It all started so innocently. Another May day when we used to roam the gathering of trees behind your backyard and call it a forest. We were explorers and hunters, knights and dragon riders travelling through. I didn’t know what to think of you at first, but Matt adored you and I adored Matt, so two became three. We were inseparable.
All was still well when we rode our bikes through the neighbourhood and waited for the gentle evening breeze. We would lie on the short, hard grass by the lake and wait until the night got purple and full of ancient sounds. Moths dancing around our heads. All of us feeling so alive, our heads buzzing with the first hormones, our bodies eager for a world unfolding far beyond our forest.
We were fine, even as the strange waves of puberty hit us, and with that an itch in the back of my mind. Matt still adored you, though now in a different, more joking way. I followed him blindly.
Beyond the pages of schoolbooks and saying goodbye to our childhood dog, we made it through school without too many scratches.
Then Matt left for University and we were left alone together. I was just coming to terms with being gay, a dark cloud that had hung over my head for years. The summer heat kept us indoors, killing time. The world was ours, we didn’t know what to do with it. So, we went back to the places we came from, strolling through the backyard woods, the nails we once hammered into the trees were still there. We decided to go to the lake once more, for old times’ sake, open a cold one, send pictures to Matt.
The air around the lake was heavy with the smell of summer. A dark purple sky giving two young men more than enough cover to enter the water, still warm from the day. Everything felt so beautiful I could have cried. I did, remembering the moment later.
That moment I decided to try and kiss you. I didn’t even think about it that much, it wasn’t you. I really wanted Matt, but Matt was gone. You were here, and you were wet and warm and laughing with me, it felt perfect.
Your punch came quick and that was good. Because it made me draw my breath before you pushed my head under water. Deep under water.
The cold made me numb, I remember thinking you were joking, but you wouldn’t let go of my head. Seconds passing by like aeons. My vision clouded from pain, darkness and murky water, my body writhing in panic, much more aware than my brain.
I was limp when you let go.
When I somehow got to shore you were gone and I was coughing up so much water I thought I would die there and then.
But the sky above me was still purple, with a heavy scent of flowers in the air.