Morning After

There was no obliviating fade to black, and then a reemergence of consciousness and light.  I had been laying in the diluted dark for hours, listening to him breathe deeply next to me, tiptoeing to the bathroom, until the gradient of day and night pulled itself over the horizon, shifted across his bare apartment, and the birds began to chirp.

Tempted to peel off my skinny jeans and let my legs breathe — but that seemed dangerous.  Also tempted to quietly gather my stuff, slip outside, and return to my dorm — but curiosity, and the desire to continue the story I’ve started, kept me under the covers.  And — I’ve only ever seen the moon (or, more realistically, swirling party lights) in a boy’s eyes.  I wanted a glimpse of the sun in them, for the first time.

So I watched his long, brown eyelashes rest on his cheek, until they began to flutter, and a sliver of cornea peeked out.  I turned towards him as he fully blinked awake, and Tony smiled at me.“Good morning,” I said and, in a surge of flirty confidence, pressed my lips against his neck.

Tony hummed in content.  Then he pulled back and looked at me for a second before saying, unsuredly, “Mich…ele?”

“Yes,” I confirmed.  “How much of last night do you remember?”

“Everything.  I was only tipsy.”

“Hmm.  You seemed a little hesitant on my name,” I teased.

“No, I got it,” he protested.

The lapsed conversation threatened awkwardness, but I casually asked, “Do you like waking up like this?”

“I like waking up next to you, Michele.  You?”

I said yes, of course.  Then he asked, “Can you lay on top of me?”

“Mkay,” I said, propping myself up on my elbow to rise.

“With your pants off?” he quickly appended.

I immediately fell back and frowned comically at him, burrowing back into the sheets.

“No, no, wait,” Tony laughed.  “Get back here.  You don’t have to, I’m sorry.”

“You’re insatiable,” I complained, as I rolled onto his chest and started kissing him.

The dialogue was different than the night before.  With my susceptibility decreased, I was quicker to protest something I didn’t like and to respond bluntly.  In truth, the sober words hung in the air uncomfortably.  At one point he said: “I think you want it, but I’m not good enough to you.”

I honestly said, “I think I just don’t know you well enough,” intimidated by his lust.  Once we paused, I sat up and poked him.  “Can you call me an Uber?” I asked, echoing his promise from last night to buy me a ride in the morning.  The suggestion that I would be sleeping over had frightened me, but excited me, at the time.

He agreed, and we began to get dressed.  “Were you hot last night, wearing your jeans?” he asked, as I clasped my strapless bra beneath my shirt.

“Yes,” I said simply, and we said nothing for a while after that.

I crossed his roommate’s vacant section to the small bathroom.  I had visited its tilted mirror over the sink several times over my sleepless night to stare at my lips, my irises, the burst vessels on my neck.  So I didn’t scrutinize myself this time: I just splashed warm water on my face until my crumbling eyeliner rubbed away.  I glanced at myself before leaving, briefly wondering if I would seem even younger to him without makeup.

Tony was checking his cell when I returned to the room.  “Can I have your number so I can call you next weekend?”  As I typed it in, I was relieved that the desire to see each other again was mutual.  After summoning an Uber, he asked, “You have everything?”

I cast my eye around the room to make sure.  Turning back towards him, our gazes met, and I realized that we were standing pretty close to each other.  I straightened slightly; he looped an arm around my waist — and pleasantly commented, “Perfect height” — before we kissed.

It’s hard to call a kiss with Tony “chaste” — he was a gentle and soft kisser even in heated moments, and though it was short, the magnetic ease of the connection left me weak.  “Okay,” Tony said, brusquely separating, remembering the incoming Uber.

As we descended the stairs and waited on the steps of his building, I marveled at how easy it was to leave.  Me, the girl that usually latches on too quickly and holds on too tight. But this time, I felt light.  My speech and logic felt untethered from sentiment.  Sure, I was excited about this little affair — it was the area between one-night kisses and dating that I hadn’t explored yet.  But I wasn’t sad to leave, and I knew I wouldn’t miss him.

Still…after Tony cursed the damp chilly air and the delayed car, we fell silent, noticed the quietness of the street, exchanged sidelong glances.  Wordlessly, our heads gravitated towards each other; our lips met quickly, again.

I think, like soulmates, we have certain people on this Earth whom we’re destined to be good at kissing — whom we can’t help but kiss.  It’s not deep, or anything — it’s just something I think.

-M.L.

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