I can hear the sirens. She must have called an ambulance. The sound approaches. It is loud. She is nearby. I feel her much closer than usual. Her heartbeat is audible. I can hear her heart racing above me. It feels like a dream. Simultaneously, her tears drip onto my forehead. They are warm. I want to wipe them away, but the metal holds me down and it feels heavier than her weight on top of me. She sobs. She calls my name. It sounds like she is singing it, my name, Pablo. I still remember the first time she greeted me “Good Morning.” They feel more like lyrics to a song than an actual greeting. I can’t imagine why she is crying. It feels unnecessary. Only those who experience the most severe pain or the worst kind of heartache cry. I don’t know why she isn’t elated now that I’ve confessed.
“Stay with me, Pablo,” I can hear her say. Faintly. The siren seems like a heavy guitar solo cranked up louder with her voice juxtaposed against it. She is amidst composition. Her heart is on drums. My heart is on bass.
Her band is called The NekTors. She is lead vocals and guitars. She is a rock star to a band I never knew who started playing in a garage next door to a friend who I went to junior college with. Adam and I are both literature majors. She, Delaney, is Adam’s neighbor. Adam’s kindergarten classmate. Adam’s high school sweetheart. Adam’s first love. Adam’s first heartbreak. Adam’s eventual enemy. Delaney. Delaney who has been playing the guitar since five years old, who also plays the violin, but quickly switched over to drums because she always wanted to be in a rock band; who went to school with Adam, but never considered Adam her first love. Adam, who was both heartache and pain, fuels her rock lyrics. She can’t make up her mind between kissing him or getting back with him again. But Delaney appalls Adam and Delaney doesn’t care because she only wants to be a rock star.
She is rock star by night and nerd by day. She fixes computers. When she is not singing, she is tinkering with electrical equipment. Things I am inept in, she fixes. My laptop didn’t start and she fixed it for me. She didn’t charge me, I don’t know why. She asked me to lunch instead. We had a sausage and pineapple pizza and two Cokes. I paid. I gave her gas money for coming to fix my computer, but she refused; she took a kiss instead. Adam isn’t her first love. I think I am hers. It is uncomfortable. I don’t know how to be anybody’s first love. There’s a pair for everyone, they say. I am not prepared for her. A pair is reserved for those who are deserving. I never thought to find a pair in this vast, vast universe. And Delaney… I really. Don’t. Deserve. Her.
Delaney is a rock goddess. She is ideal. In time, she will be followed by hoards of men who have stocks to their name and gold in their briefcases. Who will fly her to Spain and back just so she can have Tapas and a glass of red wine. I’m a pizza guy and two Cokes kind of guy. I can’t compete. I keep her at a distance, but she keeps knocking at my door. I dodge her, but she makes herself so unavoidable. I finally tell Delaney I’m no good for her. And Delaney tells me I’m the only one who looks at her like she matters. Like the way I hand a straw to a kid who can’t reach from the shelf above, like the way I talk to strangers in my best broken Spanish so I can bridge the communication barrier, like the way I held her when her friend passed away. How everything matters to me. I have no idea. I have no idea at all this is what she thinks of me.
It takes me time. Three years and two months. She is patient with me. I know Delaney waits for me. After her concert, I tell her. She stands on the pavement and she glows even in her black leather pants and her white Ramones t-shirt. She is beautiful. Her long hair glistens under the light. I run to her because I can’t wait to see the three lines on her forehead when she squints to see it is me; she doesn’t know I have named each line after God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three aspects of God. I want to kiss her on her forehead first, that place right above her eyes because this is where she sees all of me. And I’m going to tell her. Out loud. I. Love. You. Delaney.
The words are at the tip of my tongue. It won’t spill. I cry. I don’t know why. I am becoming aware of the pain. It is severe, my heartache worse. “Stay with me,” she whispers. I can see her forehead clear and closing in on me, the lines granting me a blessing. And she feels light, suddenly, the metal from the speeding car unclench from me. I panic… “I love you, I love you, I love you.” I hope Delaney hears me.