Hi, I said looking at Caleb. He looked right through me—like I wasn’t even there. He turned back to face Jessica. Ouch. Jessica was freshly showered with her hair wet and pulled back in a bun. She looked significantly more polished than when I had left her hours ago. It dawned on me then. Caleb must have hinted at sex. Jessica, who had received strict instruction to abstain from hanky-panky for the next fourteen days, was trying to deter him with a story about her period.
Again, I have no idea what he’s talking about. I was supremely inoffensive. Boring. Being me took minimal effort.We drink the bottle of wine in silence, listening to the toads, and the water, and the trees. A cacophony of God’s things. When I stand up my head spins. I sway and have to catch myself on the back of my chair. Kit stands up, too, and I don’t know if it’s because of the wine, or the fact that I’ve convinced myself this is a dream, but I walk boldly to him. It’s been done before. That’s the feeling I get when his hands and arms find me. Everything about him is familiar—the solidness, his smell, the callouses on his fingertips. This is not the awkward embrace of two people touching for the first time. He’s unclasped my bra and pulled off my shirt before I’ve reached his mouth. I kiss him for the first time, naked from the waist up as his thumbs trace the line under her breasts. The air feels erotic when it blows across my skin. Hands so different from Neil’s long, slender ones touch me. Heavy, warm hands with broad fingers. He tastes of wine. When I kiss his cheek, the stubble scratches at my lips. It’s not entirely unpleasant. I tug at his shirt, and he takes it off. I like how solid he is, and then I really like how solid he is when he picks me up and sets me on the table, and my legs strain to reach around him.
This isn’t real. You aren’t cheating. I close my eyes. He pulls off my pants, kisses me through my panties, and slides on top of me. Our wine bottle goes crashing to the floor, and I turn my head to look at the shards even as he’s kissing his way down my neck and his fingers are in my underwear. My skin is tingling, my hips angled up in demand. Demand of … Kit. His head is bent. I can see him, as he gets ready to push himself inside of me. Then I can feel him, right there. I grab at his arms, frantic. And in that moment I don’t care who he is, and whom he’s supposed to belong to. This feels natural, Kit and I acting on something that was already there. My eyes roll back in my head as he slides inside of me.I wake up in my car. Light stabs sharply through the windshield, and I squint my eyes. There are greasy fingerprints on the driver’s side window. Hands that pressed and slid. They’ve been there for a while … something about being drunk and eating fried chicken, then not being able to find my keys. I keep meaning to clean them off, but I’m so … busy. I look for Kit. Where is he? No, I’m not supposed to be looking for Kit. It’s Neil I’m with. Neil I love. My mind is still caught in my … dream? I raise my seat and rub at my heart. It’s hurting. Like for real. This could be a heart attack; I feel like I have high cholesterol. No, no—it’s something else. I feel so sad. How could a dream have so much detail? I’ve never experienced anything like that. The screen on my phone lights up. It’s Neil. They’re in the restaurant looking for me. Neil, Della, and Kit. Kit. I remember now. I arrived an hour early and wanted to close my eyes for a few minutes before everyone got to the restaurant. All the late nights studying are catching up to me.I get out of the car slowly and look around. I haven’t been sleeping well with finals in a week. And then I graduate. And then I’m grown up. Not quite like the grownup I was in the dream, with children and a house, and a Kit. I can still feel his lips on my neck. I reach up to touch my sweet spot, right below my ear. I laugh as I walk to the door of the restaurant. So stupid. I’ve never even thought of the guy in that way. The dream will dissipate soon, but as I walk through the doors, and toward my boyfriend, it’s still there, sticky and thick. I do not feel like Helena of now, but rather the Helena of my dream. I look for Kit. He’s sitting next to Della, listening intently to something she’s whispering in his ear. I wait for him to look up and see me. I don’t know what I expect to see in his eyes, familiarity maybe. It’s so stupid. No such thing happens. When Kit sees me walk up to the table, he smiles politely, his eyes flitting, non-committal. How they should be since we hardly know each other. Della’s greeting is much more enthusiastic. I smile blandly as she jumps up to embrace me, commenting on my shirt. Kit is looking at the menu. I want to snatch it from him.
Don’t you see me? We had a baby together!I blush at my own thoughts as Neil pulls out my chair, kissing me on the cheek. I close my eyes and try to be pulled in by him. But he smells off, and his fingers are too long and pokey as he kneads my neck.
Oh my God. It’s like I’m on drugs.
What’s wrong? Neil asks.So polite. And there was that damn accent again.
What are you doing here? The words tumble from my mouth before I can stop them.He laughs. I’m not stalking you, I swear. Actually, I wanted to thank you for the music suggestion in the store the other day. I liked it—a lot actually. His hands are in his pockets and he is bouncing up and down on his heels.
Wine, he says, spinning his thumb ring with his forefinger. He used to do that when he was nervous.I stare at him blankly.