Embrace: A story of youth


By St. Peter

I read the text message obsessively trying to rediscover something that did not exist, and every time I read it, the void of emptiness in my mind would sink my heart into a deeper depression. I wanted to say something aloud—maybe swear, but I was choked up and swallowing became a problem. Everything began to spin and I lost a bit of balance, I sat down on the bed in my hotel room and fell back onto the bed and stared into the ceiling. It wasn’t much of a big deal, and I was shocked it has affected me so much. The text: “I know you like me, and I think you’re a great guy. But I don’t really have the same feelings for you. And I am not looking for a relationship to try. Sorry.” The text was well composed as if she spent some time going over it.

My blank stare turned into a reverie of the visions I dreamt up thinking about her. I planned this excursion so that we could go together and have an amazing time, but I don’t think she was into it. There was something in her smile, an ineffable experience of happiness. I recalled a time when we went swimming together and we played around in the crystal water. She was wearing a two-piece that hugged the curves of her body emphasizing her muscularity. She took my hand and pulled me into the deeper end of the pool; she easily was treading water; however, I struggled a bit.

Bang. The sound broke my concentration. I covered myself in the sheets. Bang. Bang. I yelled, “The door is open, just stop knocking for fuck’s sake.”

“Are you ready? Bro, this is gunna be mad O.D.!” my friend shouted as he busted into the room.

“Yeah, Yeah,” I whimpered.

“Hey man. If you’re still bummed about her not coming, it’s her loss. Bro, you’re a great guy, and I fucking love you. Look I am not saying I am gay or anything but if I were, dude we would be like a power couple.”

I chuckled, “Today is gunna be freakin’ awesome, man.” My heart sank a little. “I wish I could share it with her too, man.”

“You’ll have other times with her and I am sure she will fall for you.” He sat on the side of the second bed and stared into the distance. I looked at him and he was wearing shorts and a bro tank. “Yo bro, I know we all got someone here today, but we are still gunna spend hella time together, you are my brother.” He looked at me seriously, so I shot up and out of the bed and the covers. “Bro, you’re fucking naked.” He stuck his hands out to cover me from his vision and walked out of the room

“Let me get ready. I will be right out.” I put on some clothes, and took my backpack of supplies and left with my group to the festival. We stood in line to enter, and it was crazy packed. The sun was extremely bright making it hard to see and the heat was mean. Everyone around us were struggling patiently, anxiously for the excitement to begin, but for us, we were stoked to be together.

Jamal lit up and offered a couple hits to V, his girlfriend.

“Brosuf, it’s too early, you’ll burn through the stash at this rate,” Juarez complained.

“Look, all I know is I am not gunna wait through this shit sober,” he retorted, accompanied by another puff.

Lucy took a hit after him, and Juarez said, “Okay, I see how it is. Give me a hit.” They passed it around and offered me some.

 I looked at Jamal, put both of my hands on his face and said, “I love you man, but you know I don’t really care for drugs,” then patted his cheek.

Time passed painstakingly as the line inched forward. My friends entered what I felt was a dull conversation, so I didn’t participate; instead, I stared into the lines of people who were having fun even in the agony and the monotony of the lines. I’m supposed to have their kind of fun, but the thought didn’t enlighten me. I just wanted to be happy, whatever that means.

 Once we made it through the gates, most of us were separated by the wave of people but slowly, we collected each other. We did some shopping at the different booths and vendors, and most of us got another shirt or tank. It was memorabilia to remember something that we thought was going to be great without having experienced it yet.  

“So, there are three festival stages, what’s the plan?” I inquired.

Juarez said, “I think we should just go where we want to go, but we should have an emergency plan.”

“Well, I would like to go as a small group,” retorted V.

“How about we map out the people we want to see and we can go to those stages at a certain time frame?” Lucy asked and everyone agreed. Lucy and Juarez left to the restroom, while, Jamal, V and I set-up on the lawn at the main stage. Jamal rolled up some reefer and started it. Nothing was spoken for a moment, but it wasn’t like it was awkward or there was nothing to talk about. I couldn’t help but wonder about her, and my life situation as a whole.

“Why do you think these types of concerts are getting so big?” Jamal questioned as he looked into the stage. “Like why do you think we do all of these things with people we don’t really know?”

“WE are all here to share the music, man,” I said to stop him from bumming me out.

“Yeah I know,” he said blowing out the smoke through his nose. He smiled a little passing the joint to V.

“Can we really share an experience with strangers? It’s not like it will really be the same. I have shared a sunset on this cruise once and there were tons of people but it’s not like I could have a conversation with them. Plus, they could be rapists or murders,” asked V.

“Woah, okay. Well, yeah, I suppose they could be anything or become anything. On the other hand, of course you can share an experience with a complete stranger. Besides, how do they become friends? Duh! By sharing moments, we share the essence of these moments! It’s not like no one can ever be trusted…” I excited myself with what I thought was an impressive answer.

“Do you honestly think we could know each other?” questioned V.

Jamal retorted, “Yeah babe, it’s about the connections we have together. If we can really have connections and all of that.”

“Dude, shut up. We strive to connect with someone at a deeper level. It’s like being lost in space or trapped in a spaceship forever searching the stars for another ship. And when we find one, it is nice to know that there is someone in there; and it’s even better when there are similarities. The only difference is that we are trapped in our bodies when we look for another person to connect. I always like to think that it starts with a smile because it’s like telling someone ‘I am happy to see you.’ And that in itself communicates ‘I have emotions too.’”

Jamal stopped talking and Via enjoyed my answer. Eventually Lucy and Juarez came back and our journey into the weekend began.

The sun was oppressive most of the day, keeping people a little tamed. But, as the sun died off, the energy began to ramp up. We visited the stages we wanted together but when it was time to separate, we did. As the dusk settled into the night, my friends were exhausted and ready to leave; however, I felt a little bit dissatisfied. It was a hollow feeling that I couldn’t really explain, but I wanted more or something. I tried to persuade my friends that I would be fine, but they didn’t accept all of my excuses. Juarez eventually caved in, and he decided to stay for a little bit longer. I appreciated it, and I preferred that he stayed, because I know that he would trust me and let me be.

I wanted to rave to rid myself of these feelings, so I made Juarez go with me. The place was still pretty packed. There was a crowd overwhelming the medical kiosk handing out ear plugs and water. People were lying on the lawn in between the litter and vomit, some of them asleep, others passed out, and a few couples scattered out to watch the stars and enjoy the music. I opened my mouth to say something, but I didn’t really understand what I was trying to say, so I made some weird sounds then shut my mouth and said “Never mind.”

He responded with a small laugh and asked, “You okay?”

“Nah, I am just a little bummed. I really liked her, and I really wanted to share some of these things with her. I guess. I’ll be good though.”

“Yeah, I get it. Something similar happened to me a couple years ago Freshman year of college.”

“What happened?”

“I was in a random class with this one girl. What was it? Right, it was Buddhist philosophy or something like that. Well, that’s beside the point. It doesn’t really matter what the class was…”

“No shit. Dude, just do the story. Give me the essence!”

 “Well, I was taking this class and I noticed her sitting near the back of the hall. I couldn’t help but sit next to her and pray for some group work or some ice breakers or some shit.” He laughed pretty heftily. “It happened, we had an ice breaker and that’s how we started talking. And I could feel it bro, something about her… she was just smart stuff, and a deep thinker.” He looked so intently into the sky as if a pair of the stars in the sky were her eyes, and if he could connect with them just one more time, he would touch the divine. I couldn’t help but look up with him, and for a moment, we shared in a dream. “We would sit in class and write little notes on a piece of paper. She wrote this joke once, and I laughed so hard the Professor stopped and stared at me,” he broke his story with a small chuckle. “After class,” he continued, “we would hang out, talk, maybe grab a little grub to eat. And she would always ask these smart ass questions about the world and the universe. Then she would talk about perception and trippy stuff like that. Anyways, I never asked her for her number or anything at the end of the quarter, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like with her. I’ve always wondered how different my life would’ve ended up.” Solemnly, he looked back at me.

“Did you ever find out what happened to her?”

“Yup, she started a successful tea shop.”

“Of course she did,” I smiled at him. “Why didn’t you ever tell me about her earlier?”

“Cause I am with Lucero now, and it wouldn’t be right to think about her anymore… Oh did I mention she was sexy as fuck?”

“You can never leave that out,” I raised my eyebrows and pointed at him.

“True dat.”

I gave him a bro hug that turned into more of a sympathy hug.

At the stage, the lights were flashing intensely, it felt like a camera was taking a long continuous shot of people dancing, each burst of light was a still frame of untamed movement, then people repositioned in a split second of darkness for another shot of excitement and energy. The crowd moved together incoherently and sporadic. Then there was us, merged into the melodic bouncing, the wild contortions, the lights, and the chaos organized to a computerized beat.

An hour or so had fallen into the night which was growing colder and darker; however, the light from the crowd only amplified. I needed to cool down from the heat so I sat down on the lawn, away from the energy. I took out my phone to kill some time; I got a text about twenty minutes ago saying “I am a little burned. Gunna head out bro.” It also came with a picture of this girl with curly hair that went down to her shoulder, good mildly tanned skin, penetrating blue-green eyes, and a smile that reflected what I believed was true happiness.

I replied with a text: “She’s a looker with a true smile! Thanks for talkin’ and save your energy for tomorrow!” I don’t know why, but again I felt impelled to look at the text, and so I did; I stared at it. A girl sat down pretty close to me and said, “The air is a little frigid.”

“Yeah, but it feels nice.” I looked towards her direction, and my eyes caught the dark golden tan of her long legs. She was wearing shorts, but they were covered by a pure white, lose fitting shirt-tunic thing. It was laced to reveal some skin, but not too much, never too much. She didn’t have many accessories but a wrist dipped in neon bracelets and a pacifier rung around her neck on a bright neon band.


“Why are you out here then?”

“To escape the crowd. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost myself in it.”

“So you came here to find yourself?”

“You can put it that way.”

“I did too.” My eyes followed the contours of her tanned, freckled face and ours eyes locked, and for a moment I felt nervous gazing into her light brown eyes. She combed her silk hair behind her ear with her hand, and we shared a smile. From that point on, we talked a little but about ourselves; however, it wasn’t small talk, there was something penetrating about it. I wanted to hear everything about her, and she posed questions that I answered with thought. It became only natural to keep smiling.

“Here,” she said during a moment of thoughtful silence. She pulled a couple of pills out from her backpack and whispered, “take one.” I was about to refuse. She gave me a reassuring look and move closer to me; although those made me feel better, I wanted to engrain this into my memories; I wanted it to burn over the scares of pain and the pursuit of heartache and I could feel that it would if I did this with her.

“Okay, but I am a little nervous,” I confessed.

“Hey, we are doing this together.”

“You’re going to stay?” She answered my question by pressing the pill between my lips which were slightly ajar and grazed her finger tips and met me with a soft kiss. I was still nervous, only, now I was excited too. I had some water, and she took her hit too. We went back to the fury and the lights wrapped in each other’s embrace.

The next morning, I woke up in a cold sweat, and I could feel the oppressive sun beating through the glass and the thick black curtains while the air conditioning tried to keep the heat at bay. I was naked, and the bed was a mess. I looked around the room feeling a little bit rotten inside. The other bed had no sheets and the pillows were thrown on the ground and to the side. “Sarah,” I mumbled.

“Yeah?” She walked in from the bathroom gorgeous and nude as well then gave me a kiss on the lips. I smiled a little, stretching. “I just wanted to see your face.” She walked out to the bathroom while I stayed in the bed half covered lethargically. I stared at her combing her light brown hair that only went down to her shoulders, revealing the back of a person who was once an athlete. She asked if I wanted to join her in the shower so I, eagerly, got up. But before I went to the bathroom, I pressed on my phone to see the time. A small icon alerted me that May had texted me again, but I didn’t read it this time; instead, I stood there for a moment and wondered.

Sarah enthused me, “I am going to start the water. It’ll be nice and refreshing!”

I stood there, a little rotten, happy, sad, and excited. So I whispered her name.

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