~ a story ~
It was the same as it had been between them for some time now. Short. Curt. Never outright rude, but not warm either. Like any other day. Except today wasn’t any other day.
He saw it. Normally there was a moment, a split second of eye contact, and then returning to their respective worlds. But she didn’t give that today. Didn’t even hint a glance in his direction.
She tried to hide her tears. Turned away from him. Threw her dishes into the washer. Made a dash out of the kitchen. He caught her arm as she attempted her escape.
“Bani, what’s wrong?”
“Not today, okay? Not today. I can’t talk to you today.”
She wouldn’t look at him.
She pushed him away. He let go of her arm.
And then he saw it. The bruise on her face. The tears in her eyes. She must have been crying for hours.
“Bani. Was it?”
“No, it wasn’t him.”
“Bani, you can.”
“It wasn’t him. It was his frat brother. He wanted a turn with the new hot piece of ass and when I screamed no he came across my face so hard I fell on the floor. He went for my skirt, but I kicked him in the balls and ran.”
“I texted him. He called me a lying cunt and said we were through.”
“You’ll do what? Nothing. That’s what you’ll do.”
Bani moved towards the hall.
He grabbed her arm again. She lashed out.
“You don’t get to touch me. You don’t get to stick up for me. When was the last time you said more than hey to me? A month? I started seeing Edger and you just dropped out. Where was my friend? Where were you Chris?”
“You had Edger.”
“A frat boy who spent more time stoned than in class. Who cared more about my cunt than anything I had to say. Who half the time kicked me out of his bed after we fucked. Yeah, we were totally gonna last.”
“You what? Didn’t want to bother? Didn’t care? Had no time for someone who’s known you since we were eight. Someone who told you Cassie could go fuck herself for being so mean to you in fifth grade. Who helped you through Pre-Calc and Calc. Who is half the reason you even made it into this fucking school.”
“You are the reason I’m here.”
“What are you?”
“I came here, I applied to this college, because I knew you wanted to go here. Because I knew you would go here. Knew you loved the campus. Loved the Greek system. Loved the classes and the faculty and and and. You didn’t shut up when you came back from your visit junior year. So I thought, if you were here, I had to be here. Because I don’t want to be anywhere else. I didn’t talk to you for the past month because I couldn’t. Not knowing you’d just be running off to see Edgar that evening. Dragging yourself back home at god awful hours from the frat. The smell of him on you.”
Now it was Chris who couldn’t look at her.
“If you asked me to, I would find him. Both of them. Kick their asses. Maybe even kill them. Anything you asked of me, I couldn’t stop myself from saying yes. From doing it. I love you Bani. Have loved you since forever. Will love you til forever.”
“Don’t talk. Not now. Not when I finally said it. Finally let it out. Just let me hold you and pretend it’s third grade all over again and I’m guarding you from the scary dark place. Can we do that, not talk, just for a little bit?”
Bani nodded her head, stepped forward, and accepted his arms around her. She nestled her head into his chest and let herself quietly cry some more. And, if she had looked up, she’d have seen she wasn’t the only person emotionally wrought that evening.
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