The night we almost fell in love
I checked my phone. The screen illuminated my face, an unnatural sight for an area swamped in darkness. A blazing camp fire heated the front of my body. I looked up and stared at the people surrounding me, some with their heads bowed and others with their eyes open, gazing at the bright orange flame flickering with life. There wasn't much I could do. For all the things I had downloaded on my phone, none could save me from the palpable aura of sadness gripping me. I was hoping for a signal on my phone, anything that could distract me from the all too familiar feeling of insanity ready to radiate out from within my mind. There was no point, no avoiding a God-created moment.
"How are you holding up?" I whispered to her, scared of being overheard.
She looked at me briefly and shrugged. Her eyes darted away from mine and back to the fire. My eyes lingered a little bit longer on her face before letting out a small sigh.
The night was chilly, conjuring a continuous chorus of goosebumps invaded my skin every few minutes. Around us were dozens of trees covering much of the sky, the leaves forming a navy blue umbrella-like shelter. The grass my sneakers stepped on gave way to a humid smell. I sat on a wooden bench, carved in unequal sizing and marked with writing unrecognizable in the darkness.
I caught a flicker of movement from the corner of my eye but I didn't dare look. Did she go somewhere? Nobody else seemed to be moving. I was sure I heard the shuffling of feet next to me. Maybe I was just imagining it.
My eyes closed in fear of paralleling what I heard to what I'd see. For now, I looked more natural and a part of the group. This was the safest I could ever be, either a homogeneous mix with everyone around me or a unique moment of personal solace. There wasn't much of an argument anyone could make against me for closing my eyes and relegating myself to a pitch black background. Not even she could say anything.
But this wasn't going to last forever. It was a temporary escape for a lump of emotions mixed into one. I loved but I cried. There was hate for the past but hope for the future. I felt a wave of sadness washing over me but an insurgence of happiness in a brief moment of reasoning. Of course I knew what I wanted but was that what she wanted? I opened my eyes.
The blazing fire cooled to a fraction of what it was. A few people around me were in pairs, some in triplets, and they were talking to one another. Ellis was grabbing more firewood from the side. She sat directly across from me, the bench behind Jasmine and Gwen. Her gym shorts seemed, in my eyes, like a summer dress, flowing perfectly to her knees and her sweatshirt, instead, a cardigan.
She fixated her eyes on me. I got off from my seat and started walking towards her. The people around me started pulling out their guitars and singing along. It wasn't a long walk to the other side but it seemed like ages. I sat down, a little scared but excited at the same time. We were inches away from each other but our hands just centimeters. Aiden glanced towards me and raised his eyebrows, as if to say "really?" I didn't care what he thought.
"What are we even doing?" she asked nervously, her almond-shaped eyes staring at the moon.
"We wouldn't be here if we knew, would we?" I replied. That was the brutal truth.
"You know we can't be doing this." Her voice quivered.
An eerie silence loomed over us. This was it: a moment seemingly fated by destiny, only to be ruined by whatever morality still exists in the world. The brain dictated one thing but the heart wanted another.
"It's weird isn't it?" she said. "You'd think the universe would want this. It seems right and natural. It's the perfect love story but Hollywood doesn't want to publish it: friends since youth and lovers as adults."
I didn't know what to say. "Sometimes you just have to take risks" I said, unsure if that was the right thing to say.
She smiled my favorite smile and bit her lip. It gave creases to the dimples on her face, a birth defect maybe, but a beautiful one at that. I looked at her face but she refused to look back at mine. The people around us were just beginning to leave, extinguishing the fire with water bottles. "Good night" was all I heard but I didn't want it to end just yet.
Five minutes passed, or maybe ten. Aiden and Ellis packed up their guitars and started for our cabins. To them, her and I didn't exist. We were off in our own little world and this was the risk.
She held my hand. I flinched, freezing in place as my hands numbed to her soft skin. My heart flared up and thoughts began running in my brain. What the world wanted tonight was clear but what Heaven wanted was something totally different.
"Just for tonight?" she said.
"Just for tonight."
We got up from our seats and walked passed the dimmed flames, Aiden and Ellis just a little ahead of us. The grass still smelled humid but her hair made up for it but my mind shifted off that. Aiden looked back and gave us a weird look but then smiled, maybe even snickering a little. I don't think she noticed because she was now looking at me, but I didn't want to look back and I guess that explained everything. We weren't looking at each other at the right times.
But that's okay. I may have lost tonight but at least we didn't.