I watch him with intent as he sleeps. I watch his closed eyelids flutter and his chest rise with his occasional snores. I watch him shift in his sleeping stupor. His hands search for the warmth of the blanket but claim me instead.
We become an odd entanglement of limbs. He pulls me closer to his chest and interlocks his legs through mine. I am not able to move. I am inundated, taken and overwhelmed by him.
I close my eyes and give in to his besiege. He feels warm, a sharp contrast to the coldness of his room. I wonder if this why he never turns on the heat – he himself radiates it.
He breaths slowly into my hair exhaling last night’s whiskey. There is a comfort in his scent. There is a comfort in knowing the little things that define him like his signature drink or his inability to cook food without burning it or the musician he’s named after. There’s clout in knowing who he is because it gives him more permanency. I blink and blink to test my doubt. He isn’t a figment of my mind. He is present and I am with him, encompassed in the firmness of his arms.
I never was a whiskey girl before I met him. I never was a lot of things before I met him. Hard liquor and boys like him frightened me. These were the boys you were warned to avoid, dangerous yet enticing. These were selfish boys not to be trusted. These were boys who were notorious variables with a penchant for leaving. They never stayed, just moved in and out, taking and scabbing at the fragility of broken hearts.
I knew of his type when I first met him months ago. I could sense the warnings signs in my mind to retreat and back away. But I went in anyway, walking to his side in that dimly lit bar on a Saturday night. It was unintentional, our little interaction. I was simply fulfilling my duties to buy the next round of drinks for my friends. I ran up to the bartender shouting my drinks, hoping she heard me over the blaring music, but she was busy and I stood defeated.
That’s when I noticed him. He was alone and I wondered why. This wasn’t one of those uninhabited bars for lonesome drinking. This was a college bar, crowded with a frenzy of students. Yet he had this nonchalant ignorance for those around him. He focused only on the drink in his hand. His brown eyes seemed preoccupied but as I took the seat next to him, he unexpectedly spoke. The seat’s taken. He doesn’t look my way when he makes this assertion. He just stares at his drink and makes his territory known.
Some faint version of my former self would have retreated at this point. But there’s liquor running in my system and I am a little braver. I don’t move but instead I sit. I am annoyed and impatient with the bartender and now also with him. My defiance forces him to acknowledge me. He raises his face slightly towards me and I can feel him watching me. I keep my eyes on the fleeting bartender who begins to walk our way. She walks up to him. He compliments her and she smiles, refilling his unfinished drink. She gets pulled in the other direction by another herd of students and forgets me completely. I mutter a profanity and he chuckles. Impatient much? I am appalled and so I begin to rant, pointing out the injustice in the bartender’s service. He swigs more of his whiskey and laughs. You sure do ramble a lot. It’s busy, cut her some slack. I scoff at him. She served you, didn’t she? He smirks. She and I, we go back, he says quietly. Of course you do, I think, but I don’t make my judgments known. Yeah whatever, I mumble, and retreat from the bar. His gaze follows me with every step I take away from him.
I forget about my obligatory duty and resume the company of my friends. It’s not until much later that a round of drinks makes its way to our table. My friends praise and thank me, but I am dumbfounded. I look up in the direction of the bar and he smiles. There are a few beers and a single glass of whiskey. I think there’s a mistake so I take the whiskey back to him. This must be yours, but his hands refute. He gestures to the drink in his hand. That one’s for you.
I don’t drink whiskey, I say. He laughs. Of course, a girl like you wouldn’t.
A girl like me?
He was framing me as a type and it left me unsettled. I was annoyed at who he thought I was, so I take the whiskey and down it, challenging his assumptions. It was unpleasant and made me cough hysterically which only amused him. How do you drink that? It’s gross, I proclaim. He chuckles. It grows on you, he says.
At the time, I didn’t understand him, but now in hindsight I know what he meant. The whiskey burned at first but it also had this warmth, like him. Warmth that distilled comfort and ignited an allure of novelty. And it was this same allure of his that drew me in.
My friends call for me in the distance. Go, he says, your friends are waiting.
They can wait, I say, making a definitive decision to stay. He looks at me now, knowing fully I have brushed aside his caution. There’s no going back now; we know it. He orders more drinks and we move between each other’s tales. At this point, the contents become blurred because the damage was already done. He had my intrigue and curiosity and I was fully entrenched into his story.
At the night’s conclusion, I ask him what’s next. Look, you’re a nice girl, but…
But what? I interject. My annoyance resurfaces. I am not looking for anything, that’s all.
I never said I was either, I retort. I begin to walk away, but he pulls my arms. Maybe we could do this again? He says with hesitance, as if warning me to stay away. I don’t listen to his unspoken caution and leave him my number. Again, sounds good, I answer.
And again happened, he and I happened many times after that. At first it started as a few friendly drinks but then it escalated and he became too enticing. The first time he whispered a raspy come over, I didn’t even think twice. I answered him with a kiss and we concluded what was foregone from the very beginning.
Sunlight enters from the small corner window in his room and reflects on our faces. It beckons us to wake. There is life outside waiting, work and school to attend. I quietly try to release his arms but he pulls even closer and mumbles, Where are you going?
I know I might regret this later. I know I’ll get attached and he will break my heart. I know and accept these truths and their inevitability. But I also know I won’t regret him because he may be a mistake, but he is my choice of a mistake. I want to taste his contradictions and become the protagonist of his story for whatever time we have left. And when the glory ceases and the misery resumes, I will find solace in what we had and how we loved.
Nowhere, I tell him. I’m not going anywhere.
He smiles. Good, I’m not ready for you to leave just yet.