Reciprocated

When does anyone ever really know when they’re staring into thin air? Usually it’s not so obvious, the mind glides swiftly from one subject to another, it’s always somewhere else and your body just exists not really having any purpose. Until your mind returns to a thought that pulls you back to existence.

When I felt his eyes staring at me I realised for the first time that I was deeply staring into thin air. Instinct, I suppose, pulled me back to existence. My thoughts were disrupted, I was suddenly very aware that I had been gone for some time. Although no one else seemed to have noticed, he did. At first I didn’t know where the feeling of such a strong gaze was coming from but after scanning the crowd it was quite obvious. He seemed to have been watching me for some time, his eyes were fixed on me and they didn’t shove when finally they met mine. Naturally I smiled, he smiled back. Or was it the other way around? There was a very short moment, so short it’s sometimes hard to believe it happened, when the world stood still. A thousand questions ran through my brain and I thought they may even be answered had the moment been longer. Then reality sat comfortably in between us again, pushing the moment down to the bottom of the pits of our stomachs, for another day and another time.

*****

The bottle spun fast on the wooden table. We all watched it, still laughing a little from the previous round. M____ nudged me.  I sat back against the sofa, she put her head on my shoulder and her arm linked around mine. The bottle still spun, we both watched it.

“What’s it going to be this time?”

“I say we just go with dare. We’ve got all the juice on everyone here anyway I bet.”

“I don’t think we do.” J___ said.

The bottle stopped. We all looked at A____ who hung his head and covered his face, an embarrassed smile grew on his face. J___ and C___ howled pushing him from either side.

“Alright, truth or dare?”

“We said dare didn’t we?”

“No, it’s A____. He always chooses dare. Let’s go with truth this time.”  We all argued about what would be better until A_____ said,

“Alright, alright, I’ll just choose truth. Go on.”

There was a wave of OKs and awws and then we fell silent as we thought of what could be asked.

“Tell us something we don’t know about you.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah come on, is that it? That’s nothing compared to what you guys asked me.”

“There’s nothing left to ask though!”

“OK well just answer that one, but it has to be something… You know, worth the bottle.”

We all laughed.

“Worth the bottle?”

“Yeah OK you know what I mean. OK come on, we’ll give you 10 seconds otherwise it’s the pool whether you like it or not.”

“Head first.”  We all agreed.

“And if we don’t think your answer is good enough either it’ll be the pool too.”

“OK, OK. Let me think.” We began to countdown, getting louder, the excitement rising – each of us hoping that he couldn’t answer. We reached 1 and there was an uproar as the boys reached for his legs.

“No. No wait! Give me a second! Just let me.. Wait!” They dropped him.

“Alright, another 5 seconds but that’s it.” He scratched his face, as if he knew what came next. Then, very suddenly he looked at me. It wasn’t a glance, he actually looked at me but then looked away. I was reminded of that moment two years ago. Flustered, I looked away too and M____ unwrapped her arm from mine. She leaned closer to him, everyone demanded an answer from him. I looked at him again, scared my feelings showed on my face. I felt my cheeks getting hotter so I coughed and used this chance to get some water.

“Alright, alright! Chill. So. Something you don’t know about me.” He paused for what seemed like forever before he finally said,

“I like S____.” I froze. The room fell silent.

“What?” C____ said. “You’re…. Are you joking?” He asked calmly.

“No.” 

I turn around to face him. He didn’t look at me straight away. I walked back to my spot next to M___ and sat down. Everyone looked at me, waiting for me to respond.

“What…. All this time…?” I ask.

“You mean…You knew?”

“No, I didn’t… I mean… I thought I was over thinking…”

“Wait… So you’re not angry?” Everyone watched us intently.

I got up, grabbing A___’s arm and took him to the patio, shutting the doors behind me.

“Why didn’t you tell me before?” I ask.

“I still want to be friends, even if you don’t like me like that.”

“I do like you. I’ve liked you for almost two years.”

“What?”

“Yeah.”

“No way.”

“What?”

“This is actually really funny.”

“I guess?”

“You could’ve told me too.”

“No, I thought I was reading your signs all wrong.”

“And I thought you just didn’t like me.”

I shook my head but I couldn’t hide my smile. Everyone’s attention was still on us.

“Let’s go in for now.”

“Yeah.”

He smiled proudly and putting his arm around my shoulders like he always did, we walked back in.

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