Every time I left Milo home alone at night, I felt terrible. Sure, he was fifteen, and we’d spent most of our lives alone, but it still never felt right to me.
He didn’t really want me to go because he didn’t know what I was up to, but he assured me that he’d be fine playing World of Warcraft on the computer and he’d barely even notice I was gone.
Jack arrived promptly at six-thirty, washing away any feelings of guilt or trepidation. As soon as I saw him, I just felt at ease and vaguely contented.
“Hey,” Jack smiled broadly when I hopped into his car.
“Thanks,” I said. “For all this.”
“All what?” Jack looked confused as we pulled away from my building, speeding towards First Ave.
“The ride, the tickets, saving my life,” I elaborated.
“Oh, that,” he laughed. “It’s really not a problem. Trust me.”
“Just because it wasn’t a problem for you doesn’t me that I’m not grateful,” I pointed out.
“Fair enough,” he allowed. “Well, you’re welcome then.”
Parking downtown should’ve been impossible, but he managed to find a spot half a block away. It was obvious that he could walk much faster than I could, but he kept his pace to match mine, making me feel guilty for holding him up.
It was almost seven when we reached the door, and I knew part of the problem was because I slowed us down. I started to apologize, but he wouldn’t hear of it.
By the time I saw all the kids inside, I had already resigned myself to standing in the back, unable to catch sight of the band onstage. Jack took my hand to weave us through the crowd, and there was something very odd about his touch.
His skin was neither hot nor cold. It just felt… temperature-less. Although his skin was tremendously soft, it reminded me of a lizard. The way they can’t regulate their temperature at all, so they’re always whatever temperature the room is or whatever’s touching them.
We made our way up close to the stage, but thanks to my height, it did me little good. When the band came out and the crowd rushed forward, I ended up with my head smooshed into the back of the guy in front of me.
Jack managed to stand his ground, creating a little pocket of unmashedness. He noticed my predicament, and rather deftly, he scooped me up and dropped me on his shoulders, so my legs were straddling his neck.
I became very conscious of the fact that I weighed something over a hundred pounds (the exact amount is irrelevant) and that had to be heavy. Hell, fifty pounds sounded heavy when it’s sitting on your shoulders.
“Let me know if I get too heavy,” I shouted over the music.
“You won’t!” Jack yelled back, and I knew that was true.
Throughout the entire show (which was spectacular), he never faltered or even hinted at putting me down. When the crowd started to disperse, I was still on his shoulders, and I thought he might carry me out. Instead, he lifted me up off his shoulders and set me on the ground.
“Holy cow!” I said after he’d put me down. “You must eat like a double dose of Wheaties every day!”
“What are you talking about?” Jack asked, looking at me like I was insane.
“You’re super strong!” Without thinking, I reached out and grabbed his bicep, trying to feel some massive amounts of hidden muscle, but honestly, it felt pretty ordinary.
“You’re just really light.” Jack started walking away, attempting to end that line of conversation, but I hurried after him.
“What’s your angle?” I asked, trying to sound more playful than demanding.
“Isosceles,” Jack quipped.
“What?” If Milo had been there, he probably would’ve understood the reference, but geometry wasn’t my thing.
“You asked me what my angle was, so I said isosceles,” Jack explained, looking down at me to make sure that he wasn’t losing me in the crowd. “It’s a type of a triangle with two equal sides. I suppose that’s not really an angle, and I would’ve said something like acute or obtuse, but I thought that would either sound like I was hitting on you or calling you stupid. I should’ve said oblique. That would’ve been good. Damn! I’m gonna remember that for next time.”
“You’re the most cryptic person I’ve ever met,” I sighed.
We stepped outside into the night air, and I pulled my sweatshirt tighter to me, flipping the hood up over my head. Normally, the night air felt refreshing after being all sweaty and crammed with other people on the floor, but since I’d been on Jack’s shoulders, I hadn’t gotten hot at all.
He didn’t look sweaty from fighting off the mosh pit, and the cold didn’t seem to affect him either. I was tempted to reach out and take his hand to see what the temperature felt like, but it felt too awkward.
“So, did you have fun?” Jack asked me as we strolled to his car.
“I did,” I smiled at him. “Did you?”
There was always this wonderful rush after a good concert, like adrenaline but less panicky. So when they let out, I usually talked a mile a minute about the show, the people, just anything, and everything.
Tonight, though, I fell silent. There were millions of things running through my mind that I wanted to talk about, but very little had to do with the performance I had seen, so I kept my mouth shut.
“I don’t mean to be cryptic,” Jack said at length.
We were almost to his car, but he stopped walking and kept his gaze focused on some point straight ahead. His hands were shoved deep in the pocket of his Dickies shorts, and he sighed.