******** I WROTE THIS SHORT STORY A WHILE BACK. IT’S ACTUALLY KIND OF A TRUE STORY, JUST A LITTLE MORE EXAGGERATED. IT’S GONE THROUGH SO MANY REVISIONS, ESPECIALLY THE ONE I JUST GAVE IT 10 MINUTES AGO. I DON’T KNOW WHY , BUT
HE’S BEEN ON MY MIND A LOT LATELY. ANYWAY, I WANTED TO SHARE IT WITH YOU ALL. I THINK ENOUGH TIME HAS PASSED SINCE THEN FOR ME TO POST THIS. IT’S NOT GREAT, BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE READ IT IN IT’S FIRST DRAFT. I HOPE YOU ALL ENJOY. *********
I’m sitting in an arm chair on the second floor of the library, looking out at the wall of windows. Monochromatic shades of gray clouds swirl in the sky, threatening to burst with rain. Birds fly to seek shelter while humans walk around precariously with no umbrella, shrugging into their coats.
I just spent two hours studying for a Statistics test, so I’m allowing myself a little longer to day dream in the library before I go home to finally get some rest. As I’m looking out of the window I’m replaying the events of the day in my mind. Stopping, fast forwarding, pausing, rewinding.
No, I wasn’t thinking about the lectures in class, or the lab I performed in Chemistry. I was thinking about him. I was thinking about the way his hair brushed over his forehead today, or the way he said my name to ask me if I can help him with a problem. How his hand lightly brushed against mine when he reached over for the beaker in lab, or how nice his body fit in the sweater he wore. Stop. Fast forward. Pause. Rewind.
A quick glance at the time tells me it’s three o’clock. Time to go.
I grab my purse and my book bag, and sling them both on my shoulder. Raindrops start to hit the window, so I hurry down the stairs and head out the front door into the cold. That’s when I realize that I forgot my coat in my car. I curse under my breath and start walking, shrugging into myself to try and keep warm. I can feel tiny drops of rain hit my face. The rain drops got larger as I made my way to the student parking lot. A flash of lightning goes off, and that’s when the water starts to pour. I curse even louder.
Others around me rush to their car, or whatever destination they had in mind to get out of the rain quicker. I was fumbling to retrieve my keys from my purse when I notice that I’m being shielded from the rain. I look up to see what I just walked under. A jacket?
A voice fills my ear. His voice. “I’ll walk you to your car.”
Dumbfounded, I look up at him like an idiot. He smiles. Oh, that smile. My body is suddenly frozen, and something tells me it’s not from the weather.
I must have stalled for a long time because he looked a bit concerned now.
“Gazel? You OK?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. Yeah, I’m OK,” I assure him, snapping out of whatever trance I was just in.
“Where’s your car? I’ll walk you to it,” he offers again.
“Oh, thanks. Um….It’s just over there,” I point to a silver Nissan Xterra a couple rows away.
“Come on,” he urges.
Both huddled under his jacket, we remain silent as we run to my car. I could smell his cologne, or whatever he uses. Soap? Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. That scent is forever embedded into my memory.
We make it to my car, and I unlock it with the key remote. He helps me in, making sure his jacket is still protecting me against the rain. His jacket, I notice, is already soaking wet, and won’t be able to protect anyone from this waterfall of rain any longer.
I put the key to the ignition, and thank him.
“No problem,” he says before I close my door.
He turns away to leave when I see him completely ditch his jacket and just sling it over his arm. I start to feel bad for the guy, so on impulse I step back out into the rain and call after him. He turns at my call and laughs when he sees that I have just gotten myself completely drenched, his efforts wasted.
Blushing, I step forward and ask, “Did you park far?”
“Kind of. I parked in Lot D.”
Kind of? We were in parking Lot A. Parking Lot D was on the other side of campus. I wanted to think about what that meant for a while, but I had other plans at the moment.
“Let me give you a ride to your car,” I offer.
He hesitates to think about it.
“Please? It’s the least I can do,” I say to persuade him.
“OK. Thanks.” He heads over to the other door, and we both get into my car. My heartbeat speeds.
We spend the time in my car talking about school, never straying away from the subject to anything personal. It was always like that when I was with him. We talk, but we never got into the personal details. I tried a few times, but it always got awkward. “How was your weekend?”
“Fine. How was yours?”
“Good. I saw a movie with my friends”
Okaaaayy, I say to myself.
So, he wasn’t the talkative type. It was his actions that spoke the most.
He skipped class once to stay and study with me. We were cramped in one of the study rooms in the library basement, with nothing but the scratch of our pencils filling the silence. He’d looked up once in a while to smile, or quiz me on something, coming up with funny clues to help me remember the answer.
Another time he looked for me all over campus for help on a question that should have been pretty easy to answer. “Oh, yeah. Yeah. I knew that. I was just making sure,” was his excuse. I still have to laugh at that memory.
And then there’s today, when he held his jacket over me while he walked me to my car through the rain. It’s hard enough analyzing the tests in Chemistry Lab, this is a whole new subject I’m not so clear on. What does this mean? What kind of chemistry is happening here, if any at all?
I didn’t know.
The small talk between us continued, and before I knew it I was turning the car into Parking Lot D. The rain settled down to a light drizzle.
“It’s the ratty green car on the second row,” he informed me.
I drove up and parked my car behind an old green Dodge Intrepid. “Hey, a car’s a car. At least it runs. You can’t beat that.”
He paused for a second to think. “That’s true.” He looked at me and we gave each other half smiles. “Well…” he began to say with a grunt as he lifted his backpack to his lap. “Thanks for the ride.”
“No problem.” I could already feel my heart sink as I watched him reach for the door handle. He was already out of the car and ready to close the door when a strong surge of impulsiveness went through me. I took this as a sign. This was my chance. I had to try. All these past weeks of dancing around the idea of making the first move gave me all the courage in the world to motivate me to do what I never had the guts to do.
Before he closed the door I called out to him again, “Hey, wait!” the door swung back open and he popped his head back into the car. At that same moment, a break in the clouds let loose a ray of light. It shown on his damp hair, highlighting gold like strands.
The look on his face was almost expectant and a smile played around his lips. “Yeah?”
“Uh….I….” Panic caused me to lose my nerve, and I lost my train of thought. The courage left me faster than it struck. I desperately tried to think of what to say. “I….just. I just wanted to say thanks, too. For earlier.”
His face seemed to have fallen, and the smile faltered. “Yeah, no problem.” He shut the door. I blinked as I watched him walk to his car.
Disappointment in myself washed over me, and I hit my head on the stirring wheel. “Ow.” I said, rubbing my forehead.
Just as I was about to release the break and put the car in drive, the door flew open again. To my utter surprise, he sat back down in the seat he just vacated moments ago. I starred, motionless. He was quiet for a moment, looking at his lap.
“Did you forget something?” I asked.
“No,” he answered flatly.
“I mean, yeah. I did forget something.”
“OK. What is it? It has to be around here somewhere.” I began looking around the seats, looking for anything that he could have possibly dropped, but he wasn’t looking with me. Instead, he shifted in his seat and was facing me now.
“Gazel, I…I wanted. I mean, I’ve been…”
I cut him off, suddenly feeling anxious and curious. “Randy, what is i—”
I never got to finish what I was going to say because he had taken my left cheek into his palm. He was leaning in, holding my gaze. My breath caught in my lungs, and my heart was beating so fast that it probably turned into a soft hum in the center of my chest.
When his lips met with mine, I inhaled sharply and might have sent the wrong message. He parted from me, and looked into my eyes searchingly, and that’s when I took my chance. I leaned forward just as he did, and took his lips onto mine. The kiss was soft, and testing. He moved the hand that was on my cheek to the back of my head. Not to press us closer together, but to cradle it.
Our lips parted, and he trailed kisses along my jaw to my ear. “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to do that,” he whispered.
“I think I have a pretty good idea,” I said with a smile. He pulled back to look me with a slightly comical shock on his face.
“Do you now?” He asked rhetorically with a smile.
We both leaned in again, somehow both knowing that this time it wasn’t for a kiss. Our foreheads touched, and we sat like that smiling at each other.
We didn’t know it, but a line of cars had formed behind us. The drivers honked and beeped at us to move, but we ignored them for a moment.
Honk, beep, honk, beep, beep, beep, beep….
I opened my eyes to find myself horizontal. I rolled over routinely, and hit the snooze button. Seven thirty AM. Looking up, I saw a familiar white ceiling. The space next to me was occupied only by pillows. The sunlight that shown from my window fell over my blankets. I sat up, and leaned against the headboard. My eyes were still heavy with sleep, so I tried rubbing it away.
The dream still lingered at the edges of my memory, flashing bits and piece to the front of my brain. I swore I could still feel the rebounding of a kiss on my lips, and a light pressure on my forehead.
As good dreams went, it left me feeling euphoric. But realization of how much I wanted that dream to be real brought tears to my eyes. The euphoria drained away, leaving me empty.
My vision blurred.
The tears spilled.