“Have you ever fallen in love?” she asked nonchalantly. Immediately after asking, she snapped her gum and pressed the palm of her hand hard against her forearm. She squeezed her eyes shut, like she was in pain.
“I don’t know,” I answered, lying. God, I loved her. I loved her habits, her skin, her eyes. I loved the way she walked so slowly, and the way her hair stood up in the morning. I loved the way she sang when she was angry and cried when she laughed.
“I think I have,” she smiled – but it wasn’t the right smile. It wasn’t an honest “I’m about to confess something that will change your life” smile. It was more like a “I’m about to make a joke that will hurt your feelings without my ever finding out about it because you never tell me when you have hurt feelings for fear of sounding like a little bitch” sort of smile. Most of that is probably in my imagination.
“Oh? With who?” I asked, trying not to sound too desperate at worst, interested at best. Step carefully, I thought.
“This hot chocolate!” she sounded like a game show host, advertising the prize I would win if I played by the rules. “Seriously, Sebastian, try this.” She slid the mug across the table and blew on her arm. I didn’t want the hot chocolate. I wanted her. First, hot chocolate. Then, the girl of my dreams.
Sip, sip – her lips were here before mine – swallow. It was good hot chocolate. “Mmm! I might be in love too now!” Honesty! “Itches, huh?”
She nodded and scrunched her nose, which is quite possibly the cutest thing in the world. “It’s starting to peel. It looks wicked nasty.” Wicked nasty. That’s so Guin. “How long until this stage is over?”
“Should only be about a week. Do you have some lotion?”
“Yeah… I think so,” Guin rummaged through her massive purse and I caught myself staring at her chest. I snapped my eyes to my chai and took a gulp. “Wow, Seb, you in a hurry?”
It was then that I realized how nervous I must have looked, gulping my extremely hot beverage. I forced a crooked smile and told her no, that I was not in a hurry.
“Okay, I changed my mind. I’m not in love with this hot chocolate. I’m in love with that smile. But I always have been, so that’s no secret. Hey! Remember in grade nine when that bitch – what was her name? – Courtney! Remember when she made fun of your crooked smile and I punched her in the mouth?”
My hero, I thought. “How could I forget? We both got suspended for that, remember? Which I believe was also your doing.”
“I was defending your honour! And obviously I couldn’t lie back then, so when Mr. Hauser asked why I punched her, I told him the truth. I’m still not sure why he suspended you though, it’s not like you asked me to.”
“Quite the opposite, in fact!” I exclaimed, shoving my glasses up my nose. “I’m pretty sure I asked you NOT to do anything! But you had a lot of furious momentum built up and not even Superman could have blocked that punch.”
She laughed that beautiful Guinevere laugh and two tears snuck out. She wiped them away and said, “You’re a nerd. Hey, I definitely don’t have any lotion in here, and yes, I see you faking shock. Do you have any at your place? It’s closer.”
We finished our drinks and stepped out into the snow. I squinted and looked up and thought about how the falling snow looked like stars, how it looked like I was speeding through them.
“You’re thinking about how it looks like you’re speeding through stars right now, aren’t you?” she smiled her big, beautiful smile and pulled her toque over her ears. Her short hair barely stuck out from under it.
“Oh, Guinevere, you know me so well,” I smiled back at her and saw that she was shivering. She scrunched her nose at me and my knees felt weak.
“Don’t call me that! Ugh. What an ugly name,” she shook her head and chattered her teeth.
“It’s a perfectly fine name!” my right hand directed itself to her right shoulder, then retreated. Awkward, awkward, awkward.
“’Perfectly fine?’ How old are you?” she shoved me gently and I slipped on an icy patch, hitting the cement hard with my left hip. Clumsy, clumsy, clumsy. “Oh my god! Are you okay Seb? I’m so sorry!”
I grabbed her extended hand and pulled her down to the snow. Guin shrieked and punched my chest and laughed and cried. She called me an ass, I laughed and hugged her. She continued punching me.
“Ow! Ow! Okay! You’ve done enough damage, stop!”
“Don’t pull me down again!” she yelled as she stood up.
I fumbled to my feet and we continued walking and laughing until we reached my apartment. She kept shivering and I kept thinking about putting my arm around her. She was outrageously tough, but winter was her kryptonite.
We walked up the three flights of stairs and reminisced about the old times. Guin has been my best friend since junior high, making the whole me-loving-her thing obviously awkward. Here we were at our first year of university, with our own separate apartments in an unfamiliar city. We spent all of our free time together, and I loved her more with every passing minute.
“Shit!” my hands were so cold that I dropped my key when I tried to unlock the door. Clumsy, clumsy, clumsy.
“Hey, Fumbles McGee, whenever you’re ready to unlock that door, please do. I’m getting itchier by the second. Plus, I have to pee.”
When I finally opened the door, I bowed dramatically to let her in first. She smiled, rolled her eyes, and shook her head, walking straight to the bathroom and dropping her winter woollies on the chair. That goddamned chair.
I think every guy goes through the first-time buying furniture dilemma – two chairs or one couch? Two chairs are cheaper than one couch, I thought. What I wish I thought was, Hey, if Guin comes over, I’ll want to sit by her and open up the physical contact potential. But no, I did not think that.
“Where’s your lotion, Seb?” Guin called from the bathroom, swinging the door open and searching my cupboards.
“Oh! I’ll get it for you, just a sec.” Just as I picked up the bottle, I turned to see her standing in the doorway, looking amazing while smirking and scrunching her nose. Like a princess smelling something foul.
“Bedside table? You dirty perv,” she bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing.
“I have dry hands!” I protested, showing off my red knuckles.
“You have a dry sex life!” Snatching the bottle from my hand, she giggled and looked up at me. I often forgot how much shorter she was than me.
“So do you!”
Guin was grossly open about her sex life. Or lack thereof. I watched as she massaged the lotion into her arm and tilted her head back and sighed. Her fingers slid smoothly over her creamy skin, her sigh came out like a love letter to moisture. The words “I’m in love with you” danced on my vocal chords like malicious tap-dancers trying to ruin my life. My throat seized and sucked my breath down into my chest, blowing over those five dancers like a hurricane of sensibility.
“God, that’s ORGASMIC!” she moaned and rubbed the last of the lotion into her new tattoo.
I realized very suddenly how turned on I was getting, and sat on the bed, closing my eyes and thinking of the least sexy things about her that I could. I thought about the first time we got drunk, how I held her hair and gagged as she puked over the bridge. Then I thought about when her first boyfriend dumped her, and how she cried until her eyes were circled in purple and her nose was swollen. Then about when she had her worst sunburn from being at the beach for far too long, and how her face and shoulders were peeling a few days later.
Translation: I thought about holding her, I thought about her being available, I thought about her in a bathing suit. I was doomed.
“Are you tired or something?”
I snapped back to reality, “What? No. Oh, you thought…? No.” I cleared my throat more than necessary and said, “Remember the first time we got drunk?”
She laughed and sat down next to me, wiping tears from her eyes. “Yes! I got so sick. Thanks again for walking around with me until I sobered up. And for holding my hair. And for letting me crash at your place so my dad wouldn’t find out.”
“I’m surprised he wasn’t more concerned about you staying at my place. He’s pretty overprotective,” I said.
“He didn’t know I was at your place, goof!” she punched my arm, hard. It felt surprisingly good. “He thought I was at Kim’s. I can lie about shit like that, but I can’t lie about not being drunk when I clearly am.”
“Or about why you punched Courtney.”
She smiled. I smiled back and leaned into her for a second, then bailed. She raised an eyebrow and leaned on me, resting her head on my shoulder. I felt my pulse quicken. I was in full-on panic mode over my best friend leaning on me – what an idiot.
“Hey! I found a song that I want to show you,” I stood quickly – too quickly – and got a head rush, sending me back down. I hit the floor and Guin burst out laughing. She laughed so hard she was in a complete bawl before asking if I was alright.
“Yeah… Head rush,” I stammered. “Again…”
“You, Sebastian, are the ONLY person I know who actually gets head rushes bad enough to fall over. I love that about you!”
“Yeah, I love that about you too,” I said, feeling dizzy.
“What?” she looked at me, the lower half of her face smiling, but the top half serious. “I don’t have that problem. I can’t even remember the last time I had a head rush.”
“Never mind,” I shook my head and got up slowly to grab my laptop. “Here,” I mumbled when I came back. “This is the song.”
She bobbed her head to the music, and lit up upon hearing her name.
I loved you, Guinevere, I loved you, Guinevere, I loved you.
“Cute!” she squealed. “Seb! I love it!” she sang along to the next round and I joined her.
“I loved you, Guinevere, I loved you, Guinevere, I loved you,” we sang.
When the song ended, she smiled really big, hugged me and said, “Maybe Guinevere isn’t so bad of a name after all.”
I hugged her back and sang, “I love you Guinevere, I love you Guinevere, I love you.” Honesty!
“It’s past tense,” she whispered, arms still wrapped around me.
No it isn’t, I thought.