A ray of sunlight slips through a gap in my blinds, as though destined to wake me up. I cover my eyes at first, screaming and cursing in my mind. I hate waking up.
After the initial shock has passed, I relax and slowly pry open my eyelids. My room is bathed in a soft orange light, stained by the midmorning sun pushing at the window. The posters on my walls have been there for months, years, some of them, and I am always comforted by the sight of them. As usual, the dresser, desk, and floor are covered by my clothes. Most days I don't know what's dirty and what's clean.
Today there are different clothes on my floor, too. A pair of stone-washed jeans I could have worn when I was eleven, maybe, a Rolling Stones shirt that might fit my youngest sister, and the smallest pair of boxers a sixteen year old boy has ever worn. None are mine.
A big smile spreads across my face. I'm remembering last night, almost giddy with the recollection.
From under the blankets beside me, I hear a muffled groan. He stirs, and I lift the blanket away from his face so he can get some air.
That same ray of sunshine that woke me sears across Jonathan's face, eased into a smile as he sleeps. My heart flutters; even after dating him for months, now, I still can't believe he's mine when I look upon his face.
Jonathan could easily have any boy he wants. I don't think I've met a single person who could resist his full, juicy lips and big blue eyes when he flashes that innocent smirk at them. I sure know I couldn't, when I first met him at the school dance in October. As he sidled over to me to bump and grind jokingly against my leg with a flirtatious grin, I had blinked repeatedly. I remember having to slam my jaw shut as he introduced himself and pecked me on the cheek.
"I'm Jonathan. I'm here to steal your heart."
I thought I was dreaming. I couldn't believe such a beautiful creature had chosen me over all the hunks in the room.
I reach forward and touch Jonathan's smooth, tanned cheek, touching the places I know dip away to form dimples when he smiles. I think to myself, no one in the world can find his dimples without a smile to guide them. No one but me.
No one but me.
I run my fingers through his shoulder-length chestnut coloured hair. He cut it himself, in the school bathroom at lunch hour one day. As he hacked away at his long sheets of hair, creating dramatic layers, he told me something:
"Zach, I'm going to get out of here someday soon. I'm going to spread my wings and let the wind take me away. Okay, Zachy?"
I loved it when he called me pet names. But what he said had frightened me a bit. "Okay," I had said. "Okay, Jon. And I'll come with you."
He had stopped cutting and looked at me in the mirror in front of him. Jon's blue eyes clouded over, in that way he sometimes does so that I can't read his thoughts.
"Maybe, Zach," he had said softly. "Maybe."
Just as I am beginning to wonder when my Jonny will wake up, he stirs again, this time wrenching apart his jaws in a big yawn. Then he opens his eyes, and the oceans of misty sapphire blue that are his irises seem to just swallow me whole.
Jon blinks, then raises a bony, long-fingered hand to rub at his eyes. As he does this, little childlike groans escape his lips, and I smile down at him as he cuddles closer against my bare chest. Looking down, I can see each and every one of his deliciously long and dark eyelashes. They span out, forming a fan around those amazing eyes, and when he blinks slowly, it just drives me crazy.
"Zachy," Jon whispers sleepily. He traces the outlines of my ribs that are visible on my scrawny chest, and his delicate touch, so tender and loving, send shivers all over my body.
"Morning, sleepyhead," I say, beginning to grin broadly. I try to hold it back, but I just can't. I never can, when I'm around Jonathan. He makes me too happy to hold anything back.
"How are you feeling, this morning?" Jon asks. That's the kind of person he is. He thinks about feelings a lot more than anyone else I've ever known.
I pause for a moment, running through all the adjectives I've learned since I met him. This is the difference between being with normal people and being with Jonathan. He wants me to answer truthfully, really tell him how I feel. He cares about me.
"Happy," I answer after a moment. "Really happy."
Jon smiles and snuggles under my arm. He breathes deep, and I can tell he's thinking.
"I feel happy, too," he says finally. "I'm with my Zachy... I'm happy."
I laugh, tousling his hair.
"Good," I say.
I look over at my bedside table. My alarm clock says it's 10:17 am.
"We should get up," Jon says with a sigh.
I nod, but neither of us makes a move. We just stay there, in my bed, under the warm blankets, holding on to each other like we have nothing else to hold on to. But it's okay. We have no where to be. No one is expecting us. We can just stay here, forever, if we want to.
Just as I am thinking this, Jon suddenly sits up and stretches his arms high. I feel my heart wanting to break. He always does this to me. But I love him anyway.
"C'mon," Jon says. His pretty face is wearing a playful, mischievous grin, and I can tell he's feeling sexy.
And he is.
"What?" I ask as he reaches for the blankets covering my stomach. He wrenches them away, exposing me as I give a yelp of surprise.
As Jonathan giggles playfully, I feel my face burning red. I've been dating Jon for months now, and I love him to bits, but I hate being naked. Around other people, that is. Even him. I can't really explain it. I guess maybe I just don't like the feeling of being so exposed. I feel like everyone can see through me when I don't wear anything. That's one of the things I admire about Jon. He's not scared of being seen. He doesn't mind being naked. He can change in the change room with other people, he can take off his clothes in front of me.
I always feel horrible that I can't do the same around him.
"Zachy," he says softly as I pull the blankets back over myself. "What's the matter?"
When I don't reply, he crawls over and tilts my face up to his. I look deep into those shining diamond eyes, and they're twinkling with a loving smile.
"Why aren't you comfortable around me?" he asks, voice quiet and sweet like his kisses, but also a little bit sad. "I thought we were past that, after last night. Why are you so shy, Zach?"
"I - I don't know," I whisper.
Jon leans in and kisses me so softly it feels like a butterfly landed on my lips.
"It's fine, Zach-attack," he tells me. "By the way... last night was great. You were great."
My cheeks redden even more as Jon winks at me before clambering off my bed. I watch him shyly as he gathers his clothes off my floor. I feel a thrill deep in my belly as I watch the curve of his spine as he crouches down to grab his boxers. The bend of his back is flawless, beautiful, and I lean forward and run a finger over the protruding knobs of Jon's spine.
"What're you doing?" he laughs, looking over his shoulder at me.
I shrug, a grin emerging on my face. "Your back looks really pretty when you bend over like that."
Jon gives a laugh that sparkles in the air around me and I feel like I'm flying.
"I'm going to use your shower for a sec, 'kay, Zach?" he says, standing up with all his clothes in his arms.
Jon blows me a kiss before entering my ensuite bathroom. I watch him through the open doorway as he leaves his clothes on the toilet seat and goes to the shower to turn on the water.
I pull myself out of bed and into a standing position. In the bathroom, Jon is stepping under the water and I hear him pull the curtain shut.
I feel good this morning. My mind is reeling from being in Jonathan's presence, and my heart is thumping hard.
Maybe I can do it today, I'm thinking madly. I think I love him enough.
Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes.
Just go, already, I tell myself.
Suddenly my feet are moving, carrying me closer to the bathroom. I'm not controlling my hand as it reaches out and pulls away the shower curtain.
Jon is standing under the water, face upturned. A wave of cold air from me climbing in hits him, and he turns around suddenly. My heart flutters as he looks at me, his eyes huge, and a smile of ecstasy explodes onto his face. Droplets of water are caught like crystals in his long eyelashes, and beaded all over his exquisite skin.
He is beautiful.
"You're in the shower with me," he states, his voice shaking noticeably.
"I know," I say quietly. I take his elbows in my hands and pull him close against me.
"And you're - you're naked!"
"I know that, too."
We kiss, and I feel as though my life is improving, getting better and better with every tender bite of our lips. I feel so much closer to Jonathan than ever before, and it's making my day, already.
And it's only ten o'clock.
We have a quick breakfast of oatmeal then leave the house to take a walk. My mom is already at work, and she won't be home until late tonight. Jon and I have the whole day together.
We walk to the nearby park hand in hand. Most people we pass smile at us, while others take a second look. Jon and I ignore these people. We're in love; we don't give a damn what other people think.
In Jon's favorite park, I sit down on a bench to watch the people around us. I love to do this. People have always fascinated me. Most people call me nosy. I call myself inquisitive. Jonathan says I'm deep.
I love it when he says things things like that.
The scent of dewy grass hangs heavy in the air as the sun is beginning to soar in the sky. It's already getting hot out. I watch the groups of middle-aged women jogging by on the sidewalk and dog path, and I watch a couple of young children playing in the front yard of a quaint little house across the boulevard, under the shade of enormous oak trees.
I love this neighbourhood, and I'm glad I live here. It's full of cute little heritage houses painted bright colours, and it is nearly all shaded by oaks that stand a hundred feet tall. They've stood here for decades, and I always feel safe beneath them. I always feel like life is good beneath them.
I look around the park to see where Jonathan has gotten to. That little ragamuffin is always wandering away from me. After a moment I spot him, balancing along the edge of the park's big fountain. As he walks around the fountain's bowl, a few cheeky pigeons dart around him and steal little sips from the water. Jon laughs at them as they fly around him.
Just from watching this, I begin to smile. He's like a beautiful mythical creature. A fairy who has lost his wings and his way back to Fairyland.
That's often the way Jon makes me feel. He makes me believe in fairies.
"Zachy, c'mere!" he calls to me urgently.
I pull myself off the bench and walk over to him. His eyes wide, he holds out a cupped hand to me.
"Look what I found in the fountain!" Jon says.
I look, and my own eyes widen at what I see. It's a thin band of solid gold, encrusted with a sprinkling of small diamonds and one big juicy one in the middle.
"Someone's wedding ring," Jon says softly. "That would be horrible to lose something like this!"
I nod silently.
We look at it together for a moment, admiring it as it sparkles and glistens in the sun.
"What should we do with it?" he asks me.
Smiling, I take the ring from his hand and hold it between my thumb and middle finger.
"Close your eyes," I whisper.
Jon begins to grin, but closes his eyes.
I turn his left hand over and slip the ring onto the third finger. I pull him close by the nape of his neck to whisper in his ear:
"Marry me, Jonathan."
He pulls away and opens his eyes. Suddenly Jon seems distant, almost bitter for a moment. Then he cracks a small smile and twirls the ring around his ring finger.
He misunderstood me.
"No, really," I say. My heart beats faster as Jon looks at me imploringly, those stunning rings of cerulean seem to swallow me up, and I begin to pour my heart out.
"Honestly. Marry me, Jon."
"We're sixteen," he says, his eyes taking on a sad expression as he continues to smile. "You can't be serious. We're just kids, Zachary."
"I know," I say softly. Now I know he's sad. He called me Zachary. "But, Jon, I love you. More than I've ever loved anybody. You make me feel like I'm - I don't know. Like I'm special."
"You are special," Jon tells me in a whisper.
I've never been good at saying how I feel, and I begin to stutter and blush.
"I - I don't know what I'd do without you, Jonathan."
I look down at my feet like I tend to do when I revert to my old ways of crippling shyness. After a moment Jon's small hands gently take hold of the sides of my face and lift it towards him.
"I love you, too," he says. I look into his eyes, and I see that they're filling with tears. "I can't imagine life without my Zach-attack."
He smiles big through the tears falling down his cheeks. I brush them away with my thumbs, grinning down at him.
"So, Jon?" I ask in a whisper. I sink to my knees and hold his hand, the cold metal of the ring pressing into my hand. "Will you marry me?"
Jonathan's face splits into an enormous smile punctuated by his adorable dimples.
"Yes, I will!" he laughs, beginning to cry.
I leap to my feet and pull his shaking body close to me, hugging him so tight I barely understand the three words he's saying to me, over and over:
"I love you, I love you, I love you."
For the whole afternoon we wander around the city together, completely and utterly in love. Jon and I skip down streets, and we are starry-eyed with adoration.
My hyperactive little fairy, I think to myself as he dances ahead of me on the sidewalk. His auburn coloured hair, like glistening strands of silk, flies around him as he twirls around and into my arms. He giggles as we embrace in the middle of a busy sidewalk.
People look at us a bit strangely, but as usual we don't care. We always get that. Often, people on the streets see us, then take a second look. I think a lot of them mistake Jonathan for a girl, then look again and find themselves looking at something much different from what they thought.
Jonathan uses every opportunity to tell people we're engaged. He tells the homeless people we meet, the woman working in 7-11, and everyone in the café we have lunch in.
He gets up on his chair and spreads his arms wide. The bottom of his Rolling Stones t-shirt rides up a bit, and I catch a peek of his deliciously white stomach.
"Hey, everybody!" he says, projecting his high-pitched voice across the café. "I'm hopelessly in love and I want everyone to know it!"
Everyone in the café begins to smile, and a few people applaud. Jonathan hops down and gives me a kiss on the cheek. I feel myself grinning rather hugely and I set down our tray of food at the table.
Jon calms down and begins to eat. He can get ravenously hungry when he gets excited, so he eats like a hippopotamus this afternoon. His excitement is skyrocketing, I can tell.
I watch him as he eats. Gone already are his salad and organic potato chips, and he's now starting in on his veggie sandwich. Jon is vegan. Has been his whole life. I think that's why he's so small. He once told me kids that grow up vegan's growth is a bit stunted.
We finish our lunches and head down to the CD store. Jon loves hanging out here, marveling at the rows and rows of CDs. Whenever we come here he composes a mental wish list, I know. I can always tell when he sees something he wants. Those big blue eyes expand, and his mouth opens slowly as he lays eye on whatever it is.
Today it's the new Paul McCartney album. I know he's been wanting this for a long time, and as he listens to the preview songs on the machine, oversized headphones clasped over his ears, I can tell it's everything he hoped it would be. This makes me happy, knowing he is happy.
"Do you want it?" I ask him as he removes the headphones.
Jon nods. "Yeah," he says with a wistful sigh. "But I don't have any money. I spent it all on the concert ticket for tonight."
My heart leaped as I remembered that we're seeing my favorite band, Avenged Sevenfold, tonight.
I stick my hands into my pockets, scrounging past the bits of thread, the crumpled notes from Jonathan, and an ancient penny. Then my fingers touch something else. I pull it out and grin in satisfaction. It's a twenty dollar bill.
I present it to Jonathan and delight in the way his eyes light up.
"Here," I say. "I'm buying it for you."
"Really?" he laughs gleefully. "Oh my god, thank you, Zach-Zach!"
"No problem," I say as he gives me a hug. Jon jumps up, clamps his legs around me and hangs on tight. I hold him close to me, one hand keeping him safe from falling, the other intimately caressing his bottom.
I don't ever want to let go of him. I want to keep holding on to him like this for the rest of time.
Unfortunately you can't just stay latched on to your boyfriend for the rest of eternity while in a CD store. Eventually you must leave the store. So we bought Jon the Paul McCartney CD and left.
At this point in the day Jon is getting a little sleepy. It's now two o'clock in the afternoon. In the summer Jon takes a nap around this time, so we head back to his house.
In Jon's closet sized bedroom, he pops the new Paul McCartney CD into the stereo. Jonathan smiles as the voice of his favorite singer drifts into the air.
"I just need to crash for an hour or so," Jon mumbles as he pulls off his t-shirt then slides out of his jeans.
"Okay," I say from my perch on his beanbag chair. He smiles at me.
"Then we can do some more stuff before we head to the concert," he says with a wink.
I raise my eyebrows with a smile. "Oh, yeah?"
Jon nods. "But I gotta have a sleep first."
I watch his adorable little body sway gracefully as he walks to the stereo to turn down the volume. I rest my eyes unabashedly on his butt, fondly remembering the previous night.
He crawls into bed with a yawn and pulls his Power Ranger bedspread over his little blue boxers. Curling up in the blankets, Jon smiles up at me.
"Goodnight, Zachary," he mutters as he closes his eyes.
I lean forward and plant a kiss on his forehead, as though I were a mother tucking in a small child.
"Sleep tight, Jonathan," I say softly before walking out of the room.
His house is tomb-silent, except for Paul McCartney's croon in Jon's room and the faint hum from the neighbours upstairs. Jon's family lives in the bottom half of a duplex on a quiet cul-de-sac, the ideal family home.
The open layout of the house comforts me. I can see the kitchen, living room, and all the entrances to the bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. In my own house everything is spread out, far apart, separated by long, empty hallways. It always instills a gripping paranoia in me. That's why I like Jon's house so much.
Of course, I also like Jon's house because Jon is there so often.
I wander into the small kitchen and open the fridge. It is full of tofu products and soy milk. The crisper is filled with vegetables and fruit, many of them having been grown in the family's garden. I often wonder how this family can stand to be so healthy.
Everything in this kitchen, in this whole house, was bought for a reason. Everything is used for a purpose. I love this. In my own house, everything is either a priceless antique or too pretty for everyday use, and I hate that.
A little mew sounds from the corner of the kitchen, and I look into the battered old cardboard box in the space between the fridge and the wall.
Jonathan's big gray cat, Sabrina, is curled in an old blanket inside the shallow box. Her five small kittens, soft gray and inky black, are cuddled close to her furry stomach, groping blindly around their siblings. They were born two nights ago, and their eyes haven't yet opened. With a smile, I reach down into the box and stroke Sabrina's face. She rubs her nose against my hand affectionately.
I wish I had a cat, but my parents would never let me. Another reason why I like Jon's house.
"Zach?" a soft voice calls to me.
I turn around and see Jon standing in the doorway to his room, peering at me with timid eyes.
"I can't sleep," he says. I notice him sliding a finger under the waistband of his boxers. "Could you come to bed with me? I'll be able to nod off if you're there."
My face cracks into a grin and I walk over to approach this boy, the amazing, adorable, sleepy teenage boy who needs me to help him fall asleep. I tweak his nose.
"Of course," I say.
We go back into his room and Jon hops back onto his bed. Rubbing his eyes, he slips under the Power Ranger comforter and watches me as I pull my t-shirt over my head. I strip myself of my jeans, as well, then crawl in bed beside him. We settle down into the cocoon of warmth, and Jonathan squirms under my arm and snuggles his head under my chin. Our legs also slide together like puzzle pieces. I've often thought that our bodies were made for each other, we fit together so perfectly.
I curve my hand up to Jonathan's hair and comfortingly stroke it the way I know he likes it. Almost like a kitten, he quivers in pleasure and cuddles even closer. He traces shapes on my chest with his finger, and I try to make them out. I soon realize what he is tracing there. Hearts, again and again.
"Zach," he says quietly.
He looks up at me and gives me a sincere face. "When are we going to have sex again?"
I smile down at him. "I don't think sex is really something you plan for... I think it just sorta happens."
"Like last night?"
"Yeah," I say with a grin. "Like last night."
Jon blinks. Then he tilts his chin back and kisses my lips softly.
"Well," he says, "can it 'just sorta happen' sometime soon?"
I chuckle and ruffle his hair.
"Sure, it can," I say with a laugh.
Jon isn't laughing; he's not even smiling. He's looking up at me with sad eyes.
"I really love you, Zach," he tells me. "I want to do it again. Soon."
"All right," I whisper, kissing down on the forehead. "Just tell me when you think is a good time."
Jon gazes steadily up at me, and the mysterious sadness melts away, replaced by a mischievous twinkle.
I feel my own eyes widen.
Jon nods, beginning to smile largely.
I take his head in my hands and draw him close to plant a kiss on his lips.
"So?" Jon says.
"Sure," I say, feeling a laugh build up in my chest.
Jon sits up and pulls his leg over my body. Straddling me, leans forward slowly, ever so slowly, letting his chest drag against mine slightly. I shiver and close my eyes as he kisses me, pressing hard against my lips, then prying them apart with his tongue. His hands are on my shoulders, also beginning to press hard, and before I know it Jon has his entire body on top of mine. He is almost pinning me down. Suddenly he is sliding his hand down over my stomach, and sneaks his fingers beneath the waistband of my boxers.
"Whoa!" I gasp, then begin to blush as Jonathan laughs.
"Shh," he whispers, ad he reaches out to gently touch my eyes. "Close your eyes, Zach-attack. It'll feel even better if you close your eyes."
So I obey him. I close my eyes as Jon, his breathing rapid and shallow, slides his body down mine. I feel his small hands curl around the waistband of my boxers, and then he pulls down.
We both fall asleep sometime after, when both of us had reached that amazing high and cascaded back down like a rollercoaster, holding on to each other for dear life. I dream of Jonathan, and in my dream he has wings.
When I open my eyes, the first thing I see is the back of Jonathan's head. He is turned away from me, towards the wall, and his chestnut brown hair is spilled out onto the pillow like a small ocean unto itself. I can tell he is awake.
I reach out with one of my big hands and push a curtain of his hair off of his neck.
Then I lean forward and plant a kiss onto the coffee-coloured tan skin of his neck. Jon exhales a laugh.
"Awake now?" I say quietly. I glance at what he is doing and I see that he is sliding the engagement ring on and off his finger.
I glide a hand down his side, feeling the push of his ribs and softly stroking his stomach. Jon shivers.
"What time is it?" he asks.
I turn to look at the clock on the wall. "Five."
"We should start getting read for the concert," Jon says with a sigh.
I get up and scramble to find my clothes on the ground. As I pull on my wrinkled jeans, I watch Jonathan as he gets out of bed and heads to his small closet and opens the doors wide. He takes out a plastic bag full of clothes I don't recognize.
As he gets dressed into these clothes, I watch with my mouth open wide.