I’ll Give You The Sun (unofficial scene)
My skin prickles with excitement or maybe it’s just fear. I don’t know. My legs feel like lead that I have to keep lifting high enough to take each step. My hands are clammy and it’s not even that hot. My chest feels like a piece of wood the nail is being driven into. The words keep appearing in my head over and over : I’ll be there. Was he messing with me? Brian isn’t someone who’d do that but how could I know that. I haven’t seen him for years. For all I know, he would have drastically changed. But here I am, finally getting to see, repenting for my mistakes and hoping…maybe hoping there’s a chance for another.
The woods seem like they’ve changed, as if the trees simply sprouted legs and changed places. Maybe they know something’s happening today. They’re watching me, every move, every breath. Every single day without fail, I’ve been here, been within the envelope of this sanctity. Today it’s like breathing fire. Jumping off Devil’s Drop seems like a much better option.
I imagine being at CSA, painting and drawing behind a canvas. Would it feel as liberating as it used to be? The pressure to be perfect would begin to grow, it might not feel like second nature. It’s been so long since my hands have created. I look down at my hands, the lines that run along my palms, and the shapes of my fingers. It’s been so long. I don’t know if I’m ready for it yet. Jude’s jealously might have been a good thing after all. It loosened the screws for me, released the tension that made me want to be better than her, better than others, to be the Michelangelo of art. I’m me now. I’m my own person. I’m Noah the artist now. Not Picasso the artist or anyone else, wanting to be better and perfect.
I lean against a tree and breathe in the forest air. My fingers curl around the rock in my pocket, the one Brian gave me years ago on the rooftop of my house. One of his broken meteors. In the distance is CSA, the back of the studio crowded by the trees. I decide to visit it sometime, it holds memories after all. Memories of Oscar. Huh. I snort. Oscar. Jude somehow managed to find Oscar amongst every other guy who lives here. Oscar of all! Oscar bloody Ralph! That’s where I got to know Brian too. Brian who watched me swear like a madman and sit outside the studio for a very long time just so I can have classes. It’s embarrassing every time I remember it.
I start to wonder about him, what he might be like now. Maybe he’s tall, like really tall and funny and smart and popular and just Brian. He was all those things before and maybe he’s a better version of all that now. He’s coming to meet plain old Noah. I’ve created a wall of lies around me, everything I’ve done and pretended to be, all lies. Perhaps he might not come after all, maybe he’ll think it’s a waste of time, there’s absolutely no reason why he’d want to see me anyway. It’s stupid. I’m stupid for thinking we might have something. I’m stupid for wanting him after all this time. He could’ve found someone at Stanford. Someone who’s not a weird, fake Picasso. He doesn’t need to see this lying version of myself.
There’s a moment when I feel like I need to leave, to pretend this never happened but it’s like I’m stuck here. The trees won’t let me go just yet. I can’t get up to leave but my stomach is squirming with every minute that passes. It was a crazy idea to send him drawing after drawing from my invisible museum. What was I even thinking? At the time it felt like the only way to get through to Brian, to apologize, to show him how I feel. Now it feels like I’ve made a mistake. What if he didn’t like any of the art? But then he wouldn’t say he’d be here. But he could also be taking the piss at me.
If mum had never caught us that day in the bedroom, I wonder if this would be different, if we would be different. Brian might have stayed for a long time. If that stupid closet game hadn’t happened, then I wouldn’t have avoided Brian, everything would’ve been right, mum would’ve never caught us, Brian would be here. Nothing would’ve gone wrong. But things always go wrong. We’ve got a knack for bad luck.
The leaves stir and the trees yawn, and I drag my gaze towards them. Jude had given me the trees for Oscar, not just the trees, everything but the flowers. She sacrificed almost all of her world for Oscar. I know…I can feel their love like a thick string that won’t break, that rolls longer, the distance they part. I want that with Brian. We have something too, I know we do. I wouldn’t be wanting him after so long if we didn’t. I remember mum’s words. Stay true to your heart, she said. I wonder if she’s here, watching me waiting for Brian. I wonder if she’s smiling with Grandma Sweetwine. Only Jude would know. Jude sees their ghosts.
When the light seeps through the forest, getting sucked away to another part of the world, and paints the sunset as farewell, I begin to grow anxious. I was an hour early, to calm my racing heart and to get my wits together. I wanted to be the first one here. I hadn’t brought a watch but I know it’s a little bit past five o’clock. Would he have kipped out like this? The Brian I knew wouldn’t, but I know nothing about the Brian now. It’s still too early to panic or feel disappointed. I can’t help it. I pull out the brushes and start painting in my head. I paint the Brian I imagine him to be now.
I paint an angry Brian, squinted eyes, turned lips and red cheeks, tossing a single rock in his right hand. I paint him in colours after that, lots and lots of colours that speak his soul. The rocks lay by his feet, floating and the colours that flood out of him like waves are dotted with stars. He is the stars, he is everything this world has to offer in this thick haze of untruths and alienation. How cheesy. This is something Jude would think although it seems like we’ve switched personalities over the years.
Leaves crunch underneath heavy footsteps and everything melts in my head. I drop the brushes, I throw the canvas and I am standing up with frantic fervor, wiping my hands on the bottom of my jeans. My stomach drops, turning uncomfortably with each breath held moment.
He appears like a blinding star and the trees move to let him through. His flaming hair has been cropped short, exposed. He’s grown taller and broader around the shoulders and I can only imagine what I must look like to him. I am tall and big but not as big as he has grown to be. He smiles but I stare at his squinty eyes, my favourite part of him. The closer he gets, the shorter my breath becomes. There’s no bounce to his steps anymore, there’s no bag of meteorites in his hand like I kept imagining him to be.
“Hi.” He greets. I drop my gaze and kick at a stone. The familiar sound of his voice reminds me of old times.
You haven’t changed. I scoff, in my head at least. I have changed I want to scream at him, I have changed because of you but none of that matters anymore. All that change is built on a foundation of utter lies. “Hi.” I say instead, hardly breathing at all. Are my lungs even working?
It’s like the world has stopped spinning the moment Brian steps into my circle. I remember the day he threw stones at Zephyr and Fry, the day when it felt like he was on my side, a freak like me, revolutionaries. I don’t know if we’re still the same anymore, maybe somewhere deep. I know he’s changed a lot of things but he’d been brave and strong. He became who he is inside by not being a coward, but me, I am one. Who I am inside isn’t who I am on the outside.
“You’re quiet.” Brian flicks at my shoulder. I wonder how he can smile after everything I’d done. He doesn’t look mad at all.
“I’ve always been quiet.” I tell him. He laughs.
“Not in your head, you’re not.”
It makes me look up and I am immediately entranced by his copper eyes, bright and shimmering like the stars that fall out of his bag. “I thought you’d be mad.”
“Why?” I watch his hands slip into the pockets of his trousers. There aren’t any pockets on me. I can’t do anything with my hands, I let them hang by my sides, hoping I don’t do anything stupid.
“You know why.” This whole thing is making me feel weird. Why had I even agreed to this? Jesus. I’m going to mess this up real bad. Where’s effing Clark Gable when you need him? “How–how have you been?”
He shrugs, moving his hands in his pockets. “Good I guess. Stanford’s pretty good. I’m sure you’ve heard of–stuff.” Of course I have. I don’t tell him that.
“I’m sorry. I missed you.” Is all that comes out of my mouth. My mouth needs a jail, not my hands. I should be apologizing more. He should be getting mad at me, yelling even, fists flying. We should be talking about what’s happened in the past few years of our lives and what not. Not about how I’m missing him. I know he does too. Nothing seems to matter in this bubble of mine he has stepped back into. I can’t even pick up the brushes in my head. I am too focused on his eyes, the way they move and change colour, his lips and the space between his teeth.
“You know,” He says, moving closer and prompting me to take a step backwards. “I’ve missed you too.” I gulp, watching his hands emerge out of his pockets. My chest is thumping like a freaking jack hammer. I remember the two boys at the party. Is it going to be us again? That same feeling under this same tree? What if it doesn’t feel the same anymore? Not even that stupid bird is here to yell Where the hell is Ralph? anymore. In my head I ask him if he’s kissed anyone else, another boy and if he liked it. In my head he’s saying yes, nodding.
His hands rest against my chest and I back against the tree. Why is it always a tree? We could kiss on Devil’s Drop. Wouldn’t that be ironic? I laugh in my head. My stomach churns. His hands are big and warm. They sear through my shirt, through my skin, touching the red, beating thing in my chest. He breathes in my face. I breathe on his face. I wonder if my breath stinks. I should’ve popped a mint or something. His smells like chocolate.
And then I’m kissing him. Hard and frantic. My head explodes with fireworks, the type of fireworks that are colourful and not burning. Brian is all over me, his hands, on my back, in the loop of my sweatpants, underneath my shirt. Mine are shakily pulling at his hair, trying to merge into him, become one. He feels like the stars, a kind of chilly comfort.
I remember the way it felt to kiss him the first time. The colours flowing in splatters and the urge. We tremble, kissing like kids with pathetic crushes or more like lust. Huh. No one can know. Ever. I remember it again. This time it won’t matter if they know. I stumble but before he can question I pulling him into me, my back against the tree, pulling and pulling. I tug at the hem of his shirt, sliding my hands under and over the hard expanse of his stomach. Effing Clark Gable! A shuddery groan escapes my mouth. I feel embarrassed. He’s doing it to me now. All those thoughts. Millions of endless thoughts. I hadn’t said it the last time.
What if he leaves again? He squeezes my narrow hips. “I love you.” I breathe.
Everything slows. His hands cease to touch me. Mine slips away from him. But there’s not an inch of space between us. Now would be a good time for someone to come barreling through. But then he smiles, a knowing grin. Fucking jerk. He pulls me by the collar of my shirt and goes, “It took you so fucking long.”