You two will meet at a party. You’ll be shoved together in an impossibly crowded room, or partnered at random for beer pong. The music will be too loud to hear his name, or how he greeted you, and you’ll shout an equally inaudible response. He’ll disappear for a moment and return with a bouquet of Natty Lights, which you’ll share on the sunken couch. You’ll discuss Miley Cyrus, your classes, the music. You’ll laugh at things that aren’t funny. You won’t make eye contact.
Later, you’ll stumble into each other’s arms, out into the blurry night, into your comforter. You’ll hiss something about your roommate being asleep, how you have to be quiet. You’ll laugh too loud, you’ll wish you could take off your make-up. You’ll let him strip off your dress, roll around, fall asleep beside you.
You won’t really know him — you locked eyes for the first time that night, or once before, or every day in math class. But you won’t know him well enough to share your bed. You’ll know him well enough to share a kiss, your body, but not your bed. Not well enough to surrender to sleep in front of him, exposing every facial twitch, every mascara smudge. Not well enough to let him watch dreams twist across your face, fall asleep in your hair.
But you’re tired, and it’s college, and you’re already there, so you move over, you drift off, you share your pillow.
And in the middle of the night, when you’re throwing your arm expecting the mattress to catch it, during those hours when you sink into the completely unaware, he’ll be there, a foreign object curled in your blankets. You’ll reel your arm back with a start, hoping he didn’t feel you touch him, moving towards the wall, as if you’ve just let a stranger watch you bathe. You’ll pull the sheet tighter around your waist, glance at the slat of light from the window. You’ll squeeze your eyes shut.
In the morning, you’ll wake with a start to find him scrolling through his phone. He’ll look over and you’ll lock eyes, then awkwardly avert them. You’ll mumble small talk about the night before, the funny things you both said, how you can’t wait for breakfast. A silence will fall and he’ll look at your clock. You’ll ask for your phone, and scroll through Twitter feeds you don’t care about while he fumbles for his shoes, his jacket. He’ll nod goodbye and you’ll nod back, laugh a “See you later.”
And you’ll feel strangely naked when he leaves, despite being wrapped in a comforter. You’ll grab the pillow that he used, and it won’t smell like you anymore. You won’t recognize the smell, because his is not a scent that you know. There are creases in the sheets that aren’t from your body, a piece of hair that’s not from your head.
You were ready to sleep with him, just not next to him. You were ready to let him touch you, but not share those five seconds upon waking when your entire world is exposed, when you don’t quite remember who you are yet.