"How did you know that you loved Luce?"
"Well I don't know exactly, It's something that you just kind of know" Evie looked up from the book she was reading and patted the space on the ground next "Why do you want to know?"
"Just curious" I positioned myself next to her and began tracing patterns in the dust.
"Well, when I first met Luce, I didn't really like her," Evie confessed.
"What do you mean?" I never looked up from the ground next to me.
"I was friends with her cousin, Sara, we grew up together in the suburbs outside of Phoenix. We all started at Arizona State together. Luce had moved in from some small town in New Mexico and so Sara's mom had us take her to things so that she could meet new people, not that Luce ever had any problem meeting new people." Evie smiled to herself at the memory of it. "The first time we went to a party together I thought I was going to die of embarrassment, I never drank or partied in high school so going out with Luce was like jumping into the deep end. I thought she was too loud," Evie laughed to herself as the memories of a boisterous eighteen year old Luce filled her mind, "and that she was going to get us all arrested. Overall, I thought she was rather rude."
"So how did you end up with her?" I finally looked up to look at Evie as she spoke.
"Well slowly, it didn't happen over night. I can't really place one moment when it changed, but one day I wasn't embarrassed by the way she took over a room, I was in awe of it. It was like there was something in me that just wanted to be around her, something about her that just made me feel alive. At the time though, I just thought that I wanted to be her, not that I wanted to be with her. We were actually both dating guys at the time and it wasn't until sophomore year that I even learned what it meant to be gay, let alone realize that I was, I just thought that Luce and I were really good friends."
"Well how do you know the difference between being friends, and being more than friends?" My whole body shifted towards Evie, I felt like she held to keys to understanding, and I hadn't realized how desperately I wanted answers until I felt my chest tighten waiting for her response.
"She told me, looking back on it there were a lot of little things, like the way my heart beat a little bit faster everytime she entered a room, the way I always found excuses to touch her and how my stomach tightened a little bit every time I did."
"She just told you? Just like that?" I struggled to think that I would ever understand someone well enough to be able to tell them what they didn't even know they were feeling, but if anyone would have the confidence to do so it would probably be Luce.
"Yes, she got home really late one night, towards the end of our sophomore year, she said 'I know you like me Evie, like Jim (her boyfriend at the time), but I wish you didn't' at that moment I knew two things to be absolutely true: that I did like her that way, and that I wished I didn't."
Evie looked down at her hands as she gathered the strength to continue. It hit me for the first time how hard this must have been for her. How hard it must have been to hear that from the person that you loved, and to feel that you were wrong for loving them.
"I'd like to say that I said something brave and romantic, that I stood up for myself. The truth is I just left, I didn't say a word and I did my best to avoid her for the rest of the year. I just hoped that my feelings would go away" Sensing Evie's struggle I leaned over and grabbed her with my own.
"But they didn't"
"No" She made a noise that fell somewhere between a laugh and a sigh "That summer, I actually told my parents about a 'friend' who liked another girl, and she told me that it would be best to stop hanging out with that girl. My dad told me about his friend who could help cure her."
"What do you mean cure?"
"Well to them, being gay was a sickness," As she spoke I felt anger building up within me, but as I looked at Evie, I kept myself in check as she went on, "After that I actually tried to cure myself, I read every article I could find about becoming straight. I thought it worked too but when I got back to school, of course Luce and I had economics together and I just couldn't stay away. We just kept finding every excuse to hang out together."
"Finally one night she came over late at night, and told me she felt the same way. And we just sat together on the couch and cried. I mean her parents were even more conservative than mine, I don't think either one of us ever thought that we could actually be together. The next month she got engaged to Jim, and they had a lovely christmas wedding"
"Luce was married?" I couldn't hide the surprise in my voice and I saw some humor creep into Evie's rueful smile as she took in my shocked reaction.
"Yea, it was one of the worst days of my life, but I can't say that going back I would change anything."
"Why?" I for one could think of quite a few things that I would like to have changed in this story.
"Well for one, if it wasn't for that then we wouldn't have Aubrey. Jim was a nice guy really he didn't deserve what happened. Our love story isn't exactly a classic fairytale but we've survived an alien invasion together, and as crazy as it seems sometimes I am happy. At the end of the day I think that is really how you know what love is, that at the end of the day, no matter what happens, the thought of seeing them again makes everything bearable."
I wrapped Evie in a hug, not knowing what else to do in light of her story. I'm not sure if she knew the impact her story had on me, I like to think that she did. Without another word she stood up and gave me a kind smile as she went back to work.
I spent the rest of my day thinking about my conversation with Evie and all that she and Luce went through. As I finished washing my work pants, I saw Mel and Jared approaching and began to put away the rest of my clothes, rushing away before I could speak with them. In my rush to make my way out I ended up running into someone.
"Where's the fire?" Kyle asked, steading me on my feet.
"Oh um, just in a rush." I looked down at my laundry picking at imaginary pieces of lint.
"Hey, are you sure everything is okay?" Kyle placed a hand on my shoulder and looked at me with a concern that was deeply un-kyle.
"What do you think of Luce and Evie?" Normally Kyle is not someone I normally turn to for help, but getting an outside opinion seemed like a good enough idea.
"So you're avoiding Mel and Jared huh?" Kyle leaned back against the cave seemingly reading my mind, "They haven't exactly kept their 'holier than thou' opinion's well hidden."
"I just, I don't know how they can be so against this?"
"Some people are just wrong sometimes. People tend to be two things more often than not: wrong and bad."
"But Mel and Jared aren't bad, I know them, so seeing them act like this just makes it harder."
"Nobody's perfect okay?" Kyle sighed taking pity on me, "Look, people are who they are, and sometimes, that's confusing, but you just have to be who you are and trust that with time people will understand. It's no secret that I hated souls, but look at me now. And as much as some people might want to take credit for helping me see the light" he waved his hand dismissively at this "I changed my mind because of Sunny, and knowing her. In fact every time Ian or Mel tried to change my mind about Wanda I just dug my heels in more. No one could change my mind but me."
"But what if you hadn't changed your mind" I couldn't stop myself as I thought about the prospect of Mel and Jared remaining unchanged and this rift never coming around.
"Then that's their problem" Suddenly Kyle leaned forward and looked into my eyes and somehow we weren't talking about Evie and Luce or Mel and Jared, "Look the most important thing about life is that you do what makes you happy Jamie. You can't let what other people think affect you. If you find something, or someone who makes the alien apocalypse, even a little better, you better hold on to that. No matter what."
"Thanks," I wasn't sure how or why, but I suddenly felt as if Kyle had given me some permission I didn't realize I was asking for.
"I'm glad I could help, but don't mention it, I'm not interested in being some camp counselor." He gave me a less than gentle pat on the shoulder and walked away leaving me with wet laundry and the unsettling realization that I had just been comforted by Kyle O'Shea.
"I've got you something," As far as I knew, humans were not able to glow, though Anthony seemed to be doing his best to prove me wrong. "It's almost September 22!"
"What is september 22?"
"It's the equinox!" Anthony took my hand, excitedly navigating us to a small crag lined with a deep green ivy and moss.
"What is the equinox?" I found that Anthony's excitement was contagious, and I wanted to learn what was causing it.
"It's the day where the day and night are the same length!"
"Oh" I tried not to look too confused, when Anthony spoke again I knew I must have failed.
"Well, when I was younger, my mom was kind of a hippie. Every equinox we would go to the woods for a hiking trip and well we would make these." Anthony reached into his pocket and pulled out a small braided strip of ivy, "It's not exactly the same, this is the closest I could find, to the woods, and normally we would make these out of grass."
Anthony wrapped the ivy around my wrist I watched, mesmerized by the way his calloused fingers deftly tied the band into a green bracelet.
"You were asking me about what I remember from before, and it's not a lot, but I remember how much I used to love our equinox trips. When we were out there it really felt like everything in the world was balanced. It was like everything was where it was supposed to be." Anthony's eyes held mine and looking into the eyes I wondered if it was possible for someone to be in two places at once. He seemed to be looking deeply into me and somewhere off into a distant forest simultaneously.
"I don't know" his focus fixed itself back to the woven band on my wrist, "I kind of feel like that when I'm with you, like I don't know, that there isn't really anyplace else I would want to be."
As his words settled within me, I became suddenly hyper-aware of all that was around me, the way that the setting sun and gentle autumn wind caused the ivy to dance in ever darkening shades of green, but more than anything I noticed Anthony. I noticed the shy curve of his mouth, the way he was resting more of his weight on his right leg. I watched as his hands struggled to make themselves comfortable at his side.
After a few quiet moments, I'm not sure how it happened but his hands had ended their struggle and were resting peacefully in my own.
"I want to make you one" I whispered.
"Let me teach you."
And so began a night that I will never forget. A night filled with laughs and shy touches, a night that was filled in equal parts with happy remembrances and hope for the future. A night when everything felt like it was exactly it needed to be.
Hey so I did it. I have been working on this one chapter for I don't know how long. Honestly I am really going to try to finish this eventually, and I kind of have an ideaish of where I want it to go. (I think part of the problem is that 5 years ago I didn't know but I didn't let that stop me) That being said, I really wouldn't hold my breath for an update any time soon.
Also again the shameless plug that leaving a review will feed my ego and I actually do enjoy reading them.