Short Story: Can’t Fight This Feeling

This is a short story I wrote. It is not at all based on true events.

Can’t Fight This Feeling

“I ran the whole way here to tell you,” said Sasha, breathless from running. Her eyes, made up with precise black lines, made her look like Boy George.  Her lips were covered in a shiny Wet n’ Wild shade.

“It was a lot of saliva,” she sounded surprised.  She had kissed Peter. Made out with him.  In public.  On the corner near the bus stop where he waited to take the 51 down San Pablo.

Renee giggled. A bubble of delight enveloped the two girls.  It was always there between them. Renee’s mother remarked on how Life seemed to present endless opportunities for the girls to laugh. It made them popular at school. It followed them through sadness and competition, even when they crept towards the dangerous darker corners of life, like the day they went to Bill’s drugs to shoplift hair gel, or the night they snuck out to go to the park with the Jordan brothers: Harvey and Paul,  two brothers who came from a bad home. Harvey got in fights at school and sold weed. Paul was the nice one. They were mixed-race, which made them both look like Prince.

REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” played on FM radio.  Renee and Sasha had both tried to understand the lyrics.  “What started out as friendship has grown stronger…” At 12-years-old, nearly 13, the lyrics promised an adulthood where men gushed.

Renee eyed Sasha jealously. It had been three weeks since she had “made out” with Harvey.  Also more saliva and lips than tender romance, but still…she had done it, finally. And first.

A few days later she saw Harvey at school, wearing his Nike jacket. He said “hello,” with excessive nonchalance and then walked away. A week later she saw him making out with Heather, a tall 8th grader with braces and bleached hair. Renee’s hair would meet that shade in no less than a year.

“I remember that feeling,” Renee espoused. Renee felt herself an older wizened woman. She had more experience, she had tasted both love and heartbreak. And now she felt the sudden emergence of a huge chasm in her heart. On the other side stood Harvey with something…salvation? But the chasm was far, deep and wide and it seemed to envelope her emotions in a way that was unfamiliar, but not without pleasure.

“I’m sorry,” said Sasha with genuine concern. The hope for Renee’s great love was over. They both knew it. What they didn’t know is that there would be other boys, and then men. And the chasm they both would come to know would be there as well.

Renee wished her mom would come home.  Her mom worked and came home late. And while Renee and Sasha had the whole afternoon to giggle, eat Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies, talk about boys, the time felt too long.  It was a lot of work to fill up all these moments.

The phone rang. It was Barry. He was skinny and short, but he called the girls every day. One or the other, it didn’t really matter.  They were really one person to him. They told him what happened. He didn’t like Harvey or Paul.

Years later, Renee would read on the Internet about Harvey’s armed robbery and his life sentence without parole. He would blame his brother, Paul, for the crime, but Paul remained out of prison.  Renee and Sasha would laugh in amazement at the quality of boys they attracted in those tender first years of adolescence.  But it was a sad laugh. Why did they fall in love with thugs?

Sasha would eventually marry Barry, years after college, when they reunited and Barry was no longer skinny or short. Renee would have a series of long relationships, most of which ended with the same chasm in her heart. But the delight between them never ended.  That lasted forever.

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