I've always loved you from the moment I saw you sit at the desk next to mine in second year composition, I tell her, although as the words come out of my lips they don't sound entirely like I was the one saying them. It's an answering machine, I think, a distant, tinny memory, played over an over until you accept that you must be the one speaking because there's no one else it could be, while at the same time harboring doubt at this alternative voice that speaks dark fears and intimate desires.
She laughs and I hear music. Her voice swims and I float alongside. She appreciates me, I know and she says. An awkward pause ensues and she squints her eyes and realizes my intentions. Adjust the lens and take another look; flush cheeks are either good or bad, I'm not sure.
Oh, she says, a word escaping her locked lips before she can wrangle it back. Insight dawns; she winces gently, an act I notice. I feel like a kid at the top of the roller coaster. A hand, her hand, touches my shoulder. My emotions are drawn there like one of those touch electric glass ball lamps that arcs energy at any fingers that touch it. My heart beats too fast and it's all I can hear and feel.
More words are said but I can't make them out. Sweat beads on my neck and behind my ears. I shouldn't have, I mumble, and force my way passed her and out of the room. Then she is gone and the sun beats down as the wind blows across my face, scattering freshly-fallen leaves.