I inhale deeply, as the fog spills out of my nose like a dragon. I just need to get myself a little roughed up, that’s all. I just need to get a little out of my head. My head that thinks too much. My head that tells me to put my phone down, to go to bed. But I can’t.
My screen blinks on as I stumble to unlock the code to my despair. I text him, “U up?” It’s 3 am, but I know he’s up. He’s always up. “What are you up to?” flashes on the screen immediately as I hide the sender from my friends. That’s my cue. We both know what’s going to happen. He knows exactly what I’m up to, but he says it just to keep things vague. Too not really say to much, show too much, feel too much.
“I think I’m going to hang with a friend,” I mumble as I release a tidal wave of smoke from the room. I see their judgement eyes following me, so I do a brief spin and add, “she needs me.” I emphasis the “she” to get them off my back and keep them from becoming suspicious. I then slip out before they can interrogate me any more or change my mind.
The street’s dark, but he only lives two blocks away, so I’m not worried. Luckily, I’m able to sneak in behind two drunk tenants so I don’t have to buzz the security guard to let me into the building. I suffer the slowest god damn elevator ride as the overly drunk couple fumble to take each other’s clothes off while I try my best to stay in busy in the corner.
It’s like there’s an anticipation building, but I don’t know what for. I realize it’s because I’m hoping that this time it will be different. I’m hoping the same way I hoped as I sat eagerly by the window every night for my mom to come home. She never did—and tonight, I relive that childish hope with a boy—a boy I want to catch me, to hold me, to love me. My heart starts to quicken as I really feel like this time it’s going to be different; maybe this boy can restore my faith in hope—in waiting.
I slip through his front door; he just leaves it open now. As I tiptoe down the hall, the smoke in my head begins to dissipate, and I start to lecture myself. This is only going to end badly. You’re going to leave hurt. Leave now. But my hand twists the knob like muscle memory. He’s sitting on the bed as I drop my bag and slip off my shoes, still waiting for that moment—when everything changes.
I lean forward to fall into his arms, but he doesn’t catch me. He let’s me fall as he gets on top and removes his shirt like its rehearsal. He’s didn’t catch me. He doesn’t want to hold me. He’ll never love me. Nothing’s changed.
I tell myself to leave. This is the last straw. But then he whispers in my ear as he runs his hands down my side, “come here.” I try to muscle up the courage to do something. But all I get is his warm kisses tracing my stomach as my shirt falls to the floor.
And then it hits me. Mom may have never come home, but I never stopped waiting. Maybe he’s not the one who has to change. I am.
I reach down to the floor to grab my shirt, as I place my other palm on his chest and say, “sorry hun, it looks like it’s past my bedtime.” I grabbed my belongings and bust out of the apartment into the cool air of the dark streets. It wasn’t my finest moment, nor my finest line, but I was out of there. I wasn’t waiting anymore. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I’m not that child anymore.