Feelings

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Something About You - Me nd Adam

Benji

I was cleared to back to school three weeks after Jey and I kissed. I still had to wear my brace for another three, but I had been getting so stir crazy at home, I didn't even care how lumpy it made all my clothes look. I hadn't heard from Jey since the kiss, despite texting and even trying to call him. My first day back, I wore the pink sweatshirt. I had been wearing it nearly nonstop, actually. The first day it still smelled like him. Rich and musky like sandalwood and a little bit like cigarette smoke. Now it just smelled like laundry detergent. It felt good how happy everyone seemed to see me back in school. All the guys kept knocking on my brace underneath the sweatshirt, laughing when whoever we were talking to looked monumentally confused at the hollow thump that rang out. At one point, a group of the football guys were gathered around me and I spotted Hannah on the outskirts of the circle, watching curiously as I lifted my sweatshirt to show the shiny white plastic underneath. When I caught her eye, however, she turned on her heel and tapped away down the hallway. I had never answered her text. I hadn't known how to.

I had already taken my seat in advisory when Jey came in. He was wearing an oversized flannel shirt and his curls were tucked up into knit cap pulled low over his forehead. "Hey!" I grinned as he dropped into the desk next to me. He peeked at me from under his eyebrows and smiled softly. "Listen," I started when he didn't say anything back, "can I talk to you sometime today? We can get lunch together." He nodded again, his lips still pressed together in a thin line. I felt my heart leap a little. Since I hadn't heard from him, I figured that I had messed things up royally. I had given into the assumption that he wouldn't talk to me again. Seeing his smile again made goosebumps flare up and down my arms.

My classes before lunch dragged. Right before the bell, I texted Jey to meet me in the front commons. Before returning to school, my mom had decided that I needed a car. She had justified it to my dad through some mom logic, saying that it meant not worrying who I was riding around with anymore. As if the accident had been anyone's fault but a stranger who chose to drive drunk. But I kept my mouth shut and probably said thank you a thousand times when dad pulled into our driveway in a used Outback. It was rental-car-silver and one hubcap was missing but since Hannah and I had broken up, my plan was to ride the bus with Zoe. So this was definitely an improvement.

Jey was standing right next to the front doors when I finally made it to him after the bell rang. I felt like sweeping him up in a hug, but settled for clapping him on the shoulder instead. Instinctively, I looked around to see if anyone was watching. "Hi," he said softly, "where are we going?"
"Anywhere you want," I answered, "I kind of just wanted to show off my car. And—and talk to you of course." He smiled a little, then pushed the door open for me. We trekked across the parking lot among other kids going to get lunch off campus and I opened the passenger door for him, then went around and climbed in behind the wheel. We both stared straight ahead, not speaking, for several minutes. I was suddenly sure that he could hear my heart beating. "Benji, I'm sorry," he finally sighed, leaning his head back against the headrest and closing his eyes.
"No, Jorge, listen," I cut him off. The sound of his full name seemed to surprise him. His eyebrows raised and he turned in his seat to face me. "Jey, I was so stupid. I don't know who I was kidding trying to tell you I'm not gay. I was just scared, okay? I mean, you know the guys I hang out with. It's not like I could ever do anything about all these...these feelings. Not like I could even say anything. So I've just shoved it down for years and years and now...I just panicked," I admitted.

Jey was looking at me so intensely, I could feel tears start to prick at the corners of my eyes. Please, god, say you'll forgive me, I thought. He took a deep, shaking breath. "I want to kiss you more," I whispered, "I do. I mean, damn, that was amazing. And I like you a lot. But I just need you to bear with me. I need to go slow with...all of this." I waved my arms around in a vague motion. I hoped desperately that he understood what I was trying to convey. Then, very slowly, a smile started to take over his face. It lit up his eyes and pulled his cheeks into nearly perfect circles. "You want to kiss me more?" His voice was teasing and light. So I reached out over the center console, wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling him toward me. He turned his face up and our lips fit together perfectly. I could taste the cigarette he had smoked this morning mixed with something fruity he had been drinking. I could feel his hands on the back of my neck, tracing tiny circles. His lips parted just slightly and his tongue traced the edge of my top teeth. Shivers ran down my spine. I reached up and pulled his hat off, his hair springing out and tickling my forehead. I pulled back, laughing lightly.

That's when I noticed the bruised cut on Jey's forehead, scabby and swollen right by his hairline. He froze, his mouth still open. The light in his eyes darkened and he reached to snatch his hat back from my hand. "Jesus, Jey," I breathed, reaching up to gently feel the hot skin around the wound, "What the hell happened?"

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