The music is pounding.
So is my heart.
The heavy drink in my hand reeks. I take a sip, thinking this will make me feel better, people around me chanting expectantly. A stream of alcohol burns down my throat. I’ve never liked beer much. On Sunday nights my dad would let me try some of his as we watched football as a family. But right now I wasn’t in my den back at home. I was in this excuse for a living room (it really was a frat party room) covered in red plastic cups and party confetti, sitting on my dorm house’s very own red Stanford couch at my own surprise party. I was overwhelmed with happiness just a few seconds ago, everything moving so fast in front of me; like flashes or something.
But the taste of liquid chemicals in my mouth brought me back to what’s been on my mind all day.
I need some fresh air.
Avery says in a soft hoarse voice smiling gently at me. The type of smile that would give anyone a warm feeling all over. I bet I look so pathetic; Mouth hanging open, staring at him as the porch’s wooden planks creak underneath my feet.
"Party’s gettin’ a little dull?
Or maybe you’re out here because you missed me!” Avery says laughing. He keeps grinning, adjusting the ring on his middle finger.
"I don’t like beer very much." I tell him leaning against the door frame, crossing my arms, next to where he was sitting. "I needed to just-"
I don’t get it. What did I say? I watch him suspiciously fold over laughing, his green eyes grinning.
"What do you mean you don’t like beer ‘very much’? Do you not remember Greg’s house?!”
God, Greg’s house. Everyone around us was drinking out of red cups and playing truth or dare on Greg’s roof. Avery kept asking me if I was comfortable and if I wanted to leave. Each time, I would answer him by taking a huge gulp of my drink. He probably thought I was crazy, especially because I was in 10th grade at the time.
Laughing, I walk over to the bannister of the porch, leaning on it while looking at him.
“It was apple juice.”
I say blankly, hiding my devious smile.
I laugh bashfully thoughts from that night rushing back.
"I thought you were an alcoholic! I reckon you had like 10 cups that night. Everyone loved you because they thought you were piss drunk. Everyone loved you!”
I’m looking at him, he’s looking at me, and I can’t shake his green eyes on mine. My legs, feeling like they’re walking out from under me, find there way sitting next to Avery.
“What on earth would you have to be sorry for, Aurora?”
His smile killed me. I frown down at my hands, thinking of what I’m about to say next.
"I’ve been thinking about it a lot since this morning. Since I got your note." He didn’t even wince,
"I’ve been so hostile towards you. It’s not right that I’m acting like this."
"Hahahaha." Killing me- killing me with his smile.
I couldn’t believe he was laughing, laughing at me? Or at how stupid I sounded?
"Never should you ever be sorry for what I did to you.” He says with a smile. “You didn’t deserve it. Yes what came after was you’re choice, but what I did… I can never take back. I’m the one who’s sorry.”
He sounded sincere, but still treated it like nothing I said would make him feel something. Like nothing I say next could hurt him.
That hurt me because I wanted him to feel what I felt. I wanted him to understand.
"How do you do that? Act like you don’t care, like you don’t feel anything."
"Because I can’t do that. I feel everything.”
What I heard next changed the way I thought, forever. I know I’ve been telling this story in the present tense but I’m not living in the now, I’m reflecting on it. On when I was looking at him and he was looking at me and what he said next changed me.
"Do you really think you’re the only one?
We all have scars. Impressions made on us by someone else.
We all feel. We all hurt. But not all of us show it on the outside.”
I can’t speak at this point. Honestly, how do you say anything after that except, ‘Can you wait a minute and let me get my notebook so I can write what you just said?’ Instantly I think of something to say. Thank, God.
”I don’t know how I feel, Avery.” Words getting caught in my throat, frowning because I’m so upset about it. I honestly don’t know.
Suddenly, he’s not sitting next to me anymore.
"Stand up." He says looking down at me.
He smiles. “Because I’m standing and I want you to stand, too.”
My heart skips a bit. What if he tries to pull something on me. I need him to understand.
"You know you can’t kiss me again."
"You know more than anyone else that I want to," He tells me with sleepy eyes placing a strand of hair behind my eye. This shot waves up my spine.
“But I know my boundaries. I’d never do anything to you that you wouldn’t want. Even if it’s killing me inside.” He smiles sincerely down at me letting me know he understands, letting me know I am safe around him.
The 20 year old pulls something out of his pocket and I’m praying it’s not a ring.
“I want you to have this.”
A beautiful gold piece is hanging from a golden chain. The middle of the piece is a purple orb surrounded by golden thorns.
"When I saw it, I instantly thought of you. Then I asked the name of the necklace- Gorjana Aurora."
I cover my mouth, gasping.
"The first part of the name is crap, but the your name is in there somewhere. I’d really love for you to wear it."
The entire time he says that, I’m staring at this thing, entranced by it’s beauty. He looks into my eyes bashfully, a curly lock falling on his eyelid. I take the necklace from his palm and fall into his chest.
The next thing he told me was what he always used to tell me. To say the least, it gave me this awful bittersweet feeling in the pit of my stomach.
"I have every since we were little and I still do. I love you Aurora, and I don’t care how opposed you are to it. I always have."
”Oh, I love you, too.” Pulling him into a hug.
Because I’ve known you forever. Because you’ve been here for me whenever I need you. Because even when you’re gone - even when I’m not supposed to
I love you.
Avery slips out from under me, nodding a very faint smile and walking down the porch steps. I grip the necklace tightly in my palm. I don’t want to let it go. Ever.