I ask you out, because I’ve waited three years for you to do it and you never have. By phone, of course. I make the call from the downstairs bathroom, the only place I’m sure no one will hear me. I’m pretty sure you’ll say yes because we played floor hockey last weekend and I crushed you, and then afterward you got me a piece of cake and smiled that smile that made my insides shiver and told me you liked the way I french-braided my hair.
We go to a school dance together. I wear a beautiful cobalt dress that I bought for $10 and you wear a shirt that’s the wrong color blue. I don’t care, I say, but it makes me sad because we don’t quite fit. When we slow dance, I am painfully aware that I am taller than you. We look over each other’s shoulders. We do not speak. When you drop me off at home you ask if I want to be your girlfriend, and I say yes.
As you leave I wonder why that doesn’t make me happy.
Over Christmas break, you invite me to your house for dinner. I am not expecting very much from a sixteen-year-old boy in terms of culinary skills, but you surprise me by serving me a cheeseburger on a candlelit table right next to your Christmas tree. I think you can tell how impressed I am by the way I keep meeting your eyes over our water glasses. As we are clearing our plates, I reach over and touch your arm and say thank you. We are both startled by the gesture. I hold my breath as I feel our heartbeats swelling in unison, every nerve in my body going up in flames.
Later we watch a movie, your arm draped stiffly over my shoulders. I am uncomfortable but do not move because I am afraid you’ll remember that you’re touching me. I am torn between the buzzing in my skin that means we are close and the stinging in my bladder that means I have to pee. Ultimately I decide to pee.
When I break up with you in the English wing after school, I give you a quick hug to let you know it’s not your fault. As I watch you walk away I realize that’s the closest thing to a kiss I’ve given you in four months.