We end up in a theatre.
A movie: Beowulf. I lean over to whisper shit in her ear the entire time. We are watching the movie. And being close. And being comfortable. And being entertained. And being raised.
And then at the Golden Compass, we come into the theatre, and I am not really interested in this movie. I am thinking about Chelsea. What am I thinking about? Sex? Not really. I just want to touch her. Not hold her. But touch her. And then she reaches back. This has been building for a long, long time. We both weren't sure of it in the beginning. And now she is holding me and I am squeezing her and she rests her forehead on my shoulder and I rest my forehead against her arm, as if to gain leverage with her pulling on me, and there is tension here, not gentleness. We are intense. We are holding each other in one place. I want to hold you here. Don't move.
And as we come out of the theatre she puts her arms around me again because I pulled her toward me. And she puts her arms around me, and she doesn't smell good really. She doesn't. But I want her to stay here. I'm holding her and she is leaning on me like a weight around my neck and we both pull back to look at each other for a second, using our hips to push against each other so we know we can loosen our grips and the other person still won't go. We could stay here, dancing always. And when I kiss her, we hold each other harder than ever, but our lips may be gentle against one another. We breathe the same air. We press our foreheads to each other. Don't go, she says. Please don't go, I say. Let's waver here forever, in the dark archway outside the movie theatre. Meters away, a light glows hideously. We will stand here forever. We want to be here. But we also must go. There are other people waiting for us, too. Chelsea's mom in the parking lot. If we don't come right out we will upset her--or, I think we will upset her. And I don't want to upset her in that driver's seat because then we're fucked. Because then we will go back to my house and I will get out of the car and that will be the end. The end of that permanently heavy feeling in my stomach that I get whenever I hold her. That heavy substantial feeling that makes me feel as if I could just rest and relax and lean back and fall asleep from her hands. And perhaps we could lie together in bed facing each other, our foreheads pressed together, holding, holding, sleeping. We want to hold each other whenever we're alone. We become one problematic person. One ball of love. Why do I call it that? The heavy feeling in my stomach, as if I will never ever go away forever because that thing is solid and substantial...That is love, is it not? The feeling of complete love. Love. Safety? Comfort. Relief. Finally a cause that I can give up for. Finally I can let go and just cling to her for the rest of my life and I don't have to persuade her otherwise. Finally, because I have this one precious gift from the gods, I can stop being afraid, scared, worried, confused. I can just be safe now, once and for all. That is what she gives me when we hold each other. That is what happens inside of me, after months and months of revealing our true opinions and natures to each other one tiny little gesture at a time. One tiny little idea, opinion, suggestion, acceptance. Gradually, gradually, we came to understand that we wanted to listen to each other. She wanted to listen to me, or wanted me to listen to her, and I wanted to listen to her and have her listen to me, and we would always be together and on the same page. That way, we would never be alone. That way we would always know what was going to happen next. This is trust. This is confidence. We talk on the phone every night. We call ourselves "friends" because we are truthfully not interested in kissing each other in the beginning. We don't need to hold each other. In fact, the idea maybe confuses us a little. In fact, I am not attracted to her at all, and she has a face that makes me uncomfortable because it is pale and bony and severe and vaguely old, And she may not be attracted to me. I know she's not attracted to me. I know she's not. I don't know how I know it, but I do.
I know she's never going to make things awkward between us. I know she's never going to confess her love for me. I know she is going to stay away from me. I know that she doesn't need to hang out with me after school. I know that she doesn't expect or need anything from me at all. That is perhaps my favorite part of her: that I feel as if she will never hurt me, never make me uncomfortable. Except for her face of course, which I avoid by talking to her on the phone.
And over the months we talk of movies and books and music and I make her mixed CDs of music that I like, music tailored specifically to communicate something, though I am not sure what--I can just feel it deep, deep inside. A feeling, a message, a set of ideas. I am saying, "If you like this, then you will like everything." I am saying I need her to like this. And she is liking the music for me. If you don't like this, I think, then we can never be happy together. And that wouldn't bother me because I have no attraction to her. But then she says she does like it, this music. And I start to get the impression distantly that I am trying to communicate a lot to her--that these music CDs aren't just music, but pieces of me, however seemingly separate. And if she likes these representations of me, then she likes me, then I can trust her. But I will never tell her the truth outright, will I? No, the truth is too scary, too buried. The truth way down, deep inside is that there is something about Chelsea that is unattractive to me, in her face, her cold bony face and her goofy curls and her round head. And the truth is that everyday I consider her picture in my head, and I wonder whether I could ever truly love her--whether I could ever feel completely relaxed and safe and one with her. Whether she would complete me. I wonder this, and I don't know why, but it's what's happening way way way deep in my head, and I would not even admit the idea to myself because, as I said, I don't find her pretty. But there it is, every day, her face becoming inexplicably more and and more...pretty. Considerate. Kind. Caring. Open. Lovely. She is caring and she cares about me. Meaning she doesn't want to hurt me. She really doesn't want to hurt me. She is trying her best not to make me feel bad or confused or awful in any way. And gradually over months, I can see that she will maybe never hurt me. And I can feel myself relaxing. And I can feel the intense and uncomfortable burn in my gut subside. And I can feel a warm coolness wash over my insides. And I can feel her, I think...Or I can feel what it is to not have to be afraid anymore. And now I want to be around her. I want to be around her. I want to but--But I am scared. But this is Chelsea we're talking about! I can be myself around her and she will never touch me or confess her undying love for me or make me feel uncomfortable in any way (besides the face, of course, which I can hardly notice anymore, which looks frankly kind and keen and immaculate). This is Chelsea, and it will be easy to talk to her, because we have talked every damn night for the past two or three months, and we can't give up each other now.
I suspect that she feels the same way. I suspect it, even though she never shows a lick of it, which I am appreciative of. She is a character before me: the character of a woman who knows me and doesn't think I'm all that strange. She looks comfortable with me. I feel the warmth in my stomach, and I am home. I am home, even as I am quietly panicking--quietly imaginging that I will fuck it up, that I will kiss the wrong part of her, that she will twist and bump me in the nose, that it will be less-than-ideal, less-than-perfectly-smooth, less than what I am afraid all people want based on the movies and television shows, which is smooth perfection. It is not smooth perfection of course. It is a struggle. It is her turning to get up and use the restroom and me reaching out and grabbing her arm, saying but not saying, "Don't leave me." And in fact I not only want her to stay, but I want her to get even closer to me.
She is smooth and little and lovely and smells a little funny, but...
But we have arrived.
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We Have Arrived: A Short StoryShort Story
We end up in a theatre. A movie: Beowulf. I lean over to whisper shit in her ear the entire time. We are watching the movie. And being close. And being comfortable. And being entertained. And being raised. And then at the Golden Compass, w...