When I arrived in NYC, it was pouring like crazy. I looked down at my cheap ballet flats that were probably held together by very flimsy glue, my non-water proof luggage, and my small fold up umbrella that barely covered me…FUCK MY LIFE. And as I trudged the 10 blocks to my new office job, I was cursing everyone off under my breath.
Therefore, I was not very happy at all when I finally arrived, soaked completely through and dripping water all over the nice marble floor in the lobby. My humiliation was pretty much complete as I heard the familiar squeaking of the janitor’s bucket as the janitor trailed after me, mopping up each puddle I made. What a great first impression to make on my first day. I hadn’t even started and I was already messing up this place.
It didn’t take long for my new co-workers to be drawn to the newcomer’s desk, buzzing around like I was some sort of new type of sweet honey.
They all informally introduced themselves- there were a couple of women and men who were about the same age as my boss and there were some people my age that I vaguely recognized from my university. This office was popular for hiring university students after all, for cheap labor. Therefore, I was only barely surprised when I felt a very familiar presence by my side.
The attention from other co-workers had died down a couple minutes ago so there was only this person standing by my desk now. I already knew who it was without lifting up my head. It was always so easy to feel his presence- I don’t know if it was the smell of Old Spice that always lingered around him, his casual slouch with his hands thrust deep into his pockets, or maybe, I already knew that he was working here this summer and it was only a matter of time before he showed up right next to me.
"Hey Josh," I said, suddenly very preoccupied with the papers on my desk.
I could almost hear his easy smirk. “Hey Louise”, he said with the same carelessness in his tone. The easy grace in the way my name rolled off of his tongue, echoing in my own imaginary drum. There was only so long that the pretended busywork on my desk could occupy me. I finally couldn’t help myself and looked up into his green eyes.
His eyes were exactly the same as I had remembered, with the small gold flecks, and a continuously shifting kaleidoscope of different emotions with one prominent emotion that always remained- a slightly teasing and half sarcastic scorn. He gazed steadily into my eyes, never shifting from his position on the edge of my desk. “So how have you been?”
Like the last few words of his question, the tension in the air was unspoken. How have you been…since the breakup?
About a month ago, I had broken up with Josh, right before finals started. We had dated for about five months, but the last month had been full of tumultuous arguments and half sincere apologies/attempts to change. And while the first four months had been really great, the last month, I had quickly fallen out of love. Maybe relationships were just not for me. So finally, when I went home for a month, I could no longer stand it- I broke up with him over the phone.
I didn’t break off eye contact. “I’ve been good.” I said steadily, holding onto the edge of my desk while maintaining distance from him. “How about you?”
He grinned sardonically. “I’ve been pretty good myself. Partying it up in NYC like no end.”
I smiled slightly, “I heard.”
He laughed loudly, “And I heard about your crazy plan to sleep in the library for the rest of the summer. You’re insane, you know.”
I grinned, “I didn’t know word spread that fast- and it’s obvious already, everyone knows I’m crazy, you don’t need to tell me.”
"You know you could always sleep over at my place."
I shrugged. “I know- I could sleep over at any of my friends’ places, but I really don’t want to impose.” It was unspoken in the air- there was no way I’d ever go to his place…I had been there too many times when we were dating and there were still fresh wounds that needed to be painted over. This soft refusal hung in silence for a bit and I saw him shift his position slightly, as if in unease for the first time during this conversation.
That night, I checked out all of my potential sleeping spots. The security guards looked at me weirdly, lugging around my luggage to each of the buildings at 11 PM. Oh well, I’d need to get a real locker tomorrow, so my luggage wouldn’t be so conspicuous. How awfully shameless I was. I could really get to feeling like a real hobo, if I wasn’t careful. At least I’d have someplace to keep up my hygiene, unlike real hobos. That was a somewhat good distinction that I could emphasize.
Nevertheless, as I emptied my wallet of all important possessions and put them into my secret jacket pocket and spread out the blanket on the sofa of the dark lounge, I felt a sense of apprehension? Or was it adventure? Or was it excitement?
I settled into an uneasy sleep.
I woke up to the loud humming of a janitor. Was he singing Vivaldi? Seriously? This early in the morning? As I blearily rubbed the sand from my eyes, the sound of humming, as well as the distinctive jingle of many keys, came closer to me. Yeah, it was definitely some Vivaldi violin piece that he was humming loudly. And very off-tune too. I winced slightly as my eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness of the lounge, but also mostly for the sake of my ears.
awaking quickly gathering my things.And then I shuffled quickly out of the door.not noticing the curious stare of the boy sitting in the corner with his real textbooks.
The day passed quickly enough. I finally got a proper locker so I could dispose of my conspicuous luggage. After a quick shower in a gym, I went to the office, where I easily performed all of my duties and before long, it was Friday night- time to hang out with Donovan for the first time in a month. I wasn’t exactly uneasy- we were going to be hanging out with a lot of our co-workers that I already knew, either through mutual acquaintances or through just general hanging out in the office. However, despite all of our efforts to look like we were over it, there was still a slight tension between us. Well, there was nothing that alcohol wouldn’t solve right.
The next morning, I had woken up with Josh gone. I guess he couldn’t stand the cold of the student lounge. When I went to the office, everything was the same. There was no mention of last night, other than the groaning of my fellow co-workers from their hangovers. With that, the next week passed pretty uneventfully, with general office quips and occasional gaiety. Sometimes, we’d go out on the occasional weeknight that everyone was free and we’d eat lunch together every day. However, most of the time, I would go to the nearby Barnes and Noble to read or borrow books from the library to read at night before falling asleep in a student lounge.
Which was why I was very surprised when I woke up one morning…
And I found a note on the table for me.
At first, it didn’t register in my mind exactly what it was. When I went to clear off the table of all my pretend-study materials, I almost crumpled it up, thinking it was some discarded tissue that someone had left. But then I saw a neat scrawl in gold ink.
"You looked so gorgeous while you were sleeping all night. I wanted to feel you so bad. Call me." And there was a number on the back, with a name. Kenji.
And my first instinct, the half Asian instinct in me, was to check my wallet.Nothing was gone.Oh yeah, and then, my second instinct was to check my face.Oh ok, so there was no cum on my face.hey, it’s not like I couldn’t be too careful, here, especially in this situation.
I turned the note over and looked at the number again. Was this some sort of prank? I was strongly tempted to call the number and I probably would, but first, I’d want to look it up on Google to see that this wasn’t some massive internet prank. The handwriting was very nice though, and written in gold pen too, that was a plus.
I quickly went to the library to look up the phone number and the message. There was nothing. Wow, so this note was actually genuine. Guys really still left phone numbers for girls? Maybe he did this often to unsuspecting girls in study lounges all the time. But then again, not many girls would choose to live homeless, in study lounges, like me.
As I took my daily shower in the gym, I debated calling it. If I didn’t call it, I might just totally miss out on a completely interesting situation. If I did call it…well I don’t know what would happen. It would depend on exactly how creepy or horny this guy was.
It was a weekend, so I didn’t have any work to do that day. By the time I had finished with everything, it was around noon. I might as well have someone to eat lunch with. So I screwed up my courage and called the number. As I waited for the dial tone, I felt vaguely like a call girl. I was just really curious to see what this guy looked like, but what would he assume about me calling him? Would he think I wanted sex by responding to his overtures?
"Hello?" A groggy voice answered the phone.
As much as I hated to admit it, I really liked his voice. It had sleep clinging to it, like he had just woken up…which was probably the exact case. And his voice had a accent- oh god, I was always such a sucker for that.
Suddenly, I got more nervous. “Hey, um I’m calling in regards to this note that I found this morning.”
There was a slight pause on his end. “Yeah…”
He said nothing else, so I took it as my cue to continue the conversation. “So I’m slightly flattered, and at the same time, slightly…” What word could I use that wouldn’t be too offensive? Disgusted? Defiled? “…disturbed by your note. But I’ve decided that I want to meet you because I’m very curious and I have nothing to do right now anyways. So where are you right now?”
"In the summer dorms." He said, with some shuffling on his end, like he was sitting up in bed. His British accent became more distinct as he shook off the sleep in his voice.
"Okay, so can you meet in the front of the park in 15 minutes?"
"Yeah…" And as much as I hated myself, I was kind of liking the slight breath of air that came with every time he said yeah, so that the eclipses really did follow his words.
"Okay, then see you at 12:38." And with that, I hung up the phone.
At 12:38 PM, I was extremely nervous. I stood by the statue in the front of the park, my back against the base. Why didn’t I think of meeting in some actual university building in front of a security guard? What if this creep, Trey, came up behind me and put a chloroform rag over my face? My imagination was certainly overreacting, but really, this was NYC, you never knew what was going to happen. Okay, so it was broad daylight, he probably couldn’t get away with something like that.
I glanced at my watch. It was now 12:39 PM. This was really not helping. I was usually very punctual and I expected everyone else to be the same, especially if he was the one who had left the note in the first place! I looked around nervously, as the thought of this whole thing being a prank occurred to me again. Like what if, right now, this Trey guy showed up with all of his friends and just laughed at me for responding to his note like a fool? After all, while he knew exactly what I looked like, especially after staring at me…or my body…all night, I only had a very vague idea of what the guy looked like, when he had barged in at 2 AM in the morning.
12:40 PM right now. I looked at each passerby, hoping that it might be Trey. Finally, one guy stopped and perched himself on a bench. He looked like he was waiting for someone. Was he the one? I summed him up carefully- he wasn’t exactly tan looking and he was a lot taller than I thought he would be, but then again, how accurate could my eyesight have been so early in the morning? I carefully sidled over to him, keeping him in sight out of the corner of my eye.
The walk over to him seemed to take forever and while he didn’t turn around to look at me, I felt like I was being watched. Finally, I was within hearing distance. “Hey…um did you happen to be in the study lounge last night?”
He turned around and looked at me weirdly. “What?”
"Um, do you happen to be called Kenji?"
His eyebrows scrunched in confusion. “No…”
Whoops, not him after all. “Oh. Sorry about that.” I apologized bashfully and retreated to my original spot. I checked my watch again. Now it was 12:42. Where was this guy?
12:43. It had been five minutes and I was feeling more foolish with the passing of each minute. Maybe this had been the plan all along- to have me call and then to completely stand me up. My general rule of thumb was never to wait more than 5 minutes for someone and this would be the perfect time to execute that rule. I walked away from the park, my thoughts still turning in my head. It would be such a shame if that note was actually real- it was like I had missed out on some completely spontaneous meeting with a stranger. Like what were the chances of something like that happening multiple times in your life? Well, I guess it’d depend on how long I wanted to spend sleeping homeless in a study lounge…
Yes, I was disappointed. But I would not be made a fool of. Especially in how it was turning out- I might just seem desperate if I waited there for half a day. So I walked away, getting further and further from the meeting place. I was halfway out of the large park when suddenly my phone rang, its loud ring startling me out of my thoughts. What the fuck?
It was that number- Kenji’s number.
I picked up. “Hello?”
"Hey, where are you now?"
"I was walking to the library." My voice came out brisk and annoyed. "How’d you get my number?"
"You called me."
Shit, I had forgotten to make my number anonymous with *67.
"Oh…where are you right now?"
"I’m sitting in one of the benches, facing the statue."
I turned around…and started walking back. This was really too good of a chance to miss out on. I had to see what this guy looked like, even if he was 8 minutes late. “What are you wearing?”
"Green? That’s it? Anything else?"
"Um…no, that’s about it."
His British accent was so…soothing. “Okay, well I’m walking towards the statue now.”
There was a slight silence as I continued walking towards the statue. “So…are you part of the university? What’s your major?”
"Yeah, I’m going to be a sophomore next year. I’m in the Business school."
So he was exactly like me. That was weird- what were the odds of that? “Oh. Me too.” I was fast approaching the statue, with each step- there was something akin to excitement and nervousness in my stomach. “Okay, I’m here. Where are you?”
I spotted a guy with a green shirt sitting on a bench, his back to me.
"I’m sitting on a bench."
I walked up to him and stepped in his vision. “Oh, is this you?”
He watched me brush myself off and shiver slightly. “What are you doing?”
I glared indignantly at him. “What would you expect my reaction to your creepy statement to be? ‘Wow that’s so awesome of you! Can you do it again?’ Man, you are so creepy beyond belief!”
He shrugged, his tone light hearted. “Yeah, I try…” Then his face became serious again. “No, but really, that was really just a lapse in judgment. I was tired, okay? I don’t usually do things like that at all and I’m not a creep. I wasn’t thinking clearly and you were an attractive female that was just lying there. I really couldn’t help myself. I was trying to study and you were distracting me. So I figured I had nothing to lose if I left that note there, rather than missing out on an opportunity.”
"Yeah, but what was the whole deal with ‘I wanted to feel you so bad’? So the note actually would’ve been okay, or maybe even sweet if you hadn’t put that line down. Just so you know, if you go passing out any more notes, don’t write things like that, even if that’s what you really want to do at that moment."
"I’m not going to pass out any more notes! I told you, I’m not a creep! And I don’t know- that line was supposed to be reassurance. Like I wanted to feel you, but I didn’t. So you would be comforted by the fact that I hadn’t gone and touched you without permission.”
Wow, that strangely made sense…
If only for like two seconds. Then the logic behind that completely fell apart. I rolled my eyes, but couldn’t help laughing at him. “Wow, like I said, you are unbelievable.”
His mouth formed a small grin. “So do you want to get lunch now?” He pulled out his credit card. “I’ll pay.”
Well why not? I thought to myself as I gathered my stuff. If I was going to hang out with him for free lunch, then so be it.
As I watched him finish up his salad wrap, I started to feel slightly guilty for making him buy me lunch. I wasn’t very sure what his motives were for buying me lunch- was he trying to get into my pants or did he just have too much money? I knew that international students were generally richer than regular students and nine dollars of Big Mac’s might’ve just been petty change for him, but still. I felt like it’d be kind of rude to just leave after eating his food.
Which was how the next sentence subconsciously slipped out. “So are you doing anything after this?”
He raised his head and looked at me. “No, not really, why?”
"Um, I was just wondering. Yeah, I don’t really have anything to do either."
I made a face. He had already bought me lunch- there was only so much that I’d like to impose on. “Nah, let’s do something else that’s cheaper.”
"Do you like…art? Would you want to visit art galleries?"
I didn’t want to admit it but I was kind of impressed. What kind of guy liked visiting art galleries in their free time? I thought that was a purely girl imposed activity. “I love art! We should go! Wait, are these free? Where are they located?”
"Yeah they’re all free, but they’re about twenty blocks up town. We should take the subway."
I grimaced. “Ehh…we should just walk it. It’s like the same distance to Chinatown anyways- it should only take like thirty minutes!”
so we left the restaurant together on our journey to 30 minutes walk to a twenty blocks away.
When we got to the art galleries, he swung the door open quickly. “Wow, I can’t believe I’m really seeing this. I’m a huge fan of this artist- I can’t believe his work is actually here!”
I watched as his eyes darted eagerly from each painting. So he hadn’t been bluffing. He was actually into art…as opposed to guys who were just into art to get girls. So in combination with his British accent and his apparent habit of wearing only khaki pants and cologne every day…I’d hate to lie if I said that I wasn’t a bit impressed. I glanced around the gallery- it was mostly full of paintings in basic monochrome colors but from the look on his face, I could tell that he was getting really enthusiastic and excited.
We finished that gallery quickly and went to the one across the street. There were an awful lot of doors to go through as they weren’t all linked together.
He held all of the doors open for me.
I was very surprised that he did.
After all, although he had bought me lunch, I still couldn’t get rid of that image of him as a douchebag. I mean, what other kind of person would leave that kind of note and condone roofie usage? My first impressions of him definitely had not been positive- to me, he really came off as a sleaze and now, all of his actions were seen through my spectacles of apprehension and wariness, like he was going to chloroform me at any moment and rape me.
So he had looked for me last night, saying that he was worried about where I had slept.
My interpretation: he didn’t want other creepers to get to me before he did.
He had bought me lunch.
My interpretation: he wants to guilt me into thinking it was a special favor in order to get into my pants.
He held the door open for me.
My interpretation: he wants me to think he’s nice.
But was I really just giving him too little credit? Was he actually a nice person, like his actions would suggest? However, at the same time, I couldn’t just let my guards down like that…it was so dangerous to trust and start to like a stranger, especially with the unique situation and relationship that we were in.
The galleries were full of modern art- not necessarily my favorite type of art to enjoy as I was more of a fan of Renaissance style art. But I found myself really enjoying myself- I had never really gone to art galleries before and I had especially never gone to a place of art with another person who had the same passion for art as I did.
I stepped up behind him as he was examining a painting with large text printed across the center. “So did you ever go into art? You seem pretty passionate about it.”
He gave a short laugh. “I tried but I was never any good.”
"Did you ever take lessons? Are you just being modest?"
"No, I’m serious, I’m just not good at all. I’ve tried it before."
"You can’t just give up if you’re not good at it from the start! A lot of people start off poorly but through hard work and not just sheer talent, they become good!"
He laughed quietly. “No no, just forget about it, I told you, I’m not good.” Suddenly, he reached around me and lifted my messenger bag off of my shoulder. As he turned back, I could smell his cologne on him. It smelled nice. “Here, let me hold this.”
I spun around confusedly. “No no, that wasn’t bothering me, you don’t need to hold it.” I tried to tug it back, but he refused to let go.
"No I’ll just hold it. I want to hold it.”
So I let him, my thoughts in a whirl.
I was getting pleasantly surprised at every moment, but at the same time, I was so confused. Why was he being so…nice to me? I had already slept with him, hadn’t I? And if I was now spending all this time with him, wouldn’t he logically think that he didn’t need to expend so much effort to get me to sleep with him again? I mean, the last time, all he had needed to do was feed me some alcohol and get me sufficiently horny and illogical enough to sleep with him. But now, he was buying me food, holding open doors, and carrying my bag?
I was judging him- and I was doing it so negatively. It made me feel somewhat ashamed of myself, especially when I remembered what my father always said of forming negative impressions of people based solely on physical appearances.
So while I wasn’t necessarily judging him based on physical appearance, wasn’t it basically the same thing if I was judging him based on the situation we happened to meet in?
Oh wait, my name was on my messenger bag! What if he found out my full name from looking at it? I was back to my suspicious, wary mode again.
I took my bag back quickly from him. He looked at me quizzically. “I can hold that for you.” He said.
"I want to drink water from my water bottle." I said, as a way of explanation, but I made sure to keep the side with my name on the inside, so he wouldn’t be able to see it.
Honestly, it was just so much easier to assume the worst out of him. This was not the time to let down my guards.
We walked back to the summer dorms, sipping the orange juice that he had bought from an expensive Italian restaurant. As we had walked out of the galleries into the hot sun, I had mentioned a slight orange juice craving that I usually had, since I was a huge fan of orange juice. I hadn’t expected him to pop into the first restaurant and order two cups of orange juice.
He hadn’t let me see the bill but as I sipped it through the straw, I could tell it was high quality and hand squeezed.
"You know, we could’ve just waited to go to CVS and bought probably much cheaper orange juice there."
He shrugged. “But you wanted orange juice. So I got orange juice.”
I couldn’t myself as my face broke into a grin. I reached over and ruffled his hair playfully. “Thanks for the orange juice.” I took another sip and smiled again. “I think I actually like hanging out with you.”
He gave me that small grin. “Okay.”
There was just something about him that I couldn’t place…
And then the next sentence slipped out, as I picked up my bag off of the floor and got ready to walk out of the door. “Um…I’ll call you later when I’m not busy if you want to hang out.”
He grinned. “Okay.”
Then I went to the office, my thoughts full of everything besides work.
That night, I walked back to the summer dorms, slightly tipsy. I know, it’s kind of a sign of an alcoholic to be drunk on a Monday night, right? But after the office, most of my co-workers and I had nothing to do. So we would just go out to a bar and just generally have fun. I would usually have no problems getting people to buy me drinks and so now, I was tipsy. Or drunk? I didn’t know exactly. It was so easy for me to get drunk anyways.
I called Trey on my cell phone.
"Hey." He said softly when he picked up. "Where are you?" The way he said ‘where’ sounded like there was an ‘a’ in the middle of the word.
"I’m by the summer dorms. Where are you?"
"I’m in my room."
Just like I thought he would be. “Are you studying? Can I come visit you? I’m in the lobby of the summer dorms right now.”
"Yeah… come visit me. I’ll be right down to sign you into the dorm."
As we rode the small elevator up to his room, I stood closer to him than I usually did, feeling his warmth next to me. This was different. For the first time, I’d actually be fully hitting on him, as opposed to waiting for him to drop large hints that he wanted to sleep with me or just kissing him out of the blue. If I wasn’t so drunk, this might be pretty awkward.
He put his key in but before he turned it completely to open the door, he turned to look at me. “Actually, I was thinking today…”
My hand dropped back to my side as I leaned my head against the door, half in exhaustion. I hated when people started off sentences like that- especially if I was drunk and not in the mood to think at all.
"I was thinking that we should just be friends."
I heard my mouth speak. “Oh ok.” Good, I said two words- like it was no big deal. Like I wasn’t here, completely ready to have sex, only to be rejected for the first time ever by a teenage guy with raging hormones. As I changed into pajamas (his borrowed t-shirt and shorts), I was glad, not for the first time, that I was drunk. This situation would be ridiculous/confusing enough to think about tomorrow morning, when I was sober.
I woke up that morning with a raging headache. Thank god the blinds were closed. The clock on his desk said 11 AM, which was later than I usually woke up, but I guess that was due to the closed blinds and the lack of glaring sun across my face. He was sitting at his desk, scribbling something in a Moleskine notebook.
As I got up to get a drink of water from my bottle, I looked at him, head cocked quizzically. “You know you look exactly like one of those hipsters- tall, lank, skinny, and white, writing something artsy in an overpriced Moleskine notebook.”
He didn’t look up. “I didn’t buy this notebook- someone gave it to me as a gift. And I don’t usually write in this type of journal.”
I made a face and said teasingly, “Oh boo, and that totally disapproved my hipster idea of you!” I laughed. “Well it doesn’t matter, because you still look the part.” As soon as my headache didn’t feel so bad anymore, I walked over to him and looked over his shoulder. “What are you writing?” Instead of the English I was expecting to see on the creamy pages, there was a foreign language that I could not read at all.
I sat down on the bed, close to his chair at the desk and grinned playfully. “So did you write anything about me?”
My grin grew wider. “Can I see?”
He shook his head. “This is private!”
"Please?" He didn’t move. "Please? PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE????"
He seemed to be looking at his journal in thought. Then, he made a sudden movement, as in decision, and flipped the journal open to a couple pages. I could make out a couple of English words on the page- one of them being “gorgeous”, scrawled neatly in gold ink. He pointed to that word and the entry. “This was when I first saw you in the study lounge. I was practicing writing out ‘gorgeous’ so I wouldn’t spell it wrong.” Below the entry, there was a missing piece of the paper, like he had ripped out a portion of the page. “This is where I ripped off a piece of paper to leave you that note.” In my mind, I could see the note that I had examined so minutely that day- and I was right, there had been the rounded edges and creamy paper of a Moleskine notebook.
Well at least this was confirmation that he was actually Trey, as opposed to some random guy who happened to pick up a phone with the phone number listed on the paper. Not that that made this situation any less weird.
"Translate the Korean you wrote in that entry! What else did you write about me??"
He shook his head and closed the journal. “Nothing. I’m not going to show you.”
"You mean there’s more written about me?! Show me!! I want to see!!"
"Maybe later." He capped the pen and put the journal away in his desk drawer. "Now what do you want to get for lunch?"
Work was pretty uneventful. As I waited for Trey to come down to the lobby to sign me into the summer dorms, I realized that he was basically the only thing that really changed with each day, preventing each day from becoming the same routine like it was for my co-workers. Right now, they were all going home to their real beds in their real apartments and maybe watching some television before falling asleep. Meanwhile, I was here.
At the table of the Vietnamese restaurant, I examined the Moleskine notebook that he had given me to carry in my large bag because he hadn’t wanted to carry it in his hands. “So what’s this say? Translate it for me!”
He looked annoyingly smug. “That’s why it’s written in Korean- so people like you can’t pry and figure out all of my secrets.”
I flipped through the earlier pages, the gold scrawl on each page looking more and more artistic. “OH HEY, here’s English!” Before he snatched it back, I was able to catch some words- ‘I wish I could come home from work and she’s be cooking dinner…’ I raised an eyebrow. “Hmm was that about your soul mate?”
"Well it’s not about you, so it shouldn’t concern you."
I sighed. “You guys are so sad! At least you are! So do something already! I can’t believe I’m trying to talk you into asking out a girl!”
He almost waggled his eyebrows at me. “Why, is it cause you’re interested in me so the irony of your position confuses you?”
His statement was closer to the non-existent target than I would’ve liked. Wait, this was ridiculous, I wasn’t jealous or anything. Jealous. What an ugly word. Where did that thought come from?
Yeah, wouldn’t that be awfully ironic- so awfully ironic if I fell in love with him, just because I have a tendency to always want what I can’t have.
After work, I turned down my co-workers’ offers to go to do hookah. And in the lobby, he was waiting for me with a book and his ever-present Moleskine journal. He held out a hand.
"Shall we go?"
We held hands very briefly for half a block before I dropped it. I’d rather drop his hand first than be the one that was dropped. Of course, since I am a true food glutton, we dropped by Insomnia Cookies to order a fresh batch of large chocolate chip cookies and then went to CVS where he insisted on buying me a drink. Naked Juice! I’ve never tried that. Eh, oh well, so it’s his money, he can choose how to spend it whatever way he chooses.
"So why are we watching this movie again?" I whispered as we sat down in the dark theater room, the previews still rolling on the screen. "Honestly- like ‘Coco & Igor’? Aside from being an indie film that isn’t shown in major theater outlets, isn’t this an awfully girly film about fashion and music?"
"Shh I paid for your ticket. I’m watching this because my friend is interested in fashion and she said that this movie should be good."
I noted that he didn’t refer to his soul mate by her proper label. Apparently, her label was now just “my friend”.
The movie was not that great. Maybe I’m just not into Igor Stravinsky’s music…or actually, I’ve never really been into fashion itself or indie films. Along with the general dreary atmosphere of the film and the distraction of the couple two rows in front of us who were making out/slobbering very heavily like two pigs in heat, it was somewhat hard to keep my eyes on the screen. And that’s when I noticed that his hand, lying on his knee, was just about two inches from mine.
He shifted in his seat and now his hand was in mine. It was warm and soft, I noticed, as I curled my fingers around his hand.
We held hands all the way back to the summer dorms and we didn’t let go even as we were in the elevator going up to his room.
After lunch, I went to Chinatown with my co-workers as Trey went to go do some questionable activities with his friends. (It was probably pot.)
She smiled excitedly and held up a magazine, “My Sixteen magazine arrived today! And look what was in it! A love quiz- ‘Are you in love or is it just a crush?’”
I couldn’t help laughing- sometimes, Kathy was really just a girly girl who liked “shopping, tanning, pink, and cute boys”. Those were her words, not mine, by the way.
She flipped open the magazine. “Okay, Louise, so are you ready to find out if you’re madly in love with your current crush?”
I laughed. “What? Who said I had a crush right now?”
She looked at me pointedly. “Oh please, don’t try to fool me, Louise, you’ve started turning down our invitations to do other stuff- that’s like prime evidence that you’re spending time with a man instead!”
I held up my hands defensively. “Okay, okay, so you’ve got me. So I do have someone that I’m fond of right now.” I thought of Trey and the way that he ate his chips with chopsticks and how he always held doors open for me and paid for my meals and how he folded each of his shirts so meticulously and how we had held hands last night… “But I assure you, I know that I’m not in love with him. Here, why don’t you ask Donovan instead?” I said, staring pointedly at him eavesdropping on our conversation.
And to my surprise, he said, “Ok.”
I arched my eyebrow while Kathy voiced my surprise for me. “Aww! Donovan likes someone! Who is it? Tell us! We promise we won’t tell anyone, ever!”
"Nope, I’m not going to tell you." I noticed that Donovan was having problems looking Kathy in the eye.
"Come on! Do we know her?"
Donovan folded his arms stubbornly. “I really won’t tell you. Yes, you do know her- but if you keep asking questions, I won’t do your quiz.”
Kathy resignedly looked back at her magazine. “Okay, fine. I’ll just make up a list of girl that you could possibly like and quiz you on them later!” She flipped a couple of pages. “Okay, so does your heart flutter every time you see her?”
Donovan was having problems restraining his smile. “Heart fluttering? Like a butterfly?”
Kathy nodded, her face very serious. Donovan sighed and composed his face. “Ok, so yes, my heart does beat faster every time that I see her.”
"Ok, next question! Do you always want to spend time with her, sometimes not even doing anything or even talking?"
"Not even sex?" He asked mischievously.
"No! Of course not sex!"
I saw him look up from the pavement and stare at Kathy who was absorbed in her magazine. “Yes.”
"Do you feel happy when she is happy? Do you want to help her succeed in her ambitions?"
I didn’t hear Donovan’s reply as I watched him awkwardly avoid looking Kathy in the eye again. I suddenly felt an inexplicably urge to grab him around the neck and give him a noogie.
"Do you find yourself unable to stop thinking about her?"
It was so adorable. Who would’ve known?
Later,as Kathy helped Shaun decide between the two jerseys he was looking at, I poked Donovan in the arm. “You like Kathy!” I grinned.
"Shh! Not that loud! Don’t shout it to the world!"
I beamed. “I’m so good at guessing! So how long has it been?”
He smiled ruefully. “Since about a couple weeks ago.”
"That’s good! You guys would be so cute as a couple!" No wonder he had stopped acting so weirdly around me, thank god. We had moved on well.
He poked me in the shoulder this time. “And who’s the guy that you like, huh? You can tell me.”
I stuck my tongue out at him. I thought I had successfully diverted attention from my person to Donovan’s crush, but apparently, he wasn’t to be shaken. “I’m not telling.”
He poked me again. “Come on Louise! Tell me. And you know that even if you don’t tell me, I’ll be able to guess correctly who it is.”
I folded my arms. “Oh yeah? Try me! I bet you can’t!”
"Is it Kenji?"
I struggled to keep my face form reacting in surprise. It didn’t work.
Donovan laughed. “You don’t need to say anything, it’s all over your face.”
How did he know?
"It was so obvious- he’s been buying you food, right? I know you, you’re such a food glutton that you’d hang around him long enough to like him."
I made a face and punched him in the arm. “That’s not how it goes!”
He patted me comfortingly. “It’s ok- I know you, you don’t have to lie about the circumstances.”
I scrunched up my nose. Okay, so maybe that had been how it started. Well, it wasn’t my fault that I was a starving college student!
When I looked back at Donovan, his face was serious. “However, I’m worried for you. I know Kenji- he’s a bad boy and he might break your heart.”
I burst out laughing. “You really think my heart can be broken? I don’t even believe in love! I’m just kind of fond of him.”
He didn’t smile back. “You really never know. He slept with quite a few girls last year. It’s really his British accent that gets girls, I think. I’m worried for you.”
I grinned. “You don’t need to worry about me. I’m the heartbreaker in my situations.
And at that moment, my phone rang. I checked the screen- it was Kenji.
"Louise? Louise, come get me please. I took too many of the pills and I can’t move."
I basically ran the entire way from Chinatown to the gym where he was sprawled out across a couch. I plopped down next to him and felt his forehead. “Trey! How could you? What did you do?”
He grinned. “Well, my friends and I went and did some pot and then we got really high and then we took muscle relaxers, except I took too many.”
I sighed in exasperation and threw my hands up in the air. “You took too many muscle relaxers? You made me run all the way here from Chinatown? Because you took too many muscle relaxers?” I grabbed him by the neck and gave him a hard noogie. “AARGH, I’M SO FRUSTRATED WITH YOU.”
He flailed in my arms. “Stop! Stop! My head hurts!”
As he extricated himself, I sighed. “Ok, we’re taking you home and we’re going to make you study for the rest of the day. Enough debauchery for you today.”
"After a short nap!"
I sighed. “Fine.”
He almost looked like he was pouting. “Why do you keep on sighing like you’re disappointed in me?”
I glared at him. “I am disappointed in you!”
As I hoisted him up and put his arm around my shoulders, he hugged me and nuzzled my neck. “I’m sorry, Louise, I won’t do it again…”
My next scolding died in my throat as I looked at him, half stumbling along like a child. Aw, he was so cute. Hey…wait, he just called me Louise! “How’d you find out my name?”
He grinned. “It’s on your university ID card- how do you think I signed you into the summer dorms each time?”
Ohh, he was so sneaky. I grabbed him again and ruffled his hair, hard.
"No! Don’t! My head hurts!"
As I tucked him into his bed, he held out his hand. “Louise! Come nap with me!”
I sighed in exasperation but I laid down next to him anyways. He immediately put his arms around me and snuggled with his head against my neck. “I’m glad that I don’t have to pretend that I don’t know your name anymore.”
I scrunched up my nose at him. “Yeah, you were being awfully sneaky there. I thought I had hid it so well too!”
"What, did you not want me to know? I can forget it if you’d like!"
I chucked and ruffled his hair. “I doubt you’d really be able to repress that memory.”
"No, I can! Watch me! I can do it! Oh, what’s your name again? Who are you?"
I laughed. “No no, I don’t mind if you know it. I was just hiding it from you in the beginning because I thought you were creepy.”
"And I’m not creepy anymore?"
"No, you’re not, unfortunately."
He chose to ignore my comment as he grinned into my neck. “Good, cause I didn’t want to forget your name in the first place.”
I smiled. “Okay.”
There was a slight silence.
"Also…thanks for coming to get me today. It really meant a lot to me. Thanks for being a really good friend."
And then he fell asleep. I was kind of glad he did because I really didn’t know what to say to that.
Kenji really scared me today. I could have lost a really good friend. tears start to swell. i sniffle so i wouldnt wake him. i prayed to god to thank for looking out for kenji. i realize i could have lost the guy i was in love with. just over a foolish mistake he did. Im in love with Kenji.