April 21, 1994
Everyone knew (except perhaps Nathan himself) that I loved Nathan more than anything, but one thing I couldn't stand was when he was being a fucking jerk for no apparent good reason. I'd never actually imagined Nathan to "fall head over heels in love" with anyone before because, mainly, it hurt, but also because he just didn't seem the type.
But now, well, now I'd seen how he could be when someone actually dumped him and it was not good. I didn't know if it was because he genuinely liked Carlie or it was because of his bruised to shit ego, but Nathan never yelled at me before. He yelled. I heard it. It hurt.
I hadn't spoken to him since then.
I knew it was probably him whenever I heard the phone ring. It was also probably him by the front door after class every day. It had been like that these past few days, since the night of the day he yelled at me. I figured he regretted his actions almost immediately, but I wasn't really going to forgive and forget this one easily because I have had it up to here with all his bullshit.
I never picked up the phone or answered the door. I wanted him to think long and hard about what he did, about what he told me, all the things he said. I wanted him to get his head out of his ass and stop thinking that I had the answer to every fucking thing in the goddamned world because I didn't. He had to stop relying on me. He had to learn. Granted, it was probably my fault because of all the enabling I did but, well, I was done with that now.
When mom got back from work about two days ago, she knew there was something wrong with me and Nathan mostly from the fact that Nathan wasn't around. I tried to reassure her, tell her everything was fine and that I was just busy with piano and I thought she mostly believed me, even though she still called Nathan that very same evening. I panicked when I heard them talking over the phone but Nathan didn't say anything incriminating at all. He just said the same thing I said, that he was busy as well.
I figured maybe it was his way of trying to get back into my good graces or something.
My mom and I had fun though, in the short time that she was here. Two days off from work where she could relax and spend time with me. It was nice. It took my mind off of my problems. She was happy as well, I could tell. She cooked for me and listened to me play the piano whenever she read in the living room or something. It was nice. It had always been just me and mom, and I felt like a child again, when I was first learning how to play. I'd always ask my mom to listen. And she always did. Patiently.
But she had to go back to work eventually and so I was left here alone again, with my piano for company. It wasn't so bad. Since I was a kid, my piano had been my steady companion. It never left me, and in my book, that was one trait that I'd want from a really great friend. Loyalty. It never said anything bad about me as well, which was great. But most of all, it produced amazing music for me. This piano, my piano, had always been my refuge.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
There it was again. I told myself that if I ignored it, it will stop eventually. So I did, and I focused my attention on the piano before me. Before I even realized it, I was playing something off the top of my head. It was some sickly, sweet love song I heard on the radio yesterday. I figured the melody was quite good so, unconsciously perhaps, I memorized it. Now I was playing it.
Next year would be our last year in high school, and still I hadn't told Nathan about how I really felt. I'd had the same thought for the past years or so whenever each school year was about to end. I'd work myself up on whether I should tell him or not but in the end, I'd decide in favor of the latter. I was afraid, I figured. I was just too afraid to lose him entirely if—when—he told me he didn't exactly feel the same way.
And I thought, this year, my decision would still be in favor of the latter.
When I realized that the music have stopped and my hands were already still, I bent down and pulled some papers from under the piano. The pile was quite thick, that I could honestly say. I rifled through them, scanning the contents. These were all the things that Nathan wrote. I smiled, remembering all those times that I hoped he had feelings for me too.
I stopped on a particular page, the title of the poem capturing my interest. It said, "Secrets". It was one of the recent ones. I thought Nathan wrote it last year, that time when I had the strangest case of the flu that left me incapacitated for days. I remember how I felt then. I felt loved. It was also then that I permitted myself, even for just a while, to think that Nathan shared my feelings.
The poem was about the days we spent together as kids. It was funny, witty and not the usual poem you'd expect. For a poem, surprisingly, it wasn't cheesy. It was normal, whichever way you interpret that, and quite touching.
After rereading the poem, I bent down again to retrieve a thick, music notebook from under the piano. This was the notebook I used whenever I feel like setting music to some of Nathan's pieces or writing music for myself. I flipped through its pages, landing on a blank one. I set the notebook and the poem side by side in front of me. Then, I began trying to make up a series of musical combinations that would go with it. When I felt satisfied with one line, I grabbed the pencil from the top of the piano and wrote down the notes on the music notebook. I repeated this process all throughout the other lines, occasionally making erasures here and there.
Halfway through writing music for the poem, I heard the front door open and close behind me. There was only one person who had a key to this house besides me, and suddenly I was extremely glad. It was unusual for her to be home this early but I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"Hey mom," I greeted cheerfully even though I couldn't turn my head to look at her, to absorbed in what I was doing. She was used to that. She knew that when I was in front of the piano, I just couldn't be bothered with anything else. "How was work?" I added as I simultaneously pressed some keys on the piano, mentally deciding whether it went well with the line on the poem or not.
"Very hectic," she answered. Of course. Being an ER nurse, one couldn't really expect anything else. I could hear her weariness in her voice. Just hearing her voice made me feel very tired as well. "But I'm fine as always. How about you? How have you been?"
"Fine, I guess," I answered nonchalantly. "School's okay. Piano's better."
"That's good. That's really good," my mom said. "Amy, could you please look my way for a minute?"
"Mom, I'm busy," I complained a bit. She knew that.
"Look who I found outside," she said with just a hint of a threat in her voice. One that said I should look now or else.
I sighed and, reluctantly, turned around to face her. What I saw nearly threw me off of where I was sitting.
"Nathan?" I said. I was surprised. I thought he had already left since that knocking stopped when I refused to answer the door. I was sure he would have given up already.
"He says you won't let him in," mom said as he motioned for Nathan to sit on the couch.
I turned back to the piano with a shrug and started pressing the keys again though my heart wasn't really into it anymore. "Yeah, 'cause I'm busy. Sorry about that."
"Amy," mom said, a warning in her tone. Uh-oh. I knew that tone.
"Right, sorry," I said as I turned back to them again. "So what do you want?" I asked quite politely but the moment mom nodded made her way to the kitchen, I added, "I thought you wanted me to go away?" I was surprised at myself, at how calmly I could say something like that when I should've been seething.
"Oh c'mon, Amy. You know I didn't mean any of that," he said in his usual I'm sorry tone. "I'm really sorry. I was just having a really bad day then."
"So, right now since I'm having a really bad day, could I ask you to go away? Don't worry, I'll come by your house tonight to say sorry," I told him sarcastically.
"Look," he said, standing up. "I'd do anything for you to forgive me. Swear. I've said it a thousand times before. I'd do anything for you, Amy."
"Anything?" I challenged.
He nodded, looking at me directly.
"Go away then," I said calmly.
He groaned and started pacing. "Okay," he said after taking a deep breath. "Yell at me. Say it all back to me. You know that if I can only take back what I said before, I'd do it, but I know I can't."
"You fucking well know you can't," I said simply, turning back to the piano again ad refusing to look at him. "That's why you should go home. Get it out of your system. This whole thing with Carlie messed you up. You don't have to force yourself to talk to me if you still can't get that out of your mind." It hurt so much to say that, but I had no choice. I didn't want to talk to Carlie's Nathan right now. I wanted my Nathan, my best friend.
Then, without warning, I felt hands grip me, arms wounding themselves around me. Nathan rested his chin on my shoulder. I could practically feel his breath on my cheek. I felt my heart stop beating for about a moment or two, then it resumed in a frenetic kind of way.
"I'm really sorry, Amy," he said, probably thinking that if he said it enough, I'd get tired of being angry and just let it go. "Honestly, I haven't thought about Carlie in days. I may have really loved her and I can't deny that losing her hurt like hell but it would be nothing if I lose you. She was just my girlfriend. You're my best friend. I can't lose you, Amy. I just can't."
He sounded like he might be crying now and I thought, this wasn't true, right? Like, that declaration should be made to someone you love love, not someone you share an extremely platonic relationship with. On the other hand, he made it clear that I was his best friend, so that pretty much sealed the deal.
"Calm down, Nathan. You're not losing me. I'm just telling you to clear your head. Maybe have a few drinks with your guy friends or something," I said in my usual cool, calm, collected sort of way. Yeah right.
"I don't want a drink with them. I want to sit with you," he said, our cheeks pressing together now. My heart was probably beating around two, three hundred beats a minute then, and I wondered why I wasn't passing out. Surely this qualified as tachycardia, right?
"Nathan—" I was prepared to lecture him as I turned my head to meet his eyes but I discovered this was the fucking wrong thing to do—well, wrong depending on whose point of view it was.
Anyway, since our faces were so close together then, when I turned my head, our lips touched. Really touched. As in, smack. This wasn't what shocked me the most though. It was the fact that Nathan didn't pull away immediately as I would have expected him to do. Instead, he started to kiss me. As in, really kiss me. He moved his lips against mine and it took a while before I finally caught on but when I did, I kissed him back and I realized it was the stupidest, most moronic and embarrassing thing I could ever do. Nothing would top that. Ever.
But it felt so good.
I'd never felt anything that good in my entire life.
It went on for, what, I dunno, probably light-years? I really didn't know. I wasn't paying attention. All I knew was that it felt so great, so good, that I didn't want it to end, ever. I'd been dreaming of this moment probably since I met Nathan and right now, was I actually dreaming? 'Cause if I was, then that would suck so hard.
"Amy? Nathan?" I heard my mother's confused voice from behind us, effectively making us pull away from each other like someone electrocuted us or something.
I could feel Nathan's eyes on me as I quickly dropped my gaze to the piano keys. His arms were still around me, not loosening, not tightening. My mom couldn't have seen that we were kissing but she was probably wondering why Nathan was hugging me from behind.
Then, slowly, Nathan released me from his hold, not saying a word. I wasn't even breathing. He turned away from me and faced my mother.
"Aunt Gracie," I heard Nathan say. His voice sounded weird, like he was trying to stop himself from saying something that would make him look guilty. I guess it was fitting, in a way.
"Have you two been fighting?" my mom asked in that usual tone. I remembered that tone very well. She'd used that tone so many times on the two of us whenever Nathan and I would fight when we were kids.
"Kind of," Nathan said quietly, sitting beside me on the piano bench. I scooted over to make room for him. I was still trying to wrap my head around that—kiss—that I wasn't really paying attention.
"Whose fault is it this time?" Mom asked again in that tone. She was speaking to us like we were seven year olds again. It was quite refreshing.
"Mine," Nathan admitted, and I could hear him smiling sheepishly. Odd. "I was trying to apologize, but I really did badly this time." He meant to say he really fucked up this time, and yes he really did but he sounded so wounded and pitiful that it wouldn't be surprising if my mom sided with him.
"She'll get over it," mom said, as usual, siding with Nathan which I totally predicted would happen right from the get go. I didn't turn back then like I would so many times before, when I would protest and present my case. I just listened to her footsteps as she climbed the stairs to go to her bedroom. Then it was gone. There was silence.
The most awkward silence I'd ever felt in my entire life.
I felt Nathan turn beside me, facing the piano as well.
"Hey, I wrote this," Nathan said as he grabbed the piece of paper in front of us. It was the poem I was setting music to. "You're setting music to it?" He asked as though nothing happened minutes ago, as though nothing took place that has the potential to alter my life permanently…
…like it was nothing.
I nodded. I couldn't find my voice.
"Are you finished with it?" He asked with the kind of excitement in his voice that I usually heard whenever I'd tell him I was joining a contest or a recital abroad.
"Not yet." I finally found my voice.
"Would you please sing it to me? Just up until the point you finished?" He pleaded like a three-year-old. I smiled a little. Despite the fact that I was still hurting from the fact that he just pulled me away from my cloud nine, I still smiled. Why? I wondered why.
"You're not forgiven yet," I told him although I knew that he knew that that was a joke. No matter what he did, I couldn't not forgive him. He was very important, a vital part of my life that I'd actually stoop so low just to—
"Please?" He said in that sickly, sweet way of his.
And I had no choice. I had to do it. I forgave him. I loved him. Looked like I was the pathetic one.
That moment. I'd never forget it. It was the single happiest and saddest moment of my life. Not many moments in a person's life could actually be happy and sad. That was why I was never going to forget it. Never.
But Nathan would. He already did.