I know I’m not a particularly interesting date. Hell, I know I’m not even an interesting person. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I have virtually no friends, or maybe even because I’m not a very trusting individual. I’m wary of others to the point where I’m sure strangers can see me clearly eyeing them down on the street—not because they’re cute—but because I don’t know what they’re capable of. There’s some old quote out there that I can’t be bothered to Google, but it goes something like this: “There’s no reason to be afraid of the dead. It’s the living who can hurt you.”
Surprisingly enough, I’ve scored myself a date. It’s Summertime, and I’m fresh out of high school. They say the Summer before you go to college is the best. I’m going to James Madison University in August, so that means I have nearly three months before my life starts. Anyway, my date is with someone from high school that was friends with one of my exes. That was how we met. That relationship did not end well, but I’m happy to report that I am in a better place now. I really think he agreed to the date only due to the fact that he was accustomed to my dark humor and eccentric personality. He might even like it.
* * *
I asked you to get in my car and drive with me to school. Surprisingly enough, I did not have to convince you. We were walking to my car, and for a split second, it felt like we hadn’t broken up. I was making awkward chit chat and blatantly avoiding the subject of my feelings and of what I wanted, deep down, to do once we got in the car. I held back my impulses and I simply turned it on. We flashed each other sideways glances and uncomfortable smiles almost as if we had never met before.
We got to the school, and you crawled into the backseat only to outstretch your legs. You opened your arms as an invitation for me to crawl back there with you. I did. It was too dangerous to do this again: to sit here and think of the past. But damn did we feel high in each other’s arms. We spoke mindless conversation—the good kind of conversation though—the kind where you say aloud all of the things that you think right before falling asleep and had no one to say them to. But speaking them out loud makes them sound less prophetic than they do in our heads. “We are so stupid,” he told me. He was referring to the fact that we were spooning in the back of a car merely three months after our breakup.
Just like that, it ended. You took your own face in your hands in frustration with yourself. “We are so stupid,” you told me again. I turned off the car and popped the trunk, so we could get our backpacks and go to whatever period it was. He became worked up while walking to the school. I made him late for class, I made him act on impulse, and I made him reject me a second time. He was hurt too, I could tell, but he wouldn’t admit it. I left him standing there as he shouted to me in the hallway, asking if I was okay. I didn’t even turn around to see him leave. He knew, though. He knew I would go home and cry myself to sleep. He knew I was broken all over again.
* * *
As I’m standing on the sidewalk, I see Ryan’s gray Acura pull up. I hop in the passenger seat and I see the smile of a friend that I’ve known for years, all throughout my relationship with Jake, and yet he took the time to get to know me in the year after it ended. I’m staring at the face of a really nice guy—I hope I don’t fuck this up. We’re grabbing pizza before we head back to his place, and I’m excited. I haven’t hung out with him alone throughout all the time I’ve known him. I’ve heard of legendary parties being held at his house, but my parents never allowed me to go to them.
We pull up to his beautiful house—it almost seems he isn’t aware of the grandeur of this log cabin in which he lives. I take the pizza box in my hands and we go up to the game room. I finally walk in and see it—it’s not a spectacularly amazing room, by any means. The fake tiles are peeling up from the sub-floor, there’s an unused air hockey table pushed to the corner of the room, and the place definitely smells like how you would think a room devoted to hosting groups of ten adolescent boys every weekend smells. I admire it anyway. I admire the fact that I’m there with Ryan, and there is pizza and a very nice flat screen television. After we finish eating, we begin to exclusively pay attention to the show we’re watching. After sitting with him for a while, I ask if he wants to lay down. He says yes, and we start to spoon on the black leather couch. I begin to remember vividly the event that I thought I forgot: the last time I spooned with someone.
As difficult as it is, I’m forced to realize that I have to move on. I felt that, for the longest time, I was the one being hurt. I was the victim of everyone around me, and humans weren’t meant to be trusted. The single thing that changed my mind about society was the simple act of spooning on that couch with Ryan. I realized that people aren’t malicious in nature at all, really, I just gave them too much power in controlling my emotions. It’s safe to say I can start being afraid of the dead again.