Minneapolis

We stole a cup full of lemons from Chipotle and, laughing, ran out the door of the restaurant before anyone could notice.

Hand-in-hand, we walked quickly up the street to his dorm-like apartment. His friends were waiting, trying to beat a level of Peggle on a gaming computer connected to a flat-screen television. I waved the cup of lemons triumphantly, and the others flooded the kitchen and began pulling bottles from the freezer and tumblers from cupboards.

We got drunk off glasses of clementine vodka and watermelon pucker, each drink garnished with a cheery lemon wedge. Between rounds, his roommate poured shot glasses of grape juice for the girls and taught us how to throw the sticky liquid to the backs of our throats to finish the drink in one swallow. We felt like champs, finally able to drink on par with the boys.

In the early morning we walked Angie back to her dorm room. She and I linked arms as she drunkenly told me the details of a recent break-up. The boys, hearing the tears in her voice, dropped back and soon lagged a dozen yards behind us. I stopped and gave her a deep hug; she dragged her jacket sleeve across her eyes and smiled at me. Maybe I can live with her when I move here, I thought.

Twenty minutes later, he and I tumbled onto his living room futon, exhausted. Without warning, tears began spilling down my cheeks, leaving sloppy trails.

Why? he asked. Why now?

I don’t know, I said, standing up and pacing the small room. Angie is so sad and you’re far away all the time and we fight and you’re always in class. I don’t know. I don’t. I want to be with you now. It can’t wait any longer. I hate where I am and I hate never seeing you and I hate fighting. My breath grew ragged as my tears became a full-blown panic attack. I wrapped my arms around myself, shoulders heaving.

Stop. Stop, please. You’re drunk and tired. It’s okay. Let’s just sleep now. He rose from the futon and wrapped me in his arms, halting my frantic steps. My head dropped listlessly against his chest.

He caught my hand in his and pulled me gently back to the futon, where he made me lay down. He spread a blanket over me and tucked our shared stuffed frog into my arms, then asked where I’d left my iPod.

Your desk, I murmured, trying to ignore my still-pounding heart.

He disappeared for a moment, returning with the device. He plugged it into the speaker system, then spun the dial, face screwed in concentration. After a few moments, Ms. John Soda wafted over the room.

Can you sleep now? he asked. This is good music for sleeping, even for you.

I nodded. He turned off the lamp, then climbed under the blanket with me. He turned his body to curl around mine. We usually slept on the futon so we had space to ourselves; we hated touching at night because we were both such light sleepers. But that night, his fingers slowly stroking the waistband of my boxers was the only thing tethering me to earth.

That was our last night together. I think he knew.

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Filed under Experience, Touch

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