Female • 16 years old • Austin, TX
After my parents split up, I followed my dad to Austin, TX. It was the middle of my sophomore year in high school. I was adjusting to a new climate, and I hated it. I didn't have any friends — just one acquaintance from orientation. He tried to show me around, but I came back twice that week for another napkin map.
But he was kind, and took me into his life with ease. All of a sudden he had convinced me to take up guitar, and in exchange I would come out with him to the skatepark and take photos of him riding his bike. I became fast friends with everybody in his BMX crowd. Everyone had accepted me, and my social life had been repaired thanks to Darren. I wasn't as lonely.
Every week we'd bike over to the guitar store and smoke and jam.
Illustration by Thomas Pitilli
Darren's eyes were bright and innocent when we first met, but in the winter his light green eyes began lingering over mine. But neither of us were sure about breaching our boundary of respectful friendship. Months flew by, I remained blissfully ignorant about this rift in our friendship, and by spring I was lonely again.
On July 4th, Darren knocked on my door. I hadn't seen him in forever. He was taller, his hair had gotten longer, and there was stubble growing. He wasn't a sweet, innocent guy anymore — he was confident and masculine — but he still had that kindness. He was wearing a ridiculous American-flag t-shirt, which we argued over for a while, but all we were really doing was examining how we had changed, and how we felt a craving. It struck me he had never been inside my house. He smelled sweaty, and I thought I heard his stomach rumble.
Darren browsed the kitchen, but couldn't even find an unexpired can of food. I explained that my dad was an excellent cook, but he often wasn't around for weeks at a time. His reaction was startling: "Have you had anything to eat today?" he asked. I shook my head, and he dragged me back to his house. His mom, Shannon, was having a barbeque. Everyone was there. Shannon was like a second mother to me, because she took me in like a lost puppy. Finally, we were tired of socializing, stuffed with food, and watching fireworks explode and crackle. Shannon was playing a guitar solo somewhere in the house. I wished my life were that simple, and that sweet.
Darren didn't have a father. I forgot about that occassionally. His body inched towards mine, and his eyes were glazed over with a look I'd never seen before. "You can sleep here — Mom's okay with it. She loves you. She has pictures of you on her Myspace and everything." I giggled. They were a silly family, but I felt like I belonged with them both.
He let me shower there. And when I came back, I chose the hammock, because it seemed comfy and out of the way. But I woke up in Darren's bed, with his arms wrapped tightly around my chest. I gave a little jerk. "Shhh, go back to sleep." I couldn't protest. "You should have felt how cold you were. Even my mom agreed. And whenever you're alone or hungry or just want a hug, this is where we'll be." And at that he toppled over me and swooped down to my lips. He looked so happy and boyish that night, and for hours I was admired and adored and embraced. And I woke up to bacon and tofu for breakfast. Because Shannon is a vegan, and Darren has a typical boy's appetite.
Five years later, we're attending the university here. We graduate next year. Darren's eyes still manage to flicker with lust whenever they meet mine. Other than that, he's still that kind innocent boy on his bike, drinking soda and laughing and playing his guitar. We celebrated our anniversary on July 4th by playing our guitars and making love under the fireworks. I am never hungry, I am never alone, and I am never cold.