The clock hands above my desk danced toward each other; closer and closer to 5:00. Those numbers were pretty arrogant to think they meant something to me. I’d been staring at an empty page in front of my face for hours now and I’d written an article or two for The Briar Creek Harold already. They were nothing too deep- stories like cats getting stuck in trees and the local high school’s talent show. That’s what they pay me for.
Harvey Davis, on the other hand, gets the more interesting stories. The crimes, scandals and stories people really wanted to know about. And he cared about them. There was a curious glimmer in his eyes when he got a new assignment. It wasn’t the drama of the cases that attracted him, it was the fact that he got to help bring closure to someone. He sat at the cubicle across from mine, typing quickly on his desktop computer. He leaned back in his chair to examine what he’d written, a strand of messy dark hair falling in his face. He folded his arms across his chest, the tattoo of a thorny rose curled around his forearm, displaying grey and black petals. Harvey and I just started working at The Briar Creek Harold a year ago, but we’d known each other much longer than that.
- - - - - - -
I first met Harvey in our eleventh grade English class. I’d written him off as a trouble maker who didn’t care about school- or anything really, but I was mistaken. He sauntered into the classroom, his pale, nail bitten fingers trailing the desk tops until it came to the one in front of my own. He looked at me through apathetic eyes to ask if to this spot was taken, but made sure to look like he didn’t care enough either way. I didn’t have many other friends; I usually kept to myself and stayed in my own world. I liked it that way. No pressure to be anyone but myself or to please anyone else. I forced a smile to let him know it was okay to sit there. He slung his leather cross body backpack to the floor with a thud and slumped into the chair a few feet from my face. The light scent of cigarettes and vanilla instantly hit my nose, as if he’d tried to cover up the original smell of tobacco by rubbing a car freshener on his clothes. At the end of class the teacher asked us to discuss what we wanted to learn this semester so I began to look around the room for a more approachable classmate.
“I want to be a story teller,” the voice in front of me stated. I shifted my attention to Harvey. He hesitated and looked down at his hands, his dark curls falling in front of his eyes. “I want to write stories- my own stories, other people’s stories, everything. I want to be able to write stories for people that aren’t given as big of a voice. I want to see a different perspective.” When he looked back at me, I noticed fragment of excitement behind his eyes for a second before it dissipated into the air.
“That’s amazing,” I leaned closer to him, folding my arms on my desk.
“Really? Not too many people think that,” Harvey muttered, his lips curling into a smile.
“I get it. I want to write poetry, but nothing I’ve ever written is good enough and everyone I’ve told that to thinks it’s just some mindless dream.”
“Let me read one,” he replied.
“I just said they’re bad,” I laughed nervously, pulling at a strand of my light brown hair.
“Well, I’d like to decide for myself.”
“Please,” he stuck out his bottom lip jokingly.
“Fine,” I gave in, surprising myself. Why did I just tell a stranger he could read my personal thoughts? Harvey smiled to himself, the fragment of excitement that I’d noticed before returning to his eyes. There was something beautiful about it. It meant something personal every time I got to see it. It showed me that he wanted to feel something, but it was dashed away right before he even let himself feel it. I wanted to know him. How his mind worked and why he had thoughts that he wasn’t good enough too.
“What’s your name?” he asked, carelessly shoving some papers into his bag.
“Maeve Peterson,” I replied, holding a hand out. He laughed, met my eyes with his own and responded with an overly enthusiastic hand shake.
“Harvey Davis. Pleasure to meet you.”
Harvey Davis was unlike anyone I’d ever met before. Something about him left you a little bit starstruck every time he spoke. He was obviously beautiful, but every time we were together, I grew more and more curious to know who he really was besides that. Between his monologues about Bukowski, his rants about how fucked up the media is, and his stupid puns that somehow always involved fruit, I still felt like I didn’t see every side of him. Or that he was hiding a part of himself. I didn’t know about his family life or anything outside of our daily lunch hangouts at school for a while.
“Peterson,” Harvey’s gravely calm voice called from the bustling sounds of the cafeteria. I turned around to see him sauntering towards me in his usual stance, shoulders curved, hands clasped together. He somehow looked uncomfortable and at ease at the same time.
“Davis,” I replied to him playfully.
He pulled the metal chair from the lunch table and sat down across from me before folding his long fingers together and fixing his gaze directly on me.
“What?” I questioned.
He looked down at his hands before adjusting the beanie on his head and began to fidget with his shirt pocket.
“Are you busy tonight?” he finally asked. His green eyes flickered up at me, trying to gauge my reaction. I don’t know why he seemed so nervous to ask that question.
“Oh, you know I’m so busy on Friday nights. What with reading Little Women for the fifteenth time and hanging out with the cats, I can barely find the time to breathe,” I joked. He rolled his eyes.
“So, do you wanna go somewhere with me?”
“I didn’t even tell you where.”
“You didn’t have to,” I remarked.
“Do you want to know?” He pulled his lip between his teeth to stifle a grin.
“Surprise me, Davis.”
“Okay,” he chuckled, “I’ll pick you up at 6.” Pick me up?
A few minutes before Harvey was supposed to be at my house, I began to panic. Was this a date? He was picking me up at my house. It hadn’t really hit me until now that it may be a date because he didn’t say the word “date”. Was I supposed to dress nice? And what if it wasn’t a date and I make it uncomfortable because I assumed? Did I want it to be a date? Harvey was the only good friend I had and I don’t think either of us would want to ruin that. But there are always those what ifs running through my mind. I scrambled through my closet, finally throwing on a denim skirt and light yellow sweater and waited at my kitchen window nervously. My mom asked a million questions about Harvey as I sat there because I’d never really mentioned him much until now. This was the first time we’d hung out outside of school.
Right on time, headlights from a 1970 Ford Capri bounced across the black asphalt on the road until the car came to a stop in front of my house. Harvey turns the car off and begins to get out of the driver’s side. My breath hitches in my chest as I see him. He didn’t look drastically different from how he looked this afternoon, but something was different. His black button up was fastened one button lower than usual and his curls had been carefully prepared to look perfectly messy. He looked like he cared just a little too much. He stumbled over his own feet as he began to walk up the driveway and looked up to see me laughing at him from the kitchen window. He jokingly smacked himself in the head before regaining his cool guy composure. He was immaculate.
I met him at the door and quickly said my goodbyes to my parents before skipping down the driveway to his car.
“What’s got you so peppy, Peterson?” Harvey laughed to himself as he watched me twirl around to the passenger’s side.
“What’s got you so skeptical, Davis?” I teased. I pulled myself into the car seat as he did the same and put his key in the ignition. Harvey connected his phone to the aux cord and a happy beat began as engine turned. He began to sing along to the music as I tilted my head back and allowed myself to drink his voice in.
"Baby, I’m yours / And I’ll be yours until the stars fall from the sky, / Yours until the rivers all run dry / In other words, until I die," he sang beautifully from the seat next to me as we rolled down the road to who-knows-where. I simply didn’t care.