She thought of five reasons not to call him back.
you met when you were fifteen. he was seventeen and he was beautiful. there is truly no other word to describe it- he was beautiful. he had short brown hair and blue eyes ringed with black and plump red lips and cheek bones that could slice a finger and a jaw line to kill for. he had the type of face that could change a life.
he had the type of face that changed yours.
he called you fairy girl. you were so small and so young and there was never enough air when you were around him, so in the loveliest sort of way, with every kiss he gave you his breath.
“you’re going to break my heart” he said to you once.
he was trying to light a cigarette, his fingers slipping on the lighter, the cool breeze blowing out the flame every time it flickered on. you had just gone to the burger place in town and you were on the bridge over the freeway, throwing stale french fries at the passing cars.
“what?” it was almost like winter had stolen your voice, reached in with grasping fingers and plucked it right out of your throat. you were so small and so young.
“you’re going to break my heart, fairy girl. i don’t know when, but it’s gonna happen.” he said, the cigarette lit between his fingers, the embers glowing bright red in the grey afternoon.
you took a shaky breath, “i think it’s the other way around”
he looked up at you and laughed, shaking his head, eyes wide open as if he really just couldn’t believe what you said. he finished his cigarette and tossed it over and you watched it become a crushed, withered thing under the rubber tires of passing cars.
you were undefined. you yearned for him to call you his girlfriend, to identify you as something more than the little sophomore he hung out with and sometimes kissed, to make whatever you had a real thing, something that you could look back on and remember completely. he never did.
once, in front of his friends, gorgeous girls with razor cut black hair and ripped jeans and lean boys with sharp grins and long hair, he grabbed you by the hip and pulled you into him, slowly running his fingers up and down your torso, slightly pulling up the hem of your shirt. he was talking to them about a band or something and suddenly one of the girls looked at his hand casually wrapped around your waist and smirked.
“is this your new toy?” she asked, staring directly at him, not even glancing at you.
“no, i like this one. fairy girl over here is going to save me.” he responded, his fingers digging tighter into your skin.
later, you asked.
it was early winter, the flourescent street lights illuminating the dying flowers, casting an orange glow on the dry grass. you were in his car, a present he got from his executive dad when he turned sixteen. the engine was off and you were cringing at the muted yells you could hear coming from your house.
your parents were literally screaming at each other and it was so fucking embarrassing, the whole fucking neighborhood could hear them and all you could think was, jesus, can’t they just get divorced or something already. you were blushing a little, heat driving up your cheeks but he turned up the music a little and suddenly you couldn’t hear anything but the sound of some shitty indie band and your own breathing.
“what the hell do you mean i’m going to save you?”
he had driven you home and you were going to let it go, really, you were. you were going to kiss him good bye and push open the car door and walk in and work as the negotiator between your parents. they were like two unmoving icebergs and most nights, you sank. you were going to say good bye and go inside and never mention anything. but you hesitated.
confusion drew thin lines between his brows. “i was just spouting shit. it doesn’t mean anything.”
suddenly, this irrational anger flooding your chest and your ears and your heart. nobody was listening and nothing was okay and there was no one to take it out on but him.
“does anything matter to you? you say things you don’t mean and you don’t even call me by my real name and i don’t even know what we are. do we mean anything?”
he almost laughed and then, he just kissed you and he tasted like trident spearmint and he was cupping your cheeks, brushing away tears you didn’t even know was there.
“you mean a lot. i don’t hang out with people i don’t care about and i definitely don’t kiss them. you mean a lot, fairy girl, you really do.”
you were reassured, pacified for the night. your lips tingled and you kissed him again and you went home.
he took you to a friend’s party for new years. it was also your birthday, sixteen finally and you were having your party with your parents and friends the next night.
your mom was pregnant, a surprise that allowed your parents to take a “new step in the right direction” for their marriage. they were giggly and loving and they even canceled their appointments with their marriage counselor. your mom was reading one of her old maternity books on the couch, rubbing her sightly swollen stomach and your father told you to have fun.
he was wearing jeans and a shirt, a little wrinkled but regardless, he looked prettier than you. sometimes it really shocked you, how fucking pretty he was, as if aphrodite had personally oversaw his making. he gave you a necklace from kay’s or zara’s or something, one of those diamond stores that make those obnoxious commercials around christmas and valentine’s day. it was stunning, this emerald thing that according to the little paper that came with it was called the ‘fairies jewel’.
“cus you’re my fairy girl” he said, a little grin on his face.
the party was held at his friend’s house, older kids with older ideas. you were in a dress while everyone else was in ratty jeans and t-shirts and you felt young and awkward and stupid. he brought you a beer, then another, then another and it was disgusting, like sweat and piss mixed together but everyone else was drinking and you didn’t want to be a kid anymore. it didn’t matter anyway because soon you could barely remember your name.
you found an empty bedroom and it was almost chaotic the way he kissed you, like he wanted to swallow you whole. his hands were everywhere and you had awkward, tipsy fingers, unknowing but willing.
he asked you once, you remember that, he did ask and you did say yes. you remember that it hurt. you remember that half way, someone pushed open the door and he cursed and they slammed it shut. you remember hearing people screaming out a countdown and you closed your eyes and exhaled and it was a new year.
the next morning, it was like someone had broken your skull into a thousand pieces and let a four year old put it back together. he took you out to breakfast and the pancakes and coffee tasted like nothing. you were wearing clothes you found in one of the drawers in the bedroom and they smelled like weed. your hair was tangled and you desperately wanted to shower.
you were silent throughout the trip home and he was too.
“are you ok?” he mumbled. he was scratching the back of his neck, fingers tapping on the steering wheel.
you smiled tightly and kissed him, one hand on the door handle. you tasted anxiety on his lips and you knew he tasted the same on yours. you didn’t know where your necklace had gone and you supposed it was lost somewhere inside your dress, collapsed on the bedroom floor.
you disintegrated afterwards, but did you expect any less?
it was quick, sudden, how little you spoke when with him. how little he spoke back. how there were empty silences and hollow holes.
you were on that bridge again, but you were older and colder and you got your wish, fairy girl, because you were not a kid anymore.
“i knew you were going to break my heart”, he said into the early spring air. he wasn’t looking at you, leaning against the railing, his eyes focusing in and out at the cars driving by.
your eyes were dry and there was so much to say and so little to say and you ended up saying nothing.
he drove you home and you didn’t see him for two weeks. one of his friends, that girl who smirked and said you were his new toy, called you once.
“it’s not your fault or anything. it’s just how he deals with his break-ups. it happened to me too. anyway, he’s graduating this year so i’m actually pretty surprised you even lasted this long.”
“you keep breathing and cry a little and you get the fuck over it.”
and you did.
he called you last night. you didn’t get the message yet, it’s still on voicemail. you were playing with your little sister and didn’t hear your phone.
he’s going to say hello. he’s going to say that college changed him, that he’s really happy at nyu , that his professors are brilliant and his classes are incredibly eye-opening. he’ll say he doesn’t like the city, doesn’t like the anonymity. he’s going to laugh a little and your heart will stutter because his laugh is what always got you. he’s going to say that he thought he’d love new york only because everyone’s a stranger but he finally figured out that he like being known, that he likes knowing people, that he likes knowing you. he’s going to ask if he can see you when he visits during winter break. he’s going to say he misses you. he’s going to call you fairy girl. he’s going to be completely sincere. without saying it, he will convey the regret and the desperation and the fact that he really does and always had loved you.
don’t call him back.