Porcelain Skin

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Deal

I’m vaguely aware of the whisper of sound that has pulled me from my slumber. As I regain consciousness I rub at my tired eyes only to realize that I’m alone. My dorm room is empty, and I wonder where the sound had come from. Then I rewind my memory only to have the images from my dream hit me full force. It felt so incredibly real; the taste and feel of him, the desire and passion coursing between us.

My body floods with heat as I recall the mutual need we had for the other person. It was crazy. It’s obvious why I would dream this, I’m infatuated with the guy - the guy who hates me - but it ticks me off that the first dream I had to have when it came to this psychology project involved my partner.

And then it hits me. The noise that had woken me was the sound of my own voice. It had been a gentle sound. It couldn’t have been more than a sigh, but intertwined with the sigh was his name,

“Trevor...”

Now, I’m not one to talk in my sleep, so this is just embarrassing. I’m just grateful that my roommate wasn’t in to witness me caressing his name with my breath. She has a knack for making people feel stupid, and I already feel stupid without her help.

As required by Ms. Garrison, I reach over to my bedside table where I’ve placed a journal and begin scribbling every detail of the dream that I can recall onto paper, leaving out the fact that the man I mauled with my mouth was Trevor.

It’s as if I can feel each emotion all over again as they flow from my memory and out the tip of my pen. I had some homework to get done today, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no way I’ll be able to concentrate now.

I’ve got a couple hours before I have to go to class, so I grab my violin and head to the barn. I’m amazed all over again at the crispness of the acoustics in the vast room. It somehow has a way of bringing me temporary healing. It never lasts long, but it brightens my mood in the moment. It’s like a drug. I have to play. And I play until my fingers burn and exhaustion hits before packing up the instrument and heading back to campus.

On my way back something chimes, and I know the sound immediately. I begin digging through the cracks in the seats until my fingers latch onto the familiar shape of my phone. It’s strange how much I didn’t think about my phone over the weekend. I don’t have many friends anyway, so I never found myself attached to the thing. But as I slide it unlocked my jaw drops at the significant amount of missed calls and texts.

I happen to be one of those smart people who doesn’t drive and text, so instead of reading the messages, I throw the phone into the passenger seat. Curiosity is seeping out of my pores, but I’ve already survived this long. A couple more hours won’t kill me.

I make it to class just in time and take my seat next to Lightning. We don’t have time to chat, other than a quick ‘hey’ and a very complicated and sloppy handshake since the teacher is already getting down to business. Trevor is in the same seat he was in last week. Once again we spot each other across the room. I smile. He doesn’t. Now, what’s got his briefs in a twist? If this continues it’s gonna make being partners infuriating.

As soon as class is over, I yell a quick, obnoxious ‘bye’ at Lightning before basically doing hurdles over the desks to escape. Since my morning violin session went so late, I didn’t have time to go back to my dorm before heading to class, so I actually parked out front. I bolt towards my Ford and dive into the front seat. Most would think that I’m in a mad dash to escape Trevor, which would only be twenty percent correct. In reality, I just can’t wait to check my texts.

It’s an exciting thing for me to see a full inbox of untouched messages. It’s like reaching into the bag of Skittles, even though you know you just ate the last one, and then suddenly your fingers skim over that hidden heavenly morsel. Not sure how those two events are even remotely related, but somehow that’s just the feeling I get. Like a little burst of light that shoots through my heart.

I grab my phone and scroll through the inbox. I first note that I’ve got a missed call from my mom and about half a zillion from Lindsey. Most of the texts are from her too, but there’s actually a couple from Trevor, and one from Mercy. I decide to test my self-control by leaving Trevor’s for last.

The first few that I check are Lindsey asking if I’m okay. She must have sent them while I was having my meltdown at the barn. Not sure how she found out unless Trevor tried contacting her to find me. I like that idea. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Then there are the few texts from her that started off sweet and quickly turned sour when I didn’t respond.

I scrolled down to Mercy’s text and clicked.

My sister’s dog peed on your pillow.

Well, it’s nice to know she was so concerned about my well-being. I never even knew she had a sister... or a dog. Wait... the dog peed on my pillow? I’ve been sleeping in dog piss for days. Who just lets that happen, and then doesn’t clean it up? I had been wondering why my pillow smelled so musty and ripe. Now it makes perfect sense.

I decide it’s time to uncover what Trevor had said. Hopefully, it will improve my ‘pissy’ mood.

Emma, I’m so sorry.

Scroll. Click. Next.

I’m really sorry. Please talk to me.

Next.

We need to talk.

Next.

Might as well get it over with ’cuz we’re gonna have to talk eventually... partner.

Last one.

This is very mature of you. I’ll leave you alone if that’s what you want. I’m catching some pool with Andy tonight though if you decide you’re ready.

Who the hey is Andy? And why does he mention him as if I should already know who he’s talking about? I notice the message was sent Saturday evening. No wonder he seems a bit irritated lately. I’d unknowingly stood him up.

Rubbing my left temple with my middle finger, I debate whether I should respond now or later. It doesn’t take long to come to the conclusion that there’s no need to wait since he’s apparently been waiting a day and a half already. My thumbs hover over the touch pad, hesitant on typing the message. I want it to be perfect. I don’t want to come across as too eager to see him or make it sound like all’s fine because in reality, it’s not fine. What he said hurt, and it still hurts. So finally I decide on keeping it simple and to the point.

Let’s talk. Coffee shop. 3:30.

I’m going off of his example from that first text he ever sent me. He didn’t ask. He demanded when and where we were to meet to study. So I did the same.


I make the forty-seven-second drive back to my dorm, park, and head up to my room. I’m about to yank the pillow off my bed so that I can wash the pee from it when a wonderfully evil idea blossoms in my innocent mind. I’m not usually one for payback, but this time Mercy really asked for it.

I tear the pillowcase off and throw it in my pile of dirty laundry, and then replace her pillow with mine. It’s not the worst prank in the world. I mean, aren’t hippies all about keeping it natural? What’s more natural than the earthy, bodily scent of urine? She might actually like it.

I’ve got an hour before I have to head to the coffee shop, and I still haven’t heard back from Trevor. It’s possible he’s ignoring me, and if so then I’m not too bothered because I’m only going for the coffee anyway. I couldn’t care less about Trevor. He’s an idiot. I hate him. I’m over him. He’s ugly. I’ve totally replaced his image in my mind with that of a Blobfish. (Yes, they do exist. Google it. You’ll never be the same again.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I would fit right in at a psych ward as I lay flat on my bed staring up at the ceiling, where I repeatedly count the ceiling tiles. I groan aloud when I loose my spot and have to start over.

Glancing at the time on my phone again, I nearly escape my own skin with excitement when I see that it’s time. Simultaneously, I shrink back into myself when I realize whom I’m meeting. Throwing on a pair of gladiator sandals, I make the dreaded journey where I will come face-to-face with my nemesis, aka. the love of my pathetic little life.

I arrive a whole minute early, which is basically an hour, as I watch the seconds tick by more and more slowly. I decide to order a coffee as I wait since it’s probably gonna be awhile. If he ever shows, what’s the chance he’ll even arrive on...

“Hey.”

“Oh, hey!” I jump as I turn to face the man who dominates my waking—and sleeping *cough*—thoughts.

We don’t speak as we both order and wait for our coffees to be made. Once we pay we silently make our way over to a private booth in the very back corner of the shop. How romantic... unless he plans on mutilating my delicate feelings away from any prying ear.

We sit and proceed to sip our coffees. I’m desperately trying to find a place to settle my gaze while Trevor steadily watches me over the rim of his cup. I take sip after sip of my coffee, squirming when I nearly scorch the tasters off my buds. I’m fighting to hide my face behind my cup, and nearly panic when I realize I’m already halfway through the black liquid gold. What will I hide behind once it’s gone?

“Sorry for never responding to your texts,” I finally say. “I misplaced my phone.”

Trevor doesn’t respond, but his head bobbing slightly indicates that he understands my reason for ignoring his messages.

He finally clears his throat, and it’s like pouring salt on a slug- disturbing and entertaining all at the same time. Disturbing because I know that that sound means ‘let’s get down to business’. Entertaining because it’s such a raspy delicious sound vibrating from his chest, and I enjoy watching his Adam’s apple dance with the action.

“Listen...” he says, and I’m already preparing myself for the verbal onslaught of enmity that will be spewing from his mouth. “I really am sorry for what I said.”

And my theory just died along with every defensive comeback that I had formulated. My shoulders sink with defeat. I was kind of hoping for the chance to scream into his beautiful face, and now he’s crushed that like a leaf under his big old foot.

“So you lied to me?” I ask, and my voice comes out sounding dangerously calm.

He cocks his head slightly to the side, looking more like someone with a broken neck than a cute puppy, and gives me a questioning look before I continue.

“You texted me the other day, after reading my messages, just to tell me that you don’t hate me,” I say. “So what is it? I tend to think you’d be more honest with a close buddy than the girl you barely tolerate.”

The guilt that lines his features is immediate, and I don’t feel bad for putting it there at all. Not one bit.

“I don’t hate you,” he finally says, sighing as he rubs the back of his neck. “What I said to Andy was basically the same as saying ‘I hate family reunions’. I don’t actually hate family reunions, I just prefer not to be a part of them.”

“Hmm... well that makes me feel much better,” I reply sarcastically.

He rubs a hand down his face with an annoyed groan. I’m just glad to know who Andy is now.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbles around his hand with an apologetic sigh. “I just... argh. Can we just start over? Like forget the past, and maybe just try to get along for the rest of this semester?”

I didn’t appreciate him adding the ‘rest of the semester’ part, but I was sure okay with getting along. I force my hand out across the table. He eyes it warily for a moment before sliding his rough, athletic fingers across mine.

“Deal,” I say with a shake. “How ’bout we start now?”

“Huh?” He pulls his hand away hesitantly, eyeing me with suspicion.

“How ’bout a movie? At your place,” I suggest with confidence.

Wow, that dream last night must have really played a number on me because I am being uncharacteristically brave.

I watch as a devilish smile nips the edge of his lips as he responds. “Deal.”

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