Descending the soft carpeted stairs one at a time, I minimize the creaking. Now, I am standing at the side door. I stand there for five minutes, just making sure that they’re asleep. Finally, I slowly unlock the door and carefully open it. I turn around. My bed is soft, warm, and safe. Mom’s voice yells: “You snuck out to fornicate with that boy. You’re grounded to hell for eternity!” Flinching away from invisible slaps in the darkness, I walk out the door.
Although the night is a bit chillier than I had expected, the cold air is crisp and refreshing. At the end of the driveway, I stop again to face my house. Now I’m walking briskly down the empty street.
The smell of freshly cut grass mingles with the aroma of rose bushes hiding in the shadows. A few doors down, the toys scattered about suggest all of the laughing children that play there by day. The sidewalk under my feet carries me closer to my destiny. Will he be able to sneak me up to his room? Our love will be quiet, secret, and only ours. The sweetness will burn us up like shooting stars crossing our galaxy, fizzling out into heaven. I’m shivering but I’m almost there.
His car is in the driveway. The kind of old and slightly beat up Chevy Camaro that only Booker can be so proud of. My hand floats to my lips to blow a kiss to it, but I laugh at myself instead. Don’t waste kisses on the car. Save them for the boy. The house looks as if slumbering. I touch the pocket where my phone usually is.
When approaching headlights come at me from up the street, I freeze then sprint up to his front porch as if it were base in a game of tag. The car passes. The doorbell and the horseshoe-shaped, brass knocker are both there. I can’t wake up his dad or his stepmother.
Don’t tell me I came all this way, all for nothing. Come on Michelle, don’t be a coward. I creep down his driveway, passing his Camaro, his dad’s brand new SUV. The chainlink gate that blocks the backyard is closed so I open it, scowling because I’m sure that everyone in the world hears the clicks, jingles, and rattles. I hunt around for a small rock.
Hiding in the backyard, I look up. His room is the top window on the left. No lights are on. I wind up to throw the rock but I hesitate. What if I break a window? I’ll just have to run away. No one will ever know. What if the rock breaks the window and the police identify my fingerprints? What if I can’t wake him up? Oh stop stalling and hurl the stupid rock! I throw.
I miss his window so badly that I feel fortunate to have even hit the house. The clank sounds like a gunshot, much louder than expected, inspiring equal hope that Booker heard it and equal fear that his parents did. Come on. Look down here. See me.
I’ve come for you. Come get me, take me upstairs. Take me, I think with as much mental force as I can muster, trying to transmit my fantasy to him, a Cupid’s arrow made of soul. Maybe his heart can hear my heart and he will come, and take me.
The light turns on. He heard my heart! I woke him up. Was it the rock or was it my heart? The light turns off again. Butterflies in my belly all take flight like a flock of spooked doves. Am I really going to do this?
Two minutes go by, but nothing happens. He doesn’t open the window. Perhaps he just had to use the bathroom and I should find another rock. Now, light shines out from the window of the side door. He’s coming to get me. I run to the chainlink gate as the side door opens.
“That was wonderful. We should totally do it again,” a girl says.
“Yeah,” Booker says, laughing.
Booker leads a girl out. They are holding hands. Her face is glowing. So is his. They don’t see me yet. It’s Sandy, my best friend.
“We definitely need to do it again,” Booker says.
She swoons as he looks her in the eye. He wraps her in his arms and French kisses her. Their hips press into each other.
“Booker?” I say.
Their heads turn. Their eyes widen. They disentangle.
“Michelle? Oh my God. Is that you?” Booker asks.
I open my mouth to speak but no words can escape. Booker wears a smirk that’s grotesque enough to be painted on with clown makeup.
“We have been dating since eighth grade,” I say.
“I’m so sorry,” he says.
My eyes lock onto Sandy.
“We’ve been best friends since kindergarten,” I say.
Sandy averts her gaze, staring at the ground, just standing there stupidly, as if I don’t even exist.
“We’ve been friends since kindergarten,” I say again, hearing my voice crack. Sandy continues to stare at the ground, her lips curled in a silent ‘oo’. My hands tremble as tears roll down my cheeks.
“The part of me that loves you both, you strangle me to death. I hope you two live happily ever after,” I say.
Booker tries to stop me from leaving. I smack his hand away as I storm past them.