It was because of little cricket that I found him.
The runaway wanderlust, the nostalgia for places I have never been and may never see. I can remember that day perfectly, the day I left home and didn’t look back.
I had no plan. No place to stay. A night spent under the clouds in a city park seemed like the best way to escape. But little cricket remembered the boy with the laughter in an empty science class, the boy to whom she gave her phone and her heart simply to share a song through cheap headphones.
I remember lighting Spirit after Spirit. He was the only one I could think of. High school friends disappeared like smoke after we graduated; all those cap and gown photos are the only memories I have from the twelve years we spent together.
It was pathetic, I’ll give it that. It was more than a favor to ask, but that stupid text was the only thing I had to hang onto. I must have known what I was doing, because it worked. I remember the kindness of someone who may as well have been an absolute stranger.
Something about the way he was there. An easy grin walking across the street, staying safe together beneath dim streetlights, nervously joking because what the hell did we think we were doing?
I am eighteen years old, and that boy was the only thing holding me together after weeks of early morning screaming matches and judgmental stares before dates out.
I remember soft rain falling as we awkwardly found our way around the house. As much as I needed a place to say, to be safe, there is no way to feel like you belong in such a familial group of human beings.
I remember the storm picking up as one by one, punks left for bed, lights turned off and doors locked. Then it was just him and I, yawning and smoking as the sky began to downpour. Where to sleep, where to sleep?
I suppose the universe made that decision for me. It began to storm, thunder, lightning, and all. The park was no longer an option. Hell, there were no options. He was my end of the line. And as much as I longed for an actual bed and an actual safe place, I couldn’t take his room.
Little cricket was raised with manners. You should know this by now. Young ladies don’t inconvenience strangers, especially attractive boys with the kindest of hearts. So instead, a deal was made.
50% of the bed is his. 50% of the bed is mine. At least, that’s how it started. After ten minutes of silence and the admittance of an incredibly middle-school question, the 50% rule was forgotten, and little cricket fell asleep safe and sound, warm and happy as a summer storm continued outside.
I don’t think I regret it. I think I just mean to say thank you. I thought my little Indian name had died after a world of grown-ups had tried to ruin Neverland, but now I realize they were never even close.