Darko

We eat the pot brownies Alex's mom made right out of the pan, our fingers sticky and sweet, chocolate caked around the blunt curves of our fingernails. She smokes a cigarette in the kitchen, paging through an Avon catalog, and tells me with a wink that I'm not allowed to drive for a few more hours. When she smiles, her eyelids droop slightly, just like Alex's. I smile back and then follow Alex from the room.

Curled on the living room couch, he asks if I've ever seen Donnie Darko, words slowed down to a warm slur as he fumbles with the remote. We curl on the couch like cats, winter kept at bay outside the window. Halfway through the movie, he falls asleep, sagging against my shoulder. I, feel his heartbeat through our T-shirts and my own heart threatens to explode, body rolling on heavy waves of heat. He wakes back up when the movie is almost over, staying close to my side, close enough that I can feel him tense as a gunshot booms on screen.

We go up to his room when the movie is over, leaving the TV on with the credits rolling, and I'm feeling empty and half asleep like words falling down through darkness. Belly down across his bedspread, I let Alex touch his lips to the back of my neck, just once. Each hair on my body makes my skin tingle, charged with buzzing electricity. My mouth curls around "cellardoor," my lips brushing his bedspread like I'm practicing, imaging what kissing him might feel like.

He sits up and the room is silent and still but I feel his weight moving the mattress like waves rolling gently beneath me. His bedroom turns into a dark sea. I'm drowning, not swimming.

"Tell me something about you that no one else knows," he requests, his voice disembodied and vibrating through the ocean and into my bones.

"Um... I don't know. Like what?" I say, I laugh, "I don't know."

He laughs too and spreads out on his back beside me. I peek at him from beneath my armpit, my cellar door, and he shrugs. "I don't know. Anything."

Thoughts vacate my mind, brain resonating with an echo of cellardoorcellardoorcellardoor on repeat. I shake my head to clear it and still nothing comes to mind, so he says, "I'll tell you something I've never told anyone. I really like you."

In seconds I go from being disappointed in finding out some secret inner working of his psyche - of erasing the mystery and finding a human underneath - to being disappointed to hear something so trite drip from his lips. My chest feels ready to cave in like a plane is crashing through my breastbone. I crawl back into the cavity of my folded arms and his bed. He touches my arm, right under the hem of my T-shirt's sleeve, and I can't say nothing, I know, but my tongue is dry.

"I like you too," I finally say.

His lips bump against mine, cottonmouth making them a desert island in the middle of the waves. The second time they brush against mine, I kiss back.

Everything's in slow motion, the touch of his tongue against mine, his hands hot on my skin, head light like we're floating through a dream. My thoughts stop racing and there's only us, only him anchoring me here and I'm not sure if I want to be anchored or if I want to float down the hall and out of his house and down all the streets of our town until I feel far away and safe and certain of everything.

Instead, we fall asleep, bodies entwined by green vines still twisting through our bloodstreams, dragged down by the gravity of life outside his bedroom door: snow falling, his mom making dinner, planes crashing, everything, a pull too strong to resist.

When I wake up an hour later, Alex is still curled into a ball by my side. For a moment, I don't move, studying the way his eyelids are a dull shade of lavender when they're shut, the way his sides rise and fall with his breathing, organs beneath bones beneath skin. I think of waking him up and continuing things where we left off, but it feels too far away now, like a dream peeking in on the edges of my mind, unobtainable. I get up slowly. He moans and stretches but doesn't wake.

Outside his bedroom, the house is silent. I contemplate time travel as I slip into my coat, shivering, sling my backpack over my shoulder and slip out the front door.

Alex's mom is sitting on the front porch, wrapped up in Alex's winter coat, a cigarette held loosely between her fingers. She glances over her shoulder at me, smiles, brushes her hair back behind one ear.

"Not staying for dinner? Are you okay to drive?" She surveys the dark circles under my eyes, my heavy eyelids.

I lick my lips, chapped from the cold and her son's mouth, and I shrug. "It's okay. I'm okay." I shrug again and look first at her then at my car parked at the curb, back to her again.

She exhales a stream of smoke and pinches the bridge of her nose with a sigh. "We mean well. Really, we do."

I nod. "I know."

Cigarette pressed to her pursed lips, she smiles but it doesn't meet her eyes. "Drive safely."

Inside my car, I wait to turn on my engine, wait for the dome light to fade out until shadows descend around me. The streetlight on the corner doesn't reach me with its long fingertips, leaving me in darkness for just a moment, a darkness less warm and inviting than Alex's bedroom but it's too late to go back. On the porch, his mom's cigarette ember burns bright red as she inhales. I exhale, start my car, and drive away.


AN: Just a shorty. Hope you liked it. I haven't written fiction in a long time so feedback is more than welcome.