I hugged my mom, Lily, goodbye, hopped out of the car, and walked up the concrete steps to the church. It was a cool clear night. The sky was a sharp black. The stars shone, little lights to brighten the fear that came with the dark. They twinkled at me, winking as if sharing a special secret that I would soon discover. I kept my eyes intently upon them. I had always been fascinated with the stars and almost everyone that I'd ever met knew that of me. They were my hope and love. I wished to see them closer someday. It was my sole intent to become an astronaut.
I opened the door and nearly tripped over my very own feet. I was a slightly clumsy girl of fifteen. I swept my long black hair out of the way. Smiling at nothing at particular, I climbed another flight of stairs. I immediately noticed Alex. My smile faded and was replaced with a kind of fluttering fear that I often associated with seeing his face. I stopped abruptly but quickly gained my composure and, clearing my throat, I walked over to the hangers to hang my jacket up. I was violently aware of Alex's eyes on my back but I didn't dare turn around. As I tried to lift my jacket and my bag full of books, the books all toppled out at my feet. "Damn." I knelt to the ground and glared up at Alex's mischievous face. He smirked at me and tipped his chin in greeting. I internally rolled my eyes.
"I'd offer to help," he began slowly, "but you'd probably slap me." His clever eyes dared me to ask him for assistance.
"Very good," I scoffed. "It's like you have experience." I placed the last book into my bag and picked it up only to have them all fall out again. I frantically pushed down the butterflies in my stomach before bending over to grab them.
"Do you want help?" Alex was clearly on the verge of laughing.
"Do I want help? Do I want help? From you? Yeah, sure, that'd be great." I sighed unconsciously as Alex piled books on top of each other. Alex's dirty-blonde hair fell over his face. His style was to have it messy and sexy. As he attempted to push the books into my bag, I let out a little shriek. He turned his concerned green eyes up to my blue ones. "You didn't set them up right." I suddenly realized how awkward this was getting. "They need to all be face up and they need to be right side up."
Alex was doing a very bad job of not smiling. "Sorry." His smirk broke through. He fixed them all but I couldn't help going through them all to be sure they went from smallest to largest. My books needed to be arranged by colour, size, and top to bottom, front to back. It was one of my pet peeves.
I slung my bag over my shoulder and started walking toward to the choir loft's stairs. "I suppose there's no chance you'd skive off choir, huh?" Alex asked casually as if commenting on the weather.
"Probably not." When did he learn a word like skive? Has he been reading or something? I could not remember a time where I had seen Alex just read for his own pleasure. Or anyone else's pleasure for that matter.
"Okay." Alex's voice faltered slightly.
I paused and turned. He had awoken the curiosity inside of me and no matter how hard I tried to suppress it, when the beast was awake, it stayed awake. "Why you wondering?"
"The stars are bright tonight." His eyes flickered back to me. I paused. He clearly knew that my weak spot was the stars and moon.
I raised my eyebrows skeptically. "Having me around doesn't make anything brighter."
"You're the brightest person I know," Alex countered.
I blushed against my will. "Shut up."
He shrugged slightly and put on an expression as though this were the funniest thing he'd ever done. His face was quite comical. "Well it's true. I'd be an idiot to deny it."
"Like you have for the past oh... I don't know.... eight years!" I stubbornly looked anywhere but his eyes. I couldn't handle the feeling of looking into space and falling forever.
My resolution wavered as he held his hand out a little ways away from his body. I stared down at it. "I'm gonna leave," he warned still smirking.
He knows I like him, doesn't he? To be honest, I'd never given Alex the credit he deserved. He was perhaps not the brightest person in the world but he had quite the exceptional mind. At times, that is. I glanced up the stairs where my choir mates were starting to sing. "Say sorry." Everything came rushing back to me and I could feel tears developing in my eyes. I furiously blinked them back.
"What?" Alex asked bemusedly.
"Say sorry," I repeated fighting my shaking voice.
"Every single time you said that I was less than you. Every single time you hurt me, insulted me, pretended that I was only a child merely because I'm not a male, every - "
"What are you sorry for?"
"Every time I.... acted like you were less than I was." Alex's voice broke. "I'm really sorry, Naomi. I wish I'd never said those things to you."
"Thank you." I cautiously threw caution to the wind and stretched my fingers out. Alex reached over and I suddenly came to terms with how tall he was. I hadn't stood this close to him since the time I was actually taller than he was. Our hands clasped. A chill ran up my body like electricity. I realized how long I had been in love with him - longer than perhaps I cared to admit, even to myself.
I dared to smile over at him. I noticed how very close he was to me. I was near enough to kiss him. I ignored that face and instead focused on his green eyes. I'd never felt this way before. I'd never known what having a loving partner felt like. I'd never held anyone's hand except for my close friends'. I'd never even thought that someone loving me was possible. It was unfathomable yet, here I was. Here he was. He thought he loved me and I thought I loved him. I gripped his hand tighter and he squeezed back. "The stars are bright tonight," I joked.
"Well let's have you outshine them, shall we?" Alex returned.
I grinned and felt myself blush again. It felt... complete.