I’m sitting at my computer attempting to write a research paper due in 5 days, that I’ve had 3 months to begin, when you walk over and lean in my doorway. Your presence is noticed immediately, but in a girlish attempt to play coy, I let you stand there for a few extra seconds, wondering how absorbed I really am in my work. You’ve got that smile on, the one that goes along with your crossed arms and searching eyes.
“Hey Mike, what’s up?” I look up at you, moving the keyboard away and leaning on the table. I’ve got that smile on, the one that comes with my nervous body language and racing heart. Trying to be more brave and assertive, like this girl in a book I read once, I am determined to stare into your eyes during the duration of our conversation.
“Nothing much Kate,” you start, shrugging your shoulders as though my room isn’t an entire floor from where you should be, “how’s that essay coming along?” I let out a grunt that’s also a laugh, a sound that means I should’ve started this weeks ago and I hate myself more than I hate writing this. Maybe.
“I don’t even know. I can’t believe I waited so long, and now I also have two midterms to study for, along with an online assignment that’s past due. I just-” I grab my hair and squeeze while trying to calm my breathing, letting out another little tuft of air, “It’s going fine. I’m just tired. Thanks for asking. What’re you doing up this late?” As always, I try to play off my shakiness and the fact that I’m about to have a breakdown any second now, but your eyes have remained wide and playful this entire time.
“Whoa there, are you sure your okay? It looks like your freaking out a little bit.” I laugh at that obvious statement and put my hands in my hair once more, glancing down at the desk. You chuckle too, using it as an excuse to walk over to me and place your hands on my shoulders.
“It’s gonna be okay Kate, deep breath in, deep breath out. Woosah, or whatever that **** is. C’mon let’s count to 10.” I laugh a little harder with every word you say, which is weird because it’s not funny, but I guess it’s the fact that it’s you saying it. Maybe it’s also the fact that I’m not sure what to do when I stop laughing and you’re still rubbing my shoulders, with no intention of stopping in sight.
“What’s this essay even about,” you say, leaning down to read over my shoulder, ignorant to the feeling of your breath on my neck and what your voice at this proximity is doing to my chest, “child abuse and depression? Geez, no wonder your stressed out. I know you major in psychology but ****, can’t you write about something, I dunno, fun?” I’m not quite sure how to respond to that, mainly because I wasn’t paying much attention. All I can think about is the warmth of your hands, and I wonder if you like touching me as much as I like being touched by you. I just moan and mumble something unimportant, sinking down in my chair to rest my head against you. I honestly haven’t even determined whether or not I like you, and if I would even want to date anyone right now, but my mind isn’t really the one in control right now. Between school and work it feels like my mind refuses to make any more decisions. I’m just hoping that for now, in this moment, any affection will say enough, without saying too much all at once.
The silence following my reaction would normally prompt me to shoot up and say something stupid, but I am far too tired for something stupid. I can hear how tense you are now, and I almost see the wheels in your head spinning rapidly, trying to figure out what to do next. Hesitantly, you lift one hand, and brush my hair in sweet, light strokes. I probably shouldn’t sigh at this, and I definitely should not push my head further into your stomach, so I make sure to do both at the same time. My eyes are closed, but I can see you looking down at me.
“Um, why don’t you uh, take a break?” You take a deep breath and rub your thumbs along my neck, causing me to one up your deep inhale with a sharp one of my own. I sit up a little straighter, causing your hand to fall down my arms, where you give a little squeeze. Part of me thinks it’s stupid to feel this way about someone at my age, seeing as everyone around me treats love (not that this is at all what this is) as something boring and trivial, more focused on what they can get out of a relationship than how it should feel. The other part of me is not only stronger, she’s older and louder. She’s been there since I was 5, believes in true love and soul mates, and right now, she is screaming at the butterflies that travel through all parts of my body at your one, simple touch. She wants you to spin me around, kiss me, stare into my eyes, and tell me everything she’s been waiting to hear for the past 17 years. I still wonder how to shut her up.
“Mmm, if I take a break, I’ll fall asleep. If I fall asleep, I’ll never finish. If I don’t finish, I’ll fail, have to drop out, become a stripper, and disappointment my parents even further.” You think I’m joking, so you laugh, but I’m actually 45% serious.
“A stripper? Man, I’d like to see that,” you say with a chuckle.
“Oh yeah? I’m running low on cash. How’s about a private show?” I turn around now, looking up at you with a smirk and my eyebrows raised. I tried raising one but it looks like I’ll have to keep practicing that trick. Our faces are about 5 inches apart, with you still standing over me so I have to look up at you. I watch your eyes go back and forth between my lips and eyes and I don’t think you can see mine doing the same. You lean down a little further and keep your eyes on my lips, where I can feel your breath.
“C’mon, I really think you should take a break. You haven’t eaten in hours, let’s get something to eat.” You’re talking in a low voice now, and I can tell you’re not asking me. I nod my head and whisper an okay, swallowing hard. I ask where you wanna go, and you say it doesn’t matter. Standing up, I am suddenly very aware of my outfit and begin looking around the room. I have on nothing but a giant 2 XL sweater from an obscure football team that I got from an old job for $5, and I am not wearing a bra. Flustered, I pull the sweater down in front and place my arm over my chest. Smooth.
“Um, I just realized that I basically have nothing on and I’m definitely not going outside like this. I’ll meet you downstairs?”
“You got it, Kate. Maybe that can be your first outfit for your new job,” you say, chuckling and leaving the room as I stick my tongue out at you. I glance at my dresser, wondering what on earth I should wear on our kind-of-sort-of-not-really date, keeping in mind that it’s 2 a.m., 45 degrees outside, and that it should be cute. I throw on leggings and a bra, and replace my giant black sweater for a giant white one. I’m not a believer in leggings as pants, but the sweater is so long that it brushes my knees and is extremely warm. It has a cold shoulder and makes my butt and chest look pretty nice. I, being the weirdo that I am, rub lotion and spritz the exposed shoulder. Throwing my phone, money, keys, and lip gloss into an old tattered book bag, I make my way downstairs. You’re standing by the door and keep eye contact with me the entire time I make my way over.
“So, where are we going? I don’t know if I want real food, maybe just ice cream or froyo,” I’m talking quick as I lean on you with one hand, placing my shoes on my feet with the other. You’re still looking at me, smiling, and not answering me. When I look around and awkwardly say your name, you finally snap out of it.
“Oh yeah, that sounds good. Wherever you want Kate, it’s your break.” I smile and pretend to ponder, rubbing my chin and making loud humming noises. Clapping my hands together I immediately shout out an answer.
“Froyo it is!”