First Luv

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

17-year-old Devon thinks he's fallen in love for the first time.

We sat together at the edge of the half-broken bridge, letting our legs dangle precariously over the edge, enjoying the quiet sense of danger.

It was so beautiful - downright enchanting - that night. The stars peering gently through the mist of clouds, like a million benevolent eyes gazing down at us, storing the moments that we would soon forget in their eternal memory.

I looked at Jim through the corner of my eye. His black cross dangled from his neck, catching glints of moonlight, a stark contrast in its delicacy to the rest of his workaday, loose-fitting clothes.

He was probably my best friend in the whole world. We met in first grade. He was fiddling with his locker combination, trying to figure it out, and I said, "Man. You're a cyclops!" You see, I'd just finished seeing some dumb B-rated monster movie in the theater, and literally every other word out my mouth was "cyclops" or "robot". 

You should've seen Jim's eyes as he demanded to know what the hell was a cyclops. He'd never heard that word before, and explaining it to him made me feel three times as smart as I actually was. 

Jim ended up being super bright - probably smarter than me in the end. Straight A's, advanced classes, the whole works. But he didn't seem to really care about school. Still didn't, really. We were rapidly nearing the end of our senior year - I had just turned eighteen, Jim was seventeen and a half - but he had no thoughts about college or his general future.

He seemed lost in his own world of fantasies.

I didn't mind. Like I said, he was my best friend in the world. We did literally together. Running, hiking, shooting arrows in the woods. Playing video games 'til dawn. Exchanging cheat codes and magazines, and stupid things we snuck out of people's garbage cans.

I felt unbelievably lucky that nothing like a big move or a death in the family or some other unforeseen circumstance had forced us apart in the eleven years we'd known each other. Couldn't imagine saying goodbye to Jim, not even for a few weeks. 

It's why I hated the idea of graduation, even though I'd been accepted to a few colleges and the future looked bright for me. I wasn't sure if my old friends - Jim in particular - would still be there. Most likely, just because of the way life worked, they wouldn't be.

We'd all split off and start being adults.

It was exciting, or at least we all collectively were pretending it was...

...except Jim, of course, who seemed healthily ambivalent.

He must've somehow felt my side-eye gaze because he turned for an instant to lazily grin at me, large blue eyes bleary. "You know what, Dave?" he said slowly, the words kind of flowing off his tongue. "I think I might be in love."

I laughed incredulously. "In love? You!?"

Jim had always rolled his eyes at romance stories, and at couples holding hands in the hallway, let alone the "floofy" idea of being in love. 

"Dude." I said. "It's gotta be the vodka."

He kinda drunk, almost glassy-eyed, but somehow what he'd said sounded like something he'd been thinking about for a long time. Something he'd wanted to tell me, but never had the chance, or just didn't feel like it. He was legendarily clam-like when it came to his private thoughts.

"Who are you in love with?" I demanded.

"Her name is Susan." Jim said. 

"The red-haired girl?"

Jim nodded, smiling.

"Jim, she's like five years older than you. She's in college man!"

"Doesn't matter."

"It just ain't realistic, that's what I'm saying." 

"I know," Jim said wistfully. "She's probably lookin' fer a 'real man'. Or whatever the hell them girls be saying."

I laughed, but Jim didn't. He met my gaze with eyes filled with inexpressible longing. "Just give me a couple of years," he sighed, almost as if I were Susan. "I'll be a real man."

"Well, she'll be married by then most likely." I said. It wasn't exactly the kindest thing to say at that moment but it was the truth. And I was a straight-shooter.

Jim shook his head. "I know," he said quietly. "I know."

"I wanna marry her." he said after a while, hanging his head.

"Really?" I said. 

The idea of marriage was damn scary to me. Attaching myself to one chick? No thanks. My hands were shaking when I thought about taking on a full-time job. 

." Jim said emphatically. "Oh yes. I wanna have her all to myself and I want her to have me. Forever n' ever."

"Man, you'll get her someday." I said. It was a lie, but I wanted to see him smile.

And he did. Long, dreamy, wide, slow, lingering smile, practically leaking with love.

It was funny to watch. But kind of endearing at the same time. I was a little older than him but I'd never felt that way about anyone. I wondered what it felt like.

It was like a double-drunkenness. A blissful high, gauging by his face.

"Man, I dunno. Shouldn't you be thinkin' about like, your future and stuff? College and whatever?"

I was secretly hoping he might throw out some colleges he was thinking of going to, and that we might have some mutual offers. 

Jim shrugged. "Yeah. I should be. But I'm not." he said flatly.

"Come on man, where are you thinking of going?" I was fishing now.

"Arizona State. Maybe M.I.T. There's a school in the U.K. interested too. Don't know how the hell that happened." Jim snorted.

"Dude, you're a straight-A student, a year ahead in your class, and you won awards last year for that dumb game you made." I reminded him. "You're like a genius!"

"Yeah I know man." Jim said disinterestedly. "I mean, wait, I'm not a genius. ." He rolled his eyes and took a long drink from the bottle.

I sighed. The wind rustled through the trees, and someone's wind chimes, far away, twinkled in the air. "I'm gonna miss you," I said. 

"What?" Jim raised an eyebrow, his reaction delayed. He smirked. "Why?"

"Cuz, you know." I said. "Graduation. And all that stuff. We'll be away from each other, probably."

Jim nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah. That sucks." he said. "But I dunno. Maybe we'll get lucky."

"Like how?"

"Like... this year'll never end...?" His smile was jockish.

I grinned automatically when I saw it. "Yeah, maybe. Like man I wish. I never want this year to end."

"Yeah..." Jim yawned. "I hate the idea of getting old. Old like with gray hairs, man. I don't wanna be that ever. I'd rather die than get old."

"I dunno," I said. "If things could stay like this I wouldn't mind getting old. Like, I hate old buggers too but I'd love to get old with my best friends." 

"Yeah me too I guess," Jim said, but not with much certainty. He smiled warmly. "Man, can you imagine our first kiss?"

"Susan?" I said.

"Yeaaah. And you and your girl, too."

"Dude, I'm not a boyfriend type of a guy."

"You and yer girl of the week then. Hehehehe..." Jim laughed.

"It'd be nice." I shrugged. Our fantasy futures would always be better than what was actually waiting for us. At least, that's what I was thinking. Maybe I was just pessimistic, but it felt realistic, and burdensomely true.

And time wasn't going to stop for us. In the blink of an eye, seemingly, it'd all be over. And this night, this night I wanted so badly to go on and on and on - hell, the entire remainder of the year - would be just another distant memory. Some moment like a million others, when the future was still unknown. The pages of my personal history, and that of my friends, were still unwritten and deliciously fresh.

Jim drunkenly rambled on about Susan. I half-listened to him, though I was lost in my own thoughts. He talked about her gray eyes, the curves of her body, some shirt she was wearing when he saw her in the library. I snorted. Jim liked to talk about how he hated the "oversexed American society" and how he viewed love as something pure or whatever, but with liquor in his veins he could be almost ludicrously degenerate.

But alas, even his stupid fantasies about iron clad snake-skin-wearing zombie creatures with watermelon-sized titties were something I'd soon miss. Everything today was sad. The enormity of change was crashing over me like a tidal wave. 

I felt alone in the feeling. Jim felt change coming too, I was sure, but he seemed so nonchalant. Or maybe he was just trying to enjoy every minute as it came, lingered an instant, and disappeared. 

"She's my true, true love." he slurred, looking straight into my eyes - as straight as he could anyway.

"Man, you're drunk." I shook my head.

"I mean it."

I could tell he did, just from the tone of his voice. And maybe something from his soul that I could feel. My smile melted into something slightly different.

What did it mean to truly love someone? You feel the pain, I guess. Pain of loving them from a distance. The pain of being away from them. The pain of them never knowing how you feel. The pain of waiting, waiting, and waiting, all the while being aware that the one you loved was drifting further and further away.

Maybe I did understand, after all.

Maybe I did.

Submitted: November 19, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Easton Underdog. All rights reserved.

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