"Hey, can I ask you something?"
I sit staring at the message I sent hours ago. I haven't seen Domenic since that night. I hope he even remembers what I'm about to ask him about, but something in the back of my mind nags me, telling me that he won't.
That is, if he even decides to answer. I keep checking my phone, more often that I'd like to, but I can't help myself. I keep hoping desperately that I'll get the answer I'm looking for.
"Lilly! Jocelyn!" my Nana calls. "Come for dinner!"
x x x
We were at the festival, and it was Fire night, the night everyone gathered at the Revel bonfire to honour that element. And the other thing about Fire night, the last night of the festival – Fire night was party night. Fire night was the night that even 17 year olds, like Domenic and I, could drink could until we couldn't even stand up anymore, and no one would mind.
Fire night was the night that the drumming group from Niagara Falls performed. It always had been, and while they played, everyone could dance – albeit usually drunkenly – around the fire. The girls in their coin belts and the men in sarongs, even the worst dancers, all got up, and everyone, no matter their talent, just had fun.
As always, after the nightly concert, everyone pulled out their drums and began warming the skins by the fire while the dancers retreated to their seats for a rest, and then the party cranked up again, and Fire's banner was brought in, a blood red flag planted on a stake at the south end of the circle, across from Earth's green in the North. I hadn't expected to see Domenic until now. He was staff, and would be helping to bring in the banner. But as I looked around, he wasn't there by the fire.
I sought out Kaitlyn and Jenny, twins who, despite being twelve, were friends with both of us, an unsurprising fact as there weren't many teenagers at the festival. Our conversation didn't last long before they point me toward the other side of the fire.
I stumbled a bit walking over, but I wasn't worried. I figured I'd been through about a bottle of wine by now. My focus was on finding Domenic. And there he was, sitting on the ground by the sound tent – with one arm around Courtney, the girl who hadn't left him alone all week, and internally, it was driving me crazy.
"Why weren't you at the revel?" I demanded with a laugh. I had to shout for him to hear me over the drums.
"I was hanging out over here." He smiled and patted the ground on his unoccupied side. "Come sit with us."
So I settled down onto the soft, damp ground beside him, and he lifted his hand off the ground and put it around my shoulders.
x x x
Jocelyn and I finish helping Nana load the dishwasher, and when we're done, I check my phone again. One message. I check it nervously.
"It's him," I whisper to Jocelyn, and break into a small fit of giggles with her while a thousand butterflies tickle me from the inside out.
"Go for it."
I think for just a second. I worry that I may not like the answer I'm going to get. But hurriedly I decide I don't care. I want the truth. I need the truth. Whatever answer he gives me, I need to know whether he's worth my time. So I type my answer quickly and hit "send" before I have the chance to chicken out.
"Ok, so, that stuff you said to me on Saturday night… did you actually mean any of it?"
And then I add, "Just wondering…"
I don't remember all of the details of Saturday night. I was drunk, after all. But I remember enough. And what I remember is worth asking about.
x x x
After a while of sitting with just Domenic and Courtney, Meghan showed up, with a water bottle that turned out to be filled with a mixture of Coke and Jack Daniels. That bottle was soon emptied between her, Domenic and I – Courtney only had a sip before deciding it was awful – and Meghan and I had to run off soon for more.
And for a while after that, the calm before the storm was just that – calm. We all sat and talked and drank and laughed and Domenic went on and on about both Courtney and I, even going so far as to brag to John about the fact that he had both of us.
Somewhere, Domenic began to tell me things. I remembered him telling me that Mike, a musician from London who had also been a performer, and a good friend of Domenic's, not only thought I was older that I really was, but also that Mike would have been interested had I really been older.
"But I have you," I said to Domenic.
He smiled. "Come here," he said, and pulled me in closer, and surprised me by kissing me – just a peck, but a peck that I've been hoping for, waiting for, for four years. Somewhere in the back of my head, an alarm was going off. You shouldn't be doing this, it said. You have a boyfriend already.
But the part of me that was in control didn't care at that moment. I'd liked Domenic – probably more that I should have – for the better part of four years, or as far as I'm concerned, as long as I've known him. And so I'm unwilling to stop what's happening now.
After someone else made a comment about the girls on his arms, I turned and told him he wasn't bad at all. I was pushing gently, trying not to put myself too far out into the open, so I added that he was quite a cute boy.
But he corrected me with a smile, "Man. A hot man. In a kilt." He laughs.
I have to agree, because it's true. "Yeah. A hot man for sure. Definitely interested."
He smiled that smile that I'd always loved. And again he said, "Come here," and kissed me a second time.
Domenic lay back on the ground, pilling me with him by the arm I had around his neck. He turned his head toward me, and told me that he, like Mike, had thought about me. That I was hot, and that he'd liked me for a long time. I couldn't believe my ears.
"You know," I told him, shifting my weight closer to him, "if it weren't for my boyfriend, I would so go for you."
"Really?" he said.
I nodded in a heartbeat.
"You're amazing." He rolled toward me, put his hand on my waist and kissed me. I was hyperaware of exactly how close he was to me. How his chest and his lips were inches from mine and I could hear his heart beating as he lay there beside me on the grass and kissed me again.
When we finally sat back up again, Meghan grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him away.
x x x
Finally, after what seems like ages of waiting, he finally answers me, and my stomach and my heart plummet to the ground.
"Listen, I'm really sorry, I was really drunk and a wee bit stoned. Right now, I'm trying to start a relationship with Courtney, and I really like her. I'm not sure what you're actually talking about, and I'm really sorry if I hurt you, but she is like a part of me that I just found out was missing. I've talked to her more in the past few days than anyone else, and I think I mean something to her, too."
But you mean something to me, is all I can think. And from what you said, I meant something to you, too.
It's painful to think that he doesn't remember any of it when I remember it so vividly. It doesn't seem fair that I poured out everything I ever felt to him that night and he's throwing it all away because he doesn't remember it.
That familiar stinging is in the backs on my eyes. No. I shove it away. I will no cry. I promised myself I only wanted to know the truth. I got what I was looking for, and I have to accept it.
"Aha, I figured that was the case… I figured you probably didn't remember lol. I just thought I'd ask cause I really didn't want to be wasting my time… Thanks."
That's all I can make myself say. I want to tell him everything we said. I want to tell him about the kisses, but I can't. He loves her. My heart feels destroyed, but I don't want him to feel worse about it. My broken heart or not, he's still my friend. I hope.
x x x
"What are you doing?" Meghan demanded. I can't hear his answer. "Domenic, she has a boyfriend. And Courtney really likes you."
I tuned out the rest of the conversation. I knew my time with Domenic was over, so I stood up, intending to leave.
"Lilly," Domenic said. I turned back to him. "Lilly, I like you. But I have to go hang out with Courtney now, and I really like her. I'm sorry."
And yet you kissed me in front of her, I wanted to say, but I didn't. I didn't know what to say, so I just nodded and said, "Kay."
It was almost a relief that my mom came over only a second or two later to find me. "Lilly, it's time to go. We have to leave early tomorrow. "
I said goodbye sadly to everyone, even hugged Domenic before we left, but my last view of the clearing before we crossed the bridge was of Domenic standing at the side of the fire with Courtney wrapped in his arms.
x x x
"I'm truly sorry if I hurt you, Lilly."
I know you are… I want to cry again.
"It's ok. I know better than to let people lead me on, that's why I asked. So I don't get hurt."
But that's a lie. Inside, I am hurting, but I know I won't tell him, because I feel like he's been leading me on for four years, and now I just need some time to myself.
Regardless, though, even though I don't have him, and maybe I'll wait around and see what happens, or maybe I'll move on, I had him once, if only for half an hour at best.
I guess in a way I'm thankful. Domenic showed me how unhappy I am with the problems in my relationship, and failed romance aside, I'm glad for his friendship.
And I'm grateful for those four kisses, one for every year that I waited for him. And it leaves me with just a tiny bit of hope, every time I touch that spot on my lips where his lips did, that maybe one day, I'll feel them again.