It was nearly midnight on a Friday and the world was dark and rainy and crisp. I was studying alone and campus was deserted and eerily still. Hours earlier I had sent you a silly message and now my phone buzzed, letting me know you had finally responded. Your roommate was gone for the weekend and you asked me if I wanted to come over to help you mop and play Skyrim, your favorite at the time. I had no real interest video games or cleaning, but I loved the idea of being near you.
That week you had come to Target with me for the sole purpose of buying a mop to clean the kitchen in your suite. No longer could you stand how sticky the ugly diamond laminate flooring had become from six boys traipsing across it every day for months on end.
I walked back to my dorm room to put away my books before crossing campus, cloaked in blackness, to meet you at yours. I was naive. I brought nothing with me but an umbrella and a coat. We were just friends. I wouldn’t be staying over. You met me at the door, smiling, and I shook off the rain and came inside. While you moved the kitchen furniture into the hallway I leaned against your bed, which you always kept perfectly made, and put together a music playlist originally titled “Mopping” for us to listen to.
You wore red sweatpants low on your hips and a thin white undershirt. When you moved a certain way a gap grew between the hem of your pants and your shirt, exposing your lower stomach briefly and I tried not to stare. Your wheat-colored hair was long and thick tufts of it stuck out from beneath the Crusaders hat you wore in an attempt to suppress it. Everything was foreign to me. Spending time in a boy’s room, being granted the privilege of seeing him freshly showered and dressed down for the evening. It felt intimate and new.
Mopping didn’t take long because the room was barely 100 square feet and I didn’t help at all unless you count making a playlist and taking pictures– pictures I would later come to cherish. Eventually we returned the chairs and table to their place and sat down next to each other to play Skyrim, which you had been telling me about for months. I only lasted for a few minutes before passing the controller back to you because my thumbs were tired from the joysticks and I was terrified that the horse my character was riding would somehow die under my inept control, a thought that disturbed the inner animal lover in me.
You were hungry so you poured yourself a bowl of peanut butter flavored Cheerios in a navy blue plastic bowl and let me have a few spoonfuls before asking me if I wanted to watch a movie. I checked the time. I was worried about walking home too late at night and thought that I should probably leave but you suggested that I spend the night. I said no, I didn’t have any pajamas or a toothbrush, and you told me I could borrow a shirt and a pair of shorts and that you had a spare toothbrush, too. I hesitated briefly but agreed. I was naive. We were just friends, I told myself again. Maybe friends do this. Strangely I imagined that you would have me sleep in your roommate’s bed, but asked no further questions.
It was nearly three in the morning by the time the movie finished but I was too aware of what was happening to be tired or to remember much about the movie but its title. We walked to your bedroom and you opened the wood veneer drawers beneath your lofted metal bed frame and pulled out something for me to wear. I took the clothing from you and pushed open the gray swinging door to the bathroom and changed in the fluorescent light. I looked at my reflection in the mirror, the basketball shorts falling to the tops of my knees and the shirt swallowing my frame. I worried about letting you see me like that before deciding it didn’t matter. We were just friends.
I emerged from the bathroom ready to make a quip about my outfit, but when I saw you standing in the bedroom in your underwear, hat off, contacts replaced with dark rectangular glasses, words escaped me. We were just friends, I thought again. Maybe friends do this. I brushed it off, still imagining that I would sleep in your roommate’s bed. But then you told me to get in first so that I wouldn’t fall in the middle of the night and I knew. I knew we weren’t just friends.
After I climbed cautiously into the bed you crossed the room to turn off the overhead light, but an exterior light still cast its glow through your open windows. I rested my head against the pillow and watched, transfixed, as you walked toward me. your creamy skin illuminated and bare, a sleepy and gentle smile playing across your face. You lifted yourself into the bed, taut muscles shaking the mattress briefly, and lay down next to me. Under the magical lighting all time stopped and the world faded into nothingness and you and I were all that was left and I would have given anything to stay in that perfect moment punctuated by nothing but the sound of our chests rising and falling, all doubts and insecurities and worries cast aside. I wondered silently what this meant and if I was ready for the implications but you were so beautiful. You looked into my eyes for a long time but finally the trance ended and you kissed me tenderly on the lips. We exchanged no words as you pulled the thin red comforter over us and placed your arm around my waist and we both fell asleep and when we finally woke up it was as if the world had always been that way.
We weren’t just friends. No, now we were everything.
image by Hanaa’ Tameez