“Hello”, he said. “Can we sit here?”
And she frowned because she was sitting alone, and she didn’t like being a pity case. But he sat down with the other boy and they didn’t go away, so she had to put her book away and talk to him and then they were friends.
She loved to talk to him. But she always initiated the conversations. And one day, he did. And they talked and when they found out they had known each other for over a decade, they laughed. And hugged the next day.
Her eyes were green and large behind her glasses, and when she yelled at him and admonished him for all sorts of inane reasons, her eyes flashed, and it was hypnotizing to see.
He chastised himself up for thinking about her eyes during more important times of the day...like class.
He loved using improper grammar to spite her. And singing the awful song he knew she despised in her ear. And she would get mad and tell him to stop and when he didn’t she hit him in the chest.
But she told him to stop a lot of things and he never listened, and it infuriated her.
One day he bought her a book, because she liked books, and this one was one of her favorites, even if he wasn’t particularly fond of it, and it was just like her to laugh and hug him when he confessed this was true.
But that book stayed in her backpack for months, and she read it so often the binding was stuck together with duct tape and the cover was missing.
As months passed, she grew shorter. And suddenly, he realized it wasn’t her shrinking, it was him growing taller. And taller. And taller. And it was at this moment that it really dawned on him that they were different. He was a boy and she was a girl.
And he knew it would present some troubles down the road.
As they grew up, he noticed that her curls were actually quite nice and how he’d love to run his fingers through them. And thought about her even when they weren’t together.
But this was no different than what he had done before. Only this time, it wasn’t just her eyes permanently ingrained in his brain. It was her sporadic freckles, her thin ankles, her tiny hands.
One day they make plans at his house, and then he had to cancel because of sports.
She tells him he’s egotistical and he tells her she’s overreacting and maybe they shouldn’t be friends anymore. She stomps away, fighting back tears, and he wants to chase after her, but he’s stubborn and he stays where he is.
But when she doesn’t talk to him after school for the first time in months, he’s worried he made the wrong decision.
Late at night, she gets a text from him with a long message saying how sorry he is. And she realizes it’s the first time he has ever apologized to her. For anything. And she smiles.
And they are friends again, like always.
Sometimes she says odd things and sounds British and knows random facts and talks about Harry Potter too much, and he tells her she is strange and he wonders out loud why he is friends with her, and she looks down and he knows she is wondering if that’s what he really thinks.
And it isn’t, because actually, he thinks her random Harry Potter facts are interesting (though he would never admit it to anyone. Not even to himself) and he loves her random outbursts in her British accent because, if he’s being completely honest, he finds it incredibly attractive.
There was another boy that summer, who always told her she was beautiful and smart and told her he loved her.
And when she tells him she has a boyfriend, via text no less, a part of his soul flakes off, and he bites his lip in confusion before blurting out in a rush “But he doesn’t know the shape of your hands!”
And he is happy no one is home to hear him, so he texts her back.
The other boy is gone. And he expresses his condolences to her, while inside his heart leaps at a second chance and he is so excited at their prospective future.
And he knows, somewhere in his mind, that the other boy didn’t work out because of him. And he feels guilty and ecstatic at the same time.
It is at this time, then, when the leaves are beginning to turn and the sky is blue, and he is preparing for school, that he receives a text lying on his bed.
So small, so insignificant, and it’s a complete accident, that he receives those five words.
“It’s you by the way.”
And his heart beats a little faster, and his smile grows a little wider, but he lies and says he’s not interested, because he just can’t picture everything going sour after he confesses his mutual feelings.
Here is the moment of truth.
Because he realizes that, although he lied to her in the beginning, their friendship was all but obliterated because of her broken heart. And he can’t bear to see her hurting, so he invites her over.
“Did you know your eyes are the exact colour of grass? In my backyard in the summer?”
It comes spilling out of his mouth as he opens the door. No time for a proper greeting. And her green flashing eyes widen in shock, like they have so many times in his daydreams.
She stands there, in his doorway. Her mouth slightly agape, her eyes hopeful. He can see her heart beating fiercely through her thin gray shirt.
Time stands still as his palms get sweaty and his heart all but stops and he prepares to say, “Nevermind. Disregard that.”
Suddenly her hands lift shakily from her sides, and she grasps his wrists as if afraid she’ll keel over at any moment. Her large eyes blink slowly and he just can’t stop.
He just can’t help himself.
He just doesn’t think.
And the trepidation from before, the overthinking and the constant doubts running through his mind, they all but disappear as his head leans down.
And they’re kissing.
And it’s clumsy and awkward and full of teeth scraping and he thanks any higher power there is that neither of them have braces anymore. But all that’s running through his mind is that it’s her peppermint-tasting lips that are moving against his, and it’s her small hands that are tangled in his hair, and it’s her shoulder blades that his large hands are resting on.
They sit on his couch some hours later, watching a movie, and her feet are tucked under her and her head is resting on his shoulder, and his arm is around her, and her contented sighs blend in with the sound of the wind hitting the windows.
Her head moves, and she’s looking up at him with those wide, flashing green eyes again. And he looks down at her, and they both notice how much they’ve grown up since that day a year ago when he sat at her table.
This time, she’s the one who leans up and kisses him. And when she pulls away, their eyes still closed, their eyelashes brush together and their breath mingles and she murmurs