Missed out? No problem.
I woke up to find a note beneath my alarm clock. Jacqueline left in the middle of the night with my pajama t-shirt and trucker hat.
“I’m needed at home. No emergency. I’ll call you tomorrow night.” She ended her note with a drawn-in heart.
My phone, charging in its dock, was lit up, notifying me of two messages from Nicky.
I wondered if Jacqueline noticed them. My stomach hurt at the thought that I had betrayed her. I went to call her, but it went straight to voicemail.
The window above my pillow was freckled with raindrops. It was still drizzling out.
On my windowsill was a leather case; inside were Jacqueline’s reading glasses.
I bumped into Nicky outside of the academic building. She was smoking a cigarette. Her bag, slanted to the left, slouched between her legs. Her right arm belted her waist and shoulders scrunched up to her ears. She held her cigarette between her thumb and middle finger. Tapping the smoke with her pointer, bits of ash fell to the ground before she brought it back to her mouth.
“Cold?” I stopped beside her. Hood up, I buried my hands into my sweatshirt’s pocket.
She nodded, sucking in the tobacco. She exhaled and secondhand ghosts snuck through her smile. “I’ll quit one day.”
Nicky’s hair was pulled back into a messy bun. One strand of hair escaped the hair tie’s grasp and curled beside her ear. As she inhaled, I noticed her cheekbones. They were so defined. I wanted to kiss them.
“Don’t you have class?” She dropped her cigarette. The ghosts continued to spiral up.
I bent down and retrieved her bag. I swung it over my free-shoulder. “You too, right?”
Exhaling smoke, she pursed her lips and looked at me. She stepped towards me, like she was going to kiss me. I pursed my lips too and leaned in. Nicky threw her arms around my neck and kissed my cheek. Her lips were warm and chapped. She smelled like ashes.
“Walk me to class?” Her arms were still around my neck.
I just nodded and opened the door for her. Before walking in, I looked behind me. A cluster of students headed for the door. Each of them were either staring blankly ahead or talking to a friend with their head turned. None of them I recognized. None of them saw us.
“You’re such a player.” Nicky said outside of her classroom. “You won’t text me, but you’ll walk me to class.”
“Been busy, buddy.” I shook her backpack off. My palms sweat when the stairway door clicked closed. More students filed into the hallway.
“Busy doing what?” Nicky picked her bag up by its handle.
I heard classroom doors click close and squeal open.
“You’re acting like we aren’t supposed to be friends.” Nicky removed the hair tie and her hair fell past her shoulders.
“Friends?” My nose tickled from the tobacco. I thought of Jacqueline’s cinnamon and stepped back.
“You hiding me from someone?” She giggled and pursed her lips again. This time, I didn’t think about kissing her. “I’m kidding, Kell.”
“I’ve gotta go to class.” I headed for the staircase. Before I could push the door open, a girl with blonde hair pulled it open. Thinking it was Jacqueline I stopped in place.
The blonde, with her headphones in, squeezed by me and the door’s hinges squealed before it clicked closed.
* * *
It was almost eight when I got back to my room. I still hadn’t heard from Jacqueline and my hair smelled of cigarettes.
Hair tucked into my hood, I slumped into my pillow face-first. When I closed my eyes, all I saw was Nicky; Nicky sitting next to me in our chem class, wearing her red long-sleeved shirt and the mini skirt. The rips in the shirt were now across her chest. Her bra, cups decorated with multi-color skulls, was visible. She sat, chair turned out, facing me, with her legs open. She leaned over, hands on knees, keeping her eyes on me. She reached out and touched my thigh. I opened my legs even more, hoping her fingers would tinker with my zipper.
Professor Wilkins was at the front of the classroom, giving a lecture. All of the other students, behind and beside us, kept their eyes on him with pencils in hand. I tilted my head back and slouched deeper into my chair as Nicky’s hand made it halfway up my thigh. Nicky sunk to the floor and pulled my pants down with her. She smiled up at me before taking my panties off. She licked her lips and a string of saliva stretched between her bottom and upper lip. Hands behind my knees, she pulled me to the seat’s edge. My breathing grew heavy; thighs shook in her grasp. Her tongue, slowly in a circular motion, wet my clit. Looking up at me, she winked and sped up the pace. She stopped for a second, spit on it before going back. Her warm spit, coursed down my lips, veered to my inner thigh and dribbled on the seat. She stopped again to say, “You’re so wet.” My thighs shook more. I was about to come.
I moaned. My whole body trembled and my chair rattled. Head back, eyes closed, I screamed, “Nicky!”
“Who knows the answer to question seven?” Professor Wilkins asked.
Sitting up, I looked down. Her hair was now brunette and shoulder-length. Fingers, acrylic-free, were banded with silver rings, similar to my own.
She looked up, smiling with eyebrows raised. Her lip not pierced; her eyes not blue.
Her hazel eyes met mine. She spoke and I heard myself say, “Wake the fuck up.”
I was still lying facedown into my pillow. My phone was vibrating when I opened my eyes. Nicky was calling me.
I closed my eyes and turned on my side. My panties felt wet. I let Nicky’s call go to voicemail.
* * *
The next afternoon, Jacqueline was standing in line for coffee. She was wearing a black mini skirt and a red shirt that stopped just below her belly button. I crept up behind her and swung my arms around her waist. My thumb touched her third naval piercing. She smelled like cinnamon. “Jacqueline,” I said.
Turning to me, cellphone in hand, she said, “Kelly.” Her eyes returned to her cellphone’s screen, where her thumbs were tapping.
“When did you get back last night?”
“I don’t know. Like eight maybe?” She continued to type.
“You didn’t call me?” I looked down at my phone and scrolled through my call log.
She chuckled to herself and said, “guess I forgot,” before looking up at me.
My heart kicked, kicked in a bad way. Unfamiliar warmth developed in my stomach, like butterflies were dropping mid-flight. I feared she knew that Nicky and I spoke. We shifted closer to the coffee counter. “Is everything okay?” I paused. “At home, I mean.”
Her lips ticked down into a frown when she nodded. “Sorry for leaving.”
Frail wings fluttered in the base of my stomach. “Jac,” I touched her arm. “What’s going on?” My voice cracked, eyes watered.
“Nothing,” she said, almost under her breath, turning away.
“Did I do something?”
She dropped her arms to her side and glared at me. “What makes you think it’s about you?”
“You won’t even look at me.”
She stepped towards me and stared into my eyes. “I’m looking at you.” Her breath smelled like Big Red. I leaned in to kiss her, but my lips met her cheek instead.
“Come on,” I whined.
“We are in public, Kelly.”
“Never stopped you before.” I chuckled, grabbing her hand and wrapping it around my neck.
“Knock it off!” She pushed me back.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” I raised my voice.
Students ahead of us turned to look. Butterfly wings jolted in my stomach, like my torso was a shaken jar. Jacqueline’s eyebrows lowered, roofing her eyelids, which opened even more. Her eyes: dark and dilated like miniature eight balls. She grabbed my arm and we left the line.
“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t call you,” Jacqueline said once we were outside. “There’s no need to flip out though.”
“You were ignoring me. That’s why I flipped.”
“I forgot to call you -”
“Not then!” I yelled. “In there!”
Jacqueline froze, with her hands up in front of her face, as in to surrender.
“You wouldn’t hug me. You wouldn’t kiss me. When just the other day you kissed me in the middle of the hallway.” Tears started to run down my cheeks. “You wouldn’t even look at me.”
“I’m looking at you now, Kell!” She yelled.
“Yeah! Because I’m yelling at you.” There was a moment of silence. Students leaving the student center, looked over at us, as they walked by. “I thought we had fun the other night.”
“I loved it.” Her voice shook, eyes watered. “I like you, Kell.” Mascara marked beside her eyes when she rubbed them. “There’s nothing to worry about. We’re friends.”
We made eye contact. My throat tightened. I chuckled nervously and rubbed my eyes. “Then start treating me like one.”