Whenever I think of him it's like falling. I'm terrified, can't catch my breath, and can't see anything but the end rushing up to meet me.
His memory comes to me smiling, cheeks blushed with sunburn. The grass brushes against my face, and his presence crashes down on me, though we aren't touching. He smells like Marlboro black and cheap shampoo.
The laughter and birdsong fade to nothingness as I'm left with the sound of his breath and mine, the rhythm the world spins too. Brown eyes bore into my soul in the seconds before our lips meet, and I'm swallowed by the smell of stolen wine. My heart burns because I don't love him, but at this moment I don't care.
We begin again, as I grapple him onto his back. He scrambles to his feet before I can get hold of him, and grabs me by the waist. For half a second, and half of eternity, I'm falling. My breath returns when we hit the soft ground.
I'm sheltered from the shock by his shoulders, he never lets me land hard. It's the first time I've been treated this way, delicate but not broken, built for roughhousing but not abuse.
Our sparring in the park leaves me bruised, but I have never felt safer than in his arms now.
"James?" his voice is breathy and raw. The way he says my name makes it impossible to look away. "You're so beautiful."
The memory of warm sun and sweet air is gone as fast as it came, and reality crashes over me like ice water.
I can't unsee his bloody knuckles grip the steering wheel, stucco still embedded in the shredded skin. In creeps the unshakable feeling that I will never see him again.
My mother throws his muddy boot at the rusty pickup as he pulls away, and the same ice water fills my veins.
Thinking of him is like falling, especially when I hit the ground.