The Dancer

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Chapter 15

“Oliver, are you paying attention?” I blinked, realizing that I had spaced out. I looked away from the movie screen in front of me before turning to George who was sitting beside me in the movie theatre. It was Saturday, and we had made plans to meet up after I had asked him if he wanted to hang out on a whim. I still wasn’t over the fact that he had agreed. I had spent a lot of time on my appearance while getting ready, and anytime I caught a glimpse of my face in a reflective surface I noted how red and nervous I looked. No matter how I tried to hide it, I really couldn’t. I just hoped George didn’t think I was sick or something.

“Sorry,” I whispered, watching as George gave me a small smile. The blue light coming from the big screen shaded his face in a way that made my heartstrings tug. I couldn’t even see him properly in the dark but here I was fidgeting on my seat and spacing out.

I didn’t even know what the stupid movie was about, but George seemed to like it, so I guess I’ll tolerate it. I spent most of the time glancing at him, and from time to time I’d look down at his hand that was resting on the chair’s arm. my eyes would flutter, and heat would run up my cheeks before I looked away. No, I wasn’t that brave to make direct moves. I guess I’ll just hope George picks up that I like him with time. Or, maybe he knows and is just humoring me. I can’t tell.

“Hey.” I almost jumped back and tripped on someone when I heard George’s voice. An apology left my lips when I turned to the person behind me who just cursed under their breath as I sidestepped out of the way. We were leaving the movie theatre now. The movie has finished showing, and the lights had come on. I was still trying to apologize to the person that was now walking off, but I stopped when I felt George’s hand on my shoulder.

“You’ve apologized already,” he said with a chuckle and I bit down on my lip as he led me out of the theatre. We walked out of the building after that, moving to the side so that people could still get in. We stood there for a bit, just staring into the road. George didn’t anything, and neither did I. I looked over at him from the side of my eye, watching his expression, but I couldn’t read it. I looked away, and it became oddly silent between us.

“So—”

“George—”

We both paused and turned to look at each other with wide eyes when we realized we were talking at the same time. George grinned, chuckling a bit and I just stared at him, not knowing to want to say.

“You go first.” He shrugged, leaning back on the brick wall of the theatre. It was around four in the evening now. We had gotten here a little after one. Today was sunny and the warm. A huge contrast to the past few weeks that have been cold and unbearable. We were having a mini heat wave of some sort. The yellow light of the sun bathed the street and building. I sidestepped out of the light, which made me stand a little closer to George.

Let’s see. I said in my head, trying to rearrange the words in my mouth. “Gosh, I swear I had a plan when I started talking,” I said out loud, and George laugh, making me smile through my nerves. George was in a plain old plaid wool sweater and blue jeans. I looked very overdressed standing next to him. I bit my bottom lip, looking away as I still tried to remember what I wanted to say. I didn’t want to fill my head with tiny clues that pointed towards the fact that George didn’t care as much as I did about this.

“I eh...” I trailed, looking out into the road. People were still coming in, and the sight of couples disoriented me for a bit. It was a stretch, but George and I probably looked like one too standing so close to each -- well, I could dream. “I’m sorry, you go first,” I said, shaking my head before pushing my hair back. George hummed with a nod, but he didn’t look over at me. I wondered what was on his mind.

“So,” he started, cocking his head to the side. “What was this? A pity date?”

I blinked, wondering if I had heard right. George turned to look at me, and I could only stare back at him with wide confused eyes. Pity date? I frowned. For me or him?

He didn’t say anything after that, he just looked away before fidgeting with his hands. I was still dumbstruck, not knowing what to say or do.

“Don’t worry, I’m not mad. Far from it really. I feel great,” George said when I didn’t say anything in response. I closed my mouth, still looking at him in confusion. “I’m guessing you realized I liked you and wanted to give it a chance. Or maybe you just felt sorry for me, I don’t know,” he went on. He must have noticed he was rambling because he laughed awkwardly before muttering a small apology under his breath. I didn’t say anything back. I was tongue twisted, and I was still trying to digest some of the information I had just received. George liked me? Wasn’t he joking?

“So, about Advik,” he said after a period of silence, changing the subject. I opened my mouth, then closed it again, not knowing what to say. I mean, where could I start with this? Also, we were in front of a crowded building wouldn’t it make sense to talk about this somewhere else? I looked down at my shoes, biting down on my lip as I thought about it. I looked over at George, staring at his forced smile and tensed figure. He was waiting for me to say something.

“Let’s go somewhere private,” I mumbled, my voice was just high enough for George to pick up. George’s features twisted in confusion, but he didn’t question me or ask about anything. When I started walking over to the end of the road, he followed me. We crossed over to the other side together and he settled down beside me on the wooden bench by the street light.

Some time passed by, and we just sat there looking into the road. “Look,” I started, when the silence was becoming too tense. “I’m not sure where you got the impression that this was a pity date from...” I trailed, looking over at him. I opened my mouth to say something, but it didn’t come out, so I just looked away and covered my face with my hand. “Gosh, why is this so hard to say?” I asked myself before rubbing my eyes and turning back to George.

“I like you — a lot.” This was it. The words were out, and I didn’t have the weight of it in my chest anymore. I forced myself to stare on at George, ignoring the tingling feeling of embarrassment at shyness as I stared on at him. George’s eyes had gone wide, and he did this odd thing where he sucked in his cheeks like he was holding his breath.

“I...” he started, but his words lost volume after that. I rose a brow, trying to nudge him to continue with my expression. “What about Advik?” he asked, making me sit up straight on the bench before looking back into the road.

“Yeah, what about him?” I asked, trying to play it cool. I knew this question was coming, but I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to answer it properly.

“You like him, don’t you?” George asked, not backing down despite my passive aggressive answer. My shoulders fell. I shrugged, biting the inside of my cheek as I looked for words in my head to say.

“I don’t like him anymore—”

“But you liked him a month ago, a few weeks ago, maybe even yesterday,” George said, cutting him off. “Are you sure you’re...” he trailed. He didn’t complete his sentence, but if I had to make a guess about what he wanted to say I would bet he was asking me if it was just a phase and whether I was confused. And yeah, for a long while I thought I was, but just taking a glance at George was enough to tell me I wasn’t. I liked him.

A lot.

“No,” I said with a shrug, playing with the cuffs of my flannel shirt. “It’s not that. I really like you, that’s it,” I said, and George didn’t say anything in response. I looked at him from the corner of my eyes, staring at his deep brown hair that was in a nice scissor cut. I looked away when I felt the urge to reach out and play with his hair. We haven’t reached that stage yet.

“Ollie.” George’s tone was low — as if he wasn’t sure he wanted to say what he was about to.

“Yeah?” I answered in an equally small voice. George opened his mouth before letting out a sigh and taking in a deep breath.

“I’m twenty-four, almost twenty-five,” he said looking over at me as he said it. “I work minimum wage. I don’t have the money to go to college. I’m a messy adult. I don’t know what in the world I’m doing with my life...” he trailed, bringing the fingernail of his thumb to his mouth before biting down on it.

“I like you, but I didn’t say anything because you liked someone else. I didn’t say anything because you deserve better. Advik’s better, so make up with him, okay?” George said, and I just sat there, not knowing what to say to that. There was awkward silence after that. Words that I never said bounced in my head.

“But I don’t like him anymore,” I insisted when I found my voice and George just looked away from me as quickly as he glanced at me. “Why would I want to date someone I don’t like anymore?” I asked, my voice becoming higher.

“What’s all this about working minimum wage and being twenty-five? So? I’m not asking you for anything. I just like you,” I rambled as my eyes started to get watery. I don’t know if it was stress. It probably was. I was tired and worn out by all the drama I was knee deep in. It sucked, and now the person I liked was rambling on about me going to date someone else.

George looked perplexed and worried at the same time when I let out a sob. He got up from the bench before moving in front of me and taking a hold of my shoulders. I leaned on him, getting up and staggering a bit when he tugged at me. I didn’t care if it was still bright outside, I stuck close to him like glue. He smelt nice and felt warm too. My heart was racing, and I was sobbing at the same time.

I don’t know...

“Come on, I’ll walk you to the bus stop,” he muttered, pulling me along with him in an awkward way since I didn’t let go. In the middle of our walk, I spotted a small alleyway and stopped in my tracks out of stubbornness. George paused, not knowing what to do with me. It took a lot of tugging and pulling to walk him in, and when my back was pressed back against the wall I let go of him, letting myself look up at his confused look.

“I like you a lot,” I started, looking from his face to his chest. “I’ve known you for a year or so, and Advik and I haven’t been in the best of terms for months...” I trailed, looking back up at him. His brown eyes had a level of confusion in them. He was just as cornered about this as I was.

I took a gulp before I continued talking. “You’re really sweet,” I went on, reaching out to play with one of his buttons as I kept talking. “For a long while, I’ve wondered if I was just reading something that wasn’t there. ‘You’re nice to everyone, I’m not special’ — that’s what I used to think,” I mumbled, and my heart skipped a beat when I felt George’s hand in my hair.

“I really like you. I know I’m not making sense, but...” I trailed, laughing nervously. “But, think about it,” I insisted, looking away as my face burned.

“Alright.” My ears perked up at George’s reply, and I looked up at him. His face was red, and he seemed a little surprised at his answer too. It didn’t matter, he couldn’t take it back. I wouldn’t let him take it back. I had heard him loud and clear.

I didn’t know why I laughed, but I did. Maybe I had been starving for one good thing to happen all week and this was it.

my lips parted with a sharp intake of breath when George nudged my chin up with his thumb. He was looking down at me with an intense look and I looked right back at him — I looked at the gentle rise and fall of his chest, the deep blush in his cheeks and the skittish look in his eyes that flitted to my lips and then quickly away.

He looked confused — nervous. So, I took the plunge instead of him, standing on the tip of my toes and reaching out to content his lips with mine. I probably scared him since he staggered back a bit, but he held on to my shoulders, steading and pushing me against the wall again.

Deep sighs and long drawn out breaths soon followed. The air was getting hot and heavy. We weren’t giving each other space to breathe and kept fusing our lips back together seconds after pulling apart. On a whim a slipped in a bit of tongue, and George responded with an enthusiasm that shocked me. Soon his warm tongue was pressing against mine — tasting, savoring, consuming me. He wrapped his hands around my waist, edging me closer as he hiked up my top and touched my exposed skin. I shivered, whimpering into his mouth as I let myself do the same. His skin felt cool and soft to touch. It was also a relief to find out that I wasn’t the only one shaking like a leaf in the wind.

It felt odd, yet proper and necessary to press up against each other like we did. Lips mashed against lips, chest against chest, and ow region against lower region.

We soon pulled away again, but this time instead of diving back into each other George smiled at me, and I smiled back up at me. He chuckled a little, and I chuckled too. Nothing was funny, but I guess it was a way of getting rid of the nerves. He reached out for my hand, pulling me in for a brief peck before dragging me out of the Alleyway. I couldn’t stop looking down at our joined hands. George never let go, and his group only became firmer when we walked past people.

I smiled, looking over at him when he got to the bus stop. The warm day had given way for a chilly evening. George was still holding my hand, and my smile only widened when he tucked my hand in his pocket to keep it warm.

At that moment I couldn’t help thinking that my heart was making the right choice.

George wasn’t conflicted about me, and he clearly wasn’t closeted. He won’t hurt me, and I won’t hurt him. We would make this work. I was confident.

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