I’m not sure when things changed.
He tugged at his dark caramel hair, staring down at his notebook, head ducked in that same shy manner. That hadn’t changed much. Even in the sixth grade I could remember the way he sat there, slouched in on himself, trying to look smaller. I’d thought back then that he needed to straighten up, puff his chest out proudly, and face everything head on—be more like me.
But it changed.
He chewed on his pen cap, similar to how he used to chew on the eraser of his pencil when we were younger. But back then it was annoying. I’d been so focused on how bad of a habit it was, tugging at his arm, telling him he’ll ruin his teeth. But now, lips parted around the tip of the pen, his dark eyes lift to find my gaze on him and his eyes flicker back down, cheeks flooding with color—I know it’s my fault. It’s how I’m looking at him. God, I wonder what expression I’m wearing right now.
The bell rings and he stiffens, swallowing hard. He ducks his head, biting his lip nervously as he pushes his things into his bag. He won’t look at me. Maybe it’s for the best. If he looks at me we might not make it home. To his room. Alone. I lick my lips, forcing my eyes back to my own things, dumping my book in my bag before rising from my seat.
I tug at my collar, impatiently waiting for him.
Always waiting for him.
“Hurry up.” My tone is harsh. He doesn’t even flinch, eyes rising to meet mine.
He swallows again.
Am I sweating? My whole body feels hot as he straightens beside me, shorter than me by four inches, thinner build. Our last period is a free period—we won’t be here for it.
“Theo!” I glance to my right. It’s Chelsea, my crush since pre-k. She’s smiling at me, beaming really, her blue eyes popping against the red of her long hair. “Are you coming to the game tonight?”
Oh that. “Yeah.”
“I thought you were trying out for the team this year?” She’s pouting. I should feel something with those full lips pursed, those wide blue eyes focused on me—but all I feel is aggravation. She’s talking too much is all I can think as I shrug, wishing people would stop bringing up the football thing. None of the tenth graders start anyway so it's not even like I'd get decent field time. Besides, how do I tell them that I missed tryouts because I was preoccupied with something else? Glancing back at Phil, I see him looking at her and he has this expression of resolute calm. For some reason, it angers me because I know what he’s thinking. “Well, I’ll see you tonight then!” she says, bubbly, overly friendly, giving me a suggestive wink.
Phil averts his eyes and I feel the anger.
The anger that pulls at me every time he doubts himself.
“Hurry up,” I say again, even more biting this time and he rolls his eyes leading the way out of the room, out of the school, down the familiar street.
He won’t look at me.
And the heat, the one I still feel, the one that burns through me all night when I’m alone—I worry that it’s not there for him anymore. He looks tired. Withdrawn. And so the anger burns, like a spark upon the embers, quickly picking up steam, threatening my sanity. I’m at the brink as we climb the front porch of his house, my toe tapping angrily, nails biting into the straps of my book bag as he fumbles with his keys. He’s doing this on purpose, I think. Taking so long. Making me wait.
And then he drops the keys.
I feel something snap inside of me like a rubber band drawn too tight and grab the keys, pushing him out of the way as I force the key into the hole, pushing the door open angrily. He’d stumbled a bit, jostled by me, but not far enough away as my hand grips his shirt, shoving him into the house and slamming the door shut in one swift motion, locking it. I’m breathing hard. It’s like there’s a monster inside of me, something terrible coming to the surface as I grab for him.
He doesn’t fight me as I slam him back against the door, kissing him deeply, angrily. He’s trying to accommodate me even as I slam him back again, my hips grinding forward into his. There’s so much clothing. So little time. “Calm down,” he whines against my mouth.
Calm down, he says. Calm down?
My body slams him back again and he whimpers as I pull his hair, craning his neck, my other hand already fumbling with my pants.
Lips pressed to his, my voice an angry rasp. "Calm me down." I don't even sound like me.
He already knows what I want, sinking to his knees even before I can push him downwards, my hand tangled in his hair. He opens his mouth obediently and my eyes roll upwards, pleasure pulling at me at the familiar feeling. I hiss when his teeth scrape me so I jerk forward, making him gag in response. Looking down at him, taking in the taboo before me, his dark eyes watery as they rise to meet my gaze, I press my other palm against the wall thinking about how this is all his fault.
Even if I was the one who started it.