The song whispered through the hushed voices of surrounding friends, ushering us to find the person whom we wanted to spend our final moments with. Around me, couples paired off, linking together with heads resting on shoulders and arms tightening their grips around their (person’s body), becoming inseparable during the final melody of our summer. As more people found their partners, I stood still in the swirling crowd, hovering on my tip-toes, frantically searching for my other half. Every second of the song was evanescent, every verse gone as soon as it arrived. I silently bit my lower lip, lowering myself back to the ground, planning to search elsewhere. As I turned around and faced the opposite way, I found myself bumping into a familiar body. I anxiously glanced up to see if the face I coveted was in fact the one I viewed. Looking down at me, his tawny eyes smiled in the darkness, tinged with the same relief that engulfed my body; I had found him.
I wrapped my arms around his neck as his hands found their place on my waist, and the song droned on around us as time stood still, and yet vanished before my eyes. I subconsciously leaned my head on his chest as the humid air between us became diminished to an infinitesimal distance. And the song played on.
I squeezed my eyes shut, smudging my make-up, swallowing the impossible. Again, I bit the inside of my lip and risked a glance up at his face, only meeting a loving gaze which shattered the iron cage that had controlled my emotions. The first tear escaped, rolling slowly over my flushed cheeks, silently chasing away the dreams, the hopes, the wishes that three weeks didn’t have to end, that three weeks secretly meant forever.
“Are you crying?” he kindly murmured. In response, I shifted my eyes to the floor, shook my head in a silent no, and buried my head in his chest in denial; I could not be crying. He gently erased the stream of tears from my cheek with the pad of his thumb, as I turned my head to the side. I simply stared at the space surrounding us, imprinting its image upon my memory. The red, velvet seats encircling the floor sat splattered with the occasionally lonely kid. The wood floor below us lay ever worn, and the stage to our left stood erect, holding the massive speakers which boomed “Stairway to Heaven” throughout the giant room. The idea that time was running out continued to echo through my mind, continued to stain the happiness of the night, continued to remind me that this was the last time I would stand on this floor- at least for another year.
“I … you,” he whispered into my ear, disrupting my thoughts.
“hmm?” I questioned, not hearing what he had mumbled over the music.
“I love you,” he simply stated.
“I… I love you too,” I smiled at the unexpected words, lacking anything to say besides the obvious response. Only three weeks had passed, and yet here we stood, supposedly in love. The endless nights we had talked had led to an amazing friendship, which had led to more. As soon as the words had left my lips, I received a gentle kiss, silencing any thoughts I may have had. I never wanted to leave; nobody could make me for this was my place, my home, where everyone I had grown to know and love had stayed. I could not even imagine leaving the small college campus that sat speckled with old architecture, red Adirondack chairs, and friendly faces. This might have been the light headed rush still lingering from the kiss, or it could be the fact that no one, nowhere, ever wants to go away from home.