Last night things seemed to happen in so much of a slow motion. Her usual nature was to turn down the invitation to go to a party. Really they weren't her thing. She'd always been the kind to be with a small group of friends. I'm not sure what made things different this time but I doubt it matters. The thing was going down at the house of a friend of an acquaintance, one of those things where you know about the party through third hand knowledge and you're not sure who you'll run into.
It was a cold autumn night with a blustering wind that cut into my coat. I was still frustrated from what had happened the last time I'd seen her and I wasn't sure what to expect from her this time. Things had been going down hill for a long time, the fall that never ends. Why was it so hard for us now? We'd been best friends for years and remained that way even after months of dating.
She was dressed in a thin black dress with white polka dots, there was a little tie up ribbon around the waist. Her hair was down, as it always was. She had this thing about ponytails, she was just against them for some reason. In this dim lighting for some reason her freckles were more apparent and that made me think of everything I was missing about how we used to be. I could pin point the moment when things went wrong.
Her face was stretched to a forced smile, her front teeth showing, they were bigger than they should have been and it just gave her this cute sincere look. I should have known better than to take that as the truth, though.
The music was loud and I could barely hear it as she yells to me, "Glad you could make it Perry," her green eyes shone up at me and she rocked back and forth on her shoes. Something in her voice made me nervous, even before the party was off in full swing I wanted to be out of the crowded house, I wanted to be home alone studying for the test next week. This party became a prison, the people barring me in. I'd climb the walls for oxygen.
"Thanks for calling me up," I lean in to give her a kiss instinctively, she pulls back at first as if its instinct and but the mark still lands square on her cheek. As she nervously brushes the maroon hair down from her face she starts to bounce with the music. Now I yell to her, "You look so beautiful in that dress, just perfect tonight."
A half hearted smile spreads across her lips, her lightly tanned face catches the dim light in a way that shows that one dimple she has that's deeper than the other. "Why don't we just dance?"
I take her hand and she leads me out to the dance floor, I'm looking her up and down and somehow I know what's coming. I push the thought back and I bury it under everything I can inside of my head. I shovel in those thoughts of school, of tests and band and anything else I can to cover what's really going on. That worm of regret is eating away at my insides now. Is what she said to me true? Is it that I'm coming on too strong?
I'll wait, but I'm too tired to play pretend, I'm too tired to climb this wall or claw for the air at the top of this tank anymore. I'll suffocate until the end. We start to dance, as innocently as we can. More innocent than we would have danced as just friends. Best friends turned lovers…better off where they started.
I attempt to get closer to her, my fingers run down through her hair. Her expression changes now, her eyes flinch nervously. She looks up and down my body. Her mouth is open only part of the way. She's working up something inside, and I want anything to take those words away at this point. I'm trying hard not to think about that night. The moment that changed everything for us.
Frightened for our lives and because of the stress of the situation, we'd made love in her bed. So sure we'd never see our families again, so sure that it would be our last night together. I told her how perfect she looked as she lay there in the moonlight. I commented on the way she glistened as if the stars were on her body. Her cat was clawing the floor boards just outside of the door, the panic began when she objected to being like I said.
I did it, I struck some cord in her mind.
It had been hard to get close to her since then, to touch or kiss her. I try again starting with a little step, I go to kiss the side of her neck, she tilts her head up and as my lips meet her warm skin she places one hand on my waist. She whispers something in my ear, but the message is unclear. Unintelligible over the sound of the booming music. Or maybe I just want it to be false. She steps back and motions outside. I trail her closely from behind as she tries hard not to cry. She shakes underneath the newly fallen pouring rain.
My voice is barely audible over the deluge and the bass from inside the house party, "Ashley…" I go to touch her shoulder.
"I can't compete with all your damn ideas," her first words bite into my core. Her hair is plastered down to the sides of her cheeks. Somehow the tears stand out from the rain.
"What do you mean," I knew the answer already.
"This isn't working out for you and me; and the truth is I'm too tired to play pretend. This is goodbye, this is the end."