My heart stops, I’m plunged into memories.
There you are, dressed for the prom, your arm around her. I’ve not seen a single photo of you in more than twenty years. Every memento I had of you, every photo, every note we passed in class, was destroyed by a jealous boyfriend back when we were still young.
He was right to be suspicious.
You were my first boyfriend, you sat in front of me in seventh grade Mythology. I’ve made this into my own myth. Tall, taller even then me, brown eyes, brown hair, people asked if we were brother and sister. “He’s trouble,” is what everyone said when I’d mention your name.
Notes passed back and forth until the first snowfall, our first kiss. I mimicked what I saw in movies, wide hungry mouth, hands pressing the back of your head. I shoved my tongue down your throat until you pushed me away.
Practice made perfect.
I’ve been having dreams since I saw your photo. I wake up so thoroughly convinced that I’m still with you that I feel like a time traveler: It’s October, the air is warm, trees rustle. We tentatively hold hands, palms sweaty. Alan sits on the concrete steps outside the wide double doors of the school. We’re all so young, so new to love. None of us has betrayed the other yet, everything is simple. I turn to you to speak and then I wake up in the dark.
I should have waited for you. I’m still convinced of that, even after all this time. We wanted to be each other’s first, even after we’d broken up and reached that age where french kissing is no longer enough. On impulse and by accident, I went first. You were hurt, angry, in that raw way only teenagers can hurt. You went on a camping trip. I heard it right from Mary Ann, she was apologetic. I couldn’t be angry. I failed us first.
I don’t remember now when we first had sex. I remember the night on the hill, the living room, your bedroom, but I don’t know anymore which one came first. I can’t remember what our sex was like, I can’t remember your smell or your touch.
I remember later on, your girlfriends became suspicious when I came back around. They all had good reason. We were each others weakness for years. I’d sit next to you, head resting on your shoulder, wrapped in a blanket while you’d try to convince the girl on the phone that you were alone, that no, nothing was up, you really were alone. Out of breath because you ran for the phone at three in the morning.
I took satisfaction in those moments, knowing you’d betray anyone for a night with me.
I thought I saw you a few years ago, you know. I went back home for the county fair. You walked by and reflexively, I yelled your name. You didn’t hear me in the din of carnival barkers and merry-go-round music. You were surrounded by romping, giggling children. You picked up a little girl, swung her up on your shoulders, another child clutched your hand.
It hit me. These are your children! I’d never considered you’d gone on to have a life of your own. That you’d marry too, you’d build a life after we moved on, grew up and ventured out into the world.
In my mind, we’re frozen somewhere in time, twelve years old, kissing as the snow falls around us.