Miles left me a watch and an obligation. The watch didn’t even work.
He didn’t die, but he might as well have. His family was moving across the country. Okay, there was the internet and video chat and even freaking letters if we got desperate, but it wouldn’t be the same. I was allowed to be dramatic, I’m 17.
Four of us huddled into Mile’s basement, curled into each other even though everything had been packed up and there was nothing but space. The scotch tasted bitter and burned with every swallow. The smell hung in the air every time my parents opened the bottle, so that’s why I chose it: it was strong.
Miles eye’s were glassy but his voice was steady when he said, “Before I leave, I am going to make out with Greg Morris.” Greg had a mouth that reminded me of pomegranates, a burst of red color, and eyes like whiskey, much more palatable than the scotch we drank, maybe I should have grabbed that instead.
It made sense to want to lock lips with the gorgeous popular boy, but was he even gay? Did he have any idea our little group of friends even existed? Mile’s voice rose in volume and intensity when met with any doubts, voice filled with conviction, until his mom opened the door and told us to keep it down so his parents could pretend they didn’t know what we were doing.
The door closed, and the fight left him like it was never there. “Fine, maybe I won’t.” All his previous words were forgotten, alcohol probably had that effect, but I didn’t think that’s what this was. His eyes turned serious for a moment, aware and intent, focused on me.
“If I don’t do it, it’s up to you.”
Once I had three friends at this school and now I had two.
I looked across the row of lockers, saw the way Greg’s profile looked bathed in light from the sun pouring in through a window, and I wanted.
A text message alert made me tear my eyes away.
Make me proud
Make yourself proud
Greg was so pretty it hurt. And me? I didn’t know how I measured up, but maybe that didn’t matter. I had three friends at this school and was suddenly down to two. I wanted more.
I’m not just gonna walk up and kiss him I texted back.
His response wasn’t surprising. You’ll at least go and say hi, right?
I couldn’t walk over and pull him into a passionate clench. But saying hi? It suddenly seemed easy in comparison. Sometimes it’s not about what you’re given but what you choose to do with it.
I walked over.
title from Emily Dickinson