It was 5am, and the sun was only beginning to hit the windows as she said to me, I think I wrote a poem about you.
And I said, how does it go?
It goes like this, she said, and it was beautiful.
It was shooting stars, pulled wishbones and a thousand things unfulfilled, all blown birthday candles and dandelion clocks; the superstitions we embrace so that sometimes, for a few seconds, we're allowed to have any dream we want despite it all.
At the beginning it was the regret for things, said and unsaid, breaking into sharp pieces in our palms so we could never hold them; then it was a confession, and then a heartbreaking demand, only to know whether it could ever begin or be stopped; and the final line led me up into her eyes.
They were like the sea looks in all the magazines, the colour you buy expensive tickets to swim in for two weeks: clearwater oceans, the kind of world we know less about the bottom of than we do about the surface of our moon. She was too true and clear a sea, unrippled waters reflecting this kid who couldn't do wrong, and she thought it was me.
I thought to myself then, she must be blind. I thought, yes. I thought, let her be mine. But instead I said, It's amazing how sometimes I don't believe in love until I see the words it can make; or perhaps instead I just said Oh, and my memory has been brightened by time.
Then I kissed her there on the carpet while I forgot the words coming next, the dandelion seeds blowing by on winds outside, and us wrapping our fingers round bones; maybe I said them silently instead, against her lips; or maybe that was all there was to say.
When we came away from each other, there was only a small space between us and we left it there; as if it was some unspoken agreement that now we had started something too fragile to let slip away by drawing fully apart.
The two of us together, we were sweeping sensations. We were drawing guns and shooting stars dead-centre, obliterating constellations one by one - we were virgo, we were libra, we were the new age of space - whispering to one another Don't forget it.
Don't forget it, Charlie.
Don't forget it, Alice.
But I had to tell her in the end of that moment, even centimetres away from those those eyes like tidal waves rising and breaking over all my boundaries, It's too much about the better things.
She said, Huh? and feeling the ghost of it sweep against my lips made me realize how far-gone I was already.
I'm not worth words like that, I said. I make too many mistakes, I break too many plates, I can't sing worth a damn.
I didn't say you could, she answered.
I said, But it was stars and moons.
Everybody's worth a moon or two, she said, and believed it. I got mad then, mad inside, mostly because I was confused but also because I was scared of the vows I might make to her; they were too bright, too promising, and I thought I could be blinded by them.
I can't, I said, and a speech stumbled out after; When I have love, it only makes me unhappy in the end. I never want for anything else. All I want is to talk like a story, because it feels so perfect it must be written, and yet everyone else is too busy being like movies - and so maybe it's too much to ask, and I have to tell you that. Maybe my world is boring, with all plain paper and no glossy magazine pages, but I can't help but live there so you need to know I do.
Right now is a love-story, she said. Are you going to waste it by skipping to the end? It's too soon yet, and there are so many words in between.
Words can hurt, I remember saying, and I almost laughed even then at the childish sound of them, and went on; It's too hard to let someone love me when I don't even like myself.
Everybody talks about having to learn how to love yourself before you can be happy, but isn't it okay just to be loved? I think, she said, I could be happy with depending on you, if you depended on me.
Just like that, I was falling down on the carpet and it's like we were caught in paper, pressed up against each other while our fingers stroked spines with absent minds, ending worlds and starting futures between our eyes and skin - all at once it was a fairy-tale ending and then it was the part after a book says The End, where you take a moment to yourself to think of how the words might have went on. Maybe it wasn't worth anything the next week, the next year, or ten years after, but I'm telling you this:
It was after 5am, and the sun was high above the windows as I said to her, I think I will write about you.
And Charlie said, how will it go?
It goes like this, I said, and it was beautiful.