I met him at my best friend's birthday party sometime last winter. He was a friend of a friend, standing with his back on the wall, lazily sampling something from the red cup in his left hand. I was unable to pull my eyes away, watching the strobe lights wash over him in a spectrum of greens, blues, reds, greens, blues, reds. He was without a doubt an alluring creature; I could sense something special under his black shirt, jeans, and black loafers. A mystery I intended to solve.
"Who is that?" I asked Karla, the birthday girl.
"Who? Oh, that's Parker. He's Kevin's friend."
I nodded, never looking away. I couldn't; I was completely mesmerized by him. I slowly and awkwardly shuffled my feet ever closer to him, until I was within about four feet from him. I took a deep breath and somehow managed to muster up the courage to talk to him. Something stupid about chips and salsa, I think. Whatever it was sparked conversation, and a budding friendship.
During the first few months of our relationship, I attempted sending passes his way, trying to turn it into something more than just friends, but they went unanswered. I probably would've kept trying, had it not been for my aunt's sudden death last April. My father was super close to his sister, so I took it hard when my aunt, who acted more like the big sister I never had, was gone.
It was around that time Parker stopped being the hot guy I talked to and evolved into the person I put all my trust in. I can still feel the spring wind on me as we sat on his porch, discussing anything and everything. At first he talked about music we both liked or how much he liked my dog, things to get my mind off my aunt. Then progressively we began to deepen the conversations, talking about his parent's divorce, past relationships, and eventually my family. I don't know how he did it, but he managed to ease the suffering a little at a time and bring me back to some sort of normal.
From that time on, I was inseparable from him. He went to a different school, but it was summer soon, so what did it matter? He was undoubtedly my best friend, and I couldn't stand going without talking to him for more than a few days. Sure I could function, but it wasn't the same. He kept my grounded. It was like all my life I had been holding my breath, and with him I could finally exhale.
The only problem with being friends with Parker was that there was this increasing panic growing within me that I was nothing more to him than a pet project. Like I was some broken vase he had found and decided to put back together out of boredom, or the kindness of his heart. I couldn't help but worry about it, but I never asked him, a question like that would only sever the vulnerable bonds still forming.
And there was no way I was going to jeopardize the relationship. When summer came I made sure that I pushed all attraction I had to him into the furthest recess of my mind and focused on not screwing it all up. Parker made it easy to be myself, but he also made the fear of falling from his grace so much more terrifying. I screened my words, censored my actions, I even tried to stop cringing when I saw others around him, mainly girls. I bristled against the thought every time I imagined Parker receiving attention from other females. I had found something special in him that I wasn't ready to share. I probably never would be. But I couldn't let him see the ugly little green-eyed monster that raged inside me.
The realization, if you can call it that, hit about two weeks before the summer break ended. We'd known each other for several months; I don't know why it took so long to rear its head. Declaring I was in love with him would've taken a deeper understanding of my heart, but at that point I had muted it, in hopes to silence the part that pushed me to take the friendship to the next level, or at least try to. The only thing the epitome could tell me at the time was that school was starting soon and we'd be seeing significantly less and less of each other.
So I vowed to spend every spare minute I had with him, soaking up the remaining time we had left. Those two weeks were the best of my life. It was all sunshine, tall grass, and cricket songs. Three times there was copulation; the first time was sudden, but far from unwelcome. It was a relatively cool night as we sat on the worn blanket covering the bed of his truck under the last full moon of summer. No words were ever spoken, but his eyes were full of raw emotion, and what they said was enough. It was everything the first time is said to be, sweet yet painful, short but memorable, quiet but loud enough to worry about being caught; a once occurring event that we'd share forever. Afterwards, I pulled his sweatshirt around me and can't recall a time I felt more complete.
The second time, by default was the best, the first time being too uncoordinated, the third was more of a last good-bye, too needy, too desperate. But whatever they were, they were never far from my mind. Perhaps that's why I faired so poorly in my academics during the first few weeks of the new school year.
Then October 19th rolled around, a date bolded, highlighted, and circled on my calendar. My school was playing his in a much awaited football game. Our connection was beginning to slip away, and I could no longer recall the smell of his cologne, so I was set on being at that game. I wanted to see him again. More than that, I needed to see him again; there was no contest to that.
A million times I must've played out our reunion in my head. I'd be walking through the mass crowd searching for him, when he'd scoop me up, cradle my head, and deliver a long overdue kiss. Of course, that dream came crashing down a million times when I saw him with some redhead, looking like two teenagers in love. I tried to protect myself, saying, "Evelyn, don't be jealous, he's amazing, of course he's with some other girl." But it didn't work.
Seeing him with another girl didn't completely shatter me like I thought it would, but I could feel a piece of me fading away. I turned my back towards him and walked away, cursing the tear that slid across my nose. He wasn't my first heartbreak, or whatever you'd refer to it as, but he was the first guy that I was ever so close to, that I was willing to devote every minute of my life to, that I ever loved carelessly. There was no denying that I would miss him, the aching in my chest told me that much. But when all was said and done, there was nothing but the feeling of relief.