Shadow told himself no when Cheech knocked. Cheech was our one truly good friend in Wells. He lived right up the hall and would have done anything for us. He was young. Had graduated high school two years early because he was brilliant. His father was rich and wanted as little to do with him as possible, so he sent him money all the time. Cheech used it to go to Sam’s and buy huge cases of Yoohoo. He bought Ramen. He bought chips. His dorm room was little more than a snacks depot, and he was generous. He was fun and he helped us forget that nothing was right, and everything was falling down.
He would knock every day to get me to go to dinner with him. Every day I would silently say no to myself and he would eventually leave.
After two weeks of knowing I had only come out of my room to piss and drink from the water fountain, Cheech and Bekah had the RA, the student in charge of our hall, let them in. I had to admit, I had gone too far. I went to dinner, ate four cheeseburgers, and disappeared into my room again.
Draconic came often. She would yell at me and curse my name. She came to kiss me and tell me she loved me. She came to tell me her fiancé was the love of her life and she hated him for not being me. I was ruining her life. We both knew it. We were not meant to be this close to each other. Walking distance? Are you kidding me? We needed to be in different states. Hell, different countries. She smacked me a lot, and she grabbed me a lot, and she hated me, and I hated her. It was a mess and it made me hurt for Bekah.
In the face of the storm that was Draconic, all of us begged to be with Bekah. But we made no sense when we were around her. We just hurt from everywhere. So we stayed away. We stayed away from everything.
Now, a quick review. This is when Assassin shows up in my room one night, glares at me from the mirror in my room and promises to kill me for leaving Bekah. You might remember that from Teardrop. Might not. This is when Jack comes back. See the horror of it all was so unbearable that he showed back up to try to help. He cornered me in the bathroom stalls one night and I could only run and scream.
In all of this, Bekah came by every day. She begged me to let her in. She asked for time with me. She said she had something to give me. She asked if I needed anything. She promised and she begged some more, and every time, Guardian hugged the door and ached to open it. Let himself be with her for just a little while and he loved her from behind a door. Because whenever he tried to open it, Shadow stopped him.
It had gotten to the point where Shadow could not bear to look at her. If he was in the same room with her, he would get violently ill. He hated her so much for taking everything away from him that it was torture to be around her.
And then one day the storm broke for just a little while. We had one night. One night of love. One night where everything was back the way it was supposed to be. But first, a little heart break.
She called one night and begged us through the answering machine to pick up our phone. She begged and cried, and Guardian knew he shouldn’t, but he answered. He knew when he talked to her, he always ended up hurting her, so he stayed away.
“Can I see you tonight?”
Shadow. Outraged. “I’m not leaving my dorm tonight, no, I’m sorry.”
“I haven’t seen anyone, and no one called today,” she said.
“I’m sorry, I have to go.”
“It’s my birthday. Can I at least see you for a little while?”
Pause. Pain, terrible, horrendous pain at the thought of her alone on her birthday.
“I’ll pick you up,” Shadow said. Then everything broke. He wept. He hated it and he would hurt himself for it later, but he cried at the thought of her day. It was six at night. The sky long dark. No one had reached out to her all day. She had been alone and hurting. He felt as if he would fall through the floor and straight into hell.
“Go to her,” he told no one. “Just go to her.”
Guardian did not take the time to wash, though he had not showered in untold days. He just threw his clothing on. He rushed out the door and he ran all the way to her dorm. She was waiting for him. He took her hand and pulled her into a hug.
Her arms were the only thing right with the world. The only thing worth experiencing. He kissed her head and she looked up at him and he said, “Let’s go celebrate. Happy Birthday.”
She beamed and we went. First a movie. We watched something; I can’t remember what. If I had paid attention to the movie at all I might be able to tell you what it was but all I could do was feel the way our hands felt together when we held each other in the theater.
They fit perfectly. Perfectly. They created one flawless piece of living art. Always had. Her fingers were the size that mine lacked. They were the right temperature all the time. They never sweat. They never seemed cold. They were just right together as if they had been formed out of the same living material long ago, separated, and told to find each other again.
And they had. These two hands had searched every nook all their lives looking for the one that fit. Guardian held her hand and every now and then he looked at her.
They ate their favorite candy. It is chocolate-covered raisins. We had an obsession with them. We got some at the concessions and shared them. We have some on my desk today and every time I finish a pair of chapters she comes down here, reads them. We cry together and we eat chocolate-covered raisins. We ate them that night.
When the movie was over, she said she would take me home and I asked her not to. Told her I was hungry.
She asked what I was hungry for and I bit my tongue. What I wanted to say was Tuna Casserole. Let’s go home, for the love of God, and let me make you tuna casserole. Let’s get The Maître d’ and let’s be us again. But I said McDonald’s and we ate that.
We walked campus and we laughed, and she told me about her classes. We hugged a lot. We laughed even more. And when I dropped her off at her dorm, we both held each other and put off saying goodbye. We stared at each other for a long time before finally pulling away.
It was a cruel night. Gave both of us way too much hope. She would come to see me the next day, thinking we were finally back on track, and I would not answer my door. I was back to planning my suicide and I could not let her in. I listened to her begging for a while, then she left. She got to the free payphone downstairs for calling the rooms of the dorm and she called me.
I didn’t answer, but she thanked me for the night before. She said she loved me, and she knew I loved her. For now, that would have to do.
We both cried and she hung up.
It was the only day worth living since I had come to the college. I knew it would not happen again, but I was wrong. We had one more good night in us. One more night that made us both feel as though we had gotten back home again.