Our first date is unintentional. One Saturday we’re texting and I tell him I have to bring my brother and his friend to the movies. He thanks me for inviting him. “Please come,” I laugh. My brother’s plans fall apart 10 minutes later, but ours stay. That afternoon I roll up to his house just as he’s closing the front door. He slides into the passenger seat and asks where we’re headed. “Your favorite place in town,” I say, and he smiles.
I know we’ve arrived when I see the baseball diamond. “This is where I come to be alone,” he says. We are walking through the green outfield, soft clouds above us adrift in a sea of blue only broken by a hospital in the distance, the smooth steel frame and clear glass the sole indication that he and I were not the only ones on this Earth. He takes me to the edge of the field and we enter the surrounding forest. We come to a steep incline and he takes my hand. “If I fall, I’m taking you with me.” We reach flat ground and he lets go. We go back to the car. I’m not ready for this to end. “There’s more I want to show you,” he says, reading my mind.
Soon we’re overlooking a valley, the land cut in half by train tracks but connected by power lines. The sky is pink. It is the golden hour. We take a moment to marvel at the world. A train goes by and we feel the wind rush over us. Minutes later, the sky has faded to gray twilight and we’re on the edge of a soccer field watching some boys kick a ball around. I get a rush of bold and take his hand, twist it behind my back and lead him behind the goal and into the surrounding trees. This time we don’t let go. We do not acknowledge this, content to feel our fingers laced. Finally we emerge from the trees into a concrete jungle, walk side by side down the vacant street to the car.
The next time we meet, he tells me we’re going somewhere you can only go at night. I see his eyes sparkling in the darkness as he swears me to secrecy. I feel wings fluttering inside, brushing the lining of my stomach. He climbs onto this low roof and I follow. We stand on the edge, looking at the neon signs across the street, the dark forms of trees moving gently in the wind. We spend hours lying on our backs, talking and looking at the stars. “It’s cold,” he says, and it is. He pulls me close and I hesitate, and then lean in. Time slows. He pulls away, whispers, “I know this is early, but when you know, you know. Will you be my girlfriend?” My first thought is, “This sounds like a YA romance novel.” My second thought is, “Yes.”