Guess what? I wrote my first romance story! It’s very short (2K words) but I still did it and I want to share it with people. I was going to do some pretty formatting and post it on Instagram the way people do with poems but it’s just way too long and I’m not that skilled with digital arts or whatever so it’s a WordPress exclusive.
Since I said everything I wanted to say in my previous post, this one will just contain the story. I hope you enjoy it and feel encouraged to leave feedback.
As usual, the train was packed at this hour. Sweaty people would be pushed together like sardines and the smell permeating off them made that an apt metaphor.
Unlike some of her fellow passengers, she waited until the people exiting were off the train before entering. A few moments later she was rewarded when a bag was removed from a seat as she approached and she gratefully sat down.
She closed her eyes and rested her head for a moment, feeling her headache subside ever so slowly. That is until the boy behind her shouted in her ear, startling her. As she turned to look at him, she noticed it was a former classmate, someone she never interacted with much but remembered fondly all the same.
In the midst of their conversation, another voice chimed in. It came from the boy sitting next to her. At second glance she recognised him as another former classmate, and shortly thereafter she recognised the guy sitting diagonally behind her as well.
When the time came to get off the train to switch platforms, they proposed a game. The station had recently been remodelled so they were holding some events for its grand reopening. The boys were supposed to meet up with some friends, other people she knew as well, and explore together.
There were people she knew from high school and others she knew from elementary school. No one had changed much in the years since they’d last seen each other and they felt familiar, like they used to. Too late did she realise that this familiarity included a feeling of exclusion, of never fitting in, paired with loneliness.
As she watched her friends, if she could call them that, hang out and play together, they reminded her of the children they used to be but simultaneously she felt herself growing distant. Why did she lack this connection with them?
She tried to join in. There had recently been created a new app that allowed you to rate your sexual and romantic partners with up to five stars. She never wanted any part of it but profiles existed for everyone and people could freely review everyone’s performances.
The host of the event chose her profile to demonstrate – “you look like you can handle it, big girl” – (always the comments about her weight) and she found out she had a rating of 3.1 out of 5. Most of the reviews were anonymous but there were only so many people it could be.
She had 17 reviews, more than double the amount of people she had actually dated or slept with, but it didn’t matter. The crowd went wild. Bad comment after bad comment made her feel miserable until she could do nothing but run.
Her friends found her at the table in the big hall. They sat by her and consoled her but to them it was no big deal. After five minutes, they decided she should be over it and left.
The lot of them rushed into a room where there would be some science experiment shown and she wanted to join them but when she reached the door she took one glance in and walked past it, as if she never intended to enter. She stopped around the corner and crouched against the wall, letting her feelings overtake her.
Nothing ever changed, did it?
Once she got herself together, she noticed one of her friends looking at her. He smiled at her and touched her shoulder, then left. If he meant to convey some kind of message to her, it was a lost cause. She couldn’t pick up on body language so easily and needed words for certainty.
Instead of joining them, she left the station and started walking in a random direction. This was the city she’d grown up in so she knew every street and its natural culmination into noisy tourist attraction or quiet local spot. It was no coincidence her walk led her to her old neighbourhood.
She reminisced about the past, remembering how her oldest friend used to be so fond of SpongeBob. As it was, his house was just around the corner. It was quite big with a front yard filled with various flowers: hydrangeas, a bed of roses, a tree that used to be their Christmas tree. She remembered when they replanted that thing. It was so tall now.
In the window there were signs telling her love was disgusting, not real, that it sucked. ‘Lovers stay out’ was painted in thick black letters, slightly slanted. Somehow she found the courage to proceed.
The door was open but she rung the bell anyway. She waited a moment, then yelled out “Anyone here like SpongeBob?” but no answer came. She walked away but only made it a few steps until she heard a familiar voice. “Of course there is!”
Had she turned around she would have seen the friendly, familiar face of her oldest friend, the guy she hadn’t spoken to in years. She didn’t turn. She kept walking. She made it to the little park, past the dense trees until she reached the little patch of grass near the water. There used to be a fountain there but it wasn’t working at the moment.
Her phone beeped and she found she had a message from the boy she’d refused to see a moment ago. “You know those signs don’t apply to you. They were put up for my sisters,” it read. She stayed silent.
“I heard about the reviews. That sucks, really. You know that thing’s shit, right? Don’t pay it any mind. Besides, you were it. You were the real deal. Always have been,” he added.
She hadn’t stayed long enough to read the good reviews, which were bound to exist since her score was still a 3.1, but it now seemed obvious his would have been among them too. What had he written? They’d only dated for a few years before life got in the way and the split felt like the end of their friendship. Was it really a good memory for him?
“Thanks, so were you,” she replied.
A moment of silence followed before a reply came and they fell back into their old ways, texting about anything that came to mind. She felt lighter already. She closed her eyes and let herself fall down onto the grass, lying on her back near the water.
She grabbed her phone and finally texted a reply. “I’m at the place where we used to sail those boats, remember?”
His reply took less than a second. “Near the water? I’m on my way, don’t move!”
She smiled and stayed where she was. The sun felt nice on her face and her rest was only interrupted by the sound of footsteps crunching grass. He stopped a few meters behind her. She slowly got up but kept her eyes closed and her back to him.
He was panting and she recognised the unevenness in his breathing. It was such a familiar sound.
She turned around to face him but her eyes were still closed. Slowly, a tear fell.
When she finally opened her eyes, he was there. He was tall and skinny and his hair was long and unkempt. But his smile, his smile was everything.
With tears in her eyes, she ran towards him and hugged him to her. He let out an oof, then laughed the sweetest laugh. She felt his torso vibrate from it and it filled her with joy. Why had she let this man go? How did she forget what this felt like? How had they survived apart for so long?
She moved back a bit so she could see his face but held onto his body. He was crying too but he was also looking at her like she was the most beautiful creature on earth. She’d always known what his body language meant. He was an open book to her as she was to him.
There were some lines in his face that never used to be there and some freckles graced his nose and cheekbones. His eyes, though watery, held the sun. His mouth hadn’t moved from the smile and she knew it would stay that way even when he spoke.
“It’s good to see you,” he finally told her, his voice as deep as it used to be. They’d had such fun when his voice finally broke and he went from sounding like SpongeBob to sounding like their math teacher over a single summer.
She had no idea what expression had been on her face all this time but when she heard those words and saw that face she knew she had to be smiling like she hadn’t done in years. It was the type of smile that stayed on your face even when you try to look neutral. The ends of her mouth just went up and she had no control over them and they were grinning at each other like they’d just won the lottery or saved the world or found the cure for cancer.
They had found each other.
Her chest felt so full, the love had nowhere to go. She was full, too full, but she didn’t care. He had to be feeling the same way, it was obvious from the way he was still looking at her, still crying, still grinning like he was the luckiest man on earth.
“You were always the real thing,” he told her once more and she kissed him. She didn’t even know she was going to yet once her lips were on his it was unthinkable that she would have done anything else. This was their natural state of being. They were whole like this, more than one, more than infinity.
He tasted sweet like strawberries and skin, his skin, but also salty from the tears. Their tears mixed on their tongues as they found their rightful places in the other’s mouth. Their hands roamed but always returned to the same spot, holding the other tight. There was still time to rediscover their familiar bodies, to notice the changes as well as the similarities. He’d gotten a nipple piercing and she’d gained some weight but somehow these things felt natural, as if life was meant to progress this way.
Between kissing and breathing their time was well spent but they had to briefly separate so she could blow her nose that had filled from her tears. When the mucus had been removed, and her melancholy with it, she glanced back up at the love of her life. They just stared at each other, and stared and stared, and her train journey home had long been forgotten. She’d already arrived home, right in his arms. There was no better place for her and it was the only place for her, a place for her alone.
The other girls, guys that found themselves in his embrace, kissing those lips, rocking those hips, they were just temporary, ghosts of the past, ghosts of the present, fun for the time being but unable to replace what had been lost. They were great people, she was sure – he attracted those. She felt thankful to them for taking care of him, keeping him happy, keeping his spirit up. She felt grateful to them for enriching his mind, softening his caress, being part of his journey. And she knew he felt the same about her past lovers, the men and women that made her who she was.
They were different, they’d changed, but they were still perfect for each other. They were flawed and sometimes ugly and made stupid mistakes that they regretted for years but they had found each other again and it was right. Everything was right.
As his smile filled her heart, her lips found his again.