Dinner With Harrison

Harrison Potter once told me that his parents had never read the books. He said you could tell them JK Rowling was top shelf cognac and they’d have no reason not to believe you. They’d only seen the movies, the posters, the trend. And they’d felt compelled, for reasons unknown, to name their son, Harry.

Over time the teasing had calloused his skin. I saw it just as soon as he entered Fairmont on the first day of school. He was tall, reserved, overtly mysterious. We met in art class, when I still getting over Brent Liabard.

I watched him from across the room. in the hallways. Harrison was tall, dark, with a silent confidence about him. He was absolutely gorgeous. And he was always comfortably alone. Whenever his brown eyes found me I’d always be the first to look away. I’d blush with warmth, my ears tingling, my smile digging into my cheeks as I ducked into the bathroom.

Art class became our time. The smell of oil paint, the soap in the deep sinks. The faintest whiff of Turpenoid and my heart fixed itself into a panic. Yeah, Brent who?

We’d been seeing each other for a month when he arrived at the house for dinner on a shiny fall day. It was two minutes until five. The boy had flowers, a bouquet of miniature sunflowers, spray roses, daisies, mixed with fresh greens.

This, was a first. Brent used to honk the horn from the curb, my cue to run out to the car. In a whirlwind of romance, he’d whisk me off to Russ’s house so that I could watch them play video games.

Harrison kissed my cheek. I invited him into the kitchen where he asked Mom what he could do to help. Mom, turning to find this broad gentleman I’d brought home, the striking self-confidence in his eyes, exhaled until her shoulders fell and her smile bloomed.

Harrison took to the cutting board, chopping up basil when Billy waltzed in. Gangly and fourteen, my brother was simultaneously awkward with both words and gestures. And he had no filter. “So, like, your name is Harry Potter?”

I smacked the back of his head. He was about to retaliate when Harrison looked over his shoulder and smiled. “It’s quite common, actually. There are eighty-five thousand people with the last name Potter. Nearly a half a million with the name Harry.”

Billy’s head cocked at the deluge of info. “I’ve never met anyone with the name Harry Potter, in fact—ouch! Stop it, Sydney!”

We sat down for dinner, where it should have been weird but wasn’t. Mom set the flowers in a vase, placing it in the center of the table. I’d say she was completely smitten.

My dad course, was more reserved with his affections. He began his line of dinner conversation as though we were in a black and white sitcom. “So Harrison, this is your first year at Fairmont?”

Harrison, nodded, set his napkin in his lap and looked him in the eye. Truth was, I knew very little about where Harrison had been before he cast his spell on me. Not on this earth, as far as I could tell.

Dinner was a breeze. Harrison won Billy over with sports talk and Dad with his thoughts on the stock market—managing to make securities and brokerage accounts sound romantic and thoughtful.

After dinner, we went for a walk in the park to be alone. Harrison matched my strides, our fingers laced as I leaned into him. The sun was low in the trees and the geese were out at the pond, badgering kids and otherwise being pests. Harrison pulled me closer.

“Sid, there’s something I need to tell you.”

I tensed. His words were measured and his grip was crushing me. Too good to be true. Of course. But what? He kept glancing over my shoulder, holding me back when I tried to turn.

I managed to take my hand from his. “What’s going on, Harrison?”

Another look over my shoulder. His lip quivered, his breaths were cold. “I’m really sorry about this.”

I jumped as the geese honked, fifty wings flapping in chaos. Harrison set his eyes on mine. “Why did it have to be you?”

“What are you even talking about?” He pulled me in as I heard footsteps. Twigs snapping and branches rustling. I tried to turn away but Harrison tucked me away. His heart pounded against my ear.

My voice broke. “Harrison, what are you doing?”

Suddenly his face returned to mine, his eyes wide and loose. He watched the woods behind me, looked left, right, then he took my wrist. “You know what, come on. Follow me.”

What choice did I have? The shadows emerged and Harrison shoved me ahead. We ran plunged into the park as the trees swallowed the sun and the path ahead. The world went dark. Harrison’s jagged breaths pushed me ahead. But then we stopped.

They stood in front of us. Behind us. Surrounding us. Harrison’s grip slid from my wrists.

Then he was gone.

 

 

==Pete Fanning/2017

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