It wasn’t often that I would wake up in an empty bed and notice that it was empty. I was so used to banging a guy at his place and then returning to my own bed where I would sleep alone. There was something so personal about sleep to me that I found it hard to share with anyone… unless, of course, it was Harry. For about a year after my mother died, I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night screaming my head off and sweating like I had just run a marathon because of bad dreams, but there was not a time that I woke up from a bad dream and Harry wasn’t there. He was all I saw when I snapped back into my life from a dream and he would hold me and shush me and rock me until I fell back into a peaceful sleep. But even when I fell asleep with Harry, we often didn’t wake up together. I guess, for a while, I scared him. He wanted to be there to help me wake up from the dreams, but he didn’t want to be there when I was actually going through a dream. It never bothered me though.
I opened my eyes and tried to listen to see if Harry was still laying behind me. I heard no breathing and felt no warmth from his body. Disappointed and confused, I flipped over just to be sure he wasn’t there – which he wasn’t. I sat up and peered across the hallway into his room. His sheets were thrown off of his bed from the night before where he rushed into my room and cuddled up with me. He wasn’t in his bed. I listened and I waited to see if I could hear him walking around in his room or in the bathroom beside my room. I didn’t hear anything. Was it all just a dream? Maybe Louis was pounding into me so hard the night before that I passed out and just dreamed about the rest. I imagined Harry’s face as Louis walked to the front door of the apartment, carrying me in his arms.
“What happened??” Harry would ask.
“Oh,” Louis would answer nonchalantly as he would hand my limp body to Harry. “We got to fucking so hard that she passed out.”
A crashing pot interrupted my thoughts. I jumped out of the bed quickly and ran to the kitchen. “Harry?”
“Shit,” Harry swore, jumping as I scared him. He dropped a skillet that he had in his hand, full of runny pancake batter. I plugged my ears and turned away as the pot clanged against the floor and batter splattered all over the cabinets. Harry clutched his chest as he caught his breath and glowered at the mess on the floor.
“Harry!” I screamed and pointed to the stove where our dish towel was just catching on fire. Harry accidentally held it over the open flame and instinctively dropped the burning towel as it lit up. I dove toward the fire and pinched the small part of the towel that hadn’t been set ablaze yet, quickly tossing it into the sink and twisting on the faucet. The cool water extinguished the fire immediately. I coughed and waved my hand in front of my face as smoke flew up into the air around us.
“Shit, Scotlan, I was just…” Harry looked around at the mess in the kitchen. Pancake batter was everywhere. I saw a plate of burned muffins near the trash can. Under the charred towel in the sink were multiple cracked egg shells. “I thought it might be nice for breakfast in bed. But not cereal because I know you kinda hate cereal… most of the time…” Harry let his hands fall to his sides and his shoulders sagged. I couldn’t help but laugh when I looked at him. I couldn’t remember another time where I had seen him so upset over something silly like breakfast. As I laughed, the red, flustered color in his face deepened and he stared me down.
“Harrrrold!” I giggled, walking over splotches of batter on the floor and falling into his chest when I lost my balance. I giggled more as I used my thumb to wipe pancake off of his nose and chin. Harry pouted again, but a little more playfully this time. When he finally gave in a cracked a smile, I wrapped my arms around his stomach and kissed the part of his chest revealed by his white (and pancake splattered) v-neck tee.
Harry kissed the top of my head. “I went to the store at 5 this morning. They didn’t open until 6 but I begged the woman on my knees to please let me in and she did. But now I’ve fucked up all of the ingredients. That pancake batter was the last of it.” Harry motioned toward the floor.
I laughed at the thought of Harry making breakfast for me – and for obvious reasons. I stepped over the mess on the floor again and walked to the cupboard so I could find his Lucky Charms cereal. When I pulled them off the shelf, Harry covered his face with his hands. “I’m so sorrrrrrry.”
“Harry! It’s really okay! I promise!!” I put the box down on the counter and started to reach for a bowl.
“No! Wait. Breakfast in bed, remember?” Harry closed the cabinet and pushed me toward the hallway. “Get back in bed!” He slapped my bum as I scurried away from the messy kitchen.
When I imagined breakfast in bed with my significant other, I pictured flowers and cubed fruit and waffles or pancakes and sausage and so much more. Harry got as far as the cubed fruit and flowers (sunflowers, to be exact). I was far from upset though – this was undoubtedly one of the best mornings that I had ever woken up to. I couldn’t help but feel silly as Harry spoon-fed me cereal and cantaloupe, but I also loved it at the same time.
When we finished, Harry took the tray back to the kitchen and cleaned up. I laid in my bed and thought to myself. If the beginning of the relationship reflected what the rest of it would be like, Harry and I would make it pretty far together.
I hadn’t noticed Harry standing in the doorway grinning at me.
He shook his head. “Nothing.”
I buried my face in my pillow and yanked the covers over my head.
“Nooo!” Harry protested, jumping on the bed and trying to pull the covers back. I clenched my fingers as tightly as I could around the fabric as to not allow Harry to get to me. “Scotlan I wasn’t laughing at you! I was just laughing because it’s funny to think we’re dating now!”
I stopped struggling and let Harry rip back the covers from my face. I looked up at his face as he laid on top of me. “It’s funny?” I asked quietly.
Harry’s eyes widened. “I mean like, good funny. Like a ‘I never thought this would happen’ kind of funny. You know?”
I grinned and winked at him. “Well don’t get too excited yet, we’ve only been dating like, 9 hours.”
Harry gave me a short kiss on my nose and backed away to look at me again. “Wanna do something today?”
I was thinking the night before about what Harry and I would do today if we hadn’t really started talking again. I was planning on taking him to Central Park and just walking around, enjoying the day and being together like our old selves. I suppose even now, going to Central Park would be better since we were not only talking but also dating. My heart fluttered at the thought.
“Wanna go on a walk?” I asked.
Harry cocked his head at me. “Around the block?”
I shook my head.
“Well where?” Harry asked.
Harry grinned. “Sure babe.”
“Babe,” I repeated, blushing.
Harry laughed and pulled me to my feet from the bed. He kissed me on the cheek lightly before leaving the room.
The bright sun and cloudless sky kept the temperature pretty warm for the most part, but when the wind blew, it made us shiver. It was supposed to rain later that afternoon, but I didn’t care. It was still a nice day for walking. Harry and I strolled under the colorful trees and down the large sidewalk, holding hands and bumping into each other gently and playfully. We walked slowly, stepping on the red and brown leaves that had fallen from the trees and looking up to admire the orange and yellow ones that hadn’t yet decided to break away from their branch. Every now and then, I would grip my camera, which I was wearing around my neck, and snap a picture of a couple passing by on roller blades or a stranger grinning at the crunching sound that the leaves made under their feet.
“Tell me something you’ve never told me,” Harry said as we made our way to a bridge that crossed the lake in the park. I frowned and pulled Harry closer to me so we could let a biker pass. I stopped and leaned on the concrete railing of the bridge, peeking out at the water in front of us.
“I can’t think of anything.”
Harry chuckled. “I knew you were going to say that.”
I took a step away from him and pointed my lens at his face. Snapping a picture, I replied, “I’ve always told you everything!”
Harry took the camera from my hands and unwrapped the strap from my neck. He put the black strap around his own neck and looked through the camera out at the water. “Seriously! Think hard. There has to be something.”
I put both elbows on the railing again and supported my head with my hands as I thought. “In college…” I began. Harry stopped looking through the camera and turned his attention toward me. “We went to the Delta Tau Delta Frat party.”
Harry furrowed his brow as he thought but raised his eyebrows and smiled when he remembered. “That one guy jumped off the roof into the pool and almost died.”
I laughed. “Yes, that party. Well you and I split up at one point and someone handed me a drink. I had a sip. It was horrendous and I thought I might vomit. It just reminded me of the accident with my mom, you know? I don’t think I told you because I made you promise we would both never drink again and then I did and I thought you would be mad.”
Harry shook his head. “Actually, I was going to tell you something similar. Remember the graduation party at Radcliffe’s house?”
I didn’t have to try hard to remember Austin Radcliffe’s post-graduation party for NYU. It was insane and packed. Harry and I didn’t stay long.
“I had a sip of something there but it actually tasted horrible too,” Harry continued. “Kinda like what you said… the memories that come with it…”
Harry looked sideways at me. I watched out of the corner of my eye as he reached up and brushed my blonde hair behind one of my ears. He knew I hated that, but for some reason I didn’t make him stop. I looked down at the water below us and watched as a small fish kissed the surface of the water and started ripples that continued to spread under the bridge where I couldn’t see them. Harry snapped a picture of me as I tried to bend over the railing of the bridge to see more of the tiny ripples.
“Harrrrry-“ I said, raising my hand to cover my face.
He laughed and grabbed my hand to kiss it. “I’m sorry! You just look so beautiful.”
I stood up straight and faced him. I lifted my eyes to meet his, a move I felt was daring and almost dangerous for some reason. I had never hesitated to look Harry in the eye, but now doing it just made me want to blush and look away.
“I think I might want to kiss you,” Harry whispered, his eyes flickering to my lips. “Or would that be weird?”
“It would be weird,” I whispered back, not taking my eyes off of his. “But I think I might get mad at you if you don’t do it anyway.”
Harry grinned and cupped my cheek in his hand. He pulled my face to his, planting a warm, firm kiss on my lips. I never really noticed how plump and soft his were, but that was because we never kissed like this before. Almost too soon, Harry pulled away from me and bit his lip. He grinned at me and picked up the camera again to stare through it at the dark clouds that were just beginning to appear in the distance. I put my head on his shoulder. I wanted to jump and scream and dance. Something warm inside me wanted to explode. I guess that I had forgotten what it felt like to actually be excited about something, but thanks to Harry, the feeling was back in my life.