The world looked exactly the same as it had yesterday morning, even though I knew it was different.
We’d made it to Topher’s parents’ house. When his mom had remarried, he had apparently taken over the old garage instead of continuing to live in the house. Apparently his step-dad fit the stereotype I’d seen played out over and over in friends’ homes throughout my childhood. My parents weren’t perfect, but at least they didn’t hate me; or blame me for their problems. Instead of going to college to learn, Topher had gone to escape. Still, he wanted to allow his family one more night of peaceful rest so we avoided entering the house. In the moment, I was just thankful for our seclusion. We’d dimmed the lights coming down the dirt road that lead to the house. It was darker than I’d expected, but there were wide open fields all around us and nothing appeared to be coming. I found myself thinking how lucky it was that I’d gotten pegged for that beer run. Our other friends at the party…
Topher got out and opened the garage door. Once inside he put on the car lights so we could see to close and secure both doors. I locked the side door (and pushed a cart full of tools in front of it for good measure) while he took care of the garage door. There weren’t any windows to worry about, thankfully, so we agreed it would be okay to leave the desk lamp on for a while. It wasn’t much, but it was better than the complete darkness we would have been left in after turning off the headlamps.
Then there was silence.
The garage consisted of the car, a couch that presumably folded into a bed, a desk adorned with a lamp, some shelves, and the cart of tools that was now bolstering the door. We must have realized the complication in sleeping arrangements at the same time since we both looked at the floor and fidgeted our hands. We had left one of our friends behind for the slaughter without a second thought, another we’d seen (heard?) viciously and fatally attacked. We’d stolen gas and left a city behind for the ruin. How could sharing a bed still be an issue? I guess we let things go slowly.
He started with, “Ah.. I’ll sleep in the-”
“I don’t want to sleep alone.” I interrupted.
I realized immediately after saying the words that it put him in a difficult situation. What if the idea repulsed him? What if he needed time alone to process what had happened? I didn’t want him to feel stuck with me. I wanted him to want to be there, which was fucked up given the circumstances… but still. I didn’t want there to be pressure or presumption. Thankfully, he looked relieved.
He said, “Me either.” And I’m pretty sure that smile could melt butter.
We made up the bed, turned out the light and awkwardly shed the clothing we were willing to part with for the night. My mind raced with a thousand adrenaline and hormone-infused thoughts as I crawled under the sheets. Most of all, I wondered what he was thinking. What did it matter? My mind argued with itself. Then I realized I was afraid I might push my luck, like Angela, and wind up left behind. In fact, I was terrified. I laid petrified in the bed, not wanting to move a muscle for fear that the movement would get misinterpreted. What was he thinking?
Then out of the darkness came, “I swear… I did not plan all of this just to get you into bed.”
We both laughed; heartily but as quietly as possible. It felt good to laugh. Then, despite the heat, we found sleep wrapped in one another’s arms. It felt more natural than anything I’d ever felt before.
In those moments just before sleep, the ones when you get all your best ideas but are too exhausted to write anything down, I prayed that we just wouldn’t wake up.
There are some days I wish that prayer had been answered.