The First Night

"You're actually way cooler than you seem," Micah says, leaning back into the crazy fuchsia couch that I am suddenly glad to have acquired. I try not to let his confidence and easily misinterpreted words get to me, knowing that he is sincerely trying to compliment me. I don't know Micah Rosenberg very well personally—we have barely ever spoken more than a brief greeting to each other when our paths cross at work—but I have heard only good things about him from my other mall-working friends, which is probably why I ended up letting him in my house.

"Do you need pjs or something? I have some that might work…" I scratch nervously at the back of my neck and smile to mask the knowledge that the only clean pair of pajamas I have are scratchy, have fraying ends, and are not suitable to be given to guests.

"My hero!" He practically jumps off of the couch, rather than just standing up calmly like a normal person would. I grimace and lead him to my tiny, messy bathroom. I walk in first to shove the dirty towels out of sight and he follows me in, even though there isn't enough space for two people to stand comfortably. "This is cute." He leans to the side and peers into the shower stall as I try to pass him without rubbing against him too much and escape back into the slightly more spacious hall.

"I'll go get those pants… and will a t-shirt work or…?" I mentally search through my drawers for something suitable to give him. It's Monday night and I like to pretend that on Tuesday mornings I get out of bed and eagerly carry my clothes into the basement of the apartment complex where I live and do laundry. I know that there aren't many options and consider giving him one of the shirts I've hidden away and deemed 'too special to wear.'

"Nah, it's kind of warm, so I'll just take those pants…" He leans against my sink and continues to look around the bathroom.

"Right… I'll uh, turn up the air." I turn away and head toward my bedroom, where I have a window model air conditioner that can only really cool one room. I set the temperature as low as it will allow me—64 degrees, for some reason—and try to prop my bedroom door open so maybe some of the air will reach the living room.

In my dresser I find that scratchy last pair of pjs, only clean because I never wear them, and curse his terrible timing. If only whoever was supposed to be picking him up from work had bailed tomorrow night instead, I try to tell myself, the house would be clean and he could wear nice pants. I am not entirely convinced. I tend to procrastinate, and usually run out of clothes completely before going down to do laundry… the basement freaks me out. In one last desperate attempt to find something better than the horrible pants I'm holding, I check the bottom drawer of my dresser, where I keep only things that no longer fit me and certainly wouldn't fit him because of his height. There are a few pairs of jeans, a shirt that was always too tall, and no pjs. I head back to the bathroom and try not to look too defeated.

"Thank you so much!" he says, grabbing the pants from my hand and grinning widely. "I am so sorry for troubling you." He doesn't look sorry at all, but I just nod and walk away, back to my room to look through my dirty clothes for something to wear. I find a pair of pjs that I already wore for several days, before finally spilling coffee on them and throwing them into the pile of dirty clothes and a t-shirt that only has a few stains and smells relatively normal. I change quickly and crawl into bed, trusting that he is at least capable of finding his way back to the couch.


At eight the next morning my alarm goes off. I don't have to be at work until two and would normally stay in bed for several hours until I finally have to get up and put on my uniform—I work as a security guard in the mall, where Micah works in some overpriced clothing retailer that I would never be able to shop in—but instead I get up and gather my dirty clothes. Even the towels.

I have some trouble getting through the living room, as Micah has found out how to turn the couch into the bed and there was no room for even just a couch, but once I am through that mess, the trip to and from the basement is considerable uneventful. I don't even have the usual run-in with Mrs. Logan's ferocious cat.

When I return, clean laundry in hand, he has somehow shed his pants and is sprawled across the couch in a way that makes it very difficult to cross. Still, I manage. Without even staring at his boxer briefs for too long; I'm a pro.

When he wakes up, he wanders into my bedroom and interrupts my several hours of internet viewing. "How was the couch?" I ask, not looking up from the game I'm playing.

"Like sleeping on a million dollars," he says, and I glance up to see him still standing awkwardly in the doorway, now fully clothed, at least.

"My mom got it for like ten at a yard sale," I tell him, and see the disbelief in his eyes. "Truthfully, I was happy with just my chair."

"That one?" he points to the corner of my bedroom where I have shoved my favorite chair, since there is no longer room elsewhere in my apartment. I nod and he crosses the few feet of space that I have managed to keep empty. He sits down in my chair and leans back a little. "It's okay… But really man, that couch."

I chuckle and close my laptop. "So, do you need to be dropped off somewhere or anything? I normally leave for work at around one-forty…"

He shakes his head. "I have better service here than at work… My brother said he'd be around to pick me up in a few minutes…"

"Ahh, okay…" I say, and pull myself out of bed. "Do you want some breakfast or orange juice or something? I think I have some milk for cereal, and I've got pop tarts…"

For a moment he looks confused, but his smile returns and he nods. "Yeah, some orange juice would be great."

I leave my room and head for the kitchen, he follows, and each time I glance back at him, he has found some new random item to be interested in. I pour orange juice into both of my cups and hand one of them to him. He drinks it slowly while standing at the island counter that separates the kitchen from the living room and around the time he finishes his drink he receives a text and says goodbye, but only after thanking me about a million more times.