It Takes A Year: Part Seven

I was used to my first kiss with someone being feverish, something that happened in the hasty throes of pseudo-passion. In hindsight it always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; Nothing but hungry hands and desperate mouths acting on impulse. A drunken mistake, an act of pity, or simply the claws of an envious predator. However, some moments in life decide to be generous to me. It’s not often that I actually get to experience a genuine moment of intimacy, at least not with someone new. Most vividly I recall it happening with Will. Not even a year later and now it was happening with someone else.

Speaking of Tyler: He’s sweeter than the words that preluded our embrace. His kisses were tender and slow, obviously indulging themselves in previous desires. Not that I can blame him; I’d been thinking about it for half the night too but I didn’t expect it to happen like this. No, I expected it to be just as reckless as it usually was. I thought maybe he’d plant a sloppy kiss on me while we danced or that I’d play coy before challenging him to make out with me in a drunken game of “Truth or Dare”. I didn’t expect a heartfelt confession or a realization so deep that it made us fall into our own cessation of time. I could trust him and his careful hands, his sincere lips, and his soulful gaze. If it was any other time this year I would have already been screaming words of regret into my own ears. But I was done with that. I was free of my old habits, finished with doing things at the expense of others and beating myself up for past mistakes. I didn’t just want this, I deserved this.

I felt Tyler’s fingers curling into my hair from the base of my neck. I didn’t think I could get anymore goosebumps but I did. I’ll admit that there was always something exciting about kissing someone new. Luckily this time it wasn’t just another shot in the dark.

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Can You Find Me? II: Exordium

Disclaimer: Mature Content

I always knew there was something fucked up in my head.

It wasn’t like I was really destined to be this way. Mom and dad were in the picture from birth. Neither of them ever raised a hand to me that was too harsh or spoke a word to me that was too cruel. My mother doted on me for every minor achievement I made growing up and my father was your typical suburban dad, dead-set on making me the king of football or baseball while teaching me life lessons on how to be a man. We had money, we had a nice house, and I never went for longer than a day without something I asked for. Sure, I was a spoiled kid but I wasn’t a spoiled brat. My best friend in high school was even more well-off than I was and anyone would call him a good kid. A good friend, a good guy, a good son, yet his only faults were a short fuse and a tendency to be over-protective. At least his mistakes never hurt anybody; Mine did.

In regards to the “Nature vs. Nurture” argument I have trouble seeing where my nurturing failed me. I mean, maybe my good life was the reason for my problems, but then I remember my best friend and that he doesn’t have the same issues I do. In fact, he doesn’t have any of the same issues that I do. He had his emotional outbursts so that it was no secret what was going on in his head. I was always calm, cool, and collected. My demons rarely came to the surface.

I grew up being everything my parents wanted me to be. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to play baseball and take photography classes, I’m just lucky that I wasn’t stuck doing anything that I hated. I was being cultivated into the perfect little plant for all to see. Once I hit high school my GPA and sportsmanship spoke for themselves. By junior year I was good-looking, I was successful, and I was popular. My future seemed unlimited to everyone else but me. My paraphilia was the demon hidden inside of me, waiting for me to slip back into his clutches at any moment. I started over-stepping my boundaries as a child. Many young children are caught and disciplined for certain behaviors before it can get worse. Sadly, I was never caught and never disciplined. Because of this, what started as simple curiosity morphed into a complete obsession. That obsession took me down an unforgivable road that put some of the most precious people in my life in danger.

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It Takes A Year: Part Six

[Updated: 2/15/17]

Tara and I played a few more songs together before she stopped to answer the texts that she’d gotten. While she scrolled through her phone I pulled out my own too, wondering if the vibrations I was ignoring were from Will. One of my messages did turn out to be from him but it was just a generic reply to our earlier conversation about his annoying new coworker. I was kind of used to it by now to be honest. I also saw that Tyler had texted me asking what was up. I hadn’t seen him since the first time we met and I honestly wanted to hang out again in a less tense setting. He seemed genuinely concerned for my well-being. We texted pretty much daily and it felt nice. Will didn’t really bring up personal things in our conversations anymore. The more casual he kept it, the easier it’d be for us to move on. At least I suspected that’s what his plan was. It’d be just like last time, except now we weren’t looking towards a reunion.

“My friend Lana just invited us to a party at her friend’s house, you wanna swing by?” Tara asked.

My senses perked up a little. A party didn’t seem to bad, it’d be a nice way to unwind and meet Tara’s other friends. Alicia’s crowd was getting boring and predictable. I could use some new faces in my life.

“Yeah, I’m down,” I said.

Tara put her guitar aside and closed her laptop. We both agreed that we needed to change clothes. I headed to my room and started flipping through my closet for something extra cute to wear. I had to admit that I was slacking on my appearance as of late. Will used to tell me that I looked sexy with messy hair and no makeup on but my recent mornings in the mirror begged to differ. Tara, on the other hand, seemed to look flawless all the time. I couldn’t decide if it was her chic hairstyle, her healthy amounts of sleep, or her enviable body. She had youthful skin which she could probably thank her mother for. I remember her coming over once to drop something off for Tara. That’s when I found out that Tara was half Vietnamese. I knew she looked mixed.

It was easy to notice that Tara’s eyes were bright and lively while my lids seemed to be heavier than before. It took a decent amount of concealer to hide the darkness cradling my sockets. They always got worse when Will left.

When I looked at Tara on those days that she sat cross-legged on the couch, hair tussled and guitar in lap, I wondered if that’s the way he used to see me. Existing beautifully in my own little world, gently in focus. Back when happiness actually shone through my skin instead of hiding away in hollow bones. The perfect candid.

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It Takes A Year: Part Five

[Updated: 4/20/17]

The afternoon sun broke through the blinds and stung at my eyelids. I had just emerged from a deep sleep, my head reeling slightly and my throat dry. I turned away from the white light to lay on my other side. I had almost forgotten that I wasn’t alone in bed. Tyler laid just across from me on his back, one arm over his head and the other curled across his stomach. He had slept in his clothes just like I had. Nerves tingled down my spine and I took a deep breath. I hoped that no one had noticed us go upstairs together, especially not Alicia or the other girls. There’s no way that they’d believe we had simply spent the night sleeping a foot away from each other. I mean, how often did anyone I know really do that? I don’t even know if I’d believe it. All I knew was that if Will heard any more rumors about me that the demise of our relationship would be set in stone.

I pulled my phone out from beneath my thigh where it had fallen out of my pocket. I checked the notifications on the screen. He’d called me two times and messaged me once with a simply question mark. I took another deep breath and opened his chat box. He was online.

Sorry I just got up. couldn’t get to sleep last night.” I typed. A few seconds passed and he started to reply. My heart sped up.

its okay.” he said.

are you at the apartment?” I asked, thinking that maybe I should have said “home” instead.

Yeah.”

I’ll be back soon then. Give me a few.”

Alright.”

Love you, I thought in his voice.

I locked my phone again. These bland conversations starved me and I hated it. I hated myself for everything that had happened. He deserved so much better.

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Can You Find Me? I: Summer

Disclaimer: Mature Content

It was the summer after we graduated high school. The summer I’ll never forget.

My friends and I were dead set on having the time of our lives before we parted ways for college. My parents had gotten me a hybrid DSLR as a graduation gift and I planned on using it to capture memories of our summer adventures. Our first couple months of freedom was pretty typical; we went swimming and fishing at the lake, visited the amusement park, hung out downtown, and partied at our friend’s big, two-story lake house. It was my first year without a curfew and I was taking full advantage of it. I also got to celebrate my eight month anniversary with my boyfriend Nick. Most of my favorite moments that summer happened with him by my side. Looking back now, those hot summer days were picture perfect. I thought that my whole summer would just be an array of happy memories and good times. I was wrong.

At the beginning of July we were all sitting on the back porch of our friend Aaron’s house. I had my feet kicked up on the table and was listening to Nick and Aaron talk about cars while I sipped some lemonade. Whenever I listened to those two talk I swore that they were long lost brothers. If they didn’t look so different their vibe could totally fool anyone into believing so. Nick had short, brown hair and freckles painting the skin of his nose and shoulders. It was my favorite thing about him. Aaron, on the other hand, had no freckles to detail his olive skin but was gifted with dark shoulder-length hair that was thick and lustrous enough to rival that of any of the girls we knew. Katy, my best friend, was notoriously jealous of how easily his hair kept itself while she was left struggling with her own blonde locks every morning.

Katy was reclined in the chair beside me and scrolling through her phone, ignoring the impassioned conversation going on between Aaron and Nick. I glanced over at her just as she began to sit up.

“Hey, this looks pretty cool,” she said, offering her phone screen to the table for all of us to see.

“What does?” I asked.

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It Takes A Year: Part Two

[Updated: 4/20/17]

“So what are we?”

“I don’t know.”

I was irritated. It had been three weeks after our first kiss and we were sitting in Will’s room again on the same bed where it happened. Many more things had come to pass in those three weeks. We saw each other often, we went on dates, we fell asleep together, and he started grabbing my hand in public places. I couldn’t deny that it was a blissful time. Things just felt easy. Natural. I’d shower at his place and he’d knock on the door, saying he had to come in. Truth was he just wanted to sneak me wet kisses on my skin and hold me from behind while I combed my hair. He blew up my phone while I was gone and it didn’t bother me at first. I just got used to it. I got used to Will.

But that week he’d been questioning me. He was eager for us to be something more tangible. I just wasn’t sure yet. Even though I liked him a lot and he sent my heart in a flurry I was scared. Looking back now I know that I was afraid of committing to him.

5 days after I kissed Will I kissed a boy who I’d liked 2 years ago. The boy had finally expressed his interest for me at a party and I let a mix of vodka and nostalgia wrap my body around his. I felt a writhing in my gut, a sickness that burned my throat and tore me away from him momentarily. He found attention from another girl for awhile before finding me again. I still smiled at him after, still hugged him and hung off of his arm that night while he sneaked me kisses on my drunken mouth. We passed out together on the couch.

I didn’t talk to Will for a few days after that. I shut up in my room listening to slow music and a buzzing phone. I wanted to be distant. After he became almost frantic in his calling I finally told him I was coming over. He asked me how the party was and why I didn’t ask him to go. I told him it was just a spur of the moment thing and that I wasn’t really thinking about it. He assumed I just wasn’t thinking about him at all. He had seen the pictures of me grinning and hanging over the other boy’s shoulder. I didn’t know an old flame of mine was going to be there. Will didn’t know our lips touched. I just got up and went with the same freedom I’d been used to having. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings.

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