‹ Prequel: The More You Chase It
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Memories Are Wonderful

The Truth

Weeks passed where I didn’t see James. When I was out with the girls Elizabeth, most of the time, wasn’t there. I assumed her and James were spending all their time together. It wasn’t really any of my business.

As October started, autumn came along. The city was beautiful from the view of my apartment with the colours of the leaves and the soft grey of the sky. I only had a few more months of school and I would be finished all my required credits, and then a few months after that my sister would be getting married.

“I picked out the colour for the bridesmaids dresses. You’ll have to come see if you like it,” my sister was so excited on the other end of the phone. I was looking over my book shelves as we spoke. Laying down flat I saw an open envelope from my time in England.

“I’m sure it will be fine. As long as you didn’t go with like Magenta or something dumb.”

Inside the envelope was a short letter but more importantly as I pulled out the contents I could remember the photograph she had sent me. It was of James and me at the premiere in Telluride. She had found it on the internet. Someone had caught a picture of us talking. I liked the picture a lot. It was the only one I had of us.

She huffed in mock hurt, “Daisy, I am a well selling artist now. I can pick colours for some dresses.”

It was nice to see my sister’s life coming together so nicely. She was getting married to the guy she had been with for three years, and her business was doing well. She and Andrew had even been looking at a bigger place.

“Yes well, when you were in high school you worn a lime green dress to prom.”

Even over the phone I knew she was rolling her eyes, “You’re never going to let me live that down are you?”

“You’re my big sis, I have to hold it against you.”

“Yeah well, I have to get working on new pieces for the gallery. Maybe I’ll do something in lime green.”

“That’s atrocious.”

“Shut up.”

We both laughed. I loved my sister so much. In all the insanity sometimes the best thing was talking to her.

“I still love you!” As I spoke I heard a knocking at the door.

“Yeah, yeah—“ She wasn’t to pleased.

“Clara, can I call you back? Someone’s at the door.”

“Sure, I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay, bye.”

The knocking continued. It was a quick hammering with some tone of urgency. When I swung the door open James was standing in the hallway, his hair tousled from wind but he hadn’t been running because he wasn’t out of breath. It seemed like he had been drinking, but he wasn’t drunk.

“James, what are you doing here? How’d you get in?” I asked, letting him into my apartment. He hadn’t been here many times. It was a weird intrusion on the small apartment. He looked uncomfortable.

“Someone let me in downstairs.” His voice was barely audible, he wasn’t looking at me. It seemed as if he was thinking about something.

“Are these random visits going happen all the time?” I was trying to lighten the tone. When James walked in he didn’t sit down. He paced. He didn’t look up. Something was up. He didn’t even respond. If had hadn’t spoken to my first question I would have wondered if he realized I was there at all.

“Do you want to sit down?” I attempted again to get some sort answer from him but I got nothing. He still didn’t take a seat or show any sign of wanting to make himself comfortable. There was so much urgency in his presence even without him saying a word.

Something big was bothering him, I could tell. Had he broken up with Elizabeth? Was everyone okay? I took a step towards him and tried to look at his face. I couldn’t stop the worry that was bubbling up from my stomach, “What’s wrong?”

My mind automatically drew the worst conclusions.

He stopped moving and stood still. I was only an arms length from him and I could feel the tension rolling off of him. The moment stretched on as I watched the veins on his hand, his fingers massaged his temple.

“Daisy…” He voice finally broke the silence.

“Yes?” I wanted to reach out and touch him, comfort him. I wanted him to smile. I wanted to know what was wrong. Mostly, I just wanted to fix it.

“I made a huge mistake.”

I was confused. His words may has well have been another language for what sense they made to me. What mistake? What had he done?

“What do you mean?”

“I was the biggest asshole, I just—“

I reached out and touched his arm, “James, I have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re not making sense.”

He looked up at me, his expressive eyebrows knit together. He took a deep breath, trying to collect his scattered thoughts before speaking again.

“That morning, in Telluride... I shouldn’t have just walked away.”

My hand dropped from his arm. His words, though you’d think they’d make me happy, only made me angry. “Why are you bringing this up now?”

“I’m bringing this up because ever since that morning I’ve been regretting walking out. I didn’t want to end up looking like a fool, I was scared and I acted like a prick and then when had that argument and you stopped speaking to me I figured that you hated me.”

My mind tried backtracking to that morning, it tried making some sort of connect to this specific night. Why was a morning that happened a year ago relevant tonight, I wondered. We had had this conversation before. Kind of.

“That doesn’t really answer my question.”

“We’re already growing a part again, we don’t talk very much. I figured I needed to tell you while I had the chance, before we stopped talking altogether again.”

My hand tugged through my hair as I pulled it back. More than anything I was in shock. I was still angry at him. Men in relationships don’t go to other women’s apartments to confess feelings for them. Although, I still wasn’t sure what feelings he was really confessing. Was it even feelings? Or was he just expressing guilt for walking out? This whole thing was so vague.

“I don’t know what you want from me James.”

He hesitantly took a step closer to me; his hand finding my cheek like it had that night when we were dancing. I could almost hear the music from that night, Nina Simone’s sultry voice drifting through my apartment at his touch. His skin was rough on his fingertips as they found the soft spot beneath my ear, a feeling vaguely familiar, like a hint of a memory. A minute passed where all we did was stare at each other. I was preparing myself for a kiss I didn’t think would actually happen. His face was a mixture of nerves but eventually he let his lips plant that kiss on my own.

It was so sincere, and it had been so long I had been waiting for it that my whole body softened with released tension. My guard had been building up since shortly after we met, getting stronger with every encounter we had but in that moment it started to fall. But it wasn’t going down that easy.

When he pulled away I looked up at him wide-eyed. I needed something to make sense of it. What was happening?

“I probably shouldn’t have done that,” He said, removing his hand from my face. But it was too late. I had a taste for kissing him, and just like Telluride I didn’t want it to stop.

“Probably not.”

I tried to contain myself, to remain composed. Neither of us said anything as we looked at each other. For the first time I knew that he wanted to kiss me but I couldn’t come out and say I wanted it too. He had a girlfriend, what kind of person would that make me?

So I bit my lip and didn’t step away. I was hoping he would get the hint. As long as it wasn’t spoken then I wasn’t a bad person. There was no going beyond this if I didn’t have some excuse. I couldn’t justify it as getting caught up in the moment if I stood here composed and told him it was okay.

Fortunately, I think something registered with James. He realized I hadn’t pulled away, I didn’t move when it stopped. I hadn’t slapped him, or yelled at him.

This time his hands rested on both sides of my face, titling it upward so my lips were easier to reach. This kiss was less subtle. There was more hunger and agency in it. As much as this was similar to Telluride it was so different. I wanted it more now than I had then. Now I knew what it was like to lose James and to want nothing more than this kiss.

All the built up emotion was overflowing, threatening to fall in tiny tears but no water escaped my closed eyes. I let my hands move to him. They pulled him closer with achy grabs. I wanted to be in his arms, feel his touch.

Every moment lapsed in slow motion. Every touch was an event of its own. Every time he pulled away I was afraid it would stop. I tried to get the most from every second of it. Eventually he pulled away and just looked at me. There was his charming smirk on his lips. I wondered if this had all been a joke, if he was just going to leave now but his arm reached behind my knees and he scooped me up. I was surprised to be in his arms.

“Where are you taking me?” I asked as his forehead rested on mine for a moment.

He smiled, and I smiled. I don’t think I could have been happier. Any worry I had previously was gone. My brain was beyond comprehending our actions. “I’m sure you can guess.”

In my room he put me on the edge of the bed. It felt like such a strange place to find myself. No processing went on before articles of clothing started finding their way to the floor. We crept up to the top of the bed. The kissing continued and continued and continued. I never wanted to lose the taste of his lips. But I had to stop him before it could go too far.

“This isn’t a good idea.” I said when he stopped. He was lying on top of me under the blankets. His soft cotton boxers were still on and I could still feel the delicate material against my leg.

His hands held my sides, his lips trailing light affectionate kisses on my stomach under the sheets. I couldn’t help but giggle. There was no way I would make it through this sane. James Franco, what do you do to me?

Slowly, his hands slid up my sides as his head peaked out from under the green of the sheets. His brown eyes were gleaming, his curly hair messier than I had ever seen it.

“I just want to stay like this.” The words were so innocent. His eyes didn’t look away from me for a moment, they barely blinked. It felt weird to have him look at me this way, so uncensored, unguarded. For once I actually felt like I could see emotion in his eyes, not playfulness or hesitance. He was always putting on a mask, but not here.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked the question with a smile. I couldn’t hide that I liked his attention. To be the center of his world, if even only for a moment, was perfect in itself.

“Because you’re beautiful and I was holding back at Dave’s party.”

The compliment was so foreign to see, coming from such perfect lips. “Why couldn’t telluride have gone like this?”

He sighed. I wondered if he regretted it as much as I did. “I think we were both too afraid to let our guards down. I know I didn’t want to lose you.”

“but we lost each other anyway.”

His head rested on my stomach and my hands found his hair, soft springy curls wrapped around my long fingers. “That’s why I gave up guarding myself this time. You’re already slipping away so I didn’t have anything to lose.”

For a bit we just sat in the silence, I was letting the moment settle over me. The feeling of just lying with him was the most comfort I’d ever felt. But the more I thought about everything that was being said the more I found it hard to believe. James couldn’t have feelings for me, not after the last year. “If you cared so much, how come you never came and said good-bye when I left?”

His hand rubbed affectionate circles on my side, “I tried but you were already gone.”

There was another pause in the conversation to take everything in.

“Did you ever think we’d end up here?”

The question hung in the air. My mind went back to the night I met James. I remembered how foolish I thought his charm was back then. How I thought that I was invincible to it. I never would have seen myself in bed with that man a year and a half later. I was young then. I didn’t believe I needed a man or love. All I knew of was Daniel, but James was no Daniel. James was perfect.

“No, but I hoped we would for a while.”

It was such a unique feeling to be putting my self out there like I was. The conversation was the most raw, personal, unrestricted conversation James and I had shared in a long time. It was the first time we weren’t lying to each other in some way. I was finally getting a glimpse at his perspective of the situation. There was a chance for me to see what Telluride had meant to him, or why he did the things he did instead of my assumptions that he hated me.

“How long since you started hoping?”

A soft short kiss was planted on my stomach before he answered. “Probably in increasing amounts since you told me you liked Faulkner and you fell asleep on my stomach. I realized then you were dream woman.”

I smiled, “that morning was when I admitted to myself that I liked you.”

“We fucked up pretty bad, huh?”

I sighed. The simple statement brought to me the reality and context of our current situation, “uh-huh. And now you have Elizabeth which makes my stomach turn. You should be with her right now.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know what to do.” My voice came out scared and distraught.

“It’s okay,” James said softly, his tone was reassuring. It only helped so much because deep down I knew I was a bad person.

“No it’s not James.”

“Well,” he sounded contemplative, “If this had happened at Telluride this would have been okay, right?”

I didn’t see where he was going with this but I answered, “yes.”

“But what about if we had a time machine in this moment now, and went back to then?”

“There are no such things as time machines.”

“Yes I know that, but say there is. Would that be okay?”

I thought about it for a second still not quite sure I understood his train of thought. “I don’t know, I guess.”

“So why don’t we just pretend this is that night. We can re-write the past.”

I shook my head, “but if we actually went back in time it would only be okay because it would change the future and you wouldn’t be with Elizabeth.”

“Who knows, maybe it will change things.”

There was pleading in his eyes as I looked at them. I didn’t know what to say. No amount of ridiculous logic or time machines could make this okay but perhaps I should just enjoy it while its here because it would be gone in the morning. He would have to go back to her.

His face found refuge in the crook of my neck, his lips solace in my skin.

His presence
His touch
The sound of his voice telling me what I wanted to hear

These things all made it impossible to stop or make him leave and I let my body get tangled with his underneath the green sheets. We stayed like that all night. We didn't go further, just enjoyed the feel of holding onto each other, unwilling to let go.And finally the little unexpected kisses that proved he really did care.

My concerns about tomorrow dissolved in the warmth between us. I wondered how long it would take before this too was lost. James and I were always ups and downs, there was no real way this could last.