"Look how far we've come." (4)
As we gaze upon the glorious stretch of stars, I sing along to Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. Nate drums his fingers and taps his foot to the beat, but whenever I glance at him, he stops, and I giggle at him. “You don’t have to stop, you know. We’re both enjoying the song, and even if I don’t look at you, I can feel you dancing.”
He smirks; I hear it. When we listen to the last chorus, he whispers along, “I’m having such a good time. I’m having a ball!”
I sang along with him quietly. We both laugh as we sing the outro. When the music is inaudible, he sighs and sinks lower next to me. I feel his cheek nuzzling my hair, and I feel the heat rising in my stomach, my free hand tenses, and I grab the blanket; I can feel my knuckles turn white.
Once my thumping heart calms down, I smile. We sink lower, listening to the soft sound of music (If Ever You’re In My Arms Again, they’re playing ’80s music now), and cuddle for a while as we look at the stars, hoping for shooting stars to pass by. Once again, Nate compliments me and my dress, so I share the story of this gown. He pulls me closer and shares with me what he realized this morning. I laugh at him for actually liking one of my queens, Taylor Swift, but I do not mean it to be mean; he knows that. We laugh as we watch steam form out of our mouths as we talk.
“Mariana,” he whispers.
I look up as he stares down at me. “Yes, Nate?”
He cups my face with his hand, caressing my cheek with his thumb and grazes it on my lips. With him staring into my eyes, understanding my pain, reading my happiness and, appeasing the demons swirling inside my head, my heart is calm, and my thoughts become peaceful. I stare back at him. I see the genuine coolness in his stormy blue eyes. He suddenly drops his gaze to my lips.
This time he is brave, and so am I.
Slowly, he leans to me, and I can feel his shaky breath; tingling my cheek. I close my eyes and wait for something I have always been waiting for all along. My heart begins to race so fast as I anticipate this moment that I can feel it in my throat.
And there it is.
He kisses me.
I feel his soft, thin lips touching mine. It’s slow and tender. I feel butterflies in my stomach as I brush my lips to his. For a while, we share this electricity burning inside our bodies, hearts and minds. It is so perfect, so good to be true. My head starts spinning as the kiss heats up. He pulls me closer while his other hand roams from my face to my neck and my waist.
“Hmmm, watermelon,” he says under his breath with a smile I could feel on mine. That made me laugh, and then his lips crashed into mine again, kissing me with more passion than the first. Our tongues dance with a rhythm I hadn’t known before.
But the sudden flash of blinding light reminds me of my place. The forgotten memory I suppressed resurface from the back of my head, fighting its way for me to remember it. That incident at the beginning of summer 2013, I was with April and Ros celebrating life for making it to senior year. I may be in the past, but I have a feeling this particular event will not change in the future. It will still happen, and I might make everything worse for me if I continue this feeling. Is this the thing my journal wanted me to feel? To realize what right thing I must do?
I sigh and break off the kiss, so I could wrap my arms around his neck as tight as I could. My head rests on the side of his face as I try to keep it together. He wraps his arms around me. All I want is to feel his warmth and to wish he’d stay here with me, in each other’s arms, for as long as I can. My throat tightens as my eyes start to glisten, trying to hold back the tears from falling, but still, I failed. The tears streamed down my face, and I couldn’t stop it.
He holds me tightly as if I would crumble at any minute. “Hey, hey, what’s wrong?” he leans back to touch my face with those perfect strong hands of his and wipe my sorrows away.
But there’s nothing he can do to stop these tears from falling. It is not about him being on borrowed time anymore, but I feel like I’m stealing his affection when he should be with someone else.
“I hope you’re crying out of happiness,” he brushes my cheek with his knuckles as he cracks with that perfect angelic smile I have always loved.
I turn my head away as he wipes the tears on my cheeks. I try to pull away from him, but he holds me closer, I say through my cracking voice. “No, I’m sorry.”
He looks at me as if he just lost at a game. “Did I do something wrong?”
Finally pulling away from him, I shake my head as I stand up and dust my skirt. I sniff and give him a reassuring smile. He stands up and holds my shoulders as I wipe my face and laugh. He smiles, but something tells me he is not convinced. He caresses the loose strands of my hair between his fingers.
The kiss was everything I had wished for in my entire life. It was more than I could describe. My heart should burst, my cheeks should redden, and my knees should be weak, but why do I feel as if an arrow or a bullet just hit me clean right across my heart?
There’s this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, and then it hits me that this day is my last day in the past. Later, when I go to sleep or when the clock strikes midnight, I will return to real-time. Is this me trying to avoid the pain, the risk of saying goodbye, again, me, having the thought of never seeing this peaceful, beautiful, warming smile and eyes I longed for so long? Did I miss another shot at making myself fulfil my real happiness?
I guess I do.
And I have to.
Being with him, right here, right now, is enough. I cannot ask for more. Everything that was given to me is good enough for me to carry on with my (actual timeline) life. “It feels like I’m opening healed up scars,” I whisper and smile at him.
Now the end is creeping in, I become oddly reflective. I was so caught up with my selfish desires and intentions and unresolved feelings for Nate that I wanted him to reciprocate. I was blinded and forgot about his fondness for Lacey. Yes, I never noticed how he looked at her whenever she passed by or how his face brightened up whenever they talked. It may seem shocking, but I see everything as clear as day now that his lips crashed onto mine. I have to make a choice, and now, I know what to do.