That we were both of us in love with him didn’t matter then.
Sticky red wet dripped lazily down my fingers and onto my thighs and he watched and bit down on his bottom lip until it was as red as the popsicle forgotten in my hand and when he pressed his lips against me our teeth glanced off of each other but I didn’t want to pull away and our kiss was sloppy at first and my heart froze in my chest, my stomach landing somewhere on the other side of the earth and finally we detangled and he caught my sigh.
His hands traveled lower and it crossed my mind that god would tell my mother but that he wouldn’t get to her fast enough and then it traveled farther and trembled before pressing into my core and even if it wasn’t good it was good because it was him and I was with him and the popsicle wasn’t the only kind of wet and the ache was painfully enthralling and I felt him heavy above me and I smelled his scent clinging to me
and then I woke up and his scent was gone but the ache remained.
Later when I told her (I kept the after for myself) the kiss was much more. The scent of magnolia enveloping us and my hair swept my shoulders as he dragged his fingers through it loving its texture, not caring that it was coarse and not at all silky and blonde like the girls he was used to. We shared him, our secret, and sharing didn’t matter then.
His eyes were ocean cerulean and as deep (but when my mother asked I told her they were brown) and his skin was pale peach (but I told her that that was brown, too, avoiding the You Only Like White Boys accusation), and under the table between watching ships at a distance with every man’s wish on board and longing for the orgastic green light his fingers passed against mine long and cool, finally resting palm to palm, our pulses quick but really the same.
She wanted a title. My fingers still pulsed, throbbed from the weight of his fingers linked in mine and “what are we” reverberated through me but could not make it out and I shrugged and told her “friends,” because that was the desperate truth.
Friends tasted like acid on my tongue and I spit it out for her, but for him I swallowed it, a bitter pill, and pretended it was what I wanted.
We nicknamed him Parker Benjamin Gaylord, III because it was much more classic and him and nerd-sexy than “William” and we could fall into peals of laughter and pass notes with Parker Benjamin Gaylord, III is (insert vulgarity here) that he might find but would never understand. We were enticed by his khakis and the black shirt that was made for his body and I felt the press of him there all the time but still I kept that for myself and still he touched my hand and I shared that with her because he was there and we were here and even though he held my hand and our lips may have touched and. . .both of us in love with him didn’t matter then.
Over the partially reconstructed song recorded from the radio we planned. To find out, she murmured, if he really likes you.
The Boyfriend we invented went to another school. He didn’t have a name. We didn’t give him a story.
“Did you hear,” she asked him. “What happened to her?”
The quickness of his response was not enough. “What happened?!”
“She was in an accident. With her boyfriend.”
He turned away and did not speak to her again.
Our next words were exchanged over the distance of months and books and curses.
Fuck you! Fuck you.
Over and over again and not in the way that either of us wanted.
She backed away, but not before whispering, “I think he loved you.”
As the tendrils of me escaped and fell to pieces my mother’s words lay over me like a blanket.
“Never play a game you aren’t willing to lose.”
Our eyes met before I crossed the stage; I held his too long, wanting to remember them. He closed his and turned away from me.
They are as cerulean as I remember, and his hair sweeps across his brow and his half smile meets me. My heart loses itself but I cannot make myself smile.
His falters but does not fade as his eyes rest on her. My hands tremble as I give her what she asks for. She slips the ring onto his finger and his eyes meet mine again.
She drinks too much and is in the bushes, her bridesmaids holding her hair. We hold eyes again.
He doesn’t ask me to dance and I don’t wish him to.
“You will be so happy together,” I offer him, an olive branch. He does not take it.
“I loved you,” he states, and I hear the words from far away. She stumbles toward him, her eyes too glazed to catch they way we watch each other.
“I love you so much,” she yells at him, and he smiles.
“I love you, too.” Presently. He loved me then. He loves her now.
I love him now.
That we were both of us in love with him didn’t matter.