Page 11 of Closer

I feel confused and empty after everything that happened. Giving up hope of getting any more sleep, I flip open my laptop and start watching my favorite show. The opening credits roll, but I can’t focus. Shit. Giving up on that, too, I sit on the edge of my bed, staring out through the open window into the mild night. How soon can a person fall in love with another human being? Is love at first sight really possible? Maybe it wasn’t love. Maybe it was just lust. But at this point, I’m completely confused with respect to the whirlwind of emotions.

As I watch the sun come up I’m none the wiser. Exhaustion overwhelms my frame, and belatedly I remember I have a paper to write today. Damnit. Time for coffee and trying to put this mysterious Brent out of my mind for a bit. Suddenly, a voice interrupts.

“Janie!” calls Amy from a couch in the common room, startling me from my reverie. Tiredly, I run a hand over my eyes before popping my head into the living room.

“Whoops, you okay, hon?” she adds, laughing. “You look a little tired.”

“Yeah, fine,” I answer grumpily. “I just didn’t get much sleep. You look good, though,” I add, changing the subject.

She yawns before stretching her arms over head like a lazy cat.

“Yeah, I got like twelve hours of sleep,” she says. “My fever’s gone and things are looking up.”

I sigh. Well, at least one of us is healthy and cheerful.

“You want coffee?” I grump, putting the pot on.

“Sure, since you’re making it. And by the way,” she says with a wicked gleam to her eyes. “Are you gonna tell be how the date went?”

I shrug, a million things running through my mind. But I can’t share what happened. It was taboo, first of all, and there’s something just too personal about Brent’s breakdown.

“It was okay,” comes my careless sentence.

“What? Just okay?” Amy says incredulously. I shrug.

“Yeah. Like you said, it was just a movie. We barely talked.” Hopefully she won’t ask more, but instead, my friend charges on forwards.

“But what was he like?” she asks insistently. “He’s hot right? Like super ripped from getting out of the Army?” I almost crack and tell her everything then. But I hold onto my resolve to leave out the details – it’s better like this. Because what am I supposed to tell her? That Brent is suffering from PTSD and we had sex in public? Amy would never believe me anyway.

“Yeah, he’s a GI,” I say, not meeting her eyes. “A little full of himself. A little arrogant.” My heart breaks at the untruth of this statement. Brent couldn’t have been nicer, more genuine, or more gentlemanly. But it doesn’t matter to Amy.

“But was he hot?” she says eagerly. “Like Hulk Hogan-size muscles?”

But I just don’t want to say anything that’s too much anything.

“Yeah, not bad,” is my non-committal answer. “I don’t know about Hulk Hogan, but yeah, he’s in great shape.”

I’m just wondering whether I should feed the fire a little more, when Amy suddenly says something that makes my blood run cold.

“Brent texted me last night, actually. After your date.”

I go quiet, focusing on pouring my coffee. Suddenly, time comes to a standstill and my heart’s beating so loud I wonder if Amy can hear it. She continues like nothing’s wrong.

“Brent was so sweet. He asked me how I was feeling and wants to go out when I’m feeling better,” she continues, making me spill my coffee, burning myself. I cuss, jumping back.

“You okay?” asks Amy, sounding genuinely concerned.

“Yeah, fine,” I snap, and immediately feel bad. “Are you gonna go?”

“Of course! A former solider? Are you kidding me? You know I love that kind of stuff,” she says coquettishly. “Besides, I’m so tired of stupid frat boys,” says Amy sulkily. “I need a real man.”

I finish mopping up my spilt coffee, desperate to get out of the kitchen and back into the sanctuary of my room. Amy’s watching me, concerned.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” she asks. “That coffee was really hot.” I nod and shoot her a fake smile.

“Of course! Just tired.” This seems to satisfy my buddy, and she smiles back.

“Thanks again for jumping in and saving the day yesterday, I really appreciate it. You’re a life-saver, Janie.”

“No prob,” I say brightly with another fake smile. “Janie to the rescue!”

But back in my room, I fall down onto my bed facedown. This time it’s my turn to sob. I can’t believe this! I’ve been so stupid. Not only did I have sex with a stranger in a movie theater, but I’d also allowed myself to believe Brent was actually interested in me. Instead, he ran straight home afterwards and texted Amy to ask her out on a date! It’s incomprehensible. And it breaks my heart, although it shouldn’t. Guys have always loved Amy’s bubbly blonde persona. No one’s ever been interested in me.

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