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June 1, 2014 | by  | in Arts Online Only |
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It’s 10:58pm and he’s late again. You’ve spent the last hour – well, hour and 15 minutes because you like to arrive early – pulling at the edge of your coat, platting, and re-platting the fringe of your scarf, which you had to remove because you felt too hot. Your feet ache, as you bounce on and off the back of your heels and curl and uncurl your toes. Walking the same metre back and forth, gave you blisters. Black heels were classy – sophisticated, you felt, but right now they feel cheap.

The breeze splutters past you, lifting your skirt up slightly in its travels, you don’t bother to hold it down, or flatten your hair as it tangles. Your hands are tense at your sides, your finger nails digging into your palms.

People walk pass, you loosen your face, slightly pulling up the corners of your mouth, a few nod in your direction. Leaning against the brick wall, you rest one hand on your hip, and place your weight on your heels. You feel this looks relaxed.

You see him walk towards you, and try not to squint. He’s walking slowly, dragging his feet. His hands in his pockets. Your throat starts to tighten. Pulling out a cigarette, you fumble with the lighter, cuffing your hand against the wind. You puff on it, feeling the chemicals swirl. Exhaling, you watch him advance through the smoke; he’s not looking at you. You flick the ash onto the ground, tapping twice. He looks behind him as he crosses the road; you stamp out your cigarette.

The way the new tar overlaps the old, suddenly feels very interesting to you, it’s speckled with gum – patches of pink and grey, appearing warm in contrast to the dark concrete. You watch the embers of your cigarette lift in the wind, they move up and down and disappear.

He says your name, but you don’t look up. You plant your feet, they’re itching to walk the other way. He calls your name again, his hands cupped around his mouth; he knows that you can hear him. You raise your head, and feel your arms fold across your chest. He smiles hello, his eyes locking onto yours, you feel the blue pull you in, your heartbeat feels as if it’s coming from your stomach.

He’s close enough that you can count all of his freckles – he has seven, but you knew this anyway. His fingertips reach for yours, they’re warm, and you realize just how cold you are. He kisses you and you can feel his smile. He tastes different, maybe a little minty. His forehead rests on yours, you can feel the heat of his breath. He murmurs an apology into your cheek, his lips finding yours again. You pull him closer, your fingers tracing the curve of his jaw. The taste of him turns sour in your mouth. Lime and tequila, that’s what it is, it makes you throat burn.

It’s past eleven, you sigh.

Not by much babe, he slicks back his hair. Don’t make a thing out of it.

You feel your jaw tighten, your teeth grazing your tongue. Turning away, the bus stop post captures the extent of your gaze. His hands land on your shoulders, as he moves you towards him. You push your weight into his chest, tucking your head under his collarbone.

Not long ago you were sixteen and he was seventeen. You would sit with an unsure distance between the two of you. Both of your voices running together, maybe in fear of the falling silence, or maybe in excitement, maybe both, you couldn’t remember. He used to perch himself forward, his head resting in his hand. Sometimes you felt like he saw you as more than what you were. You thought that you were lucky finding him.

When he first kissed you, it had been raining. He’d offered to walk you home, you had forgotten a jacket, and so had he. The rain had plastered your hair to your face – you remember feeling self-conscious about this. It had surprised you at how gentle his touch was, when he brushed your hair back. His hands shaking as he tilted up your chin. His lips were softer than you had imagined. The rain didn’t bother you after that. The two of you walked the rest of the journey home with your hands interlaced, and shy smiles directed at the ground. His hands had always felt warm.

Your friends and family had said that the distance would be a problem. But it wasn’t like he was that far away, he was down at Wellington and you in Kapiti – an hour’s travel at the most. You got to see him a lot in the weekend, and a few times, he had even made day trips to see you during the week. Sometimes he brought flowers, and called you his one and only, you had always rolled your eyes at that, but now his sentences seemed to lack it. He made a lot of jokes now, that he didn’t expect you to understand. You would laugh with him, and he would press his lips together, he did that a lot now. He also started calling you babe, he used to call you your name or something more romantic, you didn’t like the sound of babe, it reminded you of the pig.

Tonight you were meant to meet him for drinks at ten, he was going to introduce you to his friends. Wednesday he had said to come, Student Night, cheaper drinks. You had told your mum some story about staying at a friends and a big test – well the test part was true, but at the time, this had felt more important. You ask why he was late, speaking into his jacket. He doesn’t answer, and suggests that you both stop off at a bottle store on the way to his flat, he doesn’t want to stay in town any longer, he says that the scene is dead. You let go of him and look down at your dress, the purple seems too bright now, the lady at the store said it would be a great little number to dress up and down, to wear out and in, you guess that it’s okay going back to his flat. You still have your bag with your change of clothes, and schoolbooks, the test is during third period, you assume you’ll be fine. It was meant to be a few quiet ones.

He doesn’t offer to take your bag as you walk, and doesn’t hold your hand. You feel your gaze fix to whatever’s in front of you, not taking in the scenery, he’s looking up at the signs above, you wonder if he’d notice if you weren’t there. The silence dominates, although everyone else seems to be abnormally loud. You become aware of your breathing, and try to make it even, but your breath seems to keep catching in your throat. Swallowing feels difficult; your throat is too dry.

His phone vibrates and he takes it out. He’s laughing at something that someone sent him, he doesn’t show you. You feel the urge to rip his phone out of his hand and throw it across the sidewalk, as he texts back a reply.

The last time that you saw him, he had been crying. He had said something about the stress, you had spent most of that weekend in his room, he hadn’t wanted to talk. You start to feel light headed, maybe you’ve been on your feet too long, or haven’t eaten enough today. But really you feel as if you should have a drink.

When you arrive at the bottle store, he asks you for money towards the booze. He smiles and shrugs, I’ma poor student babe, you can’t expect me to be able to afford all of this. Last week he had brought a pair of Beats headphones. You give him a twenty, and he laughs. He holds his hand out again, and he thinks you’re joking. You wonder if he knows how much you’ve already spent today, on transport alone, as you give him another twenty. He snatches it and the guy at the counter doesn’t ask for your ID.

He thanks you for paying, and says that maybe you’ll meet the guys some other time, when things aren’t so busy. You blink back in response, and keep blinking, hoping he’ll just think you have an eyelash in your eye. He doesn’t notice. You go to hold his hand, he brushes you off saying not now. He’s got his phone out again, texting with his free hand. He’s looking at the screen, oh babe, he says. I might go meet some guys in town for a bit. Just a few mates from uni, you wouldn’t want to meet them. I’ll meet you at the flat okay. I don’t know how long I’ll be, not long though eh. You’ll be okay with that wont you?

He pats your hair down, you shrug, looking at your shoes, they seem to have the same effect that the concrete did earlier. He kisses you on the cheek and you say that you love him, you too he says back.

He walks off with the box of beer that you brought, perched under his left arm, and a bag with bottles hanging over his right wrist. You don’t even consider going back to his flat as you make you way towards Fix, a two litre container of ice cream seems better company than he does.

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