3/3 - Ignite
We walked down the street with a few cans we'd taken from the party, drinking along the way. I zoned out for most of the walk until we finally arrived at the beach and my first instinct was to do exactly what I'd been thinking about - plant myself firmly on the sand and stare into the dark starry abyss. However, Malia was quick to grab my hand and pull me away from the depressive surface.
"Let's go girl, we ain't dropping the energy just yet. Funs not over, right?" She smirked, using my own words against me as I groaned, holding back a smile that impulsively grew in response to her enthusiasm.
"What are you planning?" I huffed as she continued to tug me behind her, getting further away from her friends who did decide to sit down. "Why do they get to sit?!"
"This isn't about them, baby!" She laughed, and I felt my heart skip a beat. "When something shitty happens I like to stand on stuff and yell." I stopped in my tracks at her words, almost tripping as she unknowingly tried to keep pulling me along.
"What are you talking about?" I giggled, seeing her grab my wrist with both hands and pull with pure determination in her amused eyes.
"Come on, just trust me." She insisted, and I gave in, watching her face as she walked backwards momentarily before she turned around again and intertwined our fingers. Despite the concept of trust being something that had kind of worked against me today, something about her made me know it wouldn't be the same.
We ended up climbing a rocky surface, rising up higher and higher as we went until we were at the highest point of what looked like a miniature rocky mountain. Looking down, it was similar to a cliffs edge but not as... intense. Something about it was calming; the subtle waves washing over the rocks beneath us, the gentle clouds floating in front of the stars above us. Malia was stood by my side.
"You doing alright?" Her voice broke me out of my thoughts and I snapped back to reality, realising I'd just been staring into the distance. "You look kind of spaced out."
"A little." I chuckled slightly, tucking a braid behind my ear. "I was just thinking..."
"...About him?" She asked carefully, and I furrowed my eyebrows softly. My eyes scanned her face and I softly shook my head.
"Not really, actually, no." I frowned, crossing my arms and holding myself almost protectively. "Not at all... is that weird?"
"I don't think it's weird - if it's upsetting I won't mention it, I understand."
"That's the thing though, it's not - I'm not upset." I saw slight confusion on her face as the words left my lips and I understood why because I felt the same. I hadn't really considered my words before I said them but as they hung in the air between us, I knew them to be true. "You still haven't told me why we're up here." I changed the subject, cocking my head at Malia and seeing her expression transform into a smile.
"Watch carefully." She smirked before turning away from me. She took in a deep breath and closers her eyes, head turned towards the sky as if she was powering up... then she threw her arms out on either side of her and yelled at the top of her lungs: "WHEN I WAS A KID I ACCIDENTALLY STOLE MY SISTERS JELL-O SHOTS THAT SHE MADE FOR A HOUSE PARTY AND SHE BLAMED HER FRIEND AND THEY STARTED FIGHTING BECAUSE OF IT!" She was almost out of breath by the end of the exclamation and I impulsively began to laugh, shocked and entertained by her abrupt confession. She let out a huge sigh after the outburst and looked at me with a grin. "My mum found me passed out in the bathroom after that." She giggled breathlessly, running a hand through her hair. "She had to wait until the next day to tell my sister that it was actually the nine year old who took all the shots because if she found out that day I'd have been dead." The two of us began to laugh even harder. "I almost ruined her fucking friendship because I was a stupid kid who saw jelly and thought, yeah, that looks tasty." She doubled over in laughter as I felt the blood rush to my face.
"That's so stupid-" I wheezed, wiping a single tear off my cheek. "And kind of fucked up."
"I know girl, I know. But it's your turn now - get something off your chest." She'd calmed down somewhat by the time she responded, and somehow I only just realised what was happening.
"Wait - that's what you meant by standing on stuff and yelling?" I chuckled in realisation, searching in my head for something I could yell. I worried for a second that I didn't have anything interesting to share about myself...
"Yes! It's so freeing - yell literally anything, believe me it's fun." I think she noticed the look of concentration in my face because she followed up her statement. "It doesn't have to be anything serious, or big, or whatever. No pressure."
"Understood." I nodded with a faint smile, before turning and looking up at the sky, taking a deep breath the same way that Malia had done before me. Before I knew it I was screaming as loud as I could. "I STOLE MY BEST FRIENDS FAVOURITE TEDDY BEAR WHEN I WAS SEVEN AND I FELT SO BAD ABOUT HER FINDING OUT THAT I'D TAKEN IT THAT I JUST THREW IT OUT BEFORE SHE CAME OVER!" Before I even finished my statement I could hear Malia laughing, which made me smile so hard my cheeks were hurting.
"Why didn't you just give it back?" She cackled at me, playfully shoving my shoulder.
"I don't know! I thought she'd hate me for taking it so I just threw it away and convinced her it just went missing... I felt so bad though!"
After that we yelled more and more, coming out with random confessions mostly from our childhood or early teens and going into detail about each story afterwards. I'd never learned so much about someone I'd just met.
"I LIED TO MY MUM WHEN I WAS FOURTEEN AND TOLD HER I WAS STAYING AT A FRIENDS HOUSE BUT I WENT TO SOME GUYS HOUSE AND SMOKED!"
"I GOT FOOD POISONING WHEN I WAS THIRTEEN AND THREW UP IN THE MIDDLE OF P.E. AND NOBODY WANTED TO TALK TO ME FOR LIKE A MONTH AFTER AND I WAS SO EMBARRASSED!"
"WHEN I WAS SEVENTEEN I BROKE UP WITH MY BOYFRIEND BECAUSE HE INSULTED MY FAVOURITE BAND!" My laugh was becoming a wheeze at this point, especially at this confession which said so much about Malia as a person - she would not stand for shit. I suppose I could use some of that attitude. "I mean there was more reasons than that but that pissed me off, man. I couldn't even make references without him either not getting it or just being rude about it so like, I was over it." She added to the story, and nodded understandingly with a grin, before telling her that I had a good one...
"I GOT IN A RELATIONSHIP WHEN I WAS EIGHTEEN JUST BECAUSE I WAS SCARED OF BEING ALONE!" This statement didn't earn a burst of laughter from Malia like the ones before it. We both knew why. "And I've been stuck ever since." My volume lowered and I swallowed hard, turning to face her somewhat fearfully. Had I killed the mood?
"That's why you're not upset about what happened, huh?" She asked genuinely, and I looked down at the ground, my hands clasping together uncertainly.
"What he did was shitty. And I was mad, and disappointed, and shocked but like... Part of me is glad." I admitted quietly, tucking a section of my curls behind my ear. "Maybe that's not the word..."
"He was really that bad?" She smiled at me and I let out a hushed laugh.
"I guess he was. But you already knew that... you picked up on it quicker than me, right?" I raised an eyebrow and she pursed her lips at me knowingly. "You probably thought I was stupid the moment you saw him crushing beer cans against his forehead."
"I won't lie - I was wondering what you saw in him... but girl, I think you knew he was bad too, don't underestimate yourself." She chuckled, and I looked up at her curiously. "Based on what you just yelled for all the gods to hear, I'm sure you knew you deserved better... you just didn't know what to do about it. Or how to get out of that situation... that's why you're not sad, but - I think - annoyed. He wasted your time, babe, I'd be pissed too!"
"I'm pissed at both of us!" I bursted out with a laugh that shocked me. "I should've known better - I did, I think I did, and that makes it all the more annoying because I wasted my own time too damn it." I sighed, looking up to the sky to prevent the overwhelmed tears that I could feel forming again. There was a moment of quiet between us, the only sounds I could hear being the soothing waves and the group of people we'd come here with chatting and laughing in the distance. Then I felt her hands grasp both of mine, encouraging me to look back at her.
"Don't focus on the past, girl, unless you wanna waste more time. You're free now." She smiled at me, and although the burn of tears eyes didn't disappear, they came from happiness now. I don't know what it was about her but she just... got me. She warmed my spirit and made me smile so easily in a way that I'd never felt with him. It was something different that I didn't know if I was supposed to feel, but I couldn't help it... I'd felt next to nothing for so long.
"Has anyone ever told you how nice your eyes are?" She suddenly asked, and I felt anxiety flow through me as if we were back standing at that drinks table and I'd just impulsively offered her a can of cider again.
"I- no, I don't think so- they're just brown, people usually don't care about brown eyes." I let out a nervous laugh, avoiding eye contact again as I feared I'd end up doing something stupid.
"Shut up, girl, brown eyes are beautiful. Especially yours. You forget you're speaking to someone with almost black eyes." She giggled and I smiled back, feeling my hands become clammy.
"You're really pretty, though. I mean, you're gorgeous. I don't wanna sound weird because I don't know how to speak to people but when you started speaking to me tonight I was terrified."
"You call yourself weird a lot. I know it's like a casual, jokey thing but really, don't put yourself down because you. Are not. Weird. You're lovely." She quickly raised my hand to her lips and planted a gentle kiss on my knuckles, immediately making me bashful. And you shouldn't be terrified of me, I'm just... me." She shrugged, squeezing my hand slightly. "You're not bad at speaking to people either, Kendra - you're speaking to me just fine. I think some people are just bad at listening." She raised an eyebrow and I immediately recognised what she was saying as true to my life; most of my fear of talking to people had come in the past year and a half of being in a relationship with someone who didn't listen... someone who made me feel like what I had to say wasn't worth listening to. I'd convinced myself that nobody else wanted to hear either, and that it was my fault. Malia was showing me that I was wrong.
"Why are you so nice to me...?" I found myself asking, frowning slightly to myself as I looked into her eyes.
"...Because you deserve kindness." She spoke softly, and I almost got choked up again, but held it back. Is this what I was missing out on? This comfort, this joy all offered to me within a few hours is what I'd been lacking throughout the entire year and a half of being in a relationship? In that moment it was shocking to me that I'd ever accepted anything less.
I felt her hand reach to touch my face and my breathing picked up. I didn't know what to do, this was all so different to me. We just looked at one another, smiling; her golden skin was glowing under the moonlight. I didn't know where she was from but it felt like she was sent by a guardian angel to give me something to smile about that night, and that's all that mattered. I noticed her leaning towards me, and almost panicked - this was too good to be true, I was misunderstanding the situation, I was going to embarrass myself... my brain told me all of these things but I knew better. I met her in the middle and our lips connected.
It felt like a spark lit up in me the moment it happened, and I realised all the mistakes I'd been making all at once; being with my boyfriend, I was never happy. I ended up putting myself, and others, in a box to justify the dull dissatisfaction of my life. I told myself, this is just the way things are - the way he is, the way I am. I thought I was boring because of him... sodium metal. Uninteresting, unable to connect to people, no shine. Naturally unappealing so better off alone or settling with next to nothing. I realised tonight that none of this was true - the problem wasn't me. I was never sodium metal, that was just what I'd become over time, convinced myself it was all I could be; in reality, I was magnesium.
Malia was the fresh air I needed to breathe; the oxygen needed to ignite my flame.
In the end we were all just humans. I just needed the right time and place to feel free... and this was it.
I sent my 'boyfriend' a text later that night to let him know it was over.
I'd never felt so free.
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