The first lie comes shortly after you discover you want more. You tell him you’ve never been in love, tell him the pretty girls you bring home are just for show. But what you don’t tell him, is that you’ve been in love since May 2nd 1983.
When he kisses you on the lips, he’s sixteen and nervous. You don’t say anything afterwards, you leave the motel room and get drunk nearby. You drink until you can’t feel the burning press of his lips against yours anymore. In the morning when he wakes, his lashes are rimmed with red and you know he cried himself to sleep. But it still doesn’t prevent you from uttering the words, I don’t feel the same way. Your stomach lurches as you say it, your heart sinking into the depths of your ribs at the sound of your own words. And when he pulls into himself for days, weeks, whole months on end–its enough to drive you crazy. But you tell yourself another lie and try to convince yourself it’s for the best.
The letter from Stanford almost breaks your stoic stance. His eyes search yours, his lighthouses looking for a reason to stay close to shore. He wants you to freak out, wants you to care about him leaving, wants you to tell the truth. And you want to, every aching bone in your body wants to beg him to stay, but your words contradict you. I’m happy for you, are the words you choose.
When he leaves four months later, you try to convince yourself that it’s not your fault. Try to tell yourself he’s not leaving because of the war inside of yourself. Try to tell yourself that even if you did tell him that he’s the goddamned sun burning the galaxy of your soul alive, that he’s the only reason why your heart soldiers on–he’d never believe you anyway. You tell him you’ll call, but you know you won’t. And when the bus pulls away, you tell yourself he’ll be back–but instead you watch years go by.
You tell him, Dad hasn’t been home in a few days, when you finally see him again. And it’s the truth, but not the real reason you stand in his apartment. I was driving by, you say. And I couldn’t let another minute pass, until you knew. When he asks what you mean, you lean into him and claim his lips.You kiss him and his lips tremble against yours before they reach back hungrily.
And when you both pull apart, you let the lies fall away with the single truth you’ve hid away all these years. I love you, you say quietly. I’ve loved you my entire life, I’ve never loved anyone else– just you, you admit and his dimples pierce the darkness with a patient smile.
I know, he whispers. He kisses you long and deep, and you feel your lungs sigh their first real breath of relief in years. And when he pulls away, to look into your eyes, he whispers reassuringly–It’s okay, I’ve always known. And I love you, too.