Sealed with a Kiss

I know I should have been feeling butterflies in my stomach, or the romantic electricity running through me as we kissed, but I didn’t.  In fact as the kiss ensued and he pulled me closer, my eyes began to wander around the night sky.  I was going through the motions, as usual.  I knew that there was more to life than this, but for the time being this was easy.  

        “Babe, you seem distracted tonight,” Andrew said quietly as he grabbed my waist and pulled me closer to him.

        “Uhhh, really? I’m just tired.”  This had become my excuse for everything lately.  As if I had to have a good reason for being disinterested in those around me.  

        “Well, if you are going to be that way, let me just walk you home,” Andrew seeming like an unlucky gambler, breathed out knowing tonight his physical escapade was ending short.  

        He had a way of making me feel so disappointing.  I felt more alone when I was with him than when I was walking home in the dark with nothing to keep conversation except my thoughts.  “I’d rather walk home alone tonight.  I’ll talk to you later.”

        “Whatever.” Andrew turned and began making his exit down the street.  I knew this wasn’t a movie, but I just wanted him to care about me, and pretend that even when I wasn’t doing something for him, I was still worth his time.  

        I sat down on the street curb for a few minutes and pulled out my phone.  I had a text from my best friend Sandy, but wasn’t interested.  I also saw a message from a number I didn’t recognize.

 I opened it: Hey this is Sawyer from your psych class. I got your number from Sandy want to hang out sometime?

        I had a rush of mixed emotions.  Sawyer was new at the school, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t noticed him as he walked through the halls.  We never talked before, and I figured he was way out of my league.  And besides, anyone who wants to hang out with a girl who has a boyfriend must be a player anyway.  I clicked the home button on my iphone and stood up to walk home.

        “Shit.  I’m late.”  I always left my window unlocked so it would be easy to sneak in, but sometimes my mom would be waiting up and hear me.  The realization of being late should have caused me to speed up, but instead, I got lost in my thoughts.  I began to imagine Andrew’s lean into me earlier, and I tried to imagine being gripped by youthful romance and passion, but I fell flat.  I didn’t feel that.  I just kept hearing him say “whatever” and watching him walk away.  Soon I was at my bedroom window.  As if on autopilot, I opened the window, climbed through, and stripped off my jeans and crashed in bed.  

        My room smelled of the remnants of patchouli and vanilla from the incense I burned hours before.  I gazed into the blackness, up at the ceiling, which could have been as far up as the sky, and considered my life.  Thoughts of the day whizzed through my head.  And then I panned the memories of psych class.  Mrs. Brown was always late, and she seemed to be disheveled most of the time, but learning about the human mind, and talking frankly about why people do what they do, why people pretend to love, why people become addicted, and all the intricacies that enveloped questions I mused daily was very engaging.  I always sat near the front of the class and pretended to remain aloof so that no one would feel comfortable enough to talk to me and enter my thoughts.  But someone had tried, had noticed something about me today.  I fell asleep thinking about Sawyer’s text, and wondering what it meant. What it meant to him.  What it meant to me.

        My alarm went off as usual, but I had been lying awake for awhile staring at the ceiling in my room.  I smelled the coffee my mom started.  I heard the door close as my dad left for work.  Shortly after I heard the door close again, and I knew I was home alone, as usual.  The mornings were my time.  I felt as though my world was not bombarded with insults and browbeating. I took a quick shower, drank some black coffee, and checked my phone.  Andrew hadn’t sent me a “good morning” text, which I was used to, but still wished for.  I was about to head out the door to school, but then my phone’s ping alerted me to a new text.  Probably mom I thought.  I looked anyway.  

        It was a message from Sawyer: Hey, did you get my message yesterday?

        I decided to answer.  I hesitated, mulling over what I should say.  Yea.  Sorry I didn’t get back to you last night.

        Its cool.  So..?

        Lol.  What do you want to do?

        Whatever.

        How do I know you aren’t toying with me?

        Try me.

        Walk me home after school.

        Done.  See you in psych.

        I was walking out the door and heading down the sidewalk, and for the first time in a long time I felt the electricity in my stomach I should have felt when Andrew was kissing me last night.  I felt noticed.  I felt attractive. And yet, I kept wondering if it would last.

        First hour was a blur.  Trigonometry was my least favorite class not only because it was difficult for me, but also because I did not help my situation my zoning out.  My mind began to wander when we were given class time to complete our homework.  I caught myself drawing random designs in the margin of my paper.  I looked up to check the clock, and as I noticed the hour ending, the bell rang.  I got up, automatically, like we all do when we are stuck in a humdrum routine of high school.  We all shared the journey of bumbling from one class to the next hoping to find some meaning in our day, be it a stolen kiss in the hallway, or an empowering statement from one of our favorite teachers.  The only difference between students, is some were brave enough to admit that they weren’t finding what they were looking for and others were just going through the motions with a fake smile on their face.  

        “Harper!”  I heard Sandy’s voice behind me and slowed to a stop and turned.  Sandy had a boyfriend, was dead set on getting me to realize Andrew was not worth my time, so of course, she had Sawyer with her.

        “Oh hey.  What’s up with you guys?” I spoke in a nonchalant way, playing it cool and trying to hide my forbidden excitement at seeing Sawyer with her.  

        “Well, I totally bombed my econ test last hour.  Mr. Harrison is such a d-bag.  I hate him.  He never teaches, and just rambles on and on and on…”

        Sandy’s voice continued, but somehow Sawyer was walking beside me now.  He shimmied up next to me and bumped me playfully like one does with a new friend, or to be lighthearted.  I smiled.  A real smile. I felt his touch through my whole body, and couldn’t fight it.  We turned the corner and I headed to English, while Sandy and Saywer headed towards the science hallway.

        “See you guys,” I said as I pursued my usual path.  

        “Later, loser,” Sandy said with a fake attitude, and walked on.  

        I looked forward to Psych class all day.  I felt like I was in middle school all over again, and was a bit embarrassed about it. The day passed as it always does, with some anticipation of the end.  Soon it was eighth hour: Psych class with Mrs. Brown.  I always thought her name was appropriate.  She wasn’t an engaging woman, kind of homely, but she did have information I enjoyed hearing about, which is why Psych had been my favorite class even before my realization of Sawyer had taken up space in my brain.  I walked into Psych right as the bell was ringing, having had to make a pit-stop in the office to turn in my graduation plan.  I looked around and saw Sandy sitting near the window where we usually sit, but I didn’t see Sawyer anywhere.  Just my luck I thought to myself.  Typical that the one thing I was looking forward to was gone already.

        “Did Sawyer text you last night,” Sandy whispered and formed a statement out of her question which made me think she had given him an ultimatum to contact me.  

        “Yea, it was weird.  We never even talk.” I knew that’s what made me insecure about this whole deal, but I still gave words to the thought.

        “Yea, so what?  He asked me about you and I thought you guys would be perfect together.”

        “Sandy, I HAVE a boyfriend.”

        “Who, Andrew?  He’s a jerk and you know it.”

        She was right.  But he was my life right now.  He was a constant, something that made me feel alive at times.  

        “Sandy, seriously, he’s not THAT bad.”

        “Harper, he didn’t even get you a birthday present, and he flirts with every girl who shakes her ass at him.”

        “I know,” I said in defeat, looking down at my paper as if it was my last will.  “Where is Sawyer, anyway?”

        “I don’t know, he got called to the office last hour and I haven’t seen him since. I tried texting him and he didn’t respond.”  

        “Girls, stop the side conversations, please.” Mrs. Brown looked like she had been ready to end the day hours ago, and I felt sorry for her.  

        Class ended.  The day ended and I began heading to my locker to grab a few things before heading home.  When I got to my locker, I checked my phone, which unlike many of my friends, I wasn’t really attached to. There was a text from my mom, which I skipped, and a text from Sawyer.  As I was about to read it, Andrew came walking my way.

        “Hey,” I said as I shoved my phone in my pocket.  Why I cared if he saw me texting another guy, I don’t really know.  He never gave me the same consideration. “I thought you were on a college visit today.” As I spoke I hoped the lack of longing didn’t show.  

        “I wanted to see my girl, and I had to pick up something from Sean.”  He grabbed my waist and leaned his head down to kiss my neck.  My eyes wandered to the hallway cameras, half embarrassed, half hoping we’d get caught.  

        “Andrew, stop, somebody will see,” I pleaded in a girlfriend-teasing way as he brushed my hips with his fingers.  I was getting good at this role I thought.  

        “Who gives a damn, Har?  Shit, you always try to push me away.  You know if I need to find someway to get my needs met and end up cheating on you, it will be your fault, right?” His biceps flexed a little as he took his hand from my waist.  How can someone so shallow, be so nice to look at?

        “Andrew!” Sean called from down the hall, “Are you coming with us or what?!”

        “Yea, wait up!” Andrew looked at me for a second and instead of leaning in for the kiss good-bye, turned and half jogged away.

        I stood in the empty hallway hearing the janitor whistling a few classrooms away, and I decided to check my phone.  

        Sorry I missed you after school.  Text me.

I didn’t know if I wanted to text anyone.  I didn’t know if I wanted to see or talk to anyone for a long time.  I didn’t answer him, put the phone in my pocket and walked toward the exit.  

        On my walk home I watched the sidewalk like an old film.  The cracks with grass peeking out were like characters with bit parts in the drama of my life.  I walked past my street and continued to where the sidewalk turned to grass, and then trees.  The far end of town was part of a park, and had paths I walked for hours, rain, shine, hot, or cold.  As I began to feel the sporatic root and dirt path beneath my feet, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.  

        Did I just see you walk into the park? The text was from Sawyer, and I was a little uncomfortable hoping he didn’t see me paying close attention the sidewalk.  

        Maybe.  Why?

        Stop, I’ll catch up to you.

        Ok. I froze.  I felt excited and vulnerable all at once, and soon I heard quick footsteps growing closer and I turned around.  

        “Hey.” Sawyer was out of breath, but his smile looked genuine.  

        I giggled semi-nervously, “So where did you come from, stalker?”

        “Oh, yeah, my grandma lives about three blocks that way.”  He pointed in the direction of my street. “I often hang with her because it’s closer to school.”

        “Gotcha.”

        “Well what are you doing over here? Is anyone with you?” He looked around almost as if he was hoping no one would be there.

        “I’m a huge dork.  I just like to walk in these woods by myself.”  I felt like I was making a confession to a priest.  This was a side of me I didn’t share with many people.  In fact being alone was something I usually did, ALONE.

        “Whatever, I don’t think that’s dorky.  So where do you usually walk, or is it a big secret?”  Sawyer spoke in a light-hearted manner, smiling that smile I could not get out of my head.  A smile that was kind of sideways.  Sideways and real.

        “Well let’s walk the sun down,” I suggested and began to move towards the farthest footpath in view.  

        We walked for awhile and talked intermittently about music, school, and what we might want to do after graduation.  The sun became an amber glow through the trees signalling the coming of evening and soon our feet were walking on the hard surface of the sidewalk and as if with automatic momentum I was in my own bed, thinking of the way being with Sawyer was effortless.  It was the thoughts that lulled me to sleep; it was the thoughts that woke me in the morning.  

        Our walks became a usual thing.  I grew distant from Andrew, who I had only tolerated for the last six months.  I had been told he’d hooked up with a college girl at a party, but I didn’t care.  I didn’t even investigate the issue.  I felt vindicated with each interaction with Sawyer.  I didn’t intentionally set out to be unfaithful, or unethical, but the friendship was something I knew meant more to me than it should.  

        It was a rainy day when school ended for the weekend and Andrew texted me begging for some time.  He said he ‘missed me’ and that he was sorry his sports schedule kept him so busy.  So that’s what they are calling it? A ‘sports schedule’? I thought.  I ignored the request and continued my way to the path, and I saw Sawyer there, as usual.  It had become a routine for us, and we knew more about each other than I ever thought possible.  

        The rain had lightened to a mist in the air and I caught eyes with Sawyer as I walked.  I approached him and we froze looking at each other for what seemed like minutes.  I began to lead the way until Sawyer grabbed by arm and turned me towards him, my eyes facing down the street towards my house, and further past, the school.  

        “It’s time,” Sawyer said.

        I stepped with the momentum of the pull of my hand and looked quizzically into his eyes. “For what?”

        “This…” Sawyer’s lips met mine and I relaxed in his grip like a traveler rescued from a storm.  The electricity of his kiss made my body feel like a light cloud, and I leaned into him with the passion I’d been saving for the right person to come along.  I opened my eyes for a second to see if this was really happening and in the distance I saw Andrew walking down the sidewalk towards where we were.  I saw him stop.  Briefly our eyes met and then, I breathed, and closed my eyes.