Christopher is the soft glow of fireflies at dusk on a peaceful summer day. He is shy smiles, Shirley Temple cocktails, bubblegum, bare feet in dew-shrouded grass, and birthday cake icing.
It's a sticky late afternoon at the end of summer, and I'm laying with him in the grass at the park by our houses. My skin is itchy but I don't complain. Sunburned kids are screaming and there is a game of football being played by shirtless young boys nearby. Christopher's eyes are fixed on them as they run around, the setting sun reflecting off their sweaty backs and mine are fixed on him.
I can't help but wonder what someone like him is doing, being best friends with someone like me. He's innocent. He deserves someone better. A buddy that doesn't gawk at his dimpled smile, one whose fingers don't linger on his golden skin. A pal who doesn't watch him while he sleeps, wondering what it would feel like to have his sweet breath against their lips.
Luckily for me, he is innocent, and he hasn't noticed a thing.
"Ash," he sighs, turning his back on the raucous game to face me. I have to catch myself from blatantly staring as his t-shirt twists around his stomach, revealing a strip of creamy flesh that looks like it would taste of caramel.
I force myself to stare at his face. His cheeks are flushed pink like cotton candy. His eyes are pale blue like untouched oceans. "I don't want summer to end. I don't want to go back to school. I want to lay here forever."
I scratch my arm. "Me too," I reply, noticing a rash blooming under the rake of my dirty fingernails. I really don't want to stay in the grass, but for him I'd do and say just about anything to make him happy.
He rolls in the grass even further, onto his belly, close to me. I can see the dew of sweat in the dips below his deep-set eyes. I want to rest there, hiding under his pale lashes. He leans closer, resting hard on his left arm. I can feel his heat radiating. My breath quickens.
"Ash," he starts timidly. "You are..." His voice trails and he looks down at the grass. A tiny breeze ruffles his pale blonde hair. It's the color of angel food cake and it smells just as sweet.
When he looks up again, his eyes are resolute. "You are annoying." He stares at me, determined of something. I'm completely taken aback.
"What?" I ask, scooting up and holding my weight with my elbows. So itchy.
"You're annoying," he says again, voice and gaze unwavering. I think this is the first time I've ever witnessed him irritated. "We've been inseparable since sixth grade, and I'm not stupid."
I'm speechless. This is not my Christopher. He doesn't talk nearly this much and never like this. I would know, I've memorized his being. It's etched on every part of my brain. His eyes search my face and his dimples appear as he smiles a little, bashfully. That's the Christopher I know. The Christopher I love.
"I don't know what you mean." And it's true, I don't. I want to crawl inside his brain and see what he's thinking. While I'm there I want to watch his dreams, the ones that make him smile in his sleep, the ones that make him clutch his pillow close to his face when he wakes up.
He bites his lip. I kick my leg a little, unsettling a fly that was playing in the leg hair by my ankle. "Why don't you ever try to kiss me?" His voice is so quiet. I try to convince myself that I misheard him, but even I could never believe that. When he's around I tune everything out but him, unthinkingly.
"What?" My cheeks are getting hot and I'm sure I'm blushing just as hard as he is, but I don't look.
"You always seem like you want to and I don't know why you don't." I glance over once, quickly, as sucks his bottom lip and it plumps up and god. I look away. I want to taste it. Roll it around in my teeth and then feel it hot on the rapid pulse beneath the taut skin of my throat.
I try to find words while I fight unwholesome images. Then I try to spit them out. In the corner of my eye, he fiddles with a blade of grass, waiting. Always serene. Pure.
"Because," I start lamely. "Because... you're you."
"What does that mean?" He sounds irritated again.
I sit up all the way and scratch relentlessly at my elbow, looking off to the playground where a toddler is laughing as her mother pushes her in a swing. Her ruddy cheeks remind me of the photos all over Christopher's house. Him fleshy and full as a baby in his laughing mother's arms on the hallway wall, him as a toddler on the beach with a heavy sand-stained diaper and a bright yellow plastic shovel in one hand in a frame on the coffee table.
"You don't kiss people." It's a lame answer but I can't exactly say that in my mind Christopher is virginal and it breaks my heart to think of anyone sullying him, even if I was the one who did it.
He sits up too and rests his arms on his bended knees. I avoid looking at him. "I don't," he eventually agrees. "I don't kiss people because I only want to kiss you and you won't kiss me." He takes a big breath and continues, spitting the words out fast like rapid fire. "But if you don't kiss me now I don't want to see you anymore because it hurts too much."
This makes me finally able to look at him. He's sucking on his bottom lip again and picking at a raspberry scab on his bony knee. I feel like I'm seeing him for the first time.
Christopher wants to be debauched. He wants to be besmirched by me. Suddenly I can't recall what has kept me from destroying him.
I push his fingers away from his knee and kiss it and I hear him breathe shakily. It sends my heart into overdrive. I'm going to have a heart attack. I think how terrible it would be to die without ever experiencing this boy. "Ash," he mumbles, touching my head.
As I kiss him his fingers curl up in my hair and it hurts and I realize I haven't felt anything more beautiful. His lips taste salty and sweet at the same time. No, I won't destroy him. He'll destroy me. For once I stop thinking.
Christopher is a smoldering sunset and I'm... I'm the scorched horizon.