It was slight. A glance, maybe, but it was enough. That’s what started it. And it grew to be something beautiful. It was perfect. And now, here we are. I saw it from afar, and the cynical side of me nearly barfed, but that small, little smudge of optimism that rubbed off on me from drinking in page after page of romance novel when I should be asleep was smiling hugely. I sat, alone, reading This Adventure Ends and ignoring the fact that I was alone. They were out there on the gym floor, probably the only couple actually dancing without a hint of hesitation or discomfort.
It was cute, despite the noise. And boy was there noise. The ceaseless chatter of guests that had decided to ignore the song, the laughter aimed at that one couple that were graphically making out in the corner where they thought no one could see them, but they were trapped in their little warped sense of reality. That world that they had created for themselves in this little moment, the moment that belonged to them. And it truly was their moment.
He spun her clumsily, her hair flying around like the blades of a blonde helicopter, her skirt following suit. She laughed as he pulled her to the side of the dance floor, his hand loosely holding hers. It was a small gesture, and yet they seemed so perfect in that moment, absolutely happy. She smiled to herself, not for a camera, not to put up any impressions, but because she was genuinely happy. And so was he. He was content with her, ecstatic that she could end up as his. She was focused on her feet, clicking the toes of her shoes together and smiling. They matched her skirt, which was as bright as her smile, a brilliant shade of peach that just clashed with his tangerine shirt. And despite this horrendous outfit selection, they matched. They wore matching smiles, their faces equally flushed, hair equally messed, eyes equally bright. They kept glancing at each other in that sickeningly sweet way happy couples do, like they just couldn’t understand that they were together. It was sweet, and yet completely bizarre considering how long they had been dating.
I watched him watch her, from my position across the gym, which wreaked of BO and chlorine, and he smiled at her as she sipped her punch. He was dressed down, as per usual for any occasion, in blue jeans and that stupid orange shirt that had permanent sweat stains. She looked nicer, in the aforementioned peach attire and a black and white floral shirt.
I was still sitting alone, on a bleacher, as the next song came on. He pulled her back onto the dance floor as Ed Sheeran’s Perfect sounded across the gymnasium. He spun her around once again; she stumbled over her heels. I watched through the noise, my eyes honing in on this weird, out of the ordinary, unusual couple, that were dancing like it was the first time they had met, and yet the last time they would ever see each other. There was still that new feeling, the feeling of insecurity and breathlessness, but there was something more. Something that pointed to them having spent a little more time together. There was a feeling of comfort there, you could see it if you knew how to look.
You could see the way they lightly held onto each other, the fact that both of their hands were sweaty and yet they still were clasped tightly in each other. You could see the light smile that she held when he twirled her around, the way her eyes graced the floor with an ecstatic manner. You could see the way his hand held hers while the other gripped her back with a sensitivity but not reluctance. You could see how he held an expression of equal emotion: happy, disbelieving, and impressed.
I was impressed, too. Not only were these two friends of mine actually in love, they were so perfectly in love that they could overlook every other person, and find each other’s perfect side. They were perfect for each other. And yet they were far from perfect. It was infuriating watching them struggle with their feelings for so long, infuriating how they refused to acknowledge this enrapture of the senses for the extreme amount of time it took them, especially when the result was so prodigious. Especially when the result was this.
For whatever reason, the noise died down, and I could focus on the song. I watched her laugh, and I realized he was singing to her. He was laughing too, not making that stupid face he makes in choir, but it wasn’t him I was focused on. She was smiling. A genuine fucking smile. She had her mouth open, full on cackling, and he didn’t care. Because why would he? He loved her whether she knew it or not, and as the final chorus began to play, and she pulled away from him to spin slowly, one last time, I could tell she loved him too. The way her eyes shone, and she did that thing with her hair- that picture will forever be imprinted in my mind. The way her skirt hung off her, the way her shoes elongated her legs, and the way she held her arm in such a position that she looked like a supermodel, or at least much older than she should be. He was grinning at her stupidly, and I turned away, unable to deal with this trivial game that the entire school seemed to be playing.
It was terrible, this resentment that I felt because of their happiness. The way that this wave of envy seemed to wash over me, drowning in their, forgive me, perfect romance. So I stopped watching. I stopped watching this affair of the heart as it was only some type of door that I would enter and never be able to escape. It was a wormhole which I could never return from. It was beautifully tragic, and I knew it, knew this cliche that I was presenting, the green-gilled best friend lusting over this perfect relationship that they had that I so badly wanted, was overused and tired, and yet I couldn’t help the jealousy that seemed to fog my senses as this scene of love unfolded. But, god, it was so fucking, unfair.
They found each other young. To nearly quote the song that was now vexatiously playing through my head, they were just kids when they fell in love, and now here they were, dancing in that non-awkward way that made me both bitter and happy as hell. But the bitter side of me was winning over, so I tried to look away, instead scanning the gym.
And then I saw him. And he saw me. That’s all it took. It was slight. A glance, maybe, but it was enough. That’s what started it. And it grew to be something beautiful. It was perfect.