Philipe wanted to make me feel bad about myself. It was a power move. He knew that I was madly in love with him, and even though he did, he kissed a red-haired girl when I was near. Okay, I thought, that’s it, tough luck. He obviously likes this girl more than he likes me. It hurt. I had enough.
Over the summer, Philipe didn’t stop contacting me, seeking me out. I was embarrassed, always giving pure honesty to him, asking for anything in return but receiving nothing. After a while it didn’t bother me so much. It was summer, I was having a good time with my friends: we often hung out at parks or climbed the wooden towers in the forest. We jumped fences and rolled down hills. Philipe was never there. He had never been part of my group of friends. They thought he was nasty.
A few weeks into July, Sara the red-haired girl suddenly joined our group of friends. I wasn’t particularly into it, but she wasn’t a villain herself. I let it go. I had to see perspective. She was a rather shy girl, she never looked much at ease. While I spun around the forest climbing and running with my group, she quietly followed.
Though Philipe wasn’t part of it, he was never far away. He popped up sometimes in places where I was having fun, casting a big shadow over the event. Can people be inherently evil? My friends seem to think so about the blond, grown-up brat. He had earned himself a certain entitlement; entitlement in town. Philipe thought he deserved to be known, to be liked. He wanted the satisfaction of influencing others.
He did turn out to be nasty. After a month or so, he had enough of my decrease in attention. It was my birthday and we were, once again, playing in the forest. Everyone was there: all my boys, all my girls. The sun shone through the tall pine trees, forming warm patches upon the moss. Honestly, there is not a lot I remember from this afternoon. Bliss overruled. Then came the evening, when my friends decided we were going to go to Sara’s place. Sara had a big garden where we could sit at a large table and play cards. I knew that Sara’s place was part of the apartment building Philipe lived in. I did not complain. We were happy that day.
Sara’s table was big enough for all of us. We loaded it with glasses of wine, cards and laughter. The sun nearly disappeared behind the flat when Philipe suddenly appeared. Not everyone looked at him, some were too busy with the card game. I looked. He was wearing a robe and slippers, like he was about to go to bed. He would do that on purpose, I thought, wearing a robe to seem sophisticated. The sun was on his hair, making the blond seem almost bronze. A statue of gorgeous entitlement. Philipe walked over to the table like he was best friends with everyone, and stood between me and Stephen, who was sitting next to me. Stephen was too busy with the game to be thrown off by his dislike for the figure standing next to him. I was on edge. Philipe then threw his arms around us and bent down to look at our cards. I inhaled the scent of his skin. His breath.
“I just wanted to wish you a good game,” he said, to the table.
People were surprised. Sara didn’t respond. She looked shy, again.
“Thanks, Philipe,” some of my friends said. It was a gesture of politeness. Nothing more.
Philipe bent down further and pressed his cheek against mine, in a fluid motion that was meant to look like he was just checking my cards. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up and my body felt heavy. His arm pressed into my shoulder. In my ear, he whispered:
“I haven’t really slept for weeks because my love has been sleeping with me and I really like her.”
I wanted to say something. Congratulations. Thanks for sharing. Anything. He brushed his lips against my cheek, patted Stephen on the shoulder and walked away. I didn’t turn around. I lost the card game.