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oh, such torturous things

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Taylor’s house is a mere ten feet from his idling car and Harry, put-together heartthrob, Teen Beat wunderkind, the Daily Mail’s latest and greatest Casanova. . .cannot pull himself together enough to knock on her door.

He shouldn’t even be here, is the thing. Harry should be home, watching television and eating the McDonald’s that’s getting cold in his passenger’s seat. He should exercise and shower and do a crossword and go to bed at nine PM. Hell, he should clean his fucking car, which has become a garbage dump in the weeks since Taylor broke up with him. It smells like socks and like burgers and like teenage boy, he knows. He reeks of desperation, ever since.

Still, he idles. The drizzle that’s been haunting Los Angeles all day has morphed into the kind of torrential downpour that threatens hail. It’s not usually like this, his friends keep telling him, but it has been ever since he decided to stay here for a while. Perhaps he brought a bit of Britain with him when he put down roots; perhaps he is doomed to a layer of existential misery as his birthright.

Perhaps he is nineteen with a tendency to the dramatic. Teenage hormones being a bitch and all that.

In theory, this breakup shouldn’t be affecting him so badly. They only went out for a few months and he was touring for some of it. Harry isn’t quite the romancer that the tabloids make him out to be, but he’s no novice. He’s under no delusion that their relationship was perfect or that their reasons for breaking up weren’t valid. Yet, he just can’t stop thinking about –

Harry, you’re so pretty.

Taylor’s porch light is on. The rain has turned the outline of her home into nothing more than a shimmering, windowless fortress. He can’t make out the balcony where they kissed all day, drunk on each other and on wine-soaked fruit. How she told him, hazily, that long hair would suit him well. Later, stumbling through the curtains and into a closet with a corner dedicated to lingerie. Playing dress-up like children, silk and lace against soft skin, and falling asleep in each other’s arms.

Fuck, he’s crying.

He’s been watching a lot of Animal Planet, since. All of his favorite movies are rom-coms, and all of them were shared enthusiastically with Taylor approx. three seconds after he fell head over heels for her. The Notebook – his head in her lap and her long nails brushing his hair. Jerry McGuire – his shirt hiked up and her thumb toying with the hair on his stomach. Wonderful. Awful.

Animal Planet, with its sharp-toothed predators and colorful anemone, causes no such emotional damage. He imagines himself waterlogged and airless, sinking to the places more unknown to science than the edges of the solar system. Existing peacefully among the luminescent jellied figures that flicker deep below.

The rain slows and then stops. Taylor is standing on her balcony, watching.

Finally, he drives away.