When she was fifteen, a boy in her class kissed her. He had brown hair. They snuck around the bottom of the sports fields and kissed. The boy smelt like the cafeteria pie that he had eaten earlier, but she did not mind. It was naughty, and she liked it. The bell rang, and they ran back to class to tell all their friends about their secret.
In the later years, she would not only forget much of the detail of this moment, but she would embellish it for effect.
After his parents died, he moved in with his grandparents. They lived elsewhere, so he had to change schools and friends. He cried a lot in those days.
His grandparents were nice, but also doddery old people. Their pension had been damaged in the recession, so both of them had part-time jobs to make ends meet. The housekeeper came to tidy things up occasionally, but mostly there was no one around.
After school, he had to either hang around an empty school ground or walk for miles to get home. It was while walking home that he got to know someone who he should not have. What he thought was a friend touched him where he did not want to be touched. It made him uncomfortable and embarrassed all at the same time, but he did not know what to do.
No one found out, but people come and go, and life moves on. He kept rounding his memories of this part of his life down until they reached fractions of the original. He knew his abuse was not his own fault and, sometimes, in the quiet, long hours of the night, he wondered how it may have affected him. But, most of the time, he spent not thinking about it.
Thus, in later years, he would forget much of the detail of these moments, and let the noise of his life drown out the rest of them.
As she went through school, she called a couple of boys by the title ‘boyfriend’. But her first real one was in college. They met accidentally, dated haphazardly and then she intentionally lost her virginity to him.
He had dark hair, a quick laugh and an accute way of thinking about things. She did not quite know why she was attracted to him, but she felt comfortable around him.
Young love is difficult. Changes happen so fast at that age and, within two years, they had drifted apart as the fighting grew worse. He was getting into different things than her and she was becoming more interested in her career in finance and her friends and clubs.
Years later, she would rarely speak about the first boy she slept with and, even then, it would only be in noting it as a fact with little elaboration. There would be no embellishing of this part of the story. The details were only for her and she held them dear inside her heart.
He had ended up only just scraping through school, but that left his college options rather limited. Besides his grandparents had both passed away and there was nothing left in their estate for him. Instead, he moved to the big city down by the coast and began working in a restaurant.
While waiting tables there, he met her. She was different to the rest. At first, he had thought she was hot, but then he got to know her and thought she was cool. And then they slept together for the first time–his first, not hers–and he no longer questioned why he liked her. He just did.
They would stay up long after their shifts had ended and split a bottle of cheap wine. She smoked cigarettes and he tried to, but they would laugh and cry and talk and fuck.
And then she changed her mind, and he was alone again.
It did not matter. He had shared something with someone. He had been honest. It had felt good. Although he would never really talk about this, it had given him hope that he could be close to others and his wall had begun to crack.
She dated a boy with blonde hair who surfed and then she saw one with dark hair who played in a band. She finished college, went to work in a bank and slept with another one she met at a club after a few cocktails and whisky sours. She could not remember his name, but he had the bluest eyes and was gone the next morning.
None of these stuck with her and, like small stones being flung into a large pond, they barely rippled her heart. Sometimes she would feel like crying or a sad scene in a movie would make her unexpectedly cry. She did not exactly know why, but she felt sad. She felt alone.
Her job was not bad and she lived comfortably in a good house in a nice neighbourhood.
She did not notice it, but she began to drift through life. She went to more clubs than restaurants, and she began to drink more whisky sours than cocktails.
He left the restaurant and started his own. He put a bar into it but still made good food. He managed to move into his own house and his banker kept telling him how well he was doing.
He felt proud. The darkness around his youth was a fragmented memory from another age. His confidence led him forward now. He could date and did so with a couple of women. They were all beautiful and he was amazed that they even looked at him, let alone spent time with him. He slept with some of them and some of them even stayed longer than that with him.
But nothing stuck. At first, this was not a problem. He had built a good life, his restro-bar–as he called it–was doing well, he lived well and he was happier than he had ever been. But, nothing stuck, and that began to bother him. There felt like there was a distance between him and everyone else.
The real tragedy, he sometimes chided himself, was that he had no one to share all these wonderful things with.
Just before close late one night, she wandered in. The diners at all tables had left, the kitchen was closed and only a couple patrons were sitting at the bar finishing their drinks when she walked into his restro-bar.
Late one night, alone and drunk, she had wandered into a new bar in another part of town. Some hours and drinks later, she had fallen into his bed. The next morning she had woken up and felt different. He had smiled at her, brought her coffee and spent the morning asking her about her life.
She had not told him about the first kiss or boyfriend, nor had she told him about her fancy job. Rather, she found herself telling him about her loneliness and how she would cry sometimes. He had cried with her then, telling her of the dirty darkness in his childhood and the distance he felt around his heart.
He had hugged her and told her that everything would be alright. She had hugged him and kissed him deeply. The rain had begun to fall softly outside and they had both fallen asleep in each other’s arms.
It was then she had known that this one was different. It was then that she knew that all the nicks, cuts and scars across her heart had found a match and they were meant to be together.
It was then that he had known that she was the one. For the first time in his life, he did not regret anything that had happened to him. It was all important; each and every experience. After all, it had all been the map graffitied on his grubby heart that had led him to her, and for that he was thankful.