And there they were on their knees... begging for forgiveness; begging for me. Not just the lyrics of a lame ass pop culture song, but the scene before me. The person I'd thought of non stop for over 2 years of my life, on their knees before me, begging and pleading for me to forgive them, give them another chance. Tears in their eyes, a quiver on the lips, the hair tousled and hanging over the beautiful face.
Pop culture would suggest that I would forgive him, he'd sweep me off my feet, or I'd turn him down, and storm off into my new life, leaving the hurtful bastard behind. Well, fuck pop culture. This time, in this rainstorm, on this doorstep, I was the guy, and the girl on her knees before me was fucking up the status quo of cliché of popular culture. And she didn't even care. The tears on her face were genuine, the first real emotion she'd spent on me in a long time. She looked as beautiful as ever. Her make up had run, the hazel shimmering behind a sheen of fresh tears, and the mascara running over her thickly redded lips was almost artfully done. It looked as though she'd stopped at the end of my drive and arranged herself in my car window to look as pitifully enchanting as she could before knocking on my door. I had known it was her by the knock. It was the same kind of forceful order, like she was snapping at me to open the door with her voice, and not the metal doorknocker. My mum had looked at me, and raised her eyebrows as I instantly stood to go and answer the door to her. 2 years of training was hard to overcome.
"I'm sure you know best, dear," she muttered, before standing and leaving the room, pulling my Dad up the stairs with her. "Come on, you. I doubt he needs you to hear any of this."
He followed, looking distinctly disappointed at what he was sure was going to be an interesting confrontation. I was jealous of them both. What I would give to be going up the stairs to leave one of them to answer the door and deal with the enchantress I knew was on the other side. I flared at the unfairness for a moment. Were the roles reversed and I the female, I knew I could simply have my Dad go out and kick the shit out of the bastard who'd done this to me. But no, I was the boy. In fact, I was the man. My car was in the drive, and she must have seen it was already packed for my departure to University the following morning. She must have heard from a mutual friend that I had let the rain delay me for a night; she knew I wasn't a confident driver. She had swooped on the chance, and here she was on my door, which I stood before, preparing myself for what I'd find on the other side. I took a deep breath and opened it, ready to find the beautiful hazel with it's shades of red, gold and ever indiscernable shade between the two. The hours I had spent just staring at them meant I knew them better than I knew the subject I was leaving to study, which was, according to my grades, very, very well.
If she saw the relief on my face at first, she pretended she didn't. I had opened the door to see nobody before me, and I had let my shoulders and face untense; I hadn't even realised how tensed I'd been. But then the voice, sweet and soft and almost a whisper.
She was the only one who called me it, and I closed my eyes, not ready to look down.
She let out a little whimper as I opened my eyes and sw the make up, the eyes, the full lips, the hair, the gorgeous attire, all soaking wet and continueing to be battered by the rain. I thought vindictively of the shame of such nice clothes getting so wet. I leaned against the door, trying to make it apparent that she couldn't come in. She didn't ask.
"What do you want, Phoebe?" I spat, trying to sound as hostile as possible. Trying to make it clear that 2 years of devotion and love had vanished and she couldn't control me anymore. She flinched, and I felt my mind soften. I knew she'd see it, and she did. She saw it in my eyes, and behind them. Saw the fierceness melting away and a wormhole she could wriggle into to get into my head, just like she always had.
"It's so cold, Ade. I had to walk because the buses were out... it took me hours..."
My Dad had seen her get off the bus at the end of the street as he drove past less than 10 minutes ago, but I let the lie slide. What was one more lie? She'd already told me she loved me and lied about that. Told me she cared, and lied then, too. What did I care if she lied about a damn bus? I didn't, I assured myself. I didn't care. So what was wrong with my chest? Why was there a feeling like a thousand super heated blades being shoved in and wriggled, just like every other time her lies were discovered. But she was very wet. She could have walked for hours and not been any more soaked than she already was. Her t-shirt, white, was matted to her slim figure, but I expected nothing better. When Phoebe Birke fought, she fought dirty. She caught my glance, and in an almost invisible motion she stuck her chest out a little further, and then shivered. I didn't step back from the doorframe, but my hand made a move towards her before I managed to catch it and let it drop back to my side.
"I'm sorry, Ade, i'm so sorry. I wasn't thinking..."
She thought I'd stopped calling her and answering her texts over that? Over one event? As much as I wished it was, as much as I wished I could forgive her, scoop her up and carry her into my room for an unforgettable last night before I left to go North, I knew I would be back under her spell if I did. I was standing here because of 2 years of emotional terrorism that I couldn't object against. 2 years of sexual bribery, broken promises, empty words and none of which I could get any help with. Because I was the guy. As sexist as that sounds, it's the way it is. I couldn't let her see my tears, and I wouldn't let my friends see me at my lowest. I didn't need their pity on top of the scorn I received from the seductress at my knees. I took a moment to really realise what was happening before me. The conventions were shattered, and a beautiful woman was kneeling, bare knees in a denim skirt, at night, in the rain, on my doorstep. I stood there, looking down at her with my best attempt at a cold stare clad only in some lazy basketball with a loose waist, a vest underneath a jacket I hadn't bothered to zip. My hair was greasy from being unwashed for days, and I'm sure I stank to the highest heaven. My face was blotchy and swollen from all the tears I'd shed alone in my room. But here was this woman, glowing like an angel in the light from my hallway, the people hurrying home in the buffeting rain and wind slowing, even in this weather, to stare.
I'm a little ashamed to admit it's what I always wanted. She was showing me she cared; her knees must really be hurting, and it looked like several hundred pounds of clothing, hair product and make up were now dripping onto my top step. I still stood, staring silently and she let her head droop, her forehead hitting my knees, and I could feel how cold she was on my skin. I nearly relented there and then, but I knew the moment she crossed the threshold, the defence would crumble. It was like there was an invisible forcefield between me and her, and it was all that was keeping me from forgiving her. Again. She had wekeaned it with the softness of her skin on my legs, and I knew that it wouldn't last much longer. I had to act fast. My mind searched desperately for some choice words, vindictive and harsh, enough to show her I didn't care, but then her voice sounded and I felt it shudder agianst my skin before I heard it.
"Ade, I love you. Adrian please. I love you so much."
It even cracked as she said it. So did my invisible barricade. I crouched down instantly and took her into my arms, pulling her wet body against mine and not caring that she was soaking me to the skin too, throwing her bare arms around my neck and burying her face into my chest, her sopping hair under my nose, perfumed to the point it made me dizzy. She had ensnared all my senses as always, and I felt the familiar sensation of being pulled underneath the surface of a warm and delightful bath, where I had no worries and no fears of what would happen next. All that mattered was this feeling, this moment, and I knew as long as she held on, everything would be perfect. But then a plug was pulled, and my bathe in perfection vanished as quickly as it came.
"Do you love me, Ade?"
She had got me again. I bit my tongue to stop the 'Yes' that had formed there straight away. I chewed on it while I forumlated a more complicated answer. An answer that would make everything okay. An answer to not just this question, but all the other problems in our relationship. I chewed and thought, and my head spun, and the perfume in my face was so strong, so sweet, and her arms were so soft.
"Y... Yes..." I stammered.
She pulled back, and she was smiling weakly from behind her beautiful mask of tears and mascara. Her face was a picture of everything I loved about her. There was a hope there, an indefinable fire and passion and it looked so perfect I almost fell for it as I had so many times before.
"Are you gonna give me another chance?"
I shit you not, the bars of music started in my head. I looked at her beautiful face, the hazel searching my blue, the red lips pouting in desperate impatience to find my own, and her hands were on my face. Her fingers worked softly on my cheeks, and I closed my eyes, letting my head loll into her delicate touch, letting her support my head gently with one hand while the other stroked my cheeck, my lips, my closed eyes...
The hand on my eyes stopped suddenly. The grip under my cheek hardened a little, and I could tell she had frozen in shock. I opened my eyes and saw her face inches from mine, eyes wide, mouth half closed in preparation for the kiss she had been about to administer. She looked unsure as if she should continue the joruney forward, as if by leaning the last few inches to claim my lips and claim me back for good. But those few inches may well have been a million miles. I was looking at her properly for the first time since those eyes captured me two years ago in the summer sun. They had been golden in the sunlight, and her hair had been dyed a miraculous blonde that seemed to upstage the very sun itself. But here, in the light of my hallway, was like seeing past the bauty at the monster underneath. The eyes were emptier now, the tears had ceased, and there was almost an anger in them. I smiled slowly and raised a hand to cup hers against my cheek before lifting it softly away and lowering it to her side.
My grin widened, and I stood, pulling her up with me. She didn't resist, but stood there, mouth hanging slightly open and eyes wide and staring. She stammered something, but it was unintelligable in the increasingly heavy rain. I brought her over the doorstep into my hallway, and marvelled at how easily she just followed. She was practically weightless and mindless, her body just moving how I manipulated it, holding her hand out as I instructed, and closing around my cell phone when I placed it there. With a flourish, I pulled my car keys from my jacket pocket and led her to the front door, more for her sake than mine. I didn't want to think what my mother would do to her were she left alone after I left. Because that was what I decided it was time to do; get the hell out of dodge. All the loose ends were tied up, and a childhood and immaturity well spent were over. I would walk out of this house a man, no longer underfoot of anybody and ready to take on the world alone. IT was an exhilirating and exciting feeling, and I turned to look at her when I had led her through the rain again as far as my car. She still held the cell phone numbly in her hand, and she moved to hand it to me, but I shook my head and put her hand into her pocket. When it re-emerged it was empty. It was a cheap phone, and worth far less than the idea of her being out of contact. No more calls at 3am. No more texts. No more answer messages in floods of tears binding me here. I was off into the world, and my childhood friends and family were all to remain here, and they were keeping her with them.
"Goodbye, Phoebe." I said, and before she could react, I leaned forward and kissed her straight on her still half open mouth. My lips were retracted before she could even respond. She looked angry, but her shock still kept her from speaking. 2 years was a long time for two 18 year old people. That was one ninth of her life I'd been under her spell, and I'm sure she was at a loss as to what to do now. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, but no sound came from her lips. They were so full, and still tasted delicious. For some reason that last stolen kiss had been the best and most real she'd ever given me. With a last grin and a wave to my parents, both of whom had appeared at the front door, I slipped into the driving seat of my car and started it. My worldy possessions sorrounded me and I felt a laugh forming at the back of my throat at the sight before me, through the beating of the wipers and the glare of the headlights reflecting off the garage door. Phoebe Birke stood soaked to the skin in her nicest clothes, alone and single for the first time in 2 years. I doubted she'd remain that way for long, but I felt a little pang of joy when I realised the thought didn't bother me at all. Behind her, my mother crying into a handkerchief and waving frantically as my father slipped an arm around her shoulders and gave me a thumbs-up. I grinned back and reversed out of the drive, out into the main street.
The traffic would be light, because the town was small, it was late, and nobody would be out in this rain. I'd e-mail my parents to let them know I arrived at campus after the 10 hour drive ahead of me. With a final glance in the mirror, and the sight of Phoebe watching me pull off into the distance burned brightly in my mind's eye, I reached for the radio and flicked it on. The laugh that had been threatening since I had kissed Phoebe erupted at the sound of the radio.
"because it's too late for you and your White Horse to catch me now."