"Two steps far from you." (1)
Nate leads me to the garden. We exit and into the solarium, and out pass the marble benches, and to the lake. He puts his book down and sits on the edge of the dock, removing his shoes and socks, then puts them down on his left side. He then rolls the cuffs of his trousers to his knees and soaks his feet into the water! Nate didn’t even flinch when he dipped them. He looks over his shoulder to take a glimpse at me as I walk closer, and I sit next to him as the wooden boards creak on our weight. I try to make myself comfortable by putting my legs on my right and putting my weight on my left hand, straightening my skirt with my right hand.
“Oh, my gosh, the water must be freezing!” I gasp as I look at his feet. “Are you not feeling cold?”
He chuckles and shrugs. “I guess… it never bothered me.”
I laugh because I want to belt out the song Let It Go, but I think, better not, for he doesn’t know the song. Dipping my right hand into the water to check its temperature, I feel the cold stings as if I’m holding ice cubes for too long. I pull my hand out and shake the pain off.
“You know what, if I plunge my feet into the water, I probably won’t be able to walk because I will suffer from tormenting pain!” I share, leaning back as I close my eyes to face the sky. I can feel him looking at me, but I don’t mind. “It might be getting colder, but I like the winter season so much, though.” I smile at him. “Hot cocoa by the fire, I could see snow falling from my window and not to mention: holiday break! Isn’t that just splendid?”
Nate chuckles as he gazes at me, “yes, and to celebrate with relatives and cousins, and play snowball fights, that’s so fun,” then he looks straight ahead, smiling.
“Yeah, it is!” I say enthusiastically with a grunt as I pull my right leg and cross it to my left.
The comfortable silence rests in the air between us as we listen to the sky rumbling and the water rippling with the wind. It’s serene. This peacefulness is the reason why I like hanging out here by myself. I didn’t know this is also Nate’s hiding place.
All those years during high school, searching and wondering where Nate might be, he was just here all along. I must have missed him whenever I wanted to hang out here alone. The rocky stairs where I sit are on the farther side from here. Perhaps, I was too focused on sketching or reading to notice him on the docks.
Being so close to him, I could feel his warmth and, I have the desire to put my head on his shoulder, but I resist. I pull my notepad from my pocket and write about my thoughts of being the centre of Ryan’s admirers’ attention. After pouring out my frustration, I flip through the pages and see some lyrics on the back of the notepad, which I (possibly the real 15-year-old me) wrote, and I continue writing some lines I have in mind:
Would you believe, if I told you I’ve never been in love?
But when I saw your smile, I felt these instant sparks.
I’ve never felt something like this before.
Though I know, there’s nothing more.
I don’t really know if those words make sense. Still thinking of what to write next —
“With uh, all the hanging out and talking about stuff…” Nate says out of the blue, and I notice him scratching the edge of the plank with his fingers, “…I, uh, forgot to tell you how great you were on stage.” He breathes in the air and smiles to himself as if he has been keeping those words a secret.
I lean forward to close my notepad, putting it back in my pocket and let my hair fall on my face. So Nate won’t see that I’m trying to hide the redness colouring my cheeks. “Oh, thanks,” I say, forcing my smile not to go up to my ears. When I know I could control it, I look at him, and my dumb arse self could not stop from biting my lips as I say, “You really think so?”
I mentally facepalm myself.
He leans closer to me and then nods. “And about um, you know, those girls talking behind your back? Don’t listen to them, for I think they’re just, uh, jealous.” I’m pretty sure my face is brightly pink when he adds, “I told you they’re wrong because how I see you, you’re amiable, exquisite and gifted… you turn heads whenever you enter the room.” He nervously chuckles when he says, “You make my head turn. They’re ordinary, and you’re special.”
I laugh. “That’s mean, Nathaniel!” I can’t help but use the line from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 when he said those. It runs through my mind, and then I realize it wasn’t even out yet. I mentally shake my head and focus my thoughts on him.
I giggle. But then again, Nate probably does turn around; I just don’t see it because I avoid looking. “Cause of your friends? They holler every time I’m near you guys.”
“Yeah, that too,” he says, chuckling, looking at his feet as he sways them in the water.
His next move caught me off guard as he suddenly scoots closer and brushes my hair back behind my ear. My breath hitches as he cups his hand on my face, caressing my cheek with his thumb. He looks deeply into my eyes, and like a magnet, I could not pull away. His eyes are deep enough that my greatest fear of drowning is fading. With him being so close in front of me, I already feel safe even though he has not even wrapped his arms around me. Then his eyes drop down to my lips and back to gaze at my eyes.
Something about him definitely has changed. This wave of pleasure should scare me, but I have been waiting for this moment all these years.
I can hear the pounding of my heart in my ears, and with Nate leaning closer, I gulp as goose pimples spread across my whole body from head to toe. I’m fully aware of how close his lips are to mine! I can feel his minty scent under my nose, and I suddenly become conscious of my breath. He must have noticed because he chuckles, but he doesn’t seem to care. My heartbeat is hammering, and my mind should be racing with thousands of thoughts, but it is blank. Nothing else but this is it. I’m finally having my kiss with Nate.
Our lips are close enough to touch.
Then we hear students screaming cause rain starts pouring down as if it’s racing.
Nate and I hurriedly stood up. He grabs his socks and shoes and pulls me as I grab his book, protecting it inside my blazer from the rain. Holding my hand, we ran to the solarium.
You see, the thing about my story with Nate is not like when Ali and Noah were arguing on the dock, raining heavily, and they kissed passionately in The Notebook. Nope. Nu-uh. Those things only happen in films. Those plots are unrealistic to someone like me.
I feel the moment has already passed.
And when I see his copy of the book quite wet, I panic. I wipe the raindrops on the cover and dab the edges of the pages.
“Don’t worry about it,” he says. “It will dry.”
I frown. “Yeah, but once it is, the pages are gonna be wrinkly and stiff.”
“Won’t that be nice? Giving an antique-y look?” he thinks out loud.
I laugh, nodding, and when I see his muddy feet, I cringe and laugh harder.
He laughs as well, shaking the mud off his feet. He loosens up his necktie and removes his blazer. He pushes his wet hair back (and he looks so sexy). I also loosen my bowtie and remove my blazer too because of the humidity. I hate the feeling when you just finished taking a shower and enter your room, and it still feels hot. Ugh.
Yup. Sticky. Hot. FREAKING HUMIDITY.