**This story was written at the suggestion of one of my readers, thethoughtfairy. Hope this meets your expectations.**
I stared into his eyes, mine wide with surprise, and couldn’t believe what had just happened. Matthew Thompson had kissed me, right there in the middle of the day, in the middle of the park, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do.
"I think I’m too stunned to talk."
"I don’t know if that’s good or bad."
I barely knew Matthew. He was three years older and ran with the smart and popular crowd. He’d been class president since grade school - or so I assumed since he’d only come to our school two years earlier - and was heading off to Harvard in the fall. I was heading into my sophomore year and didn’t run with any particular crowd. I mostly stayed to myself though I had a few friends that were a lot like me.
I’d been sitting under a tree reading, completely distracted by my book and the music playing through my ear buds, when the Frisbee he was trying to catch veered in my direction. I ducked in time not to get hit but he tripped over my feet and nearly fell to the ground.
"Are you okay?"
I nodded as he pushed himself up. “Are you?”
"Yeah. I think so. It’s Sidney, right?"
"How’s your summer so far?"
"Um, it’s fine."
"And how’s mine?" He grinned as he teased.
"Right. How’s yours?"
"Seems to be better now." It seemed like he was flirting though I couldn’t be sure since no one had ever actually flirted with me. I’d only read about it in books and seen it in movies and who knew if any of that was real. "So what are you reading?" He moved and sat next to me then reached for my book. "Scarlet Letter? Seems a little dark for summer."
"Just trying to get a jump on reading for fall."
"Ah, a go-getter. Is that all you plan on doing this summer? Reading for school?"
"I don’t know, maybe." I felt my cheeks get warm as he smiled at me.
"I think you should have some fun."
"Well I know you’re okay, but you can’t just read all summer. I declare that you should have fun!" He jumped up then reached down and pulled me up so that I was standing in front of him. "Starting now." That’s when he kissed me.
"Well it was better than the Scarlet Letter, right?" He smiled and winked and I couldn’t help the smile that came across my face. "I’m taking that as a yes."
"Matt, what’s taking so lo…oh, Sid, hi."
Jason Green, a boy I’d known since grade school and the boy who’d given me my first kiss. I was in sixth grade and he was in ninth and it meant nothing but still, he was the first. We’d lived next door to each other as long as I could remember but he’d moved two years earlier, weirdly around the same time that Matthew got into town, and we didn’t really see each other much even though we were in the same high school. He’d kissed me on a dare from his friends and I’d never really thought much about it until that moment and then I wondered if Matthew had kissed me on a dare in much the same way.
"Still reading all summer I see."
"How do you guys know each other?" Matthew seemed surprised.
"I lived next door to her for years. Hey, how’s Steven?"
Steven was my older brother, older by ten years, and he’d already gone to college and grad school and was getting married at Christmas.
"He’s good. Engaged."
"Yeah, I think I heard that. Well, tell him I said hi." I nodded. "Matt, come on, the guys are waiting."
"You go on without me. I think I might just stay here." He looked back at me then smiled as he rubbed his thumbs along my hands. I’d sort of forgotten he was holding them and looked into his eyes and smiled again then snapped back to reality but didn’t know what to say.
"You sure?" He turned and looked at Jason then nodded then turned back to me.
"I mean if that’s okay with you."
"I, um, okay I guess."
"All right. Good to see you, Sidney." I nodded. "See ya, man."
"Yeah, see ya."
Matthew looked back at me as Jason ran off and I didn’t know what to think about any of it. First he’d flirted, then he’d kissed me and now he was blowing off his friends? I really didn’t understand what was going on so, I asked.
"Matthew, what’s going on?"
"What do you mean?"
"This, all of this, what is it? Some kind of joke? Some sort of dare your friends gave you?"
"What? No, I…can we sit?" I nodded and we sat back down only this time he leaned against the tree and I sat in front of him with my legs crossed. For a few moments he played with a blade of grass he’d plucked and I just sat and watched him. "I honestly don’t know what happened but when I tripped and saw you, and I know this is going to sound like a line, but there was just something in your eyes, something that drew me in."
"You’re right. It sounds like a line."
"But I promise you it isn’t."
"Still sounds like one." I plucked my own blade of grass then smiled at him while I wrapped it around my finger.
"Right." He laughed and picked up my iPod. "What kind of music do you like?"
"Probably nothing you’d like."
"Well let’s see." He started scrolling through and I couldn’t imagine what he was thinking. My tastes were all over the place from 80s pop to boy bands to indy artists to American Idol winners. There was punk and r & b and even some hip-hop. And yes, even a little country. "What are you doing tonight?"
"Do you have plans?"
"Plans to read, yes."
"No. Plans for fun!"
"Reading is fun."
"You know what I mean. Come on, do you want to do something with me tonight?"
I knew my parents would be thrilled to learn I was doing something social and wouldn’t even question whom it was with. They were forever trying to send me to a dance or a coffee shop and every now and then I went to a movie with friends but mostly I stayed to myself. He was genuinely excited about whatever idea he had and I was too intrigued to say no.
"Awesome! Now hang on just a second while I make a quick call."
I watched him as he pulled his phone out and called someone, I wasn’t sure who, but I figured he knew a lot of people and could probably get whatever he wanted at the blink of an eye.
"Hey, it’s me. Can you still get me in tonight? Sweet. Yeah. Two of us. Cool. Thanks, man. I owe you." He put his phone back in his pocket and grinned. "All set."
"I’m a little scared of you right now." He laughed and while I wasn’t scared as in I thought he was going to hurt me I was scared at how easily he’d drawn me in. I didn’t date; I barely had crushes so I couldn’t figure out why it felt so good to be there with him. I’d never thought about him like that. I’d never really thought much about him at all. Sure, I knew he was cute and certainly I knew he was smart, which in my mind always made someone more attractive, but I’d never sat back in my chair and daydreamed about him.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Well honestly, I’m just trying to figure all of this out. I’m not exactly the type of girl you date, or really the type that anyone dates, and I’m just wondering when I’m either going to wake up or when the other shoe is going to drop."
"First of all, what does that even mean, not the type that anyone dates? You’re a girl, aren’t you? And a pretty one at that. And smart." I felt my cheeks getting warmer and looked down at the grass. "And sometimes you just need to go with the flow and not analyze everything to death." I looked up and his smile was really very sweet.
"You’re very surprising."
"I don’t know I just…I mean you’re you, and I’m, well I’m nobody, and I don’t mean that in a negative way, I just mean that…how do you even know who I am?"
"We’ve been in the same school for two years, Sidney. And okay, we don’t really know each other that well…"
"Or at all," I interrupted.
"But that doesn’t mean I didn’t always know you were there, reading in the corners, hoping no one saw. I should have reached out a long time ago but maybe the timing just wasn’t right."
"You saw me?"
"Of course I saw you. You’re not invisible, even though you try so hard to be." He knew me better than I knew myself at times. It was eerie. "See? I know you." He pushed himself up then held a hand out to me. "Now come on, let’s go get some dinner then go have our fun."
"What exactly is this fun thing you have planned?" I took his hand as I stood up and felt a surprising rush of energy.
"That, my dear, is a surprise." He pulled me into his arms and actually started to dance with me in the park, humming as he pulled me close, and it was one of the nicest moments I’d ever had.
He walked with me to my house and was as charming as any human could be when I introduced him to my parents. He waited with them in the living room while I changed clothes and tried to mentally prepare for the evening. After checking my hair in the mirror and wondering what I’d become, I rejoined him in the living room.
"Have fun tonight."
"Okay. Goodnight, Mom. Dad." I hugged and kissed them both then stepped toward Matthew.
"Goodnight, Mr. and Mrs. Donahue. Thanks for loaning me your daughter tonight. Oh, is there a certain time she needs to be home?"
"Let’s go." I pulled at his shirt as my mom told him they trusted me and that I’d never needed a curfew.
"No curfew, huh?" He teased me as we walked back to the park to get his car. "See? You haven’t been having nearly enough fun."
He laughed and put his arm around me and it felt good, comfortable, right. Without thinking I slipped my arm around his waist and he looked at me and smiled then placed a kiss on my forehead.
He drove us first to his house where I met his parents and waited with them in his living room while he changed. It wasn’t as awkward as I expected and they seemed genuinely excited to meet me.
"Matthew hasn’t brought a girl home in a long time. Are you in school together?" His mom was so sweet I almost hugged her.
"Yes. I mean we were. I mean I’m still in school but you know, he graduated. Duh, of course you know." I felt ridiculous. "Yes. We know each other from school."
"Okay, we gotta run." Matthew emerged from his room and looked even better than he usually did. "You guys need anything before I go?"
"We’re fine, sweetheart. You just have fun."
"Thanks." He leaned in and kissed him mom. "See ya." He kissed his dad too and it was extremely sweet.
"It was really nice to meet both of you."
"Likewise, my dear. Have fun!"
I nodded and turned as Matthew took my hand.
"Your parents are great," I said as he pulled out of his driveway.
"Yeah, they’re pretty cool. Now, you ready for a night of fun?"
"I think I am. Thank you."
He smiled and reached for my hand and I squeezed it as I smiled back. I barely remember dinner though I’m pretty sure it was nice and I’m fairly certain we talked a lot and got to know each other better but it’s all a blur since what happened after dinner completely blew my mind.
He parked behind a warehouse where a number of other cars were parked and I wasn’t sure what was going on. I’d never been to the warehouse though I’d driven by hundreds of times. I thought it was abandoned but as we walked in I could see that was far from the truth. It was a club though it appeared to be one of those where you had to know secret handshakes and passwords and have a lot of money.
"Hey, man." Matthew did that guy hug thing with the bouncer at the door then thanked him - I could only assume he was the one he’d called earlier in the day - and a few seconds later we were inside.
There was a bar on the left and another on the right and a stage at the end where instruments were set up but covered by cloths. He led us to the front, did the guy hug thing with someone else, slipped him some money and instantly we were standing in the middle of the stage right up front.
"Who are you?"
He threw his head back and laughed then wrapped his arms around me. “Are you having fun?”
"I think so but I’m still wondering who you are and how you made all of this happen so quickly."
"What can I say? I know a guy."
"Of course you do."
"You want something to drink?"
I shook my head. “I’m okay.”
"You’re much more than okay, Sidney." He leaned in and kissed me and I practically melted in his arms.
I didn’t even notice the people filling in around us and continued to kiss him for longer than I should have in public. We stopped when the lights went out and I could only see flashlights as people moved onto the stage. But when I heard the first chords I knew immediately who had taken the stage.
"Holy crap!" Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice started to ring out and I turned and yelled at Matthew. "It’s freaking Green Day!"
Matthew laughed and I gave him a quick kiss then turned back to watch a performance I never imagined I’d be seeing. I knew that the band showed up in small clubs every now and then but never expected to witness one myself. I never actually expected to see them in an advertised concert.
For three solid hours we danced and jumped around and had the absolute best time of our lives. Well, I had the best time of my life and could only imagine that Matthew did too because I honestly couldn’t imagine anything better. But then it did get better because the band came out and hung out with everyone, taking photos, signing and just being cool. I was pretty sure I could have died right then without a single regret.
When the night finally wound down, somewhere around 3 in the morning, I was still on the highest high and felt giddy as we walked to the car.
"I don’t have a clue how you pulled this off but I will never be able to thank you enough for tonight. Ever."
"I’m glad you had fun."
"Fun? This was so much more than fun. I had the best time ever! Where have you been all my life, Matthew Thompson?"
"Come on, let’s go talk somewhere."
He was very serious all of the sudden and it was really bizarre since we’d been having a great time inside.
"Is everything okay?" I slid into the car and he took a deep breath then closed my door and walked around to the driver’s side. "Hey, what is it?" I reached for his hand and realized he was trembling. "Matthew?"
"I just hate goodbyes and have never been very good at them."
"Goodbye? What are you talking about?"
"This is my last night here."
"Oh. I just assumed you wouldn’t go to Harvard until the fall."
"No. I’m not going to Harvard. This is my last night on earth."
"Stop kidding around."
"I’m not kidding but I doubt you’ll believe me when I tell you the truth."
"I’m going to drive us back to your house first because once I tell you you’re going to want to run away." He started to turn the key but I pulled at his arm and stopped him.
"You’re freaking me out, Matthew. Just tell me."
"Did you ever see that show 3rd Rock from the Sun? It was an old TV show." I shook my head. "What about Men in Black? You know, those Will Smith movies?"
"Are you trying to tell me you work for some sort of secret government alien intelligence agencies?"
"Not exactly." I pulled my hand away and took a deep breath.
"Then what, exactly?"
"I’m not from here, Sidney. And I have to go home. I only got two years and it’s over when the sun rises in a few hours."
"And you just thought, hey, this’ll be fun. Let me make this earthling fall in love with me for the night and just leave her here when I go back to my planet."
"No, it wasn’t like that at all. Did you say love?"
"I don’t know what I said but I think your first instinct was right. You should drive me home."
I didn’t believe him, not even for a second, and I wanted nothing more than to get home and try to forget I’d let myself get swept away. It was the most elaborate prank anyone had ever pulled, and I still wasn’t sure how he’d fixed the Green Day thing but that was the only part I was going to choose to remember.
"I really am sorry, Sidney. I hadn’t planned on you to invade my last day on earth."
"Uh huh. Just save it, Matthew. If you didn’t have fun tonight and don’t want to see me again, just say so. This story is all just a bit much, don’t you think?"
"I told you you wouldn’t believe me."
"You’re right, I don’t believe you, but points for being creative. And thanks for Green Day I guess because that was still amazing." He nodded and I opened the door.
"Wait." He reached for my hand and I felt even more energy than I’d felt earlier. "I can prove it."
"I’m sure you can but I’m not interested." I pulled my hand away and got out of the car. "Goodbye, Matthew. Or whatever your actual name is."
I’d never cried as much as I did that night. I couldn’t believe someone could be so cruel and I couldn’t believe how easily I’d fallen for it. Right then and there I told myself that I’d never fall again, that I didn’t need anyone else, that I was the only one I could trust.
I woke up to the doorbell ringing the next morning and I guessed my parents must not be home when it continued to ring. I could only imagine it was Matthew but when I opened the door I saw a different face.
"Can I come in?"
He looked strange, almost sullen, and after I closed the door I followed him into the living room.
"Are you okay, Sid?"
"Why, do I not look okay?"
I stepped in front of the mirror on the wall and realized that no, I did not look okay. My eyes were puffy, there were sheet marks on my face and my hair was sticking out all over the place. Also I wasn’t wearing any pants, just a t-shirt that wasn’t quite long enough to cover everything it needed to. I didn’t even feel embarrassed but I excused myself to change just the same.
I went back into my room and brushed through my hair then pulled on shorts, a bra and a clean t-shirt. There wasn’t much I could do about my eyes.
"Better?" I sat down on the couch and pulled a pillow in front of my body and hugged it as I looked at him.
"He told you didn’t he?"
"Told me what?"
"As soon as I saw you in the park I knew he would."
"What are you saying Jason? What do you know?"
Over the next hour he told me a story about Matthew. He was from a planet called Kell and he was actually the prince. Jason’s mom was also from Kell but when she’d come to earth on her two-year sojourn, a rite of passage for all teenage Kellians, she fell in love with Jason’s dad and ended up pregnant. They were banished from the planet and had been living on earth ever since. However, she was the cousin of the queen and when Matthew was ready to make his sojourn the royal family reached out and asked them to keep an eye on him. That’s why they moved to the other side of town and it all sounded ridiculous but he didn’t once break character and made it seem very real. As it turned out, Matthew lived across the street from Jason and the parents I’d met, according to Jason, were just guardians in the employ of the kingdom.
"And so it was his time to go back, especially as his father is not doing well and he may have to take the throne early. I’m sorry if he hurt you. That was never part of the plan."
"I don’t know what sort of game the two of you are playing but I think you need to go."
"I swear it’s not a game but I know it’s practically impossible to believe."
"Practically? It’s insane, Jason. And I don’t know why either one of you are so hell-bent on hurting me but I really need you to go. And I don’t need you to talk to me ever again."
He nodded and pushed himself up from the couch then walked to the door. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
He left and I sat on the couch and wondered what I’d done to deserve their cruel joke, which was anything but funny. After wallowing a little longer I got in my car and drove to Matthew’s house but when I got there I could tell it was empty. There wasn’t a single thing in it that had been there the night before and I really wondered if maybe I was on the wrong street. But I knew I wasn’t. I sat down on the porch and put my head in my hands and hoped I’d wake up from whatever nightmare I’d fallen into.
"I’m losing my mind."
"I promise that you’re not." I looked up to see Jason and actually welcomed his friendly face. He sat down next to me and gently rubbed my back with his hand.
"I need to wake up now. This dream isn’t any fun."
I broke down in tears and he pulled me into his arms and held on tight as I cried. “How could he let me fall in love with him? How could he be so cruel?”
"I don’t think he planned anything. I think you were just too irresistible."
I looked up and laughed through my tears then fell back into his chest as I cried harder. I didn’t know what to believe but I decided to let Jason be a friend and stayed there on the porch with him for another hour or so.
"If it makes you feel any better after five days you will actually forget you ever knew him. It’s part of the deal."
"I know, it sounds just as made-up as everything else but when a Kellian leaves earth after his or her sojourn all the people they’ve come in contact with over their two years will forget they ever knew them. It’s just how it works."
"That’s insane. How could I ever forget someone who broke my heart so badly? Who took me to a secret Green Day show? Who kissed me like I’d never been kissed? No offense."
"None taken." He smiled and pushed my hair behind my ears. "I promise. Five days."
"Fine. I’ll pretend I believe you but only because I have to get home and do, I don’t know, something."
"You can call me anytime, Sidney, okay? Even if it’s just to yell at me or cry or anything."
"Got it." We both stood from the porch and I leaned in and hugged him. "Thanks, Jason."
The next five days were the most excruciating of my life. I could think of nothing but Matthew and my heart hurt a little more each time I did. I’d fallen in love with him so quickly and couldn’t imagine what I was going to do without him. All I kept focusing on was Jason’s ridiculous five-day mantra and hoped beyond hope that at least that part of his story was true. But when I woke up on the sixth day I still remembered. And I still remembered on the seventh and eighth days. And when it had been two weeks and it still hurt and I still remembered I drove to Jason’s and rang his doorbell over and over until he answered.
"It’s been two weeks, Jason, and I still remember everything. So your little game? Your story? Please just stop. He broke my heart and you helped him do it. Please don’t ever speak to me again."
"Are you telling me you remember Matthew and everything that happened?"
"Are you even listening? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m telling you."
A few moments later his mom appeared and he told her what I’d just said. It was clear she knew everything else already.
"You better come inside, Sidney dear."
"Thank you, but I really have to go. I just, well, I think we’re done here."
"Please, sweetheart. There are things you need to know, about Kell and Matthew and why you haven’t forgotten anything."
"Oh my god, your mom is in on this too? What is wrong with you people?"
"Jason, let me talk to Sidney for a minute."
He nodded and walked away and I stood in front of his mom and didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t imagine that she would agree to be part of such an elaborate prank, especially since she’d always been so nice when she lived next door, but it was too weird, all of it.
"I want you to have something," she said and reached into a drawer in the hall table. "I knew I’d need this someday and that day appears to be now." It was a black cord necklace and the stone that hung from it was blueish gray and seemed to be glowing. "I promise this will help; just keep it on and all the hurt you’re feeling will go away. But if you take it off, it will all come back. After a year, if you’ve kept it on as I’ve directed, then you’ll forget for good."
"You’re all nuts." I whispered as she slipped the necklace around my neck and hooked it and for a few seconds I felt nothing and then I started to sway and actually passed out.
When my eyes were closed I saw every moment of the last two years pass by, from the moment I first heard Matthew’s name to the moment we said goodbye. Then I saw other moments, when it was just Matthew, and he was talking to his parents about me, but not the parents I’d met, parents that were dressed in purple and wearing crowns. He said he loved me and that he’d never expected to fall so quickly but it had happened. He said he wanted to go back or wanted me to come up and he didn’t care that it wasn’t looked highly upon, that love was love and that he was going whether they supported him or not.
I woke up in a bed I didn’t recognize but saw Jason sitting in a chair in the corner and just assumed I was still in his house. I pushed myself up and he put down the book he was reading and jumped up.
"Hey, how are you? Are you okay?" He sat down and put his hand on mine and it was really quite sweet.
"I don’t know. I think I should just go home. What time is it anyway?"
"It’s almost midnight."
"What?!" I’d arrived at the house before noon and couldn’t believe I’d been asleep for almost 12 hours.
"Don’t worry. My mom called your mom and told her you were here. She didn’t tell her you passed out because honestly, that’s just from the stone and explaining that…"
"Right." I didn’t know what I believed anymore. The dream had just strengthened the feelings I had for Matthew and made me even more confused.
"Look, I know you don’t believe any of this and I can’t tell you anymore than you already know but we’ve known each other a long time, Sid, and I’ve never lied to you."
"I know but come on, Jason. You have to see where I’m coming from here."
"I do, I really do." He hugged me and it felt nice to have a friend.
"I should get home."
"You could always stay. I’m sure my mom already told your mom that you fell asleep watching a movie or something."
"A movie actually sounds nice. And maybe some popcorn?"
"You got it."
"Thanks, Jason. You really are a good guy." I kissed his cheek and he smiled then squeezed my hand.
I followed him to the kitchen and melted some butter while he popped the corn then we headed to the den and agreed to watch War Games. It seemed like it would be the least likely to make me cry and I hadn’t seen it in years. I fell asleep before the computer even asked if we wanted to play a game and dreamed about Matthew again.
This time I saw things that happened before he moved to town, things that were happening on this supposed planet he was from, and his life seemed very sad. Everything was dictated for him and he never got to make any of his own decisions. When I woke up it was morning and I was tucked into the couch with a blanket over me. No one else seemed to be awake so I wrote a quick note and thanked Jason and his mom for everything then slipped out before I had to have any more conversation with anyone.
When I got home Matthew was sitting on my porch and I got out of my car slowly then walked toward him. I pinched myself a couple of times to make sure I was actually awake and he stood as I reached him. It looked like he’d been awake for days. His eyes were red and puffy and his appearance was very disheveled.
"What are you doing here?"
"I had to see you. I feel so bad about what happened."
"Sidney." He took my hands and the energy surged between us. His lips touched mine and I closed my eyes as he pulled me in then pushed him away a moment later.
"I can’t do this. You need to go."
"You have to come with me. No one’s ever seen anything like this, a person who doesn’t forget after five days and who can touch me so deeply even while wearing the stone. The connection we have…it’s like nothing anyone’s ever seen and they, my parents, and the elders, they…they sent me back to get you."
"Matthew. Don’t you think this little game has gone on long enough?"
"I promise you, Sidney. It’s not a game."
He reached for my hand then tossed something that looked like a coin toward the yard. A second later a cloud appeared with an opening like a tunnel. My eyes got wide and he looked back and smiled.
He squeezed my hand then brought it to his lips and kissed my fingers. “I would never lie to you, Sidney.”
"I’m sorry, I just…"
"I love you, Sidney. More than I ever knew I could love someone. And this connection…"
"Your highness?" We both turned to see a man standing in the opening. "The portal has been open for so long. Is there a problem?"
"Sidney?" He turned to me and I shook my head.
"I love you, too."
© Carrie M. Medders