Heat Wave

The heat is smothering me and I wake up struggling to breathe. If I could, I would groan in annoyance. Instead I roll out of bed and stumble towards the window, still trying to catch my breath. I make it halfway up the fire escape before I have to sit down, wiping my face on my arm. Even though the air up here is just as hot, I'm grateful for what little breeze exists. Suddenly I hear someone landing heavily on the fire escape below me. But I'm not worried— I don't even have to look to know who it is.

"'ey Snitch," Skittery says, joining me.

"Skitt-er-y," I can barely wheeze his name out. Like always, Skittery begins to talk about his day, and I do the same thing I always do. I concentrate on his gestures, his voice, and his face. I can barely make out his features in the darkness, but by spending so many countless nights like this, I don't have to see to know what's there.

"...so then I told the bum where ta stick it," Skittery concluded. I chuckle, even though I have no idea what he just said. "Let's go up on the roof, you don't sound so bad now." I want to say no, let's stay here. The way we sit, when we're on the fire escape, my knee presses against his back. But Skittery's already up and waiting for me to lead. I sigh inwardly. Up on the roof there are almost no chances of accidental touching.

I make it to the top just as I feel the familiar squeezing in my chest and my breath comes in gasps. These attacks seem to be especially worse in the summer, but if it weren't for them I never would've gotten to know Skittery as well as I do.

"Y'know," Skittery says suddenly, "Today's the same day we started talkin'" I wince.

"Yeah, that was embarrassin'." Skittery grins, probably remembering how I'd gotten my head stuck in the bars while I was trying to get some air. Not exactly something I wanted to be remembered by.

"Don't worry ‘bout it. I've done loads of embarrassin' stuff."

"Like what?"

"I'm not gonna tell you," Skittery says, making a face.

"Oh come on, it can't be as bad as mine." I roll my eyes when it becomes clear that Skittery's not going to open his big fat mouth. "Alright, fine," I snap. Childish as it is I can't help pouting. Neither of us says anything for a moment.

"Don't do that." Skittery finally says.

"Do what?"

"That face." When it becomes clear that I'm not going to say anything Skittery sighs.

"It's almost mornin' we should probably get to bed." I say, smiling at him to show that I forgive him. I can make him tell me tomorrow.

"Yeah..." he says, but neither one of us moves. I turn to look at him and in that moment, I realize just how close we are. He sees me looking at him and grins. I feel a bit dizzy and his face seems to grow closer. There's a feeling in my chest again. Except that this time it doesn't hurt—it actually feels pleasant. Almost as nice as Skittery's lips against mine.