We are in the little garden behind our school. I am wearing the kind of yellow lace dress I would never have worn before today. He is wearing the kind of tuxedo that makes him look like a twenty-fist century Prince Charming. All he is missing is his royal steed. All I am missing is a date. We are illuminated by the twinkling lights strung up outside the building in celebration of the school dance. I wonder why he is here. I know why I am here. I am here because I never wanted to come to the dance in the first place, but friends are not friends if they don’t push you into doing things against your will every now and then.

I needed fresh air, and don’t know what to think of the fact that he decided to follow me out here. I can feel his presence, the heat from his body radiating behind me in waves, making me warm. I want to turn around and face him, but I’m too nervous to make a move. Then, suddenly, I hear the crunch of grass, and I start, spinning on my heels to see him stop nervously in his tracks.

He stands a foot away from me. He treats me to that dimpled smile, and I sigh. He tells me that I look stunning, and I shoot into our dazzling ceiling of stars. He offers me those big grey eyes, and I melt into a puddle on the ground. He looks at me, he sees me, and I almost want to weep.

Then he says my name. He says it like he’s caressing it, tasting it, playing a not-so-innocent game with it. He inches forward anxiously, and I can now smell him. In fact, I can smell nothing but him. He seems to have filled the air with pheromones that refuse to take no for an answer. It isn’t fair. His scent fills my head and drives me to the brink. His proximity is maddening. I want him to step back. I want him to move closer. A part of me longs to lunge at him and wrap my arms around him, and I scold it. In response, it laughs at me, teases me, dares me, coaxes me to indulge myself. It’s what I want. I should do what I want. No, you shouldn’t. I struggle silently to compose myself, fighting to stand my ground and rein myself in. But, as it happens, thankfully, he makes the first move, and I am put out of my misery.

Bravely, he slides a hand up against my face, tucking four fingers behind my ear, his thumb resting on my cheek. This is the first time that we are ever touching. My breath catches, and a shiver travels down to my very toes. But he isn’t done. His other hand goes to my exposed shoulder, that point of contact tingling with static energy, and then travels south, exploring undiscovered treasures; my shaking arm, my trembling back. I can’t help it: I lift my hand and push my long fingers into his soft and silky curls, grabbing a fistful like I am desperate to have his mocha-brown locks all to myself. Surprising both of us, in a swift jerk, I pull his face closer to mine. His lips part, hungrily, and each breath of his is so hot, so confident and steady. Mine, on the other hand, are rushed and erratic, my heart pounding my senses into oblivion.

He starts to tell me what he’s really here to tell me. I’ve been the biggest idiot, he says. I stole his heart the moment we first noticed each other in the library at the start of the school year. He has spent months building up the courage to tell me that. He has only dreamed of this moment, but now that we are here, together, just the two of us, it is absolutely surreal. I’ve broken up with her, he says. His ex was plastic and he is done suffering her. I am the one with the heart of gold and he apologizes for not seeing that and not telling me all these things sooner.

Abruptly he tears away to pluck a rose from a bush and returns to place it in my upturned hands. This rose has got nothing on you, he says. Nothing he could do or give me can ever be enough. But, he wants to build me a palace of a million roses where we can live out the rest of our lives forming our own definition of that powerful intoxicant people call love. He gets on one knee shakily. My breath hitches. He has not rehearsed this. He is telling me for the first time what he has kept to himself.

My intellect awes him. My wisdom lures him. My reason floors him.

He worships my laugh. He admires my nervous tick. He is addicted to the rasp in my voice.

He wants to live in my eyes. He wants to wade through my soul. He wants to feel what I feel.

Please take me, he begs. I do not deserve you, but take me because I am yours since the moment we met. And if you do not accept me, then do not return that heart you stole, because so long as I live it can never belong to anyone but you.

He is giving himself to me. I look at him, and it feels like the only thing I’ve been so sure of since the day I was born. Yes. Him.

I want him.

I urge him to stand. I tell him I have always been his, too, and with that I have given him the answer he seeks. He grins that boyish grin I have only sneaked glimpses of till today, and now I have a full view of it. My heart stutters madly. Without warning, he folds me into his strong arms and swipes me off the ground, taking me around in circles all over the garden. I am squealing and laughing. He is hooting and howling. Then he stops and returns me back to my feet. We are both breathless, wordless, fearless. Dipping me back gently, he leans over me, his bright eyes dancing with his silent question. I nod my approval, and finally, finally, our lips get acquainted.

It is a first for me. It is like two power-lines touching, an explosion, an implosion, a fatal connection.

It does not have a beginning, nor does it have an end. It simply exists. It is all that there is, and slowly but surely we become the kiss.

I try and pause this moment in time. I want to remember it the way it is, lock it away in my memory so I can reflect on its magnificence whenever I want henceforth: we are holding each other, we are crying, we are ending the silence and closing the distance we’ve upheld for so long. This night, we begin anew.

I am amazed at how electric and exhilarated I feel. I am amazed at how I am walking on air, breathing magic, seeing the world in colour for the first time. I am amazed at how, unlike ever before, I am now living.

I stay amazed liked this, because I am the happiest girl in the world.

———

© Amaan Khan, February 1, 2018.