The Boy, having been waiting for her on the bench just outside of her building and having just watched her walk out, was lost in the labyrinth of wonder bestowed upon her. She, on the other hand, was ready to go. She stepped outside of her dorm building where fierce winds awaited her. The first flower of spring, the first grassy lawn of summer, the first tree of changed leaves in autumn; she was all of the above stepping outside into the faded November sky. With blood as red lips with lipstick painted on them and round orange glasses gently placed over her glossy hazel eyes she was a kaleidoscope of beauty and of color. Red boots overlapped her black leggings, and a black coat overlapped the reds and blacks of her striped shirt. A baggy black and orange knit beanie rested on her reddish hair that fell straight down past her shoulders.
“Hey,” she said softly, with an awkward wave that didn’t raise up past her hip. He didn’t answer right away.
Hey,” he managed to sneak out, followed by, “Are you ready?” He asked more rhetorically, for which of course she responded ‘yes’. He knew she was all set; he was nervous. He had picked her up there a dozen times before at least, yet each time he still felt the migration of fluttering monarch butterflies inside of himself when he would see her walking out of the door. As is anyone she was flawed yet to him she was flawless; her subtle blemishes, her ripped jeans, the small piece of fabric from her scarf that got tangled into her hair. To him, these imperfections made her perfect. This time was no exception to his relentless yet unnecessary nervousness, and as they walked she spoke softly, telling him a story of her day. A boy who lives in her building with whom she had never spoken, who she saw everywhere, was sitting alone right near her while she ate her lunch on a concrete bench. Was the boy’s name Eggbert? He had already forgotten, but knew it was something strange like that. He was listening as best as he could as he was simultaneously building up the courage to hold her soft tiny hand. He finally did, and she immediately interlocked fingers with him. What was it he was so afraid of?
“Come on you dork, you go first!” Reluctantly she agreed to go ice skating with him, for she was more of a roller skater than an ice skater. The Boy had spent so much time with her, but had hardly taken her on many real dates as that wasn’t really her forte. She agreed, nonetheless, to go on a date ice skating with him at the rink placed annually at Philadelphia’s City Hall. They rode into town on the subway, rented two pairs of skates, and headed for the open ice. Two parallel white lines slightly curved left on the ice, leading up to the back of Hanna’s skates. The Boy held the wall for balance, his gloved-hands a magnet to the surface of the wall, as he slowly made his way over to where Hanna had glided. He grabbed her hand, this time with more ease, as she was reaching for his anyways.
“Oh my gosh, you can let go of the wall, you’re fine,” she said as her soothing, soft, nasally voice squeaked, coated with undertones of laughter behind it.
“I’m a wall-grabber though, you know that. I need an adult! Please don’t let me fall,” The Boy spoke with a worrisome excitement in his voice; Hanna noticed, and laughed.
“I won’t let you fall you goofball. Come on.” She took his hand and together they coasted. She almost fell once, causing him to fall in an effort to keep her up. She wasn’t great at ice skating, and neither was he; they were just having fun. Otherwise, his feet were planted firmly on the ice but his head was held up in the heights of Cloud Nine, his mind and heart confidently skating to a haven of bliss hand in hand. The Boy wore a light smile as his mind and heart skated away, breathing in the cold air through the small opening between his slightly chapped lips. He looked over at Hanna and stared into her big eyes as she stared up and around at City Hall and the skyline of the city. The funny thing was that he was sure he saw more in her eyes than she saw in the entirety of the city. Her round cheeks were made rosy by the relentless wind, which stood out against her pale skin, and as much as he relished the moment he suggested they leave soon as he could tell how cold she was. And she was, but she didn’t mind being cold if it meant having adventurous fun. That’s one of the things he loved most about her, her easy going sense of adventure. They skated and soared across the ice until their sore feet wanted to skate home, back to The Boy’s apartment where they usually hung-out as opposed to her dorm room.
As they stepped into his apartment they instantly felt much warmer. He held her hand the whole way back from the train. It wasn’t a big deal and he knew that, yet regardless it filled him with excitations. He flicked on the light switch and turned to Hanna, who stood in his doorway waiting for the official invite in, though she had been there several times prior. The Boy turned to her and smiled, and placed his hands gently on the sides of her cold face and kissed her.
“Come in and sit down, beautiful. You know you can make yourself at home here by now! You’re freezing, get under the blankets. Do you want some tea?”
“No, I mean, only if you’re making some for yourself.”
“I am; I’m cold too.”
“Ok, then yes please. I’ll be here, drawing.”
“Haha ok, I’ll be right back with your tea.” The Boy came back in the room with a lavender flavored tea, and handed a cup to Hanna who was sitting up on his bed wrapped in a blanket with her head down in her drawing pad.
“I hope you don’t mind that I put on some music,” Hanna said.
“Of course I don’t mind. I don’t know a ton of your music but it’s always really good. Is the tea alright?”
“Oh it’s fine, I don’t know why you always think it won’t be fine, weirdo, it’s just tea. I’m gonna set it down on the table for now though, I don’t want to spill it on my drawings.”
“Oh yeah I didn’t even think of that, good idea.” The Boy took her cup and put in on the table next to his. They were both warmer, and the blushing in Hanna’s cheeks from the cold had faded away. A white and faded blue striped comforter draped over both of their laps. The Boy sat and sipped his tea, watching Hanna so passionately draw on her Bristol board paper. She put down the pencil to crack her knuckles. She caught The Boy looking at her several times, asking him ‘What?’ each time, to which he responded ‘Nothing’, while wielding a guilty smile. He meant it. Nothing was funny and he had nothing to say; he was just happy. He had had a gut feeling since the day he met her, that he was going to keep her around for a while, as long as he could, perhaps, and that she was special in a real way and not some falsified way led to by newness and infatuation. Her antics and mannerisms, her speech patterns and voice, and just about everything she did mesmerized him the likes of which he had never known. I think I love her, he thought to himself.
“Oh this is my favorite, I love this song!” She had put a YouTube playlist on the TV, and the videos played one after the other. “Trouble” by Cat Stevens had begun to play, and Hanna began to sway her head gently to the sound of the song. People move a little bit differently to the sound of their favorite songs. It was the way she nodded her head to “Trouble” and the following Cat Stevens songs that The Boy could tell how much she loved Cat Stevens, and how he could tell how much he loved Hanna. He didn’t tell her that he loved her right away or for a few more weeks, until their relationship was official and more developed, and until he thought she was ready to hear it, but it was in those moments that he first knew. He had only known her a few months since this was her first semester in college and coincidentally his last, but his gut gave him clarity of the feelings he so quickly developed for her. He didn’t tell her about how much he loved how she closed her eyes and titled her head down and nodded and swayed her head to Cat Stevens’ music, he kept that to himself so he could relish in the moments when that were the case. He waited until she opened her glossy hazel eyes when the song ended, and with the migration of the monarchs he held her hands and kissed her blood red lips and then finally said, “I love you.” He felt a cavalcade of serotonin marching through his veins when she echoed the phrase back to him.