Though Brad’s mood improved not long after the strange episode, I was unsure how I was supposed to respond. Doubtful that anything had even happened, and knowing that I couldn’t allow it to get the best of me, I did my best to keep myself from thinking about it while I was walking with him, and managed to do so until the moment I stepped into my dorm room.
“See you tomorrow?” Brad asked as I turned to close the door behind me.
“Yeah,” I said. “Thanks, Brad.”
“Walking with me. Talking to me.”
“Nothing to thank me for,” he replied. “You’re cool, Dean.”
All I could do was smile before saying, “Goodnight” and closing the door.
Shortly thereafter, my heart swelled with both pride and nerves.
There was no more denying it now. I had a friend—a real, honest-to-God friend.
My only problem? I was afraid of fucking it all up.
But how would I, I wondered, given that I had just met him? I was being as cordial as I could possibly be—not mentioning my past, not being overbearing, not being clingy, not asking too much. I mean, on one hand, you could say that I was being exceptional, and in that sense, had nothing to worry about. But…
On another, I remember thinking, there were so many what ifs? that it was hard to gauge what exactly could go wrong.
I could say the wrong thing.
I could do the wrong thing.
I could respond the wrong way.
In that regard, I had all the things in the world to worry about.
But still—I kept going back to the fact that I hadn’t done anything wrong, especially when Brad had his brief moment earlier that night.
His moment, I thought.
What had happened? Had he seen something and just not bothered to tell me? Was he concerned about something going on in his personal life, and had been struck by a troubling thought as a result of it?
As I considered this, and as I tried not to dwell on it too deeply for fear of driving myself crazy, I contemplated the fact that I could do nothing about it, and as such, did my best not to concern myself with it.
Besides—in the end, I could do nothing if he didn’t open up to me…
Which I guess was something I also had to be concerned about with myself.
Though I was in no way ready to open myself up to another person, especially not to another man, I knew that, in time, I would be forced to air my laundry, and pull the skeletons from deep within my closet.
But until that time came, I could keep to myself.
That was my only consolation over the matter.