Genoa and Kevin - both 15 - explore what it means to be loved when you can't seem to get it right.


1. (Genoa)

We swayed together. I found a way to let myself fall onto his shoulder and he rocked me back and forth. He was warm and, were it not for the aftershave that he'd poured everywhere and smoothed into the light stubble that grew out from his chin; this could have been anything but pleasant. We were, after all, at a school dance with practically all the teachers ogling at us. But it didn’t care. Some things you only got to do once.

I let my feet follow his. His tread was even and rhythmic as though he'd danced many nights away to Adele's 'Set Fire to the Rain' or had practiced it for the moment that he could take a girl into his arms and dance her in love with him.

I watched the room in a blur fall in and out of focus with an untimely beat. It was absorbed by greens and blues, reds and yellows. The sensation was nauseating but a few weeks ago, I'd given up rubbing my eyes to try to make it better. It wouldn't work, plus I was sure that I was the only one who could see the world this way. That was special. What would the use be of trying to be normal when all that you were meant for was to be special?

Her voice was getting softer, Adele. It was as though she was sneaking away, pulling the plug on the high school dance for the night.

And soon it would be over, this beautiful moment hung in the arms of man. It would finish. This night would fade into a hazy nostalgic memory. I'd lose the feeling of how it felt to be in Kevin Bright's arms. That would slip away and I would let it.

"Hey Kev!" Michael Asphalt called from across the hall as the track drowned out and was hastily changed, by the DJ, to something more 'hip and groovy for all you cool kids out there!'

Michael was buffeting couples out of the way with his speed as he raced across to meet Kevin. Kevin looked down at me with eyes so blue dark that they were almost purple before he handed me over, like a jacket, to a group of my friends who had huddled in the corner like mice.

I walked over to them, tracing Kevin's footsteps in my mind as he sidled away. I wanted to savour everything. Every touch, every smell, and every fantasy of what we could be before-

"Get in there, Gen!"

That was Kelsie, a butch red-head who wore ten times the amount of make-up that she needed and had a dent in her finger where the skin had been eroded from constant hair twiddling. But, no one's perfect and just because I could pick out her flaws, wasn't to say that I had anything against her. She could be described in terms of how kind or frank you were willing to be. What I didn't mention was that she is my best friend. We've hung out practically since the age of five, and when I say 'hung out', I mean it. It's one of our favourite things. We've hung everywhere: trees over rivers, bridges, tower blocks. (Well, it's most probably more accurate to say that we've 'dangled' but it doesn't sound the same.)

"Kels, please."

"Why? Come on, Genoa! You just danced with one of the hottest guys in school!"

"'One of?'" piped Hannah, who had been glumly sucking blackberry punch through a now battered straw.

"Yeah," retorted Kelsie, unimpressed.

"Oh please, if you're going to bring Mitch into this, just don't. He's not a touch on Kevin!"

"Um, ex-cuse me, but-"

And so they continued, my friends, discussing which guy had the nicest hair, the most gorgeous eyes, the cutest smile and I didn't care, because my mind was as far away from this school dance as possible. It was wandering. How many times had Kevin skimmed stones over the bay? Did he like the feeling of his feet dangling over the bridge before Senworth station? Were his subs double jalapeño and ketchup on the side, like mine?  I could only guess at the answers, which I supposed were: 'countless', 'of course' and 'was there any other way?!'

But I could find myself doing this a lot. 'This' being daydreaming. Filling my head with things that might never happen and fantasising over why that might be. I could spend days thinking of things I wanted to do and do only a handful before I nudged myself to stop.

But that dance, was it so impossible to imagine that anything could happen? And when I say anything, not even the sky could be factored as the limit. Why did everyone have to assume that the impossible couldn't be possible?

I began to feel faint. The room slipped sideward like water down the toilet and my head pounded like I'd been too desperate at Halloween apple bobbing. Could he make me feel like this?

Your feet will hold you up, but only if you let them. And I wasn’t the one I control here. I fell and the school dance, for me, ended with a fall, bang and a bruise as everyone and everything went black. 

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