3 – ¡Viva La Gloria!

(Gloria)

And after three years of being a complete no-one, even more of a no-one than I was when no-one knew my name, I got a boyfriend.

And, this time, it wasn’t a result of crashing into him on the street and him asking me if I had any drugs. This time, it started with a real date, a nice, regular conversation. I felt like normality was possible at this point, like I could just get over my bad romance from three years prior…

Except — and this wasn’t Christian’s fault — he complimented my smile.

Bringing back all of the memories of Jimmy complementing my smile. They were from good times, but damn, it still hurt to think about him. Especially since he was completely freaking wasted the last time I actually saw him. It was impossible to remember the happy times without remembering all the bad ones, too.

But he didn’t know about that. And apparently, my smile is the best part of me, if the two boyfriends I’ve had are credible sources on the matter. Jimmy always used to point out my eyes, as well, and all through coffee Christian was looking into them. Not at my chest (or lack thereof). At my eyes.

So, after he kissed me softly, in a way I’d never been kissed before, my day lit up. Which basically meant that I laid in bed all day with my cellphone and MP3 player, hugging a pillow and staring at the ceiling between texts from Christian.

It wasn’t like with Jimmy. With Jimmy, we were stuck in close quarters and he just kind of became my boyfriend.

Christian had been so nice to me. He swore a bit — but who didn’t? I used to swear like a sailor a few years before, but by that time it was only the neccessaries.

As time went on, Christian revealed more of himself to me — including some startling similarities. He told me that he wanted to start a rebellion, like the ones in a nearby city a few years before. I told him, in veiled terms, that I’d once tried to peacefully protest, but that that hadn’t turned out so well.

He wanted to help me realize this dream, or something. What he didn’t get what that this dream was something I’d realized a few years ago… and it turned out to be much, much worse than I thought it would be. Christian touched my heart by telling me to fight on, to maybe start a rebellion with him.

However, that scared me a bit. More than a bit. It scared me a lot.

Christian didn’t realize that the protests he wanted had the tendency to turn really violent really fast. People could, and oftentimes would, die.

But Christian’s not… he isn’t crazy, I told myself, not like Jimmy. He’s not crazy…

Well, certainly not as crazy as Jimmy was.

But then I doubted that guess one night. He texted me late that night, literally just as I was about to go to bed.

will u meet me outside starbucks

I flipped open my phone. why?

i wanna show u something

it’s 1am christian

pls gloria?

I sighed. He wanted me to meet him that badly?

be there in a sec

thx

I slipped on a jacket and shoes (even though I wasn’t wearing socks) and went out to the garage to grab my bike. Opening the garage door would’ve been too loud. So, with a mental facepalm, I dragged it inside, grabbed my keys, and left via the front door.

Then I pedalled as fast as I could to Starbucks, wondering what the hell could be so important that it could drag me out of the house at 1 AM for?

He was waiting outside the door, leaning against the rough brick wall and smoking a cigarette. Christian smiled when he saw me and dropped his cigarette, stomping on it. “Hey, Gloria.” He sounded fairly cool and surprisingly wide awake, which only added to my suspicions that he was addicted to a drug of some sort.

I smiled anyway. “Hey, Christian.”

He hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. We hadn’t gone much father yet, since we’d only known each other for a few weeks, but I still thought it was incredibly amazing when he hugged me.

“So what’s so important that you dragged me out here at 1:30 for?” I asked amusedly.

“Follow me, I’ll show you.”

Christian gently took my hand and lead me into the nearby alleyway, grabbing a flashlight out of his back pocket. He stopped near the back wall and turned the light on.

“Behold,” he whispered, raising the light to reveal a drippy splatter of bright colors and words on the wall.

“¡VIVA LA GLORIA!” the graffiti read. I blinked in surprise. That was so… it reminded me so much of Jimmy that it was almost scary.

“D’you… d’you like it?” he asked.

I recovered my smile, despite myself. “I love it,” I whispered in his ear, kissing him on the cheek. It was true — this simple act was incredibly sweet. It probably didn’t mean that he wanted to start a resistance with me. It was just a simple act of love presented in the form of messy graffiti.

“I’m glad. Maybe soon, your name will have spread across town… we can change something, Gloria, I know it.”

And my blood went cold.

“Christian, no,” I said, “that would be dangereous. I don’t want anyone to get hurt–!”

“Who ever said that anyone would get hurt, Gloria?!” he snapped, catching me off guard. “No-one will! I promise! No-one got hurt in the Underbelly, anyway–!”

“What?! Who… who told you that?!” I didn’t know he looked up to the Underbelly. I was in some deep, deep shit now…

“Oh, come on Gloria, stop being such a killjoy.”

“People died there! People died in those riots, Christian!” I was frantic, trying not to cry. The Underbelly was a sensitive subject for me. “Who told you that they didn’t?”

“Who told you that they did?”

And now I had to really lie. I couldn’t tell him that I was there or he might’ve gotten the wrong idea about me…
“I had friends who died then. In those riots. Dead. Forever.”

And for once, I let myself cry to prove to him that I did know that people had died.

“O-oh, god, Gloria, I’m sorry,” he whispered, hugging me tightly. “I– I didn’t know, I swear. I’m sorry.”

He sounded, well, genuine. It was a complete change from just a few minutes — no, seconds before, when he’d been yelling at me (just like Jimmy…)

“Here — I’ll ride home with you, all right?” he offered. I nodded into his chest, before straightening up and wiping my eyes.

“Thanks, Christian.”

“It’s no problem,” he said with a smile, grabbing his own beat-up bike.

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