"Good morning," I said, stopping in front of Jesse's table, a tray in my hands.
After the quiet weekend, the Dining Hall was overflowed with people. The noise seemed to have doubled compared to its usual level, everybody talking to everybody, sharing their news after spending three days outside of Highbridge.
"So, when I was, like, finally done with that stupid essay," Jesse was saying to the blond, short haired guy sitting next to him. "And then, bang—the laptop goes off!" He slapped himself on the forehead. "Can you believe it?"
"The battery?" said the guy thought his mouthful of bread and cheese.
"It wasn't supposed to! It was on fifteen percent, I swear." Jesse hid his face in his hands in an exaggerated gesture of despair, then looked around, his eyes slipping over me as if I was transparent.
"Good morning," I said again.
"You didn't save it?" said the blonde guy, ignoring me.
"Who, I, the genius? Of course not." Jesse picked his fork again. "So, I just typed the whole thing from the start. Seven damn pages. I thought I'd die."
"Hey, move," said another senior, squeezing past me and sitting down. "What do you want here?"
The blonde guy looked up at me, but Jesse was picking at his food, looking at his plate. Was he ignoring me on purpose? I batted the thought away. He probably just didn't notice me, too engaged in his story. Yet now that he was surrounded by two of his friends, the prospect of sitting with him looked not too enticing.
"Nothing," I said, and moved away, hoping to catch him later during the breaks.
I didn't. Throughout the day, I walked past him repeatedly, saying 'Hi' or just trying to catch his eye, but he seemed either constantly engaged in conversations or too deep in his thoughts to notice me. It was even worse than before the vacation. I felt positively invisible, and I was getting frustrated. Was it so hard to just say 'Hi'? To just nod? Was I asking for too much? I'd held him in my arms, I'd felt his hot skin against mine as his body convulsed in ecstasy—did all that mean absolutely nothing to him?
It was almost six PM when I found myself in front of the familiar utility room under the stairs. I had promised myself once that I wouldn't come here again, wouldn't act like a crazy stalker again, but here I was. Jesse was my drug, and I needed another fix.
I was crouching in the corner, hiding in my usual place behind the utility rack when the door creaked, and two figures slipped inside. I could recognize Jesse easily even in the dark, and I had no trouble identifying Owen's large frame, too. It was Monday. Monday was Owen's day. I used to dislike him; now, I felt something new—a fierce jealousy that stabbed at me the moment I saw them and remained as a burning sensation in my chest.
"Missed me?" Jesse whispered in between the sounds of kisses and the rustling of clothes being removed. Owen only grunted and then I heard a muffled thud as Jesse was pushed against the wall. There was some more fussing and then Owen muttered, "Damn, I forgot the lube."
"What?" I could see Jesse try to push him away, but Owen grabbed him with one hand and held his face against the wall, grinding against him, both of their pants already down around their ankles.
"Relax," Owen whispered. "I'll use spittle."
"No, just…wait…let's do it another time --"
"Shut up. I'm not stopping now, right?"
There were more sounds that resembled a scuffle rather than their usual messing around. I heard a muffled whimper, and then the familiar slapping of skin against skin. Only the sounds were different this time, and the occasional moans coming from Jesse sounded more like those of pain rather than pleasure.
I felt cold. This was wrong. This was rape. I should stop it, shouldn't I? But how? Just get up and announce my presence? I doubted Jesse would appreciate that.
"Relax," Owen muttered. I could see the pale outlines of his butt moving rhythmically in the dark.
"Just finish already," Jesse's voice sounded constrained, barely recognizable.
"Almost there, babe."
Owen's movements sped up, and Jesse let out a long whimper, so pitiful that I grabbed the side of the rack, prepared to get up and stop this, no matter the consequences. Yet before I could do that, Owen let out a growl and then stopped, breathing heavily.
"Let go of me!" Jesse finally managed to slide out of his grip and stumbled a couple of steps away.
"This was good." Owen reached down to pull his pants up.
"No, it wasn't! It hurt!" I couldn’t see Jesse's face, but his voice was shaking, and I could hear occasional sobs as he was getting dressed. "You fucking stupid idiot!"
"Come on, babe. I'll make it up to you." Owen reached to him, but Jesse pushed past him and slipped out of the door, leaving it half open.
Owen let out an exasperated growl, and went on fumbling with his belt, muttering something under his nose.
After he left, I sat there for a while, stunned. There was dull pain in my hands; I looked down and I saw red outlines on my palms. I'd squeezed my fists so tight that the fingernails broke the skin.
I hated Owen. I don’t think I ever hated anyone so badly. I had worked for so long with my therapist to stop having violent thoughts, but here I was again, burning with the need to hurt that son of a bitch, to make him cry. To tear him into pieces until there was nothing left.