It was cold out on the football field.
I didn’t think about how cold it was at the time. I didn’t brace myself against it. I didn’t pull my jacket close to me or rub my arms or try to warm myself up. I didn’t hold anything close, because that was wrong. Or maybe I just didn’t register that I was cold at the time and I’m being a drama queen now because it’s easy to find metaphors and symbolism and every other goddamn literary device imaginable when you’re looking at the past. The past is a novel, which I guess makes the present Twitter or something. But, back to the weather.
In one respect, it wasn’t the worst kind of cold. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the late-December freeze, piercing my skin and chapping my lips and drawing tears from the corners of my eyes with the slightest breeze. It wasn’t the first chill, the first time in months that the prospect of wearing only short sleeves and flip-flops seems unreasonable, sending a weird shiver into the air that you feel for days on end. It had been relatively warm, if not sunny, all day, and now it was just cold enough and my clothes were just light enough that the only thing that would warm me back up was going inside or another body pressed against mine. And that was pretty shitty timing.
I shut my eyes and let my fingers spread out on the grass, which was also cold or wet or something. Either way, it was seeping into me. Into my skin and my hair and my mind, the cold that wouldn’t go away. It had been cold for months and months then. I didn’t remember much besides freezing after everything that had happened. Unless you count the snow, and that was only because I fell in it. It was cold, and it was dark, but the soft lights from inside the school and the floodlights from the parking lot shone just bright enough to blot out the stars. The school was full of people I knew and people who cared about me, people who would notice my absence and come looking for me once they realized that I had turned off my phone and run away twenty minutes after paying five dollars in quarters to get in. I should have gone back in. I should have never left in the first place. But the one person sitting at our table who would never care again had driven me away, and hell if I was coming back. I was going to lie down in the middle of that field on the grass, under the stars that I couldn’t see, in the cold that I couldn’t feel. And I was going to stay.
They found me after a little while and helped me up, looking like dark shadows with bright bulbs at their backs. They took me to the park as a sort of botched apology and let me take the blanket out of his car and wrap it around my shoulders.
I sat on the slide and looked up at the star-scarred sky until they found me again and took me home.