Something new – enjoy!
The earth shook me free of my sins.
It’s 3 A.M. and I have class in eight hours. The alarm clock’s red eyes are glaring at me from across the room and just winked. Now it is 3:01. I contemplate kicking off my side of the covers and making my way to the door, but my legs, now tucked beneath me, start knotting behind the knees. My fingers start quivering. I fold them down, one by one, to form a fist and let my nails dig into my palm. I know Michelle is saying my name, but everything is muffled. I try to yawn to pop my ears, but my throat tightens, closes like an accordion. Swallowing spit feels like swallowing marbles.
I inhale through my nose and close my fist tighter – my fingernails are knives, my skin is butter. Michelle touches my shoulder. The earth jolts me. I shake off her hand. I go to scream: the accordion squeaks open, my ears pop. The earth leaves me be. The time stares me down; it is now 3:10.
Michelle is lying down with her back to me. “Do you still love me?” Her voice cracked on the word ‘love.’
“I don’t know.” I kicked off the sheets and sat up.
I glanced over at her door and thought about leaving. I imagined myself grabbing my bag off the floor and leaving her dorm before she had a chance to say goodbye. I had walked across campus at 3 AM before, just never in my pajamas. I needed a place to clear my head. I needed an open field behind the dorms to scream: scream long enough to rip my throat open, scream loud enough to break my own sound barrier.
Michelle rolls over and grabs my hand. Her touch is clammy and I can feel sweat puddle in her palm. “Do you want to leave?”
My eyes burn when they shift closed. I shake my head and the earth slightly rocks me. Tomorrow’s itinerary scrolls my mind’s teleprompter:
Gym session at nine (gym session in less than six hours? You can’t be serious)
Class at 11 (you have a quiz tomorrow…okay do the reading before class – so at 10?)
Date night with Nick (that’s right…tomorrow is Thursday – TODAY is Thursday)
The pancakes Michelle made me a few hours ago start to rush up my throat. There’s a hint of maple syrup on the back of my tongue that now tastes like Robitussin left open overnight to crust. I swallow everything back down and a sudden chill spreads down my back. Besides Michelle, the only set of eyes on me is the alarm clock. It’s seen everything and I can’t imagine what that would be like for another person.
My eyes shift closed again. The remnants of my cough syrup breakfast drains to my stomach. “We have to sleep,” I say.
Michelle sits next to me and lays her head on my shoulder. We breathe like the ocean’s current. She inhales, I exhale. I inhale, she exhales. Our chests rise and fall like waves. The thought of being alone with her on the ocean scares me; but now that it’s almost 4 A.M. and we are still awake, alone in her dark room, cuddled together on her bed, I am starting to see there would be no difference.
We slip under the covers again and lay back to back. The feeling in my stomach subsides.
Michelle sniffles and clears her throat. “I love you Aria.”
“I don’t know what that means anymore.”