As I reached out to knock on Kayla’s door, it swung open before my knuckles could make contact. Standing in the doorway was Kayla. An expression I could not yet read. She grabbed my extended wrist and pulled me into the warmth of her home. She closed the door behind me, but never left her position in front of me, or took her eyes off of mine. After another few uncomfortable moments, she…
Punched me! Hard! On my bicep.
“Ouch!” I said, while rubbing my potential bruised arm.
Before I could say anything more, she explained, “that was for NOT calling me for like a month.”
Then she closed up the space between us and threw her arms over my shoulders. “This is for finally doing it. I missed you, you big dummy.”
She hugged me tight and long, while I struggled to put together an apology.
“Shhh…stop. We’re cool, ok?”
“You’ve gotten taller. Haven’t you?”
“No. Seriously. I’m like reaching up more. I can tell. Either I’m shrinking, or you grew.”
“I don’t know. I haven’t noticed.”
“Well I have.”
She released me from her hug and stood back a little, still holding my hands. Wearing a big smile on her face.
“You look great. That hair is getting so long.”
“Yeah. I haven’t had it cut in forever.”
“Don’t cut it! Long hair looks good on you. It’s cute.”
Blushing a little, I thought I should try to deflect the attention back on her. “You look really nice, too. I like your new hair color. It’s wicked.”
“Wicked? Like a witch? You think I look like a witch now?”
“No. No. Nothing like that. I…i…”
“Oh my god! Hello? It has been too long, hasn’t it? Why are you acting so nervous? Do you remember who I am?”
“Uhh…of course I remember.”
“Well, start acting like it. Relax.”
She pulled me by my hand, dragging me toward the kitchen. “Sit here and keep me company. Dinner is almost ready. It’s called ice blue by the way.”
“My hair. The color. It’s called ice blue.”
“Oh yeah. Cool. So, what’s for dinner? It smells really good.”
“You like it and you know it. Can I help?”
“Nope. Wait! In like five minutes, you can go up and try to peel the monster away from his video game. He’ll totally freak out when he sees it’s not me.”
“He might claw your face off. So yeah, it’ll be fine.”
“Oh yeah. Great. I come over so you and your brother can kick my ass.”
“Pretty much. Didn’t you miss me?”
“You have no idea.”
Kayla continued to get dinner ready while I sat and watched. Looking around the house, I noticed it looked pretty empty.
“You are really moving huh? Your house is cleared out.”
“Yeah,” she replied sadly. “Less than a week now.”
Neither of us said anything more. We just kept our thoughts private. I, at least, didn’t really know what else to say. Luckily, only a minute later, she sent me to scoop up her brother, as dinner was ready. He didn’t bite my head off, as I was warned. Instead, he came willingly when I told him it was beef stroganoff. One of his favorites, apparently. Dinner was very good. I didn’t even mind the paper plates and plastic forks we had to use. Just about everything in the house was already packed up, including most of the kitchen.
As advertised, her little brother, whom I’ve only ever heard called ‘squirt,’ went back up to his room for more mind rotting video game action. Kayla suggested we retire to her bedroom to hang out and do whatever.
I was anxious about where I figured our conversation would end up. I had imagined she would ask about my attempted suicide. After about an hour of bs and fun, it seemed like she was not going to bring IT up. I was more than ok with that, but curious too. Maybe it’s not the easiest thing to ask about. It’s also possible she didn’t know. I wasn’t going to bring it up and ruin the good time we were having. A conversation for another time, I guess. Or not…
It also seemed like she wasn’t going to initiate any sexual contact, either. I sure as Hell wasn’t going to. Like I said before, I don’t understand girls, and anyway, I still didn’t know how stable the ground I walked on was. She’s given me mixed vibes. Also, I was pretty sure I was steering down the gay path, so my desire wasn’t that high.
We were laying on our backs, on her bed, which was now just a mattress on the floor. Listening to music and talking, when I asked her, “why is everything packed up in here, but your paintings?”
“Ah yes. I almost forgot. I left them up for you. You get to pick one to keep.”
“Yes. For Christmas or something.”
“That is so cool! Are you…sure?”
“Of course I am. Which one do you want?”
I got up and starting walking around her room. Looking at the different pictures. There was one that always caught my eye, whenever I saw it. I didn’t know if it was one she wanted to part with or not. I crawled back beside her and said nothing.
“Is there one you would like?”
“They are all awesome. Why don’t you pick one for me.”
“No. You pick one. That’s what I told you to do.”
“But what if it’s one you don’t want to give away?”
“I said any one of them. So, which one is it?”
I reluctantly replied, “the purple one.”
“The fire one? Good choice. I knew that’s the one you’d pick. It’s yours.”
I could tell she was happy with my selection. I thanked her by squeezing her hand and kissing her on the cheek.
“Thank you Kayla. It’s the best present I got.”
“You’re welcome. So, what’d you get me?”
“Ummm…let me think. How about, you can have anything I own. Except my laptop or guitar.”
“Like from your room?”
“Ok. Ok. I’ll have to come over to pick something out. Hey! What about New Years? Do you want to hang out?”
“Sure. I invited Mark and his brother over to hang out and stay over. You have to come too. I mean if you’d want to. I was going to invite you.”
“Yes. Of course. Pleeeassse!”
“Ok. I’ll come”
“Cool. It’ll be awesome.”
Just then we heard the garage door motor, indicating someone was home.
“Wow. They’re home way earlier than I thought. Good thing we weren’t naked.”
“Huh? Anyway…I s’pose I should go home.”
“I’ll walk you out.”
We passed her parents in the kitchen on our way to the front door. I put my coat and shoes on and stood to a smiling Kayla.
“Thanks for dinner. It was really good.”
“Thanks for coming over. So…see you New Years Eve?”
“Yeah. For sure.”
As I turned to walk out, she stopped me and quizzed, “you didn’t think I was going to let you go without a goodbye kiss, did you?”
Before I could respond, she covered my mouth with hers and kisses me, a lot, for a long time.
When she released me, she said expectantly, “see you in a few days.”
I gulped and smiled weakly. New Years should be interesting.