I opened my eyes to the sun flooding the room. I stretched, anticipating a rare sunny autumn weekend, perfect for walking outside or just doing nothing…
Then, I remembered Jesse.
I sat up in my bed. The last night, the whispers, the rummaging hands, the entangled bodies. Was it a dream?
I lowered my feet to the floor, my muscles aching in ways that couldn’t be explained by a dream. Also, I remembered way too many details. I even remembered returning to my room, taking a shower, lying sleepless in my bed, confused and happy in equal measure.
It had actually happened.
I blinked at my watch. Eleven AM. Should I go find Jesse? How would he act in the light of day? Would he regret what we did?
I forced myself to breath slowly. One step at a time. With the Dining Hall closed for the weekend, I should just have some cereal in my room, get dressed and then go to Jesse and see where things stood.
I found myself by his door half an hour later, as nervous as I had been the night before. But things were different now. We weren't strangers anymore.
I raised a hand and knocked. Quiet. I knocked again.
"Yes!" His muffled voice sounded annoyed.
"Hi," I shouted, bringing my mouth closer to the door. "It's Gordon Brown, I --"
"Go away, Gordon Brown! I'm trying to sleep!"
"Ah." Damn it. I should have guessed, weekend and all. "All right! I just… if you want to hang out together later, I'm in room 205, okay?"
No answer followed, so I just nodded to the silence and retreated. I wasn't sure if Jesse's reaction was good or bad, but at least he didn’t say he hated me or something. He just wanted to sleep. I should give him space.
I tried to study, but couldn't concentrate, my mind too full of memories of the last night, stuck in a loop replaying everything we did, everything he said, everything I felt. Even my body couldn't calm down, and I felt almost feverish.
I finally put my books away, went to Mr. Calwin room and asked for a permission to walk in the woods. I've done that before, and it always proved a good way to deal with my nervousness.
Unlike the dorm and the school that felt weird in their current silent and empty state, the forest was meant to be that way. There were quiet passages for students who wanted to take a walk, but I usually left them the moment I couldn't be seen from the school's windows, and wandered deeper into the forest. A mesh fence separated the more 'cultured' part of the forest surrounding the school from the real wilderness that stretched for miles and miles in all directions. There were a few holes in that fence, too, clearly cut by sharp objects and widened by hands, so I probably wasn't the only student who liked to leave behind the tamed part of the forest and wander into its darker, wilder depths.
The carpet of moss felt soft under my feet and the barks of the trees rough against my fingers. Nature was simple—unlike people. I liked to dream of staying there, living like a hermit in a hut under the trees. The dream used to make me feel good, except that now it felt incomplete. There was no Jesse in it, and I needed him—especially now that I knew what it felt like to be close with another human being.
I came back in the afternoon, hungry, tired, and worried that perhaps Jesse had come to see me while I was out. If he had been looking for me, it was okay to go to him now; if not, it would be my second intrusion for today, and he would only get angry.
I spent a few hours stuck in that thought loop, unable to study or distract myself. It was already getting dark when I decided to give it another shot and headed upstairs.
Quiet music played behind his door, some pop song that I'd never heard before. At least he wasn't asleep. I knocked, and he shouted "Come in!" in what sounded like a friendly enough tone.
I found him sitting in his chair, his both feet propped up on his desk, a laptop on his knees. He still hadn't turned the lights on and the room was shadowy, with some light coming from his computer screen, giving his face a pale bluish tinge.
"Hey," he said, glancing up. "What brings?"
"Hi," I said, stopping awkwardly by the door. "I just…took a walk in the forest, and thought maybe you've looked for me or something."
"No, I haven't." He shook his head, already typing something.
I remained standing, not sure what else to say. He kept on typing for a while, then sighed, removed the laptop from his knees, placed it on the table and stretched, graceful like a cat.
"I thought," I said, "maybe you want to do something together?"
He shot me a glance. "Like what?"
"Like…" My heart was beating too fast. "Whatever you like."
He chuckled. "I see where you're heading." He stretched again. "You see, Gordon Brown, I've just happened to have one of those moods last night. It's different today."
"It's okay," I said hastily. "We could do something else. We could talk. Or play some board game. Do you like "Monopoly"?"
"The most boring game ever invented? No, not really." He pointed at his laptop. "I just have a bit of a backlog with my essays and stuff, so I really need to use these two days to catch up."
"Sure," I said. "But you will take breaks?"
"During which I will sleep." He eyed me coolly. "Alone."
"I see." This sounded like I was being dismissed. I moved away and placed a hand on the doorknob, then turned back to him. "You didn't like it yesterday, did you?"
His eyebrows went up, then he shook his head and laughed. When his eyes met mine again, his gaze seemed softer.
"I liked it all right," he said. "You were okay. I might be coming back for more." He wagged his finger at me in a playful gesture that made my heart melt. "Just don’t call us—we'll call you." He smiled, and I felt a stupid happy grin spread on my own face. "Now, get out."
I nodded and slipped out of the room, the smile still glued to my face, butterflies fluttering in my stomach. He didn't regret the last night. Maybe it wouldn’t be the last, after all.