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To End Up There

Colleen McGorman

He lay on his back, a sheet twisted around his naked torso, breathing deeply and rhythmically. She lay next to him, on her side with her back to him, the same sheet pulled up and tucked under her arm. She listened to his breath, steadily going in, then out, and tried to calm her pounding heart.

           How did I end up here? she asked herself. But she knew the answer. He'd known exactly what to say, how to press her vulnerable buttons and work his way into her heart and her bed. Even though it was his bed they lay in -- it was all the same.

           She'd vowed to herself not to let it go this far. She'd arrived at his house with a clear mission to tell him exactly how she felt. She was in love with him, and wanted to make sure he knew it even if he didn't return her feelings. But all he'd had to do was look at her and she was lost. As he slid his naked body down to meet hers, she could have sworn he felt the same way.

           Now, a few hours later, they lay silent in his dark bedroom. Warm tears pricked at her eyelids and, as she blinked, they trailed down her cheeks. More tears followed, until she sobbed and desperately tried not to wake him. But he stirred, and she wiped quickly at her tears and closed her eyes, feigning sleep.

           "Hey," he said softly. She didn't answer and he touched her bare shoulder. "You okay?"

           "Fine," she mumbled into the pillow and turned her face as far from him as she could.

           "Are you crying?" he pressed.

           "No," she replied, but even in her denial she began to shake with sobs.

           "What's wrong?" he asked her, over and over, until she could finally speak.

           "Why am I here?" she asked him, not meeting his eyes.

           "You just showed up," he said. His fingers traced lazy circles on her back. "I thought---"

           "---I came here to tell you I love you," she interrupted.

           The fingers abruptly stopped and seemed to grow cold. She smiled bitterly to herself, trembling with hurt and anger, and wasn't sure if the anger was directed at him or at herself.

           Then came a silence that seemed to stretch for eternity. She sat up and started to search for her clothes on the floor.

           "I didn't know," he said finally. "I'm sorry."

           "Yeah," she said, pulling on her sweater and jeans. "So am I." She stood and, finding her bag on his desk, picked it up and slung it over her shoulder. She started to leave, then paused in the doorway. "See you around," she offered softly, her eyes burning.

           "See you," he echoed vaguely. He was on his back again, and the room was so dark she couldn't tell if his eyes were open or closed. But she knew, for sure, that he wasn't watching her as she walked out.

About the Author (click here) © 2002 Colleen McGorman, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

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