Cold and Bright | Teen Ink

Cold and Bright

January 29, 2017
By rosie848 GOLD, Niverville, New York
rosie848 GOLD, Niverville, New York
11 articles 7 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
Well, let it pass. April is over, April is over. There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.

Oliver’s waiting on the roof, bracing himself against the asphalt shingles, cloaked in rain and feeling the beating of the storm on every inch of his exposed skin. Orange light spills out the window onto the wet surface, flickering every so often. He can hear a faint voice from behind the glass – he can’t make out the words, they’re not for him.

He can’t bring himself to leave, even after such a long time. Every time he wants to move, he sees the curled pink lips and the flash of white teeth (with the left incisor crooked), and he can’t. It’s so dark all he can see is the moon burning bright and cold – like those white teeth.

He takes a deep, shuddering breath, and feels his soaked shirt clinging to his ribs and chest, stuck like a second skin. The orange light flickers again, changing the reflections in the raindrops. He watches the shadows shift until they’re a silhouette. There’s a rap on the glass. A muffled voice.


He turns his body so he’s facing the window - slow, so his feet won’t slip. He waves with a white, cold hand, and the window opens. Alex’s pink lips smile at him - tired and chapped.

“You’re here,” he says. Oliver nods. “I read your text but I didn’t think…”

“Yeah. You’re sick.” The rain is still pounding on his back.

“How do you -- I mean, I know, but – s***, come in, sorry,” Alex steps back from the open window, and Oliver doesn’t waste any time, slipping inside with a practiced grace. He lands softly on the carpet, pushing his drenched hair out of his face. Sometimes, Oliver reminds Alex of a cat – the way he moves feels fluid. Quiet. Gentle, but sharp. “You’re all wet.”

Oliver laughs, and Alex feels a twinge of something in his chest. “I know.” He closes the window. He’s dripping on the carpet. “So how are you?” His eyebrows are furrowed in concern. Alex thinks he looks so pale, almost white, standing there, dripping on the carpet. His black hair and inky eyes make it worse. His dark eyelashes are stuck together.

He looks so cold, Alex thinks. And so…cool. So still. With his black hair and his icy skin and the raindrops glittering in his eyelashes. He smiles like he knows something secret. It’s the smile that makes Alex’s heart beat too fast.

“I’m okay,” he says, and he hopes Oliver will take his word for it. “You need a towel, I think. And some clothes.” Alex smiles back, easily, and his hand hovers over Oliver’s shoulder. His fingers graze the wet fabric, and the sensation makes him shiver.

Oliver laughs again. “Yeah. I think so,” he pauses, running his eyes quickly over Alex, as if trying to gather up the pieces of a puzzle. “You don’t look ok.”

He’s sure that Oliver can see him shivering, even in his heavy sweatshirt. He’s sure he can see him burning up.

“I think you should go, Ollie,” Alex says, and Oliver puts his hands in his pockets. Alex can already feel those hands. His head hurts, and his stomach is rolling, and his heart is beating too fast again. “I’m not any fun. Like this. I-uh, I...”

“So you’ve got somebody here to take care of you, then?” he asks, already knowing the answer, and Alex can tell he’s not shaken.

“No, but I-“

“But nothing.” Oliver swings his bag off his shoulder in one smooth motion, setting it carefully on the floor. “You texted me this morning,” he says, and unzips the backpack, pulling out a dry set of clothes. He takes off his shirt.

Alex always forgets how many lines there are on someone’s body. He forgets until he sees Oliver. The curve of his collarbones. The small indent below his throat. The lines that frame his stomach, his chest. The shadows of his ribs. He can’t tear his eyes from them. Oliver’s skin still glitters with the drops of rain - Alex thinks he almost glows. He knows what it would be like to touch those lines. To run his fingers over the hills and valleys of Oliver’s body.

“Yeah,” Alex allows. Oliver smirks, pulling on his clean sweater. The tangled white is brighter than his skin – it dulls the glow. He looks dry now, but his eyelashes still gleam and his hair is still a mess of damp curls.

“You remember what you said, right?” he doesn’t give Alex a chance to answer. He keeps changing his clothes – he’s untying his green sneakers. “You said you really wanted to drive to Burger King. I asked why you couldn’t, you said you couldn’t tell me. Then, I asked what you ate for breakfast and you said you had a slice of bread. So, naturally, I came to this conclusion.” He peels off his socks.

“Which conclusion is that?” Alex asks, and Oliver gives him that knowing smile.

“You’re dying of the plague. As usual. And you didn’t want me to worry about you. As usual.” He unbuttons his wet jeans, preparing the pull them off his hips, and Alex feels the heat swell in his chest. “And your parents are out of town. As usual. Very simple.”

“’re gonna-?” He cuts himself off. Oliver stops.

“Yeah,” he says, like this should be common sense. And it should. But Alex is hearing these voices - they’re saying Oliver’s lines are a sin. His lips are flames. Oliver smirks. “You shy all of a sudden?” When Alex doesn’t reply, Oliver nods minutely, now straight faced. “Ok. That’s ok. Turn around,” he says, and Alex does. There’s a moment or two of quiet before Oliver breaks the tense silence. “Ok.” Alex turns back, and Oliver smiles with difficulty.

“First,” he says, moving a hand to cup Alex’s cheek, “Sit down. You look like you’re gonna die.”

Oliver moves, and Alex moves with him. It seems like he’s always in motion - flowing, floating. They’re perched on the edge of the bed, Oliver’s cold hands still in contact with his hot skin.
He leans against Oliver’s side before he can stop himself, curling his legs in toward his chest. Everything aches, everything hurts. Oliver’s arm wraps around his shoulders.

“How can you read my mind?” Alex asks, almost in a whisper. He can feel his heart beating in his ears.

“I know you better than…anybody,” Oliver stops for a moment, running a steady hand through Alex’s hair. His fingers are cold. “I know what you’re saying when you don’t speak.” He’s whispering too now.

“You must like me a lot, huh?”

Finally, Oliver kisses him, and he wants to cry. His mouth is so familiar, it feels so right pressed against his own. He feels the hot tears spill out and he presses his eyes shut. He pulls away. His whole body seems to jolt. It’s like when he’s falling asleep, and he imagines stepping off the edge of a cliff, and he feels real fear.

“You really should go. Really, really you should,” he chokes, but Oliver doesn’t move. The phone call plays back in Alex’s mind. The call he took before he opened up the window. Segments and clips and sound bites. His father’s words are innocuous but his voice is heavy and hard. Oliver’s cold fingers are leaving marks on his skin, he’s sure of it.

“We don’t have to do any of this. If you don’t want,” Oliver says, and his hands retreat. Now, his voice is unsteady. “I know sometimes you don’t-“

“I can’t. I can’t. I can’t do it. This...this isn’t right.” Even as he speaks he regrets the words.

“That’s ok,” Oliver whispers. He’s flickering. “I just want you to feel alright.” There’s no trace of the boy who smiled with a secret confidence. Now, there’s only soft desperation.

Alex nods, and feels the rage of the fever in his chest. That fever wants those cold hands. His heart still beats too fast.

“I still…I still think you should go,” he says, and his vision swims. Oliver nods.

“Ok, Al.” He stands, picking up his socks from where he’d lain them carefully on top of his bag. Alex curls back underneath the blankets, the throbbing in his head drowning out everything but the sound of Oliver opening up the window.

“Wait,” Alex says, and everything stops. “Just…wait until I fall asleep.” He knows if Oliver leaves now, he’ll be awake all night, restless. Burning. Hurting.

“Yeah. Of course,” Oliver says quietly, and closes out the wind and rain, sitting with his back against the wall as the lights turn out.

He waits, longer than he’s supposed to, long after Alex is gone, and before he can bring himself to leave he gives him one last kiss on his pink cheek. The hot skin scalds his lips, and he asks himself why he hurts like this.

On the roof, he sees the moon, bright and cold, and remembers.

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