WORDS

Astral Romanticism

A short story on how certain feelings never seem to last a lifetime.

She had summer lungs. He had an evening heart. Maybe that’s why on their first date she noticed the floral pin on his dashboard and he wondered where she got the scar on her left cheek. It was a winter love that didn’t last the warmth of spring like the snow.

It was October. She walked into the wrong physics class after lunch. The whole class noticed her error except the curly-haired boy gazing out the cracked window. His eyes flickered at the willow branches hitting the breaks of wind. He had mustard on his shirt and busted sneakers ripping at the seams. She stumbled out with her fizzing thoughts. Afterschool, she waited outside the schoolyards scanning the rows of people for the same face. She couldn’t find him.

It was November. He liked missing math tests by walking aimlessly through the cold hallways. He noticed a red light under the control room door of the auditorium. He opened the wooden door and saw her sleeping in a tattered velvet chair. She had a half-opened indigo book on her lap and a checkered coat as a makeshift pillow. Golden waves draping over her eyes like a curtain. He didn’t believe in anything until he saw her. He jogged back to class and smiled at the split in the ceiling.

It was December. She saw him. He saw her. With locked eyes and nervous breaths, they exchanged some words in line for cafeteria pizza. They set up a time to meet at the movie theater on the other side of town while eating sweet potato fries. The next day they went to a foreign film together and sat in the very back. He messed with the bruises on her knees. She wiped the butter from his bottom lip. Their kisses were full of restlessness and Swedish Fish.

On their second date, they went to a bad cover band of New Order and drank lime soda. They found shards of glass on the street after the show. He told her his mother wears bedtime slippers everywhere and watches Jeopardy ever since his father left. She squeezed his hand. She told him that since she was thirteen she sticks her finger down her throat and scratches her skin too hard. He kissed the corner of her lips.

On their third date, he asked her to be his girlfriend while breaking into the neighborhood pool. It was 40 degrees outside and her answer was jumping off the diving board. They laid together on a small, plastic lawn chair. His touch was a firecracker on her pale skin. Her smile was better than his grandmother’s honey. They woke up smelling like chlorine and cherries.

At school, they went to the library at lunch and read each other books on reptiles and the damages of LSD. They shared moments in the art supply closet and under the C hall staircase. He won a contest before winter break of a photo he took of her at the aquarium. The girl’s eyes were fixated on the sharks overhead and was drawing blood from the palm of her hand. She wrote a story about a boy with crooked teeth and it was in the local paper for two weeks. The boy had green painted nails and was in love with a witch.

For those months, it was a simple love. Pure love. The kind only few get to experience. They took a roadtrip to the next town over and pretended they were French tourists. They ate twizzlers after his shift at the ice cream shop. They wore matching blue eyeshadow and sang karaoke to music only their parents still listened to. He loved her because she always knew how to cut out the peach pit in his stomach and fill it with roses. She loved him because he always took pictures of the worst parts of herself and made them into a mosaic.

Though, it wasn’t until New Years that she found the rusty knife in the backseat of his car. And it wasn’t until New Years that he found a stash of pill bottles by her nightstand. So at midnight, they kissed in a dark, cramped basement filled with people from a different school. No one saw the fireworks that night, not even them.

One night, things were just different. He had a dream his father came back but didn’t wake her up to tell her. After their shared breakfast, she barely touched her toast and was in the bathroom too long, but he didn’t question it this time. Blue Monday played on the radio on the way to school, they both didn’t seem to be aware.

The days passed. She began to hate how he starting shooting with color film and how his car always smelled like mosquito spray. He began to hate how she would always turn their fights into poetry and tung at his shirt collar when they went to a show. It was then that the flame of their love went out with the coming of April showers. 

In the end, she still had summer lungs. He still had an evening heart. So maybe that’s why on their last date she noticed how he didn’t say thank you to the waiter and he wondered why she squeezed his hand a bit too tight.

Featured photo credits: Friendship by Sasha Mademuaselle

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