After class I went back to my dorm for a second shower. Despite the wind chill, I was sweating beneath my clothes, and foul odors had begun to creep into my nose from the crack of my underarms.
Coming out of the bathroom in my towel, I plopped down on my bed and proceeded to rub lotion down my leg. My eyes caught something disturbing as I rubbed upward.
I traced a finger across my inner thigh. Two stretch marks weaved together in a Y-shaped pattern. I fumed and cursed it in silence. ]
I walked up to the life-size mirror in my nakedness and examined my figure: large thighs, muscular calves, skinny arms, average torso and a flat stomach. Some body this is I thought to myself. I scowled at the face looking back at me.
“What the fuck?”
My phone started ringing. I knew it was Josh. I was probably a little late.
“Hey, where are you? It's cold as shit here.”
“I'm uhh....I'm at my dorm. I'll be there in a minute.”
“Can't I just come to your dorm? I mean I....”
Hope flashed through me. Could he not be doing what I thought he was gonna do?
“You know what? Nevermind Jake. I'll be here. Just hurry it up will ya?”
I closed the phone and got dressed without thinking. Any thinking would surely break my composure. I threw my coat over my shoulders and headed out. I caught myself in the mirror when I reached the door. The disproportionate figure stared at me with sheer fear and disgust in his eyes. My stomached churned, urging me to look away from the eyesore. I hurled the door open and slammed the door behind me. I sped down the stairs and powerwalked into the cold night.
I jogged up to the James Corey building two blocks down, where Josh was waiting. He was leaning on the wall by the door, keeping an eye on his car on the curb. I slowed when he'd noticed I was there and stopped an uncomfortable distance away.
“Remember the first day we met?” he said not looking at me.
I smiled faintly at the memory. Josh looked up into the moonlight that illuminated his figure, “You were so introverted. I loved seeing you blush, I thought it was so adorable.” His eyes moved to me, a nostalgic smile shining in my direction. My eyes plummeted to the ground in shyness.
“Yeah...yeah I remember.”
“I'd always thought that one day, you'd open to me about what went through your mind that day.”
His smile faded, and an all-knowing gaze looked at me. All the nostalgia had faded, and I'd felt painfully exposed.
I broke eye contact again. “I wish I knew what you were talking about.” I said into the silence.
For a while we just stood there. My eyes remained on the poorly lit brick walkway leading up to his beat-up gym shoes. I flinched when one of them rose up to press against the wall followed by a deep sigh. My eyes rose to his profile looking to the side. He blinked heavily and licked his lips. “Jake, I can't deal with this anymore.”
“Deal with what? What did I do?”
The faux shock failed to fool even me, and before I could finish, he had risen from the wall and groaned loudly in frustration.
“Jake! Would you knock it off?! For just five minutes would you just--”
He stopped mid-sentence and bit his tongue. He probably thought it was futile, and know I'd still pretend to be confused despite his frustrated outbursts.
Fear pushed my words back into my throat. I couldn't speak to him. I cowered when his figure ventured closer to me. My foot shot behind me instinctly. He opened his arms and encircled them over my shivering body. He cupped the back of my head and squeezed my waist with the other. My shivers ebbed and my exhausted head fell into his collarbone.
I felt his lips press on my forehead gently and suddenly I was warm. Memories surged through me. The many nights I'd spent locked in his embrace played in front of my eyes , focusing on our smiling faces locked on each other; The affection I'd first witnessed with Bruce and Barry. I suddenly went stiff. I had only experienced two heartbeats of bliss when the lips slipped away and the pressure of his arms raised off my body. My eyes met with a painful grin. He raised a finger to graze my cheek but instead set it on my shoulder.
He turned towards his car and slowly walked off. He broke into a jog when he got closer. My breath caught when I heard the engine cough and rev. When the taillights dissipated into the night, I felt my thoughts unlock, and I began to cry.
Shaking for escape, my legs shot off into the night towards the dorms, stomping hard on the pavement, hoping to crush the suppressed feelings of the thoughts that I'd exposed in the moonlight.