When I jump into the cab, he acts like he wasn’t expecting me. He looks up from his phone, nonchalantly, and smiles a little as he slides over to make room. The car is big, but it seems like the walls are closing in as I close the door behind me.
“Where do you want to go tonight?” He asks without looking away from his screen. His dark hair covers his eyes as he types profusely.“We could hang out at Vanessa’s, or go to this cool coffee place I know.” I laugh. I hope my laugh isn’t too quivery. For some reason I really want him to think that I’m cool. Maybe it’s because I’m nervous, or maybe it’s because I have no filter, but before I know what I’m saying I say, “Connecticut, let’s go up to Connecticut.” He looks at me weirdly. Jesus he probably thinks I’m a lunatic. Then he shrugs his shoulders.
“Alright then.” Is he excited or annoyed? The cab ride from the City to Connecticut is really long. I don’t want him to be mad. “Connecticut is a big state,” he says. “Anywhere in particular?”
“I don’t care. I’ll go anywhere with you,” I almost say, but instead, the words that come out of my mouth are, “Sophie’s house. Let’s go there.” He chuckles and says,
“I haven’t seen Sophie in the longest time. I miss her.” My throat becomes moist again and I am put at ease by his words. Luca looks at his watch. “You know it’s almost eleven, right? Is she even home?” I smile at him.
“Its Sophie,” I say. We look at each other and laugh.
“Oh yeah,” Luca says, “Of course she’s home. Ten other people are probably there right now.” The conversation lulls between us. I don’t want it to be awkward. So I spit out,
“Do you remember how we met?” while looking at him from under my lashes.
“Of course.” Luca says back.
“It was at Sophie’s New Years party. You were wearing a green shirt.”
He bursts out laughing. Now I’m the one who’s looking at him weirdly. “No,” he says, “We met a year before that. It was at Josh Goldman’s house. You were wearing a red sundress. Your hair was all curly like it is right now.” My mind flashes back to that day. It was so long ago that it’s an unorganized haze in my mind.
“Luca how in the world did you remember that? That was like a million years ago!”
“You were the prettiest girl there.” His face turns red and he looks away. My hands start to sweat. “That’s why I never forgot you.”
“Well, why didn’t you talk to me?”
“I was a skinny dweeb.” He says, “and I was going through puberty so my voice was cracking.” He looks embarrassed so I stop harping on him.
I look over and his face doesn’t look red anymore with his curly hair flopping over his eyes. The car slowly begins to move,and I’m nervous as the city lights become a receding image in the car’s rear view mirror. “Do you eat your oreos whole or do you split them apart.” It’s too dark for me to see his face but I can tell that he is amused.
“Whole.” I laugh, “What about you?”
“Always, whole. I could never like someone who split them apart.”
“The worst are those people who like rip them apart and only eat the icing.”
“It’s crimes against humanity!” he says while laughing. For a moment we look at each other, and his eyes are the lightest they’ve ever been even in this darkness. I blush, and he clears his throat. “Why’d you invite me here today, Luca?” Besides the occasional party, we never spent any time alone. He usually hung out with his group of friends, and though I was really close with some of them, I had never been close to him. Small talk was all that was ever made between us, and it was a bit odd that he texted me out of the blue to hang out.
“I don’t know… I guess I missed you.” He looked at me from underneath his eyelashes, his hazel eyes almost glowing like a cat’s in the dark. The highway bumps underneath us and because I’m not wearing a seatbelt it causes me to slide closer to him.
“So how are your friends?” I ask.
“Alright, I guess. It’s weird because we are finally all drifting apart. I never thought that that would happen.” He looks sad, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him like this.
Connecticut, I guess, is much closer than I imagined. Because it seems like I just got into the car when I’m already stepping out of it.
“Wait, Luca. I don’t think that this is Sophie’s house.” This house is made out of brick. I know for a fact that Sophie’s house is modern and is made partially out of glass.
“Yeah. I know.” Luca says back as he begins to walk toward the backyard anyway.
For a moment, my mom’s voice echoes in the back of my mind. “Don’t do things that can land you in jail or with a kid.” I hesitate for a second, but follow him. It feels like an out of body experience. It is as if he has been here before, and he is just remembering where to go.
This stranger’s “house” is actually a mansion. The garden seems to go on for miles. Under the strong moonlight, I can see every type of flower known to man planted in orderly lines. I can hear the hushed humming of the highway. Though most of the random footsteps and honks of cars and trucks have been replaced with the chirping of crickets. The stars are shining so brightly and everything, including the air, feels different. I try to get a picture of all the little stars, but I guess beauty like that just can’t be captured digitally. As I’m looking up, he grabs my hand, and I feel my heart thumping wildly as he does.
We just stand there, for about a good hour or so. The soft breeze makes us sway a little as we admire the stars. The air is so fresh. For the first time, it feels like I am breathing clean air. I wonder if he is just as taken as I am, and when I look over he is enraptured by the heavenly stars as well.
“I don’t ever want to move.” He whispers quietly. His palms start to get sweaty.
“Neither do I.”
The humming of the city streets have evaporated. It is really truly just him and I now. He whispers, “It’s really beautiful.”
“I know.” I say back hushed. I heard that there are supposed to be all these natty bugs in Connecticut. Somehow, I don’t feel or hear any. I am in a complete vacuum with only him beside me.
“We look so small underneath the stars don’t we?” He asks. Even in this darkness I can see how thick and long his eyelashes are. I guess I had never seen him that way before. He leans in and when his lips touch mine, I’m surprised. Then a nearby car honks at us and we jump away from each other laughing. We laugh so loudly that I could have sworn all the houses in Greenwich light up like Christmas lights.
We never make it to Sophie’s house. I think we got to carried away in the moment. After all, my mom doesn’t even know that I left the house and his thinks that he is on the Upper East Side tucked safely away in bed. He gets into the cab first and doesn’t look back. When I get in I make sure to turn around and look at that grassy field one more time. Something changed here, I think. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think things are ever going to be the same.
The car ride back is quieter than the one going there. I hear the humming of the A.C. Luca keeps bouncing his foot up and down.
“So eager to get away from me?” I ask playfully. He looks over and we just start laughing. He looks up at me and smiles. He is distant and I can feel it.
When he drops me off at my house, he comes out of the car and gives me a hug. It lasts for a good thirty seconds and I smell his boy cologne. He gets back into the car, and I stand outside on my lawn watching it fade away until it becomes one with the scenery.