All of a sudden, two arms wrap around me and hug me tight. “Ahh!” I silently scream and struggle to go away.
“Hey, hey! Calm down! It’s just me!” Now this makes a difference. I let my surprise hugger hold me tighter and then release me. I spin around to face him: Keith. We’ve liked each other for what feels like forever, but we’re not allowed to show it. This springs to my mind as I force down my desire to kiss him.
“It’s a good thing I’m alone!” I hiss as I look around for would-be spies and tattlers.
He smirks. “Why do you think I hugged you?” He lifts an eyebrow and again the urge to kiss his slightly red lips comes up. Instead, I force my eyes away from his brown hair, sparkling hazel eyes, and ruddy cheeks to the school atmosphere around me. It’s seven in the morning and, thankfully, no one is around to see our secret and forbidden rendezvous.
“How are you?” Like I needed to ask that question. He always tells me that he feels like Superman around me, so that was a really stupid question, but I had butterflies in my stomach and needed a diversion.
“I’m fine. How are you my love?” A giggle surfaces, but I only let a smile break through.
“I’m great.” Awkward silence threatens but, as always, Keith has a random topic to talk about that chases it away. This time it’s my bracelet that I’m wearing.
“Yay! You’re wearing the bracelet I bought!” I smile again, bigger this time, and nod stupidly. He went on a trip to Mexico when we first started talking and bought me a black and purple—my two colors—bracelet that had my name, Roxan, stitched into it.
“You’re wearing it on the outside of your jacket. Is it too big?” I shake my head.
“Nope. If I wear it under, then no one can see it.” Understanding lights up his face.
“Oh, like this.” He pulls back the sleeve of his gray sweatshirt-jacket mix and shows me the yellow glow stick he’s been wearing since last month’s camping trip. I nod. Again the ominous silence threatens to envelope us, but then Keith starts walking back towards the front of the school’s gates. See we’re kinda’, sorta’ hiding from his mother who is still out front in her car. I take one step towards him and my phone vibrates. Who the heck is texting me at seven in the morning?! I check the I.D. and roll my eyes. Of course. My big brother Samuel. I hit the read button and quickly scan the text.
Hey, wat up??
Rolling my eyes again, I continue putting one foot in front of the other very slowly as my fingers fly over the buttons.
I shove my phone in my pocket and finish walking over to Keith. I slug my backpack off my right shoulder and let it fall heavily onto the metal bench that’s part of the table we’ve staked as our own for this morning. Sighing for no reason at all and knowing he’s looking at me, I rub my shoulder as the familiar dull ache beings.
“Shoulder hurts?” Uh, no. I just like rubbing it. But that’s mean and he is only concerned, so I just mumble yes and nod. Sighing again, why can’t I stop??!, I sit myself down on the bench behind my backpack and watch Keith as he checks again to see if his mom has left. When he turns around, the ecstatic look on his face tells me Janis is gone and we’re free for the next hour and a half until my first class starts. I control my movements rigidly as I move from the bench into his arms. Gosh, this has got to be what Paradise feels like. Our third hug ever.
We would get so much crap from our friends and our parents if we ever hugged in public, so we have to do it secretly. We can’t date because we’re too young and even though practically everyone knows we like each other, we have to be careful never to let on that our emotions run deeper then the Milky Way. He bends down, me being shorter then him, and starts to cuddle, but then I feel him straighten and he kisses the top of my head. I giggle because we were talking about kissing the day before and release him. A short hug, but better then none at all. I go back to my bench with a foolish, dazed smile on my face and he remains standing. I guess it’s a good thing, because even though there is a tiny hedge to the right of us, it’s short and he’s taller then it. So he acts as our lookout for the morning.
My phone vibrates again as we both try to think of something to talk about, so I pull it out, my hand shaking with adrenaline, excitement, and the chilly morning air.
I’m on my way to school. Aren’t you up a little early?? /:)
It’s a long standing joke with everyone that I don’t like waking up early.
I have school on tuesdays smart guy.
I look up and off into the distance feeling the silence closing in around us. Pick a topic! Anything! “I was gonna’ tell you something…darn it!”
Keith smiles and mumbles, “We always have something to tell each other.” I have no idea what he’s talking about, but I continue anyways.
“Stupid! This is retarded. I always forget! Huff!” I look down, trying to look sorrowful, but failing because I’m smiling so much. Being around him does this to me; I’m loud, crazy, always laughing too much and too hard, and constantly smiling. Oh duh! Hello! You can show him the video! I pull out my phone again and look at him.
“Do you want to see the video of you and Lucas trying to catch goldfish at camping?” He nods and comes over to me. I quickly exit out of the new text that pops up and find the video. At our last camping trip with all of our friends, my cousin Adrecka had this bag of goldfish and threw one at my brother Lucas. He got the bright idea of catching it in his mouth. One tease led to another and soon Adrecka was throwing them at both Lucas and Keith, with them competing who could catch them. I had recorded a whole minute of both of them catching flying goldfish, but the best part was when Keith had lunged forward to catch a fish and fell out of his chair.
I find it and hit play. Holding it up, I have a perfect view of Keith as he leans down to see. Only problem is that I’m staring so I look away quickly.
“Haha! That’s funny! You got the perfect timing too, with me falling out of the chair!” He moves away again and I wonder why we can’t be next to each other, even when we’re alone. It must be because we have to be separate with other people around; it’s hardwired into our systems. I wish we could be closer as I go to my Inbox and press the Read button to see what more wisdom Samuel has to bestow upon me.
So what r u doing at school?
I look up at Keith, not wanting him to think I’m ignoring him, and speedily type back:
Im talking with Keith :)
I already know what he’s going to say to that, but oh well! He is only in one loop; the one that knows Keith and I might have something going on together. Our older brother James is in the bigger loop: James knows that Keith and I really like each other and sneak around. When I look up at Keith this time, I finally have a topic of conversation.
“This is stupid. The weather is all gray and gloomy, but I’m really happy. And then, two weeks ago on……..,” here I’m flailing my left hand around trying to find the word, “…the eighteenth, it was all sunny and warm! The weather is not reflecting my mood!” He smiles and nods in agreement.
“Yeah, that day I was all feeling horrible and not having any fun. Haha, I wore my sunglasses so no one could see my eyes filling with tears, and it was all sunny and everyone was all happy!” My smile dies a little and I duck my head away from him guiltily.
“Yeah…” I sigh yet again. “That day was crap.” It was my fault he cried that day. It’s always my fault when he’s in pain. This time the silence stretches on, filled to the brim with tension and awkwardness and neither of us make a move to interrupt it. My mind flashes back to the eighteenth; the day we broke up.
I yank my mind back to the present before it can go any farther down memory lane; it was pointless to pick at a fresh, two-week-old scab when our ‘break up’ didn’t do any good. We still tried to meet every morning before class and he still told me he loved me and I never stopped thinking about him. I had hurt him pointlessly and I was now lying in my flea bitten bed.
Keith is pacing restlessly back and forth off to my side, still not making any effort to talk to me, so I sigh in defeat, knowing my brain is going to be useless with him next to me. I click into my Inbox again and see Samuel sent me another text.
Oh really? Wat r u tlking about? Arent u in class?
I roll my eyes at the phone.
Pft, no. My first class is at 8:30
I grin up at Keith, who has finally come to a stop, but is still deep in memories. “Samuel thinks school starts at seven for us.” I laugh quietly and soon he joins in.
“Yeah, there’s no way you’d be able to get up that early, haha.” I glare at him playfully.
“Hey! I can if I need to.” He shakes his head at me, not believing a word.
“Yeah uh huh, okay.” I stick my tongue out at him and he laughs at me again. I pout at him and fake being mad at him, burying my head in my arms on the table. “Aww, I’m sorry, I was just kidding. Come here.” He holds out his arms. “I’ll give you a hug.” I grin triumphantly inside and slowly make my way up off the bench and towards him, my heart picking up at the thought of being near him.
We hug slightly longer than before, but just as he kisses the top of my head for the third time that morning, I hear footsteps coming towards us on the other side of the hedge and hurriedly push away from Keith. He lets me go, a forlorn look passing over his face before it gets covered up with his usual, fake, happy-go-lucky façade. I always found it weird when everyone around him just thought his dorky looking faces and goofy, dumb blonde actions just stemmed from his personality or a shallow need for attention; it had been blaringly obvious from the first moment I met him that it was all a distraction for him.
Distraction from his pain and a cover-up for the unshed tears he carried around with him. Scars he had gotten before I’d ever entered his life and now new ones I’d given him unwillingly. Right as I sat myself down on the bench again, attempting a nonchalant look, my biology partner and friend Hunter pushed through one of the human-sized gaps in the leafy fence that separated us. “Hey guys! You been here long?”
I glanced down at the time on my phone so I could give an answer and was surprised to find that almost a whole hour had gone by since arriving at school; there was just a scant thirty minutes left before class started, which explained Hunter’s appearance. As we answered his questions and chitchatted, I felt my opportunity to be with Keith bleed away as he stayed to keep us company and more of my friends and classmates showed up.
But even though our time together was up, even though we were still recovering from two weeks ago, even though I felt a twinge of guilt for sneaking around with him, I was still content with the knowledge that at least we had this morning together.