if that was at all possible. “Really? You’ve been with her for that long?”

“Yeah,” I shrugged. “I wasn’t really ever happy with her, but I could never figure out why. She was a great girl. I just couldn’t feel anything for her, ya know?”

Peter grinned as if he knew something I didn’t, passing me the cigarette as he chuckled. “Yeah, I know the feeling.”

I couldn’t help but wonder. “Hey, Peter?”
“Hmm?”

“Have you ever kissed someone before?” And suddenly I was back in seventh grade, sitting on my porch, and I finally understood.

“Like a girl?” he asked with a grin, and I knew he was on the same page.

“Or… just anyone?” I asked with half a smile, heart practically pounding out of my chest.

My reply brought another deep chuckle from Peter, and I felt like my heart was about to fly out of my mouth if I didn’t do something with all this adrenaline within the next ten seconds.

“Well, what would I want to kiss a boy for?” and the tone of his voice was so light that I knew he was teasing. He was looking at my lips, that much I could tell. Mary had given me that same look so many times, but it was so different with him. With Peter, I felt something new—something good.

I knew what I needed to do—even if in the morning I needed to blame it on the alcohol, something was telling me I needed to do this. I leaned close and looked directly into Peter’s eyes, my lips mere centimeters away from his, and whispered, “I’m not sure. Want to find out?”

Peter’s eyes seemed hesitant, switching between looking at my eyes and my lips sporadically for at least a minute, but what felt like a year, before a smile crept across his face, reaching all the way up to those amazing blue eyes. Sparks shot down my spine as he reached up and help my jawline steady with one hand, while extinguishing the practically unused cigarette on the ground beside us. Peter leaned in closer, just close enough to where I could barely feel his lips brush against mine as he whispered, just for me to hear, “I almost thought you’d never ask.”

 

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