I open my eyes.
THE LIGHT! IT BURNS!
Wait a second…why am I facing the window? And why does my back hurt like Hell?!
I look around and find myself wrapped in a cocoon of blankets on the chair in the corner of my bedroom. I untangle myself from the mess. I stagger tiredsome towards the kitchen. I’m starving!
Mmmmm…I smell eggs. Eggs?! Who’s making eggs in MY house?!
I quicken my pace and find Zoey over the stove cooking scrambled eggs. “You don’t have to do that,” I explain, “I was going to make food.”
She looks over her shoulder at me smiling and says, “I was hungry and you were exhausted last night so I figured you would want some breakfast. I do this all the time for my roomate after a busy night. Don’t worry about it.” She goes back to cook the eggs. I do enjoy the aroma in the air.
“Well…thank you. I thought I took you home last night?” I wondered out loud.
“You were practically falling sleep behind the wheel. I told you just to go home and I’ll catch a taxi or something. You insisted that I take the bed and said you’d sleep somewhere else. So, thanks.”
I scratched my head, actually trying to fix my major bed head. “You’re welcome.” I walked over to the fridge and got out the orange juice and two glasses. I poured some for me and some for her. She finished the eggs and set them on the table in a big platter. We both sat down and dug in.
Between forkfuls I asked, “Does your roomate know you’re here? I know some people like to keep tabs on their roomates.”
She shook her head no and swallowed. “No. She stays out all the time. We don’t really worry unless one of us is gone for a few days. Then we freak out,” she laughed, “because, you know, it’s New York. There are some real weirdos out there.” I nodded and shoved another forkful of eggs in my mouth and washed it down with a gulp of juice.
I look up to find her staring off into the distance. There’s a glimmer in her eyes. Her hair is practically perfect. There is one strand of her chocolate brown hair lower than the rest lying across her right temple. Her eyes slowly drift over to me and I quickly stand and clean my plate off in the sink. I look back inconspicuously and find her staring back at that same spot. I follow her eyes and discover she’s staring at my wall of family photos. She was trying to compare me now to me at twelve. I was so tiny then. “Are you done with your plate?”
“Yes. Thanks.” I pick up her plate and rinse it in the sink. She gets up and walks over to the wall of pictures. “Are these of you?” she asks as she points to the wall.
“Some of them,” I wipe my wet hands off on a clean towel and walk over to her, “Most are of me and my dad. See here?” I point to a picture of my father and me in a corvette. “I was only five here. This was his favorite car.”
“I see. I’m sorry, Adam,” she put her hand on my shoulder and kept examining the wall.
Embracing her sympathy, I replied, “I was only seven when he died. He was hit by a drunk driver on a business trip to West Virgina.”
“My mother died when I was young. It’s tough not having both your parents around.”
We both examine each photo on the wall of memories. It’s dead silent for what feels like forever.
Zoey looks around the room and sees a dog dish on the floor. “You have a dog?”
“I wish. No dogs allowed in this building. The dish symbolizes a promise of a better life. If I stick it out through the tough times, a better time will come. I have always wanted a dog. My mother was allergic.”
She smiled, “I love dogs. Cats are nice too, but I’d rather not clean a litter box.” We laugh. She looks over at the cluttered counter. “I’ll clean up my mess.”
As she starts over to counter, I join her and she smiles up at me. We start cleaning by putting everything away and then we start washing the marble countertop. “Your home is really nice.”
“Thanks. I am barely here. I wish I had more free time during the week. I usually go straight from work to babysitting Chris.”
“You guys are best friends, huh?”
“We have been friends for years, but we’re starting to drift apart. He never grew up.”
“That has happened way too many times with my old friends. They were immature and felt as if they didn’t have responsibilities. I couldn’t take it anymore with my one friend Hayley. She was a crazy partier, just like Chris. She was drunk every night. She’d call me almost every morning and ask me to come over after work to take care of her. One day I just refused. She never called me again. I went to visit her one day and she was gone. The house was empty. I still haven’t heard from her to this day.” She looked off into the distance again, thinking about what could have happened to her old friend.
“You would think high school would have prepared us for these kinds of things during adulthood. In high school, I was the loner. I was the one always without a partner. All of my friends had joined sports, or other cliques and left me in the dust. Chris was my only friend in high school. He was younger and he wasn’t very smart back then, so we were never in the same class. It was a tough time.”
She didn’t say anything after that. She kept scrubbing the counter, making sure it was spotless. My towel collided with hers. Our hands accidentally touched. She quickly moved her hand and towel away from me and threw the towel in the sink. I waited a minute and copied her. She leaned her back up against the counter. She was looking down at the tiled floor. Her eyebrows were scrunched. She was thinking hard about something. Her hand rose to her face and ran across her eyes and slid down to her chin. A few moments later, her hand fell. Her expression remained. She was a beautiful, stone statue frozen in thought.
I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I swiftly moved to her and thrust my arm around her waist, drawing her near, and kissed her. After multiple seconds, I backed off.
She was frozen. Her eyes were wide and her mouth gapped open a little. That scared me. I just met her days ago and now I was kissing her in my kitchen. I just may have scared away the girl of my dreams.
Before I could apologize for my action, her arms were around my neck and her lips were smacked against mine.
I instantly wrapped my arms are her waist and began kissing her back. The only thing running through my mind was her. Her arms on my neck. Her hands in my messy hair. Her heavy breathing. Her back against the counter. Her chest against my rib cage. Her lips on mine.
Then her phone rang. She took it out and turned it off.