- Art & Soul
I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to, but I was falling in love with him. Each second was filled with more love. I wasn’t sure if seventeen-year-old pregnant girls were allowed to fall in love with oxymoronic boys who made their hearts skip. My head kept telling me that it was wrong, that I shouldn’t be considering such an insane idea.
My head knew this was wrong. My head knew every reason why I should’ve never allowed myself to fall for Levi Myers. My head told me there were limits to love, boundaries. “You’re having a baby,” my brain told me daily. “You’re not allowed to date,” it ordered. “He’ll find someone better,” my brain scolded me.
But my heart…my heart believed in a quiet, simple kind of love. A kind of love that was created before time existed, a kind of love that was bigger than any limitations the world placed upon us. It was a type of love that had no age limits, no boundaries, and was seen only within the souls of two people. My heart didn’t give me much of a choice.
“Love openly,” my heart whispered. “Love unconditionally,” my heart begged. “Love the struggles,” my heart taught. “Love in the moment.”
It was something ugly and beautiful all at once, wasn’t it? How your heart didn’t give a damn what your head wanted.
We walked outside and it was snowing, large flakes of white covering the town. My feet were sore, but they weren’t too bad because Levi had forced me to sit down every few songs. He held the car door open for me and closed it. I wanted to tell him. I wanted to tell him how I was falling for him, how hard it was for me to concentrate on anything when he said my name, or played the violin, or smiled.
When he climbed into the car we sat there for a while, watching each snowflake fall.
“I had a very good time tonight,” I told him.
“What would happen if I kissed you?”
“If you kissed me?” My stare fell to his lips. I exhaled slowly. “Well, everything would change.” Things were already changing.
“Is that a bad thing?”
My voice shook, and I could feel the palms of my hands growing sweaty. I didn’t want to make eye contact, so I studied his floor mat. “I’ve only kissed one boy before. I’m not that experienced. I’m not a whore. I know everyone at school thinks I am, but I’ve only been with one person. I just wanted you to know that. I’m not a whore.”
“I never thought that.”
“Maybe you once did. Maybe the thought swam through your mind when we were in class, or when I missed school because of heartburn or when my stomach started to show. It’s understandable. I wouldn’t even be mad at you for thinking it. I’ve thought it too, actually.”
“I never thought that,” he said with confidence. He turned toward me and placed his hand behind my neck. He leaned in close. He slowed his breaths. Our lips were millimeters apart. I couldn’t stop staring at his mouth, and I think he was staring at mine, too. He ran his hand against my cheek and looked into my eyes. “Whoever made you doubt how amazing you are, whoever broke your heart…I’m going to hate them for a long time.”
“How is that okay?”
“Because I found someone who’s kind of putting it back together again.”
His lips inched closer to mine, and when they touched, I felt his hand wrap around my lower back. A feeling of warmth and protection ran through me as he pressed his lips against mine. I tilted my head to the left, deepening the kiss as I wrapped my arms around his neck. Then, as our lips were locked, I started to giggle against his mouth, feeling his fake pregnancy stomach bumping against my real pregnancy stomach. As I started to laugh, he did too, breaking into a chuckle. We didn’t move away from each other, though; our lips stayed together, connected.
When my eyes opened, he was staring at me with those same kind eyes that he always had. I slowly pulled my mouth away from his, but somehow it felt as if we were still kissing. I secretly hoped that feeling would never fade away.
“Art, you’re something special,” he said, his fingertips softly massaging my lower back. “And I’m so dang happy that I met you.” The Southern twang that hung off of the word ‘dang’ was so handsome.
It was the oddest first kiss I could think of, which made it the best.
As he put the car in drive, his cell phone rang, and I saw the name Lance flash across the screen. Levi was quick to answer. What started with a smile and a ‘Hey, what’s up?’ quickly changed to Levi’s face falling into a frown and his jaw tightening. “I’ll be right there.”
He hung up the phone and turned the key in the ignition. “I-I have to drop you off real quick.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked, touching his forearm.
“My dad’s in the hospital. I’m sorry, I, um…” He started stuttering, running his hands through his hair. “I-I do-don’t know where Mercy Hospital is? Lance said the ambulance took him there? If you could tell me or something after I drop you, that wou-would be great.”
His body was shaking, which made my body react in the same fashion. I shook my head back and forth. “It’s only a few minutes from here. I’ll go with you. Just take a right out of the parking lot.”
He nodded and whispered a thank you. I nodded back and said a prayer.
* * *
We arrived at the hospital, and Levi almost forgot to unbuckle his seatbelt as he rushed inside. I was right behind him. He was hectic, rushing to the receptionist, his fake pregnant belly still intact.