The narrator of timeenough's story is quiet and sad—or is he quiet and furious?
Things I Remember About You
I remember your first boyfriend.
You were twelve. He was thirteen and in grade seven. An older guy. He was a skater, and that made him so much cooler than anyone in our grade. I remember he had an earring. You were so jealous – your mom wouldn’t let you get your ears pierced until you were thirteen.
I remember finding out about your first kiss. You had been dating him for two weeks, and you were so excited. You told me all about it; I was your best friend. You asked me if I liked anyone, and I shook my head and said I didn’t like any of the girls in our class. You believed me. I half believed myself.
I remember your first break up, two weeks later. He’d told you he liked a girl in his class, and that was that. You came to me first. You weren’t crying; you just looked sort of like someone had unexpectedly smacked you across the face with a hard pillow: kind of shocked, a little hurt, but mostly just taken off-guard. You told me you thought it was maybe because you weren’t pretty enough. I told you he was probably just a jerk, too nervous to tell you that there was no way you weren’t pretty enough.
I remember the first time you kissed me.
We were at a friend’s fourteenth birthday party. We were all bored, and someone suggested Truth or Dare. Someone picked me. I chose Dare, too chicken to pick Truth because it was always the same initial question: “Who do you like?” The group conferred for a few minutes; it was always hard to come up with clever dares that anyone would actually do.
They settled on the fall-back kissing dare, and dared me to kiss you. My heart immediately became a grasshopper in my chest.
“I’m dating Aaron!” you protested, naming your current floppy-haired, guitar-playing, car-obsessed boyfriend. The group muttered, and decided kissing someone else for Truth or Dare didn’t count as cheating.
They told me to kiss you. I didn’t. You continued shaking your head. Eventually, they gave up and dared me to run a lap around the house, barefoot in the snow.
We walked home from the party together later that evening. When we came to the corner where you turned left and I kept going straight, you hugged me goodbye as usual, thanked me for refusing the dare earlier – and then you kissed me. You had been going for my cheek, trying to be cute. But I was too tall, and you missed, and the kiss landed half on my mouth. You awkwardly repeated thank you, I awkwardly told you of course, it was no problem, you were my best friend after all, and then we each retreated toward our respective houses.
I remember the first time you kissed me for real.
We were fifteen. You weren’t dating anyone. Neither was I. You asked me if I still liked the girl I had briefly dated a couple months back. I told you no, and asked you if you still liked Jared, your latest ex. You shook your head as if the idea of anyone ever liking him were absurd, and asked me who I did like.
I must have been feeling brave that day, because instead of making someone up or giving some kind of vague answer as usual, I said yes, and then gave you a look I like to imagine was deep and meaningful. Whether it was or wasn’t, it was enough: you said, “Oh,” very quietly, and sat there on the other side of the couch looking at your knees for the longest five seconds of my life. Then, so slowly, you crawled the couple feet between us, and kissed me.
We were together for two weeks before you told me you thought we should just be friends, and jumped into a relationship with Carson, the new kid from Ontario.
I had nothing to compare my feelings to, but even so, even at the age of fifteen, I was pretty sure I was one hundred per cent, head-over-heels, over-my-head in love with you. I was also convinced that we were meant to be together, even if you couldn’t see it.
I remember the first guy who ever really hurt you.
You were with Carson for over a year. I resigned myself to the fact I didn’t have you, and I went out and dated other girls. You and I pretended nothing had changed between us, that we were still the same best friends. Maybe, for you, nothing had changed. And for me, it was easier to pretend we were just friends, that I didn’t want my best friend more than the girls I dated, that those two weeks were just something we tried, something I could forget about.
Carson cheated on you, in the end. You showed up at my house at eleven one night, fresh from the party I could hear from my open door, mascara streaked down your cheeks. I only had to ask you what was wrong before fresh tears started rolling down your face and you nearly fell into the hug I offered you. You smelled like your perfume and marijuana smoke and alcohol.
We were up ‘til three that night. You just cried and cried, and I nodded and rubbed your back and held your hair back when you suddenly dashed for my trash can and threw up a night’s worth of cheap vodka and beer into it. At one point you kissed me, and I tasted vodka and vomit before I pulled away.
I remember the day you told me you loved me.
A week after that night with Carson, you showed up at my house before lunch on Sunday. “I’ve been thinking,” you said, hesitantly, “that maybe. If you want. We could, maybe... try again?”
And we did. Rebound? Absolutely. But I don’t mind where you come from, as long as you come to me.
It was only a month later when you told me you loved me. We were watching a movie but not watching it: the movie played in the background as I wondered what I had done right lately to have you there with me, biting my ear and complaining I was paying too much attention to the TV. I looked at you then, and you announced that you loved me as simply as if you were telling me you had a math test on Monday. Of course, you had said it before – but always with a laugh or a smile, something to make it clear that you meant it “just as friends”. Never seriously, never like this.
I remember our first fight, after we’d been together for four months – but I try not to remember it, most of the time.
I remember the first time I made you cry, instead of being the one comforting you when someone else had.
There were explanations, but you didn’t want them. You didn’t want to hear it. You didn’t want to talk to me, see me, be with me. That’s what you said, and it cut me deeper than anything anyone else had ever said to me, even though I knew you were saying it for that reason: because you knew it would hurt me, because I’d hurt you. By then, we’d been together for over nine months, and you could see it in my eyes that I was thinking of forever: you knew what I never wanted to hear you say.
That was half a year ago. You talk to me now – you only managed a week before you caved. It’s a lot like it was before, really, when we were just friends. You’re dating some guy now, some guy who graduated last year, who has a cool car and a job and his own place. He works a lot, you say. You complain about him often, though; things seem rocky. Seems you aren’t convinced he’s over his ex. I think you spend more time with me than with him, honestly.
I’m not dating anyone, though you often ask why not. I never give you a reason, but I know, eventually, you’ll come back running, holding your scarred heart in hand.
Based on "All the Same," by Sick Puppies
Do you relate to this narrator? Do you think the story is a strong one?