It was the middle of the night, in a dorm room. She didn’t turn on the lights. No one saw it, no one witnessed it. And it’s a story I haven’t told anyone. Not ever. It may change how you see things by putting it down here, but it’s something I have to release now. I can’t keep it in its memory box forever, preserved in its vacuum, a fossil of emotion.
I had already agreed to step out of the way, and I knew when the first “official” date would happen. I spent that night alone and in agony. It’s a cruel thing that has been done to us as humans, these brains of ours. There should be a switch, a pause button, something. All I could think of the entire time was them. Adam and Brianne. They were out somewhere, together, holding hands, smiling, laughing, kissing. And where was I? Another Friday night with nowhere to go and no one to go with.
Eventually, I couldn’t take the stale atmosphere of my own misery, so I left my room and went outside. It seems a bit facetious to say I didn’t know what I was going to do, but it wasn’t really a plan. I just went over there, to her dorm building, and I waited across the way. There was a street lamp with its bulb burnt out, and a bench underneath it. I knew it was there, this wasn’t a surprise or a lucky coincidence, the light had been burnt out all semester and no one fixed it. Students used it all the time for late-night make-out sessions or undercover drinking. I suppose there was a good chance that another couple would be lip-locked in its blackness when I got there, which would have been a real punch in the gut for me. Even worse, it could have been Adam and Brianne--whose names were already starting to smoosh together, become one entity.
Some luck was on my side. The bench was empty.
I waited there in the dark. I knew they wouldn’t be able to see me from her doorstep. I could wait and I could watch.
It was late when they arrived. They said good-bye on the steps. I wish I could tell you I turned away. I think that would have taken more strength, really. Instead, I watched the whispers that passed between them and the goodnight kiss. Brianne stayed on the step as he walked away, and when he was a few feet from her, Adam turned around and gave her a last little wave. When he started walking again, she finally went inside.
I waited until he was far out of sight before I moved. I knew how long it would take him to get back to his own room and how long it would take to return should he change his mind, so I let that much time pass and then I went to the side door. All of the dorms were the same, so if you knew that the side door was easy to pop open, you could get into any one you wanted. Such was campus security.
Brianne lived on the second floor. I went to her door, and I knocked. The lights were out, and she didn’t turn them on. “Lance, what are you doing here?”
“Can I come in?”
She turned back inside and walked into the darkness, and I followed. She stopped near the window, looking out of it, she didn’t face me. It didn’t appear that her roommate was around.
“So, that’s it then?” I asked. “Is it over?”
She didn’t answer me.
“It’s him, then? I told Adam I’d be happy for you guys, but I was lying. I should’ve punched him is what I should’ve done. Instead, I lied and said it would be fine and all the other stupid things you’re supposed to say to be the good guy.
“I don’t want to be the good guy. I want to be the bad guy. I’m here to take you in my arms and take you away from him, to someplace where it’s just going to be you and I. Is Adam really the man you want? Do you think he really gets you? Better than I do?
“You could at least say something. If you want me to go, I want to hear it from your mouth. Can you tell me there was nothing between us?
“You need to choose, Brianne. Not us. You.”
I had planned to say “I think you love me the way I love you,” but those words never came out. Something about how she wasn’t responding, how she wasn’t even looking at me, it turned me back to that awkward and nervous boy she had first met. So, I stopped short of the admission.
Then I let her off the hook.
I walked out, and I didn’t look back. Not even for a last little wave.