So there you were, kissing, actually kissing, really kissing, the daughter of the New York World owner. Lips sealed on hers, cold palm opened mid-way in the air (that gap, that space between you and her. Her standing so close, so close to you, and yet out of reach to be touched, figuratively and literally. You couldn’t. You wouldn’t. You wanted to, yes. Been wanting to. But you wouldn’t.) Breaths stolen and head shut down. (Because what worked at this moment? When time’s stopped, your world’s paused, and her lips were on yours.
What was supposed to go on? What was to continue, unfold, proceed? Ticks of the clock you wouldn’t hear, and noises of the world seemed to vanished. Because it was you and her. You and her, on that balcony, kissing.
Time slowed to a stand still, and you’d yet be here, tasting her, wanting her. Feeling her.
You had your eyes open. She’d caught you by surprise. Her delicate hands (Contact. Sweet, sweet contact! Warm palms. Blood pooled up to your cheeks, and you prayed you hadn’t burned her. (Exaggeration, of course, but god knows.)) clasped on your cheeks (and that second, that small, indiscernible tick of time, had your heart hesitant, alerted. Alarmed. The act of it. What was happening—what was about to happen—was about…to happen? went that trainwreck of thoughts in your head.) and her lips pressed onto yours.
Soft. She tasted of tea and paper. Smelled even a bit of ink. (Writers. Huh.)
But the act. This explosion. This particular outburst. Her rushing into you. Grabbing you like this.
Jack Kelly was cocky. Jack Kelly was cool. Jack Kelly was one of the guys (One in the best pack of newsies in New York City, mind you.) Jack Kelly would never, ever let go of his heart, lose it, and find it filled, brimming, with feelings his mind struggled to describe in words… for a girl.
He wouldn’t stand there, eyes wide, rest of his body limp, mind numbed, and his lips busy trying to memorize the sensations, to map down the feel of hers.
He’d seize her up in his arms, kiss her full, and give her the night she wouldn’t forget.
It was Katherine Plumber—Pulitzer, goddamn it, Pulitzer. Oh, for fuck’s sake. Your luck, Jack, your rotten, no good luck to (admit it. Come on. Come on.) fall for someone like her—the girl who’d (not obviously. Not upfront. Not right out.) so gracefully pass over your advances (if anyone could do pick-up lines, eh? You’d had few successes with them in the past. Didn’t hurt to try.) in favor of her work (and a good line of work that was. She was helping you. She was helping the boys.)
It was Katherine Plumb—Pulitzer, the girl you’d called after to “write good,” the one who stayed behind to “interview” (because that was one hell of a short interview. More like a series of questions, and you weren’t one to take a straight road down.) you and fled from you without nothing more when business (hers, not yours. Yours with hers—“business”—wasn’t close to beginning at that point.) was done.
The one who had you cling to a pole and swing from it, with a resounding, disappointed “ahh,” from your lips, without you being able to reason why.
Okay. Yes. Because she’d left too soon, because you’d only started laying down your cards, taking the first steps in the game, and she’d fancied herself already won. Because she was detached, gone, away from you into the night, into her path, her world, and darkness proved a barrier for you to get to her.
Because. You weren’t sure exactly what. Couldn’t pinpoint a satisfying answer to it. Couldn’t, because this wasn’t you.
Jack Kelly, longing, sighing after some girl.
But there’s an audible sigh from your lips when she broke away. Your hand was just on her waist, nearly making itself at home there. (and what heaven was her body against yours. What bliss was being able to (well, almost) hold her at last?)
She’s looking up at you (you’d made her stay), and you’re making your big speech, wild hand gestures all over the place, unrolling the classic, "Girls like you don't go for guys like me.”
Dream big, yes. Dream far. Flirt. Shoot ‘em out, pick up lines. Wink at her, throw her looks. Raise your eyebrow. Perfect that smirk. Make slouching, leaning look cool. Touch up your cap, run a hand through that hair.
Anything, anything to push yourself forward, get yourself in the spotlight in her eyes (because that’s the only spotlight that mattered).
All that, done and done and repeated and on loop, until you’d found out she was an heiress.
(That, and the fact that she’d never acted like she’d been interested. Little Miss I’m-All-Business.)
So you had to say it. You had to be clear. You had to clear the air.
The space. The gap, whatever.
You’d gotten it all up in your head, and she’d been in situations with you too often to confuse that fact. That she’s not interested.
Then she snatched you up and kissed you whole.
(A girl could truly vex a boy.)
And you’re going out of your way, saying phrases unfamiliar to your ears, sentences strung together by your subconscious and your heart. You’re standing there, eyes fixed on her—her face, her hair, her lips, her hands—her, as a person, her as an other, her as that other, her as your other.
(Possibly. Maybe. Please…?)
Asking her to stop time, to catch hold of seconds and press the pause button on a clock. So the night could be yours, and hers. And you could both stay, and be.
Because looking at her was free-falling. Looking at her, really looking at her, taking her in and sketching that drawing you never quite seem to perfect in your mind’s eye of her, was interminable, timeless. A process that stretched on. Lengthened. An act that seized you, grasped you, and held you still.
And you’d forget.
In a universe, in a timeline where only you and her existed—a blank canvas, a black, empty, starless sky. No colors, no mess. In that universe was where you fell, and kept falling. Reached out for her, standing within your grasp, but couldn’t.
Because you hadn’t your answer. Because she was here, she was there, and you’d come close, and she’d let go.
You needed her to say you could hold on. That you could grab hold. Stop falling, start feeling. Actually admitting.
Losing it in your head, chasing after shadows and fooling yourself into believing the nonexistence of something your heart begged to differ.
You’d organized a strike. Had your say. Made your stand.
But where were you here? This space, this gap. Where were you supposed to be?
The clock ticked on, time played, and you kept falling.
This never-ending void, this bottomless pit.
Black hole with the center at your heart.
She’s saying them words now. She’s saying yes. She’s saying “Of course,” and “there is,” (and your mind was playing those two phases like a broken record. Of course there is. Of course there is. Of course. There is. Of course…there is.) and your heart leapt when you were shaking your head and trying to keep it together.
You’re kissing her this time, arms ready and hands firm at her waist, holding her. Eyes closed and mind lost.
She’s your something to believe in. She’s your center, your heart. Your point where time stopped, and noises ceased to exist.
You’re kissing her this time, tongues and lips and breaths cut short. Her in your arms and her in your life. Someone here with you, beside you, in your arms. Someone to believe in you, much as you believe in her.
You’re kissing her this time, and just like that, your world was still.
Falling's stopped, and your heart had found hers to hold onto.