Put Em Up - Priory
The last day of school before Christmas break dawned blinding white. A brilliant blanket of snow had fallen the day before and, in the injustice of the century, they had made us return for this last day despite the snow day yesterday. Benji came running into my room, flinging himself onto my bed. It was half an hour before my alarm was set to go off and sleep still made my body feel heavy. I groaned. He was clearly buzzing with energy and grabbed a pillow, smothering me with it. "Wake up, Garay," he hollered. He lifted the pillow to check my progress on suffocating. "What are you so excited about?" I grumbled. He lifted the pillow to smack me over the head with it and I threw my arms up to protect my face. "I have an early Christmas present for you today," he grinned, leaning down to brush his lips softly over mine. I smiled back at him. His bed head made his hair extra fluffy and the turquoise t-shirt he had on made his skin glow golden. "I love you," I said, my voice coming out hoarse. His smile widened, but he grabbed my hand and pulled me up to a sitting position, "get up, sleepy. Time to get ready." He climbed off my bed and exited the room, slapping the top of the doorframe and shouting, "Big day!"
The past few weeks had passed in a bit of a blur. My mom had finally reached out and apologized for what she said to me. But she hadn't asked me to come home. That was fine by me. Benji had been wearing a lot of the new clothes I had bought him to school and, despite a little bit of teasing from his other friends, he seemed more comfortable in his skin than I had ever seen him. He spent his morning showers belting out show tunes and was constantly humming under his breath. He had even stopped making snide comments about my smoking. This had, honestly, taken some of the appeal out of it. But, with Aspen constantly handing me cigarettes, I hadn't exactly quit either. Benji still wouldn't hold my hand in the halls or anything, but when we were out in public outside of school, he would occasionally steal little kisses on my cheek. His cheeks would always flush a deep red under his freckles and he would shove his fists down deep into his pockets. But it still made my heart lift a little every time he did it.
The whole ride to school, Benji was listening to a Weezer CD that has been in his player since Thanksgiving break. He was singing all the words, loudly and badly, pointing at me and dancing dramatically. I laughed. Even Aspen didn't complain when we picked her up. She rolled her eyes, but chuckled a little, then passed me a red bull from her bag. "What's he on?" she whispered to me, leaning forward. I shrugged, "probably cocaine." As we pulled up to the school, Benji threw the car in park and pulled me in for the longest kiss he'd ever dared give me on school grounds. I even felt his tongue glide across my lower lip and Aspen groaned in the backseat. "Meet me in the commons during lunch, okay?" He said, pressing his forehead against mine. I smiled and nodded, but confusion was sitting heavy in my chest. As nice as it was to see him so happy, I was a little bit worried about what he might have planned that had left him positively giddy.
I had trouble focusing in my classes all morning. Aspen kept kicking me all through biology, just to keep me from staring at a poster of mitosis for the entire period. When the bell rang for lunch, sweat immediately sprang up on the palms of my hands and the butterflies in my stomach came to life. I followed the flood of students toward the front of the school, many of them moving toward the commons at the front of the building as they left to go off campus for lunch. Most of them probably wouldn't come back to finish the day. The chatter started to die down as we reached the large, open area. I froze as I saw what everyone else had. Benji was standing on a table in the middle of the room, a bouquet of flowers in his hand mirroring the flowers on his shirt. He broke into a heart-stopping grin when he saw me and wiped us hands on his pants. "Hey," he shouted over the heads of our peers, "I just need to say something really quick." His voice was deep and booming, resonating around everyone. A couple of heads turned and a few people stopped, but for the most part, everyone kept moving toward the doors. Benji cleared his throat and held his arms out, his pose almost resembling the statue of Christ in Brazil, "Jorge Garay, the beautiful curly-haired Spanish boy with dimples that could kill, is my boyfriend. We both just wanted everyone to know."
"So post it on Instagram," someone shouted and a few laughs rose up from the crowd.
In all, I think the reception of the student body was a little less grand than Benji was expecting. His face fell a little. But, as he climbed down from the table, still carefully holding the flowers in his hand, I shoved my backpack into Aspen's hands and fought my way through the crowd toward him. As I neared him, he gave me a weak little shrug but his mouth curved up in his precious signature smile. "What the fuck," I shouted, throwing my arms around him. I could feel tears pricking at my eyes. He hugged me back, burying his face in my neck. "Merry Christmas, baby," he whispered, "I just thought you deserved to be my boyfriend. Officially. In every way." I couldn't keep the smile off my face.
That night, Benji, Aspen, and I lay in a heap on the couch for our now-customary Friday night movie night. This week it was Aspen's pick and we were watching a Wes Anderson movie, all candy colors and fast-paced montages. Aspen was dozing with her head on my shoulder and Benji was busy trying to see how many sparkly, star shaped stickers he could fit on his hoodie. Once again, I was overcome with a feeling of warmth and security. My favorite part of these movie nights was always being surrounded by two people who loved me exactly as I was, no exceptions. I snuggled deeper into the couch, kissing Aspen's hair then leaning my head on Benji's shoulder. He looked over at me, "You okay?" He asked.
I nodded, "just never thought I could be this happy. You made me this happy."
His face split in a 100-watt grin and he leaned down to kiss me gently. My stomach warmed with love, spreading up to my chest. As Benji looked at me, I suddenly got the feeling that he was made for me and no one would ever fit with me quite as well.
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