I remember the last time I saw you; the last time any loving words to me fell from your lips; I, collecting them like precious diamonds, hoarding them next to my heart. We were driving in your car in the middle of summer, the windows rolled down and my hair a mess. My legs were sticky, clinging to the leather seat of your expensive-in-the-1950s-but-rundown-now car and you were laughing, gesturing madly as the steering wheel did what it wanted – you were too busy singing along to the radio to care whether or not we were obeying road lines.
The white and yellow lines were no more than a blur; I threw on my sunglasses to protect my eyes from that sizzling August sun that made my shorts and tank top feel like a winter coat foolishly put on in the middle of a heat wave.
"Baby," your voice was sultry as always, low and delicious between the garbled, harsh words of the radio announcer.
I reached over and turned down the volume, the black of the controls burning my fingertips. You gave me a small glare because that was your only rule – no touching the volume, no messing with the volume, touch that volume dial and I swear I'll – but I wanted to be able to savor your voice. That deep voice of yours was imprinted on my eardrums (has been since the day we met and it's not ever going to go away), sometimes springing to mind when you were nowhere near but when it did it felt like you were right next to me.
"Baby," I tried to copy your tone, but I never could.
You were a god and I was a jester attempting to be a princess. I glanced at your eyes, but couldn't meet them, you were concentrating on the road – as you should be, as was good – but I missed the opportunity to meet those deep brown orbs that seemed to melt like real chocolate. I lowered my eyes to my legs, running my moist palms over the flesh of my thighs and hoped they weren't quite as fleshy as I thought they were; the girls you knew all had legs with no extra flesh on them and I didn't understand how they maintained legs that hypnotizing (I hoped you knew I was trying for those hypnotizing legs because I knew that you looked at them; you had to be looking at them because, hell, I was always looking at them).
"You're the most amazing girl I've ever known." You reached for my hand and I eagerly stretched my fingers along the length of yours. My heart sped up at your tiny compliment because I knew it simply couldn't be true yet you chose to say it anyway. It made my heart rate speed up, my legs quiver and it made my stomach turn so that I felt like I was going to throw up … but it was all in a good way.
"You are the sweetest boy in the whole world." I responded, giggling and blushing the whole while, and it was true. Not only were you the sweetest boy in the whole world but the best boy in the whole world. You were a gentlemen: you were chivalrous and funny and honest and intelligent and fast and slow, caring and beautiful all at the same time. You were simply so much that you made my heart ache sometimes in utter amazement at you.
You didn't say anything, but you didn't have too. I could feel the way you felt about me radiating through your warm fingertips into my palms, zapping into my bloodstream and straight into my heart, that pounded along like a drum controlled by a drummer who had no control.
I was smiling at you, not paying attention to the road we were on until, suddenly, your left arm jerked the steering wheel to the right and the car swerved off the road. I let out a screech as we began to bump along the path you had somehow discovered that led straight up the side of a huge hill.
"Calm down," you said with a laugh.
I tried but I hated bumpy car ride and you knew that. My breasts were jumping up and down with the bouncy car and I wished that I could unfreeze myself enough to hold them down – I got embarrassed when you so much as looked at them because they were far (not big and perky like those pretty girls you talked to before me, but big and fat like the rest of me). Even though I adored you, worshipped you, I still hadn't let you see my body; no one ever had because it wasn't a pretty body to look at and I was so ashamed of it (even though you assured me that I was beautiful and you wouldn't hurt me; that you thought I was beautiful in every way). I didn't believe you, especially when I happened to see your ex's in the hallway or the girls that your friends hung out with. I just simply wasn't enough (or too much depending on how you looked at it) when I was standing next to those girls. I hoped that we stopped bouncing soon, that the road would smooth out, because I knew that you would start looking at my body and I was already feeling the deep blush coming on from knowing that you would stare; you said you stared because I was gorgeous but I knew you stared because I was fat (which is why I never understood why you liked me).
I can pinpoint the exact moment you looked over at me because I can always feel your gaze on me – it always made me feel like I was shining from the inside out, as though I was simply the lantern and you were the flame. When you looked at me it felt like the entire world was revolving around me because, for that moment, I was the center of your world and you were all the mattered. I managed to unfreeze myself enough to reach around my torso and try and hold myself in.
"Don't try and hide yourself," I heard you say.
In response, I tightened my arms around myself. I could feel you looking at me still, not saying a word but using the expression on your face to try to convince me that I didn't have to hide myself. I didn't want to look at you because your voice alone was doing me in; I could hear that you were genuinely upset that I felt this way about myself and it nearly broke my heart – in fighting to be enough for you I was making you feel bad about the way I was feeling about myself (it feels so confusing and awful now but at the time it made perfect sense and no matter what, when I think about it, I still want to cry).
"Don't," you repeated.
I didn't look at you, but I unfolded my arms. You seized my hand and I instantly felt better.
You parked the car, and for a moment, I forgot about my body, I forgot about being upset; that place stole it all away. I don't know how you found that place (or even if it was really as perfect as how my memory sees it) but it stole my breath away. My air was snatched away by the sea breeze as we parked on that cliff – all alone except for one another– as the waves crashed along the distant bottom and I heard gulls cry, though I couldn't see them. There was a beach at the bottom of the cliff and I could see tiny, dark dots milling about on the sand, tiny dots that were supposed to be human beings; tiny dots that had no idea I was watching them in this part of their lives.
"Wow," I told you, with the air I had forced back into my lungs. I couldn't take my eyes off the startling blue horizon; so overwhelmingly amazing I would be tempted to compare it to you.
"Still not as beautiful as you."
I had giggled madly at that; both at the seductively, honestly uttered compliment and how absurd it was that someone (especially someone like you) could ever consider me beautiful.
We ended up in the backseat when I revealed myself to you. We were kissing and it was there, in the open air, my back against the leather seats of your could-be-called-a-classic-if-you-took-care-of-it car, that I made love for the first time in my life. And it wasn't just sex – not for me. It was making love. I knew that it was making love for you too. You had talked about past lovers before, always with a flat tone and dead eyes – that was sex. Looking at me your eyes sparkled, danced, and when the words slipped from your lips into my ear, (It'll only ever be you and me babe) your voice was a rollercoaster of spice and feelings. I could feel the love between us with every kiss you pressed on my swollen lips, every brush of skin on skin. There was love, popping and bubbling, becoming a living thing between us.
"I love you," you told me when we were done, our clothes back on, in the front seat, looking at the view, though really thinking of our passionate moment we had; a moment forever seared into my mind.
You'd said it before, but it meant more now; because now your love wasn't just in words, whispered in my ear, spoken in front of your friends. Your love was tangible; I had held it in my arms as you came and whispered my name, eyes crinkled with laugh lines and tears, built of the purest of emotions: love.
"I love you too," and I had tears in my eyes. (I was so young and that feeling was filling me, overflowing, and I couldn't contain it.) I trembled with the utter joy of it all; the utter perfection of life and all it had to offer; the feeling of youth and love and everything was filling me, overflowing in my heart, veins – flying out of my flesh!
We left the place then – the place of gorgeous, passionate, beautiful memories. I didn't even mind the bumps on the way down the path because you were holding my hand and rubbing your thumb across my skin, raising goose bumps on the hottest day in August. We were driving too fast, like always, and you didn't even look at me twice when I turned up the radio – because I could hear a thrumming guitar that matched my spinning feelings and (wouldn't you know it?) that was our song that was roaring through the speakers! Everything was perfect; not a care in the world. You began to sing (how I loved your voice even though, honestly, it wasn't all that great) so I began to sing so you raised your voice to rival mine.
Maybe we should have cared a little bit more. Maybe you should have realized that a hundred and forty was a little too fast for a ninety zone. Maybe I shouldn't have seized that opportunity to look into your dazzling chocolate eyes. Maybe you should have kept both hands locked on the wheel. Maybe I shouldn't have turned the radio up so high. Maybe then we would have been able to hear that truck coming.
But I didn't.
But you didn't.
But we didn't.
And you were gone.
Your daughter is seven now, by the way. She's beautiful with melted chocolate eyes and she carries herself like you did; strong, sure, but never above anyone else. She is my entire world, like you once were. She asks about you (there's a picture of us on the mantel – the picture where you didn't want to stand still at all, which was strange for you because usually you could manage to stand still long enough for a photo op, so you picked me up to carry me off for our first-anniversary-night-out-on-the-town-date (which now that I think of it, is why you were so eager to walk away: we had reservations) and the camera caught us in mid-twirl) and I never know what to say.
There was so much to the story of us, so much we should have been able to tell. I think of how I taught you to ballroom dance, of how we had been together for almost two years! I think of how you promised to take me on my first train trip (I still haven't gone on one), and I think of how you swore to me, that by the time you married me, I would be able to shoot a proper basket (I haven't touched a basketball since, but she wants to try out for her school team next year). Sometimes, when I tell her a bedtime story, I fill in the missing pieces of what might have happened with us. We might have gotten married, and we might have had a pile of kids (but they wouldn't have been her and the thought of that is unbearable to me), we might have lived in Italy (you talked about that a lot, but I knew that I could never learn Italian), or we might have just stayed in love, and not worried about the details (this is the one I believe in the most). I need to give us those happy endings, fleeting though the happiness may be.
I like to think that I'll see you again, and that our love was as real as it felt when you were holding me in your arms and I was clinging back. I like to think that, despite what I believed then, I was enough for you. If you had lived then maybe we wouldn't have lasted forever – we were so young and there was so damn much left for us to learn and sometimes learning takes being on your own but in my daydreams (then and now) we learned together. I like to think that, if you were here now, you would think her as perfect as I know she is (but I feel you looking down on us sometimes, and I know you would think her perfect).
"I'll love you forever, you know," you said the night before our ill-fated drive, lying on your favourite place on your roof, just outside of your bedroom window; that I look through every day now. We live in your parents' house; they live in Florida now and gave me the deed … your room is the way you left it. I want her to be able to learn about her father that way and sometimes we go on the roof (where we always found ourselves – remember that night there was frost on the roof and I almost fell) and eat brownies with the sprinkles because that was your favourite and somehow they've become her favourite too.
"You promise?" I put my head on your shoulder and you were holding me oh-so-tight and I'll never forget that feeling because no one can ever hold me like that again. I will forever feel your arms around me because you were the first person to love me – even before I loved myself. In that moment, our hearts were beating together and everything was just so perfect; I could look up into the stars and see us there – a love so strong even the skies reflected the beauty of it.
"Of course I promise. No one could ever compare to my girl." You dropped a kiss on my forehead and my stomach danced with butterflies.
"I love you so much."
"I love you more."
© The Last Letter
I redid this story for an English project. Let me know what you think of the changes!