I fell back onto my bed. Even in a heated apartment, the cool sheets reminded me that I had been out all day without a moment of rest. My stomach growled. It was late, far too late to eat a meal and consider it dinner. The apartment was quiet, a perk from my roommate staying at her new boyfriend's apartment. These days she was rarely around. My eyes closed shut in refusal to move. Even at the immediate need of nourishment, the refreshing welcome of a cold bed was way more important. I felt a vibration from my back pocket with a familiar melody following it. Ah, I was receiving a call.
"Who the hell... at this time..." I mumbled to myself, eyes still closed as I slipped my phone out of my pocket and blindly answered the call. I placed the phone beside my bed and set it to speaker.
"Yes?" I asked, obviously annoyed.
"Something like that."
I recognized the voice immediately. I rested my forearm over my eyes. My face suddenly felt warm. My heartbeat quickened. Of course it was him. Other than my mother's paranoid and overbearing calls, he was the only one to call me at such an hour without hesitation or apology. The usual reason for his calling was—
"You have to listen to this new band I came across today."
—that. Even now as college kids living to our own devices, nothing about our relationship from high school had changed. In fact, our friendship from high school had been built solely from those words alone. We always exchanged music with one another, recommended songs and bands, even attending concerts together. Even at such a novice age, we had deep conversations about the intimate details of our personal lives. A fair number of people always joked about us being too close for a "platonic relationship" as we had categorized it. Both of us laughed it off, him saying that I was "like a bro" and me just laughing. Back then I was well aware that even if I wanted to be more than friends, there was always someone else in his heart.
"One of their songs, it starts so slow and epically beautiful, then it builds up and drops into some disco-techno-dance-rock stuff."
"Sounds like my kinda jive," I replied, picking myself up from the bed and taking the phone with me as I headed towards the kitchen.
"It's my kind of jive, too! That's how I knew you'd like it. And there's this other song of there's you should listen to, too. It's just straight up dance-indie rock meets some garage style drums."
"Hell, that's right up my alley," I placed the phone on the counter and looked through my cupboards.
"Right? Kindred spirits! Here, I'll save you the trouble of looking it up, I'll play that song over the phone right now."
The sound of bumps and clicks emitted before the song began to play. I nodded my head to the beat as I pulled out a jar of peanut butter and laid out two slices of bread. I pulled a knife from one of the drawers and began to spread the peanut butter just as the singer began the chorus. I smiled to myself while tapping my foot in time with the drums. I hummed along, catching on to the gist of the melody. I could faintly hear him humming along as well. The second verse came and went and by the time the last repeat of the chorus came along, he was full-out singing along with the vocalist. My smile had grown wide. He hadn't changed a bit. The song faded out and there was a moment of silence before he spoke.
"You're smiling right now aren't you?" He knew me too well.
"Correct as per usual, my good fellow." I reached into a different cupboard for EZ-Squeeze bottle of honey and squeezed some onto a slice before putting both halves of my sandwich together.
"See? They're great!"
"You best have downloaded their entire discography because I'm expecting an email by the end of the night with the correct attachments."
"Oh of course. You know I always do," he said, chuckling.
I bit into my sandwich. There was another moment of silence as I chewed.
"Hey, uh," he started awkwardly. I imagined him sitting at his desk looking down at his twiddling fingers, a nervous habit of his.
"Hey uh, what?" I asked, mouth full with half-chewed bread, peanut butter, and honey.
"So... she—Amanda I mean—she and I broke up."
I stopped chewing and threw my phone a bewildered look, hoping it would somehow get through to him. "You two what? When? WHY?"
Amanda had been the girl that I knew was always in his heart. The two of them had a rocky history that went back into the freshman year of high school. Freshman and sophomore year they were head over heels, awkwardly stumbling, in love with one another. Then junior and for most of senior year they absolutely despised one another, shit-talking the other in hushed conversations. He always complained to me about how dealing with her was like walking on eggshells. Near the end of senior year they had finally gotten over their differences and realized their repressed feelings for one another. There were mixed reactions amongst the audience, but I had always known deep down he cared for her. And up until now, I thought that they were still happily dating.
"She just got too annoyed with some of my habits I guess," he laughed softly. "My fault though, for not being able to fix some of the things she didn't like about me."
"It's not your fault for being who you are."
"I guess so, but I know she had to put up with a lot of my shit over the years. I'm not the easiest person to get along with."
"Stop saying things like that. I can get along with you just fine." I took another large bite of my sandwich.
"Yeah... but you're different."
"How am I different?" I furrowed my brows and leaned against the counter.
"You just... you just get me. I don't know, you just understand people easier, it's just who you are. I don't have to explain myself to you because you already know—"
My cheeks felt too warm. I stared at my sink full of dirty dishes to distract myself from the tingly feeling that was working its way up from my toes.
"—because you're like a bro."
I shoulders dropped and I suddenly lost my appetite. I wanted to throw my phone across the room. I was hurt and pissed, more so at myself for being so upset for the unfortunate labeling of my feelings for him. Just like in high school, I was bro-zoned again.
"Yeah, true," I muttered bitterly, just loud enough for him to hear.
"But I can understand she wanted to leave me I mean—"
"—will you shut the fuck up?" I snapped, my eyes narrowed at the dishes in anger.
"You're a great guy, a wonderful catch. Sure you have habits that annoyed the hell out of her, but when you care about someone you learn to look past those things because in the greater scheme of things they don't matter. You are fine just the way you are It's her fault for being so nit-picky. It's her fault for not seeing you for the awesome person you are. It's her fault for losing such an amazing person. She doesn't deserve someone like you. Now will you please stop beating yourself down?"
There was a deafening silence. My heart was pounding rapidly in my chest. My face felt like it was on fire. I was so embarrassed at my own words that I wanted to crawl into the deepest crevice of the ocean floor and die. The seconds of hush that ticked away felt like hours.
"...N-Next month I'll be playing an acoustic gig with my band in your city..."
"Ah, oh really?" I had forced a more chipper tone. "That's awesome, I haven't seen the rest of the guys in a while. I wonder how they're-"
"—I want you to come. I mean... that is... um, if it isn't too much trouble for you to come out and see me—see us play, I mean."
I knew that at the moment he was nervously running a hand through his blonde hair and biting his lip. I could feel the reverberations of my beating heart throughout my chest.
"Yeah, I'll definitely try to make it out to see you guys. Things have been a bit hectic lately, but I'll try my best. I want to come, too."
There was another gut-wrenching pause.
"A-Alright. I'll hopefully see you then. You're probably tired, I'll let you off to sleep."
"Oh okay," I tried my best not to sound dejected. I didn't want our conversation to end on such an awkward note.
"Thanks for tonight though," he was mumbling. "Talking to you always seems to make my day end a little bit better."
"No problem," I was thankful that he couldn't see my forced smile. "It's what bro's are for, right?"
"Good night. Sleep well."
"Night, same to you."
The call ended and I held my phone as I sunk down to the linoleum floor. I had never felt so much like a fool before. My face was still too warm and I felt nauseous from the embarrassment. I saw the notification on my phone of a new email with media attachments. I didn't have the heart to look at it. I was too distracted by the bad aftertaste of peanut butter and honey in my mouth.
The days slid into the next month slowly. I hadn't spoken to him since that phone call. The closest interaction I received was a text message that held the date and time of the show. It was just an acoustic set, so it was free and my college student wallet cried with glee. I realized that the date was this Friday. I let out a sigh of relief knowing that I was completely free that night and the rest of the weekend, not to mention my roommate would be gone again. I was happy, ecstatic even. But in the days that followed, there were no more texts or calls so when I found myself outside of a familiar coffee shop venue that chilly Friday night I felt like I was intruding.
I was late by fifteen minutes, only because I was called in to take care of an emergency at work. But being late to important events was always a bad habit of mine. Even so, I felt embarrassed as I walked through the front door. They were in the middle of a song and his voice was still as soothing as ever. His eyes were shut so he hadn't seen me enter. I was thankful though. It would have been more embarrassing for him to see me walk inside late, out of breath, and slightly shivering. I made my way to the front counter. I needed to order something to warm me up and to distract me if I became too entranced with his voice. The barista lightened up at the sight of me.
"Ah, there you are. He said you'd probably be late. Chai tea latte. He told me to keep it warm for you. Paid for you, too." He pulled out the food from behind the counter
"Huh?" I tilted my head at him, completely lost.
"The vocalist," he gestured over. "He said to look for the girl with the red striped wool hat and the penguin mittens. He also said you'd probably be wearing a hooded sweater. The guy's pretty spot on."
I tugged at my hat and looked down at myself. My cold rosy cheeks began to warm up. I mumbled a soft 'thank you' to the barista before taking my drink and inconspicuously slipping into an empty seat in the back of the place. I let myself settle in to the sound of his voice and the guitar that strummed along with him. He and I always agreed that acoustic always sounded better. The song ended and everyone in the shop clapped. I could see him clearly from where I was sitting. His blue eyes were caught in a straight line with mine. His lips quirked upward in a grin. I had never felt shy around him, but suddenly bashful was the headline front and I immediately looked back at my drink.
"Just want to thank everyone for making it out tonight," he said into the microphone. "I know it's a little chilly outside, but you're glad you're here warming up and listening to us. The next two songs are from our newly released EP..."
I closed my eyes and sipped my drink. I soft smile made its way to my face as they continued on to another song. Despite its "new release" I had been given a copy of it months before. I remembered that every night, every time there was a forward step in the process, he would call me. No matter the time, no matter the day, he would call like an over-excited child awaiting Santa in July. There was a slight feeling of emptiness in my chest, something that had appeared in the days he hadn't talked to me. I hated the way our last conversation ended and it wasn't until now that I realized how much I missed talking to him. And with him right in front of me, I realized just how much I missed being close to him. My feelings from high school hadn't wavered a bit.
I remembered the days we sat at the tables next to each other in class, sleep-deprived and uninterested in the lesson. My head would fall into my arms on the desk and his head would fall onto my shoulder. During the many drives to school together we would turn up the stereo and loudly sing along to our favorite band's new CD. And those moments between musical performances where we'd fall asleep under the light board table in the auditorium booth. When we both woke up we always found ourselves closer than where we started. There was only one time that I had woken up before him and that time I found that his arm was holding me close with an arm around my waist. I was so startled that I quickly left the booth blushing profusely.
Back then it was in that moment that I knew I wanted to be more than just friends with him. I wanted him to hold me like that all the time. I wanted to be around him more and more, even if I knew it was an unrequited love. I didn't have the heart or the courage to break the comfort we'd accomplished as friends. The reason we were so comfortable before was because neither of us had to worry about one liking the other. I refused to jeopardize our friendship over something like that. So, I forced myself to grow accustomed to us being apart and pursuing our dreams in different states and cities. I forced myself to being okay with being his "bro" and nothing more. I forced myself to be okay with him being with Amanda. Even if it hurt, even if it was unfair.
The applause of the crowd snapped me out of my thoughts. I had spaced out for those two songs. His blue eyes caught with mine once more. My heart skipped a beat, I parted a sheepish grin, and brought my hand up in a small wave. But maybe now that Amanda was no longer in his life, slowly, he'd start to fall for me. Maybe just maybe.
"This is our last song for tonight. Thanks again everyone for coming out," he said softly. "This next song I wrote about this girl named Amanda."
I stopped breathing.
"Amanda, she was an important person to me... she still is. I will love—"
I stood up. I didn't care how loud the chair was moving against the floor. God, how could I be so optimistic? I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to hear any of it. I didn't care the heads that turned as I left the venue in a rush. God, what was I thinking?
"This is bullshit," I mumbled to myself, walking down the street in the direction of my apartment. I went to push away hair from my face, but when a part of my mitten became damp, I realized that tears were rolling down my face. The cold wind turned them to ice. I furiously wiped my cheeks, and then realized that I was going in the complete opposite direction. I groaned and decided I'd take the long way home.
"I'm an idiot," I said into the pillow. "I was so rude and so embarrassing. Why did I do that? I'm an idiot."
After coming home half frozen I stripped down to my undergarments, threw on an oversized sweater, heated up an entire apple pie, and mixed a large cup of hot chocolate. I sat on the floor of my living room crying, alternating between sips of hot chocolate and eating forkfuls of the baked good until I was so distraught that I stabbed myself in the tongue with the fork. Then I grabbed the throw pillow and fuzzy blanket off the couch and decided to cry on the floor instead. I cried for a good fifteen minutes before I came to my senses. I spent the next twenty minutes regretting everything I had just done in accordance with my entire existence.
"Oh god, he's never going to talk to me after this," I flailed under the blanket in anger. "God damnit!"
There were a series of knocks on my door. I assumed it was my roommate, coming back just to pick up a few things before going back to her boyfriend's. I stayed curled up under the blanket. She had a key anyway. After a moment the knocks happened again.
"Use your damn key Trisha!" I yelled at the door. "Don't tell me you lost it again!"
"This bitch," I grumbled, managing to stand up with the blanket pulled around me. I headed to the door and opened it, ready to kick my roommate's ass. "Trisha I swear to Virgin Mary—"
A pair of arms enveloped me (and the blanket) in a tight hug. He smelled like roasted coffee beans.
"You need to make more friends. No one knows where you live." His coat was cold, he was out of breath, his heart was beating fast. He must have been frantic trying to find me. The regret for my existence grew tenfold. I stepped away from him.
"What are you doing here?"
"I came to explain—"
"—no, no, no I'm the one that should do some explaining. I left so rudely like that, I probably caused a scene—"
"—hey just let me—"
"—you're so cold, I'm so sorry I—"
"—shut UP," he grabbed my arm and pulled me into another hug after shutting the door behind him. The blanket fell to my feet. "Just let me explain, okay? Will you stop your blubbering until I'm done talking?"
"What I was saying, before you left, was that Amanda was an important person to me and yeah she always going to be—she's the first person I've ever loved. I'll love all the memories I got to share with her."
I shut my eyes and clenched my jaw. Is this was he really wanted to say to me?
"But, even though I loved her, none of it could compare to when I was with you. Loving her made me realize how much more I loved you."
My eyes snapped open.
"Being with you always made me happier. In high school, we could talk about anything, and I do mean anything, things I was too embarrassed to talk about with Amanda or anyone else for that matter. I was never embarrassed around you, even though I'm sure I looked like a fool tons of times. I loved being with you because you understood me without any words. I had never felt something so amazing before. I—"
"—NO. Stop saying things like this."
I pushed him away. My face was red, I was well aware of it, but that didn't matter. I couldn't believe the things he was saying to me. How could he say such things so easily? All those years I spent trying to keep the distance between us, preserving our friendship, the barriers I had built between us were crumbling down. He grabbed my wrist and I noticed that his face was just as red at mine.
"—I realized I loved you back then. You know how we used to fall asleep in the booth? Every time we fell asleep—damnit you were so cute—my arm was always around your waist. You were completely out so you never knew. But every single time, I held you close to me because it felt so natural. I was too scared to admit my feelings because I didn't want to ruin what we had. I didn't want to make a mistake. I didn't want to make things awkward between us. So I forced myself to forget about ever dating you and when I saw how supportive you were of me and Amanda I just—"
"—you jerk the reason I was supportive in the first place was because I knew you stilled loved her! Do you know how much I hated that? I was head over heels for you, but I knew that there wasn't any room for me in that stupid heart of yours because Amanda was still inside every crevice of it—"
He pulled—more rather yanked—me into him. His lips crashed into mine, one arm around my waist, one cupping my face. I could feel the barriers between us being reduced to dust.
He kissed me again. Pulled me closer. My body felt hot to his touch. We broke apart for a moment.
"I'm done waiting. I've reached my limit with you," he whispered. His face was red and he couldn't look me in the eye. My heart was racing double-time and with our bodies so close I could feel his heart beating in his chest. It was beating just as fast as mine. Their cadence perfectly in sync with one another.
His lips captured mine and his cold fingers moved under my shirt and up my back. I gasped into his mouth and he took the opportunity to entangle his tongue with mine. In a fluid motion he pushed me against the door. His lips moved to my neck.
"You should listen to this new band..." I said, breathless as I was making quick work of undoing the buttons on his coat.
"Mmm?" he said against my skin.
"They have this new song out—ahh..." I felt a hand traveling up my inner thigh, I tilted my head back.
I felt him grinning against my collarbone. "Oh?"
"Mhm—ohh," I let out a moan. "It's called 'You Should Stay the Night'."
His lips fell onto mine once more. He was smirking.
"Sounds like my kinda jive."
Well by golly, it's been what, two years now? I'm trying to get back into the swing of things, ya see. I feel that some people are confused. This is a ONESHOT, so there will be no updates and nothing else for me to write.
However, I wish you all the best! Happy reading, happy writing!