Terrence was awakened the next morning by the sound (and feel) of his body painfully connecting with the floor. For a minute, he was bewildered. He always rolled in his sleep and had ensured that he had a king-sized bed in his dorm room- it was amazing what you could get the administration to agree to when you were attending school on an academic scholarship AND also happened to be a star athlete- to circumvent just this scenario. As he rubbed the last of the sleep from his eyes, Terry realised that he wasn’t in his bedroom. Hell, he wasn’t even in his apartment. And then the events of the previous night came flooding back to him, along with a growing sense of horrified fascination as he realised that he had seen Alanna naked.
“Good morning, Sleeping Beauty.”
Terry’s face turned a brilliant crimson that spread all the way to the tips of his ears.
“Morning, Lana,” he replied without turning around as he got up off the floor.
“You can look at me, you know. You’ve already seen me naked. I can’t imagine seeing me in my pyjamas could be a more horrifying experience.”
Terry turned towards her and the words were out of his mouth before he realised what he was saying.
“Horrifying? Not at all. You looked…”
He stopped as he considered that she might have meant how horrifying it had been for her. Crap! I sound like some kind of pervert. How do I fix this?
Before Terry could dig himself into a deeper hole, Alanna cleared her throat. He looked up and realised that she was blushing. But he couldn’t tell if it was because she was flattered by what he had said or because she was embarrassed at the recollection of the night’s events. He wisely decided to stay quiet and waited a bit impatiently to see what she’d say.
“Maria pleaded passionately on your behalf. And taking in to consideration how great a friend you’ve been thus far, and the fact that you were obviously drunk off your ass last night; I’ve decided to forgive you.”
Terrence cringed inwardly as she called him “a great friend”- he wanted to be anything but friends with Alanna; but he was relieved that she wasn’t going to throw him out of her life because of his drunken and accidental voyeurism. He didn’t say anything for a second and marvelled to himself that he found her just as attractive in her Spider-Man pyjamas as he did when she was naked in the tub.
“I can’t believe you own Spidey pjs.”
Alanna walked towards him and he instinctively took a step back and tried to stand in a way that protected what his former Sunday School teacher, Sister Rosalie, insisted on calling his “man-bits”. Alanna laughed and handed him a cup of coffee he hadn’t noticed she was carrying, intent as he was on securing the future of his bloodline.
“First of all, we may still be friends but you’re on probation. This means that there will be no making fun of my pjs. Peter Parker is awesome, a bit whiny in the beginning but awesome. And until further notice, he is the only guy I am trusting this close to my naked body.”
Terrence blushed and mumbled something Alanna couldn’t hear.
“What was that?”
“Darn right it is. You know, you really don’t look that bad for someone who was barely able to stand upright at ten last night.”
“I have a gift for not getting hangovers. My friends all hate me for it.”
“I have a gift for not getting drunk. My dad claims it is genetic and that Caribbean people naturally have a higher alcohol tolerance than North Americans.”
“If that’s true, then I am some kinda anomaly.”
“Your dad’s West Indian?”
“Both of my parents actually. They’re Guyanese.”
“My dad too!”
They grinned at each other over their cups of coffee.
“Can you do the accent?” Alanna asked.
“Ya, I didn’t move here until I was about eleven and my parents still speak Creolese and stuff at home and we have tons of Guyanese friends so I just kept the accent. Truthfully, the Canadian accent is an accent to me. It’s not how I naturally sound.”
“Really? But it sounds natural. If you hadn’t said that it wasn’t I wouldn’t have guessed.”
“I get that all the time. And then people ask me to ‘Speak Guyanese to them’. It’s the most awkward request ever. How do you speak Creolese with a Canadian accent? I usually just tell them to wait until someone Guyanese calls and I let them listen in on the conversation.”
Alanna blushed slightly.
“I was going to ask you to ‘Speak Guyanese’ for me. My dad has been here since he was six and he lost his accent before I was even born,” she explained.
Terry laughed again and replied, “My mom is visiting this weekend. I’ll bring her by to meet you.”
Alanna thought about protesting. It seemed like a very intimate thing, meeting a guy’s mother. But his expression was guileless and, even though he’d seen her naked without permission, Alanna felt completely comfortable with Terrence. It scared her a bit as it had been a long time since she’d felt this comfortable with a guy her age. Even Damon still made her feel vaguely unsettled all the time. As his face swam into view in her thoughts, the peace she had felt in Terry’s presence started to dissipate and she was aware that they were alone in the living room and sitting close to each other on the sofa. To the uninformed observer, it was a very intimate scene and part of Alanna felt guilty. The thing that upset her most was that it wasn’t the idea of Maria walking in on them that made her feel guilty; it was the thought of Damon happening upon them that did.
Terrence watched as Alanna’s face lost its easy grin and she stood up abruptly. He’d seen this happen before, whenever they got too close she would shut down and shut him out. He prepared himself for the distance she was about to put between them even as he felt the disappointment settle into his bones.
“I’ve gotta go. Lots of stuff to get done today. I’ll see you later, Terrence.”
She only called him Terrence when she was erecting those careful boundaries and walls that kept him from being more than a friend to her. He sighed inwardly but put a smile on his face.
He watched as she walked away and punched a cushion when she was out of sight. He threw himself backwards and massaged his temples as though that would relieve the pressure he felt threatening to make his head explode.
Why can’t I forget this girl? Maria is great. I’m the envy of half of my year and, yet, I can’t stop thinking about Alanna. I should end things with Maria before she really gets attached or this will not end well.
As though the universe were trying to grant him the opportunity to make good on this resolution as soon as possible, Maria walked through the door with a bag of groceries in hand.
“Hey, babe! How’re you feeling?”
Terrence tried his best to look refreshed and happy to see her as she came over gave him a kiss on the forehead.
“How about some grease to soak up whatever alcohol’s still knocking about in your system?”
“That sounds great.”
So, I break up with Maria and then what? That doesn’t solve my Alanna problem. In fact, that may make things worse since I won’t have anyone to distract me from her. I just need to give our relationship more time. It’ll purge Alanna from my system and I’m sure Maria will replace her in my mind in no time.
Terrence ignored the voice in his head that told him that it was a selfish decision, one that was bound to fail, as he followed Maria into the kitchen. She smiled at him from across the room as she got started on an omelette. As they made plans for the rest of the day, Alanna slipped out through the front door. Terrence watched her go silently before turning, with an effort, back to Maria and focusing on her excited chatter about the upcoming Winter Gala.