You don’t have to prove something that’s already there
A draft ran over me, colder than wet ice. The hairs on my bare arms stood on end. The calf muscles of my legs stiffened. While it was supposed to be summer, it had snowed only last week. The summer festival had to set up their booths near remnants of ice piles.
“You cold?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
He shrugged off his jacket and cocooned me in it. The clothing draped down to my knees.
“Why are you so much bigger than me?” I asked stupidly. The warmth of the faded leather instantly made me drowsy.
“Guys are supposed to be bigger,” he smiled. The smile only lasted a millisecond before he wrapped my hand in his and led me down a side path.
It was nighttime. People’s breath billowed out in steamy clouds. Many still wore summer attire of shorts and tank tops, the type their parents would have worn this time of year. Me included. Voices selling toys, rigged carnival games, and cotton candy melded into one back noise. Lights of mechanical rides lit up the night. The Ferris wheel turned clockwise in an array of flashing and blinking colored light bulbs. The night sky behind it was a solid black.
“Can we go on that?”
He didn’t respond, just nodded.
Our hands were still linked as I trotted along behind him. Once of my hands pinched his giant coat together.
The metal seats of the Ferris wheel were just as cold as the weather had been lately. He showed indifference to the burning feel of it.
“Aren’t you cold?” I asked.
“Guys don’t get cold.”
The ride started moving faster than I thought it would. It made me heavy in my seat. My stomach lurched. He sat with an arm cradling his head on the armrest. His brow furrowed as he stared blankly at the festival beneath us. He looked bored.
“You don’t like it?” I asked.
“No, it’s fine.”
He was just saying that because he thought I liked it.
“Um, hey,” I said.
“I really love you,” I said. “Like, so much. A ton, actually.”
We left the fair shortly after that.
On the ride home he said something about not being used to saying that phrase, and probably never will.
I said the reassuring thing that people say when they want someone to be there and not leave. “It’s okay.”
That night we lay on the couch together, not really saying anything. His head was in my lap. His large fingers played with my hair.
“Don’t go in the kitchen, okay?” he said.
“Why not?” It’s not like I had been planning to.
“There’s a spider in there.”
“You’re not afraid of them?”
He frowned at that.
“Girls don’t have to be afraid of everything,” I said.
“Oh,” he said. Obviously he hadn’t thought of that.
Then he asked, “Did I hurt you?”
“When?” I asked.
Tonight, when we rode the Ferris wheel and then he said he didn’t love me.
“Why? did you mean to?”
“No!” he sat up. “I mean, I don’t want to hurt you, but are you just saying that? Did you mean what you said?”
I didn’t answer at first. Not because I was hesitating, but because some emotions aren’t found in our human language. “It was surprising at first, but then I realized I never expected you to say it back to me. I already knew you wouldn’t say it.”
He said nothing.
“But may I say it? Can I say it however many times I want to?”
I woke up next to him the next morning. I had forgotten to change clothes. I went back to sleep because I knew I belonged.
(NOTE: the image is from esty.com)