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Third Times the Charm

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He’s lying on his back and feeling nothing. The sun bounds down onto the flat of the rooftop, reflects off the windows of surrounding buildings. It’s June. Or July. It doesn’t really matter. He’s breathing slowly, quietly, barely. The push of breath out of his lungs meets the air like a slow-motion collision.

Andrew turns his head and looks at him. Neil is where he always is when he can’t stand to be anywhere else, sitting next to Andrew with his legs crossed. Andrew sighs and looks away back into the blank blue sky. Maybe if he stares into the sun he’ll go blind. Maybe then he won’t have to face the decidedly less blank blue of Neils’ eyes.

It has been a very uncharacteristic day for Andrew. So far he's felt the urge to touch twice, for no particular reason. To touch just to touch. Once in the locker room before practice, once in the Maserati after practice. There was no convenient reason today.

Andrew blinks into the sun. Away from the sun. Back into the sun. Closes his eyes. There is a very particular bead of sweat tripping down his brow. Under his armbands is an itch where the heat is pushing in. Behind his eyes he can see Bees face, smiling at him after the first time he’d said Neil’s name since February. A frown tugs at his lips just the smallest bit. It might as well be a smile for all it puzzles him.

There’s a sigh next to him, to his left where nothing has moved for 20 or 30 or 40 minutes. What a pair they are , so full of breath to lose. Andrew can hear the rustle of denim, feel the movement of Neils’ body inching just a little closer to Andrew. If he wanted to, he could open his eyes and see the face Neil would no doubt be making: that accidental smile again. See his wrists crossed at his ankles.

It was his hands that had done it, invited that urge to touch. A hot June or July sun did not seem to mix well with mops of auburn hair, and Neil couldn’t seem to stop pulling it out of his face. No one was quite prepared for such a day. Neither was Andrew.

Andrew turns his head.

Some days Andrew felt entire emotions. Some days Andrew felt the entire world around him. Some days Andrew felt the entire heat of the sun blinding him. Some days, apparently, Andrew could want to touch just to touch. He supposed things really have changed in the time between February and June or July. Perhaps more accurately, between summer then and summer now. He wonders if that should scare him. The air is oppressive, like a weight, like arms.

A solitary word breaks the heat like a firework.

‘Andrew’

The sun still beats down onto the rooftop. The sky is so blue, but so empty it could almost be the dark. He opens his eyes, stares at Neil. There is nothing but blue blue blue. It’s so bright it might as well just blind him. There is nothing, for a moment. No movement, no words, no breath left to lose.

And there it is again.

If so much has changed between summer then and summer now, why doesn’t it scare him? Then again, to feel fear he’d have to get close to enough to fall. It really has been a rather uncharacteristic day for Andrew.

The sun is everywhere. Andrew is lying on his back and feeling the extension of his arm across the rooftop to his left. Feeling the skin of Neils’ fingertips. Feeling them close over his own. The sun is beating down on them both as Andrew lays on the rooftop feeling the ghost of a question, the rush of Neils’ smile brushing Andrews lips. Touching just to touch.

Maybe it's August.