Authors: Suki Fleet
I smiled, curious. It sounded like a fantasy.
“We can be anywhere but mostly it’s either your room or mine, and we’re sat so close I can feel the way your body hums like an overhead wire.”
I smiled. “You look at me like… like there is no one else, and I kiss you….” Thomas took a deep breath. “That’s it.” He rolled his eyes a little as if he was embarrassed. “I fantasize about kissing you. I know it’s probably pretty lame as far as fantasies go.”
I bit my lip, swooning a little at the sweetness of it. Kissing was really intimate. I’d thought about it a lot. I could see why it turned him on.
“I don’t know if you’d want to, though…. I mean, I’d understand if you didn’t….”
The uncertainty in his voice was like feathers on my skin. My heart was beating way too fast now.
“Yeah, kissing would be okay,” I said. More than okay. After nearly a week of thinking about the first time I’d kissed him, I
wanted to do it again. But I had to keep it light, I had to dissipate the tension—too much feeling and I would be lost. “You do mean my mouth, right?”
Thomas gave me a scandalized look. And I laughed on and off until we made it to the flat and his fantasy played out in the slick heat of our lost breath. Thomas seemed to be okay with this sort of breathlessness. I leaned against my closed bedroom door, my hands resting above my head, slowly giving myself over to him, breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat.
Thomas’s fantasy was one we vanished into. It was a billion times better than anything I’d imagined. I came like a star shooting into the dark when he gripped me in his fist. My trousers weren’t even undone. Nakedness could wait. I was baring my fucking soul here.
were in Thomas’s room. His gran was downstairs getting some paper cuts ready for a party she’d been commissioned to decorate, so we were doing
to take our mind off the fact we couldn’t do what we wanted to do—which was spend all our time lying in Thomas’s bed and making out. Thomas had no lock on his door, so whatever we did when his gran was at home was quick and risky and fully clothed. I could admit that had its charms, though.
“Okay, now close your eyes,” Thomas said gently as he closed his.
We were sitting cross-legged on his carpet, our knees touching.
Thomas looked like he was peacefully meditating, but the hard, fast beat that was making his speakers shake was also making me feel faintly unnerved and on edge.
I tried to focus on the warmth radiating into me from where we were touching.
“What do you see?” he asked.
, I thought as I stared at him, at his eyelashes—thick as the tips of the paint brushes we’d used for oil work in art, and so dark as they lay against his flushed cheeks—at his mouth that I knew tasted somewhere between peppermint tea and chocolate. I felt myself growing hard again—even though we’d just spent the last fifteen minutes in a sweet, sticky haze of kissing and stroking, and when I’d come it had felt so fucking intense and endless I thought I might have snapped something inside.
But Thomas meant what did the music make me see? And my answer was nothing.
Rave wasn’t really my thing at all. Dance music made my head ache.
I think he could sense my disquiet as he opened his eyes and flicked the switch on the record player so the music went off.
“That bad, huh?” He picked the record up and held it out to me. “Want to just melt it?” He grinned.
When Thomas had first suggested we do the vinyl sculpting he used to do with his dad, I’d felt terrible. All I could think about was that horrible evening when he’d first invited me over to his house and I’d twisted his kindness into something awful and out of shape.
I still didn’t feel too good about it. I wanted to make it better.
We went downstairs to his garage, where he’d set out a few tools and a blowtorch on a workbench. The garage functioned as a workroom, with a little heater in the corner and a stained rug that covered most of the concrete floor.
With a raised eyebrow, Thomas handed me the blowtorch and the lime green record. I studied his face for a moment—long enough that he blushed and ducked his head self-consciously. We had yet to quantify what we were to one another with words. I was okay with that—the way he touched me and held me, the way he stared at me when he thought I wasn’t looking, the way he seemed to want to spend all the time he could with me, told me all I needed to know. But I wasn’t sure the same was true for Thomas, even though I was as utterly into him as he was into me. I wasn’t sure he quite believed the unspoken language our bodies communicated in.
I stared at the record, spun it around in my hand thoughtfully for a moment.
“Go sit down.” I pointed to a sunken armchair in the corner by the garage door.
Thomas’s brown eyes flicked over mine as though he was searching for a small clue as to what I was up to, but he did as I asked.
I put the heavy blowtorch safety mask on and a pair of orange heatproof gloves that made anything delicate impossible. But that didn’t matter—I wasn’t going for delicate with this. I was going for obvious.
It took a while for the thing to cool down. I took my mask off and turned around. Thomas couldn’t see what I’d done—the workbench was too high. He was definitely curious, though. He made to stand up, but I shook my head.
“Vinyl melts a bit differently than glass,” he said cautiously.
I shrugged. I’d not melted that much glass. Thomas’s necklace was the best thing I’d ever made by heating, though this had turned out pretty well too. I smiled as I looked back at what I’d made, and then I frowned, overcome with the sinking feeling that I’d done something stupid.
Obvious? This was so fucking obvious. This was the sort of thing soppy eight-year-olds might make for their mums or something. I shifted back to make sure he really couldn’t see. I’d definitely not been thinking straight for the past ten minutes.
“It went a bit wrong,” I said.
It hadn’t. At all.
“Can I see?”
“What went wrong?”
Thomas had gotten up and was ambling slowly toward me.
I shrugged. I tried to look impassive.
, that’s what had gone wrong!
There was a rag hanging out of one of the workbench drawers. I snatched it up and covered the stupid thing behind me before Thomas could see.
I wasn’t ready to admit so blatantly what the thing I’d made out of a bit of plastic shouted out to the world. I wasn’t ready at all.
“Okay.” Thomas shrugged. “Want a drink? Tea?” He brushed my hand with his fingertips and headed toward the kitchen.
I stared after him with my mouth open. I couldn’t believe he’d just dropped it. Just like that.
Carefully I put the blowtorch and all the other tools away. I stared at the lime green
I’d made and grimaced. What’s the worst that could happen if I gave it to him? Would my fragile heart explode? Would his? Didn’t he sort of
how I felt anyway? Didn’t I sort of know? I’d already given him a necklace, for fuck’s sake, and that was sort of an obvious shape, but only
. We were hardly just acquaintances having casual sex, now were we?
Doubt fractured the peaceful frozen lake my thoughts had been skating on. Was it just a casual thing? Had I been deceiving myself? This sort of intimacy was anything but casual to me. If this was casual, I was
going to survive anything more.
Doubt was such a stupid emotion. When Thomas and I were close, it pretty much vanished. I wished I didn’t think about stuff. My body didn’t doubt what it felt or what he felt when he was in my arms. And five minutes ago, when Thomas was looking at me, I hadn’t had any doubt as to how either of us felt.
I sighed and pocketed the vinyl
, which was still wrapped in the rag.
We stood in the kitchen drinking tea with Thomas’s gran. She told us the party she was designing for was going to be held in a central London townhouse and the theme was woodland. She was just one of about twenty artists who had been asked to contribute. The living room was filled with black-and-white trails of paper ivy and winding flowers hanging from the ceiling on their near invisible wires. It looked both beautiful and strange.
I decided I was going to go home soon. Before I did, I told Thomas I’d forgotten something upstairs in his room and ran up too fast for him to want to follow me. I placed the garish lime green heart on his pillow with a hastily scrawled note that said
Not a word
and left before I could regret it.
five past two. English. I hadn’t seen Thomas all day. At lunchtime he’d texted me to say he had coursework to catch up on, and I’d wandered halfheartedly around the estate collecting glass. I’d not found a lot, and I know I hadn’t been looking hard enough. The things that had once anchored me weren’t holding me so tightly anymore.
All I’d thought about was Thomas, the way the world fractured when we kissed and remade itself with his arms around me. It was as though I’d been consumed by something intense and glorious, and I never wanted the feeling to stop.
I counted the minutes down to art. English was wasting my time. I’d finished the work half an hour ago, and Mrs. Fletcher insisted I sit perfectly still and wait until everyone else finished too. I scowled out the window at the sunshine. It was such a hot day. The grass was so green it hurt my eyes. The blue of the sky was aching.
There was a class running around the playing field for their PE lesson. I felt sorry for them. The windows were open, and I could hear the yelled instructions to keep up, run faster. I hated PE. I was usually the subject of those yells. Far up the field, I saw a speck of a boy stop and bend forward, his hands on his knees. He was probably overheating. He looked as though he was dressed a bit like Thomas dressed for PE—with far too many clothes on. It was probably because Thomas never really did PE. His asthma prevented anything that involved running around, and he’d get cold in the shade just standing watching in shorts and a T-shirt. Or—I had a rare flash of insight—maybe he was hiding, maybe he felt ashamed to show his body in less. It made what happened when Thomas had stripped off his clothes for me seem all the more momentous.
Even though he was so far away, I thought it looked as if the boy had Thomas’s lightish colored hair too. It could only be a passing similarity, because Thomas would never be running around a field.
With a frown I watched as the boy went from putting his hands on his knees to kneeling on the ground, his arms in front of him. Minutes passed. Another pupil stopped beside him, and someone else was sprinting across the field toward him. A nagging fear made my gut clench. I remembered Thomas struggling to breathe in the flat. I remembered being scared he was going to die.
“Sasha, sit down, please,” Mrs. Fletcher called.
I hadn’t even realized I’d stood.
The boy wasn’t getting up.
He was so far, far away across the playing field. I couldn’t see him clearly at all… and yet… and yet… my breath caught, and my heart began to beat faster and faster….
Sometimes you just
Bile rose up in my throat, and I shoved the table aside, knocking books and paper onto the floor. I stumbled out of the classroom like a wounded animal, the roar of blood in my ears so loud and deafening it was the only noise that existed. I crashed into the wall and fell over at the bottom of the stairs, but I dragged myself up, feeling nothing, only need to keep my legs moving, to be on the other side of the playing field with the collapsed boy—the boy I was certain was having an asthma attack. The boy I knew was Thomas.
Even before I reached him, I could see this was far more serious than the attack he’d had with me in the flat. Thomas was barely sitting up now. His eyes were wide with fear and panic, his lips blue, his skin pale and sweaty. Everyone was crowded around him, and it was making everything worse.
I knocked someone out of the way and knelt down in front of him. His hands were curled loosely into fists, and I spread his fingers, searching.
“Where’s your inhaler?” I said as calmly as I could.
Thomas just stared at me. I wasn’t sure he was even seeing me. I could barely hear the air wheezing in and out of him. I took hold of his hands. He swayed. He was going to pass out.
“He doesn’t have it on him. I’ve checked,” a girl’s panicked voice spoke up from behind me. I glanced at her quickly. Jessica Cassidy. “He dropped it somewhere, I think. It could be anywhere on the field.”
“Has anyone called an ambulance?” I pleaded.
“Yes, I think someone has,” she said.
“Has anyone else got a fucking inhaler?” I shouted. I glared around at every silent spectator. There must have been ten people just standing there.
If he passed out, we wouldn’t be able to use an inhaler anyhow. If he passed out…. No, I wasn’t going to let him…. There was no way this was going to get that far. I crawled across the ground and sat behind him, dragged him into my arms, felt as the strength left him and he lay against me. He blinked at me slowly, his eyes on mine. I saw his throat work to swallow. I wanted to close my eyes. I was panicking, and I wasn’t sure I could hide it. I held him tightly. We were glass. So fragile. All it took was a little knock and we would shatter.
“It’s going to be okay,” I whispered, pressing my lips to his hair and rocking him gently. “Stay with me, Thomas, please stay with me. It’s going to be okay.”