Porcelain Skin

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Cougar

A few minutes later I’m forced to skedaddle as Trevor announces it’s time for him to head to work. I’m so relieved I could start dancing, but I refrain. I grab my shoes and my computer before exiting his apartment. I decide to make a detour to the Coffee Lounge for a bit just to waste time. At least sipping coffee while I do absolutely nothing doesn’t make it feel so pointless.

I stroll through the door, order, and take a seat with my iced Americano before getting to work. I need to figure out what ‘cougar’ means. I flip open my laptop and type in the search. Seconds tick by before the results pop up. The internet connection is surprisingly slow in this cafe. That, or I’m just really impatient. I click the link and scroll down until my eyes land on the word ‘cougar’.

A cougar may represent beauty, power, emotion. It can also refer to feminine power, or be representative of a woman.

The article goes on to discuss that they sometimes represent danger or death, but my mind stopped at the word woman. I was only half right. It doesn’t represent an ‘older’ woman at all, just a woman. My heartbeat begins to accelerate. If this dream interpretation is correct then it looks like Trevor may have a crush on someone, but according to Trevor’s previous words, we can’t be together. Is it possible that Trevor can’t be with me because his heart already belongs to someone else? That would explain his strange behavior earlier. Maybe he felt awkward because he knew I liked him, but he didn’t share those feelings. Spots begin to dance in my vision as the backs of my eyes prepare to relinquish the dam behind them.

“Emma-Tater!” A voice jolts me out of my near cry-fest, and the distraction causes a mixture of irritation and relief to battle in my chest.

I glance up to see the friendly face of Lightning.

“Who knew that I could have so many nicknames!” I respond with a smile, my tears forgotten as the personification of joy walks into the room. “Emma-Tater. Emma-nator. M&M...” My voice drifts off at the reminder of that nickname.

“M&M?” he asks while sliding into the booth across from me.

“Yeah. Emma-Nem—M&M. Get it?”

“Ahhhh. Yes. That would make sense,” he says while slowly nodding in understanding. He’s got a tall Mocha Latte between his hands that I’m eyeing with jealousy. I’m usually not much of a mocha fan, but that looks delicious.

“Why Emma-Tater?” I ask while watching him tear a straw out of its wrapper. “Am I an imitator of something, or do I remind you of a tater tot?”

“That’s a good question,” he responds after taking a long sip from his straw. “Because I have no idea. It just popped out. I’ll go with the tater tot, though. I like them better.” He smiles.

“Hmmm.” I take a sip of my own coffee and suddenly wish for just a hint of sweetness. “So, what you up to?”

“Oh, you know. Just wasting time until my next class,” he replies while pulling a notebook from his bag. He begins scribbling nonsense into it and then suddenly glances up at me. “Why don’t we ever hang out?”

Startled by the sudden question, I look up at him to find him blowing bubbles in his drink. When I don’t answer right away he pauses to quirk a brow at me.

“Not sure,” I finally say after reminding myself to never, ever, ever share a drink with him.

“Okay, this Friday that’s going to change. You got plans?” He returns to slurping up his latte while eyeing me.

“Nope.”

“Now you do.” He smiles widely at me and then checks the time on his watch. “Dagnabbit! Okay, well I’ve gotta get going but...” He’s scribbles something on his paper before tearing the sheet out and handing it to me. “Here’s my number. Call me.”

He begins to get up and I just watch him with my hand frozen halfway in the air holding the page with his number on it.

“Seriously,” he says while pulling his bag over his shoulders. “Call me.”

“Oh. Now?” I jump when I realize what he’s asking. I pull my phone out and dial his number and then wait for his phone to ring before hanging up. He peeks at his caller ID before shooting me a satisfied smile.

“Great,” he cheers with a thumbs up. “I’ll text ya the plans later this week. Be prepared. Time spent with me will change your life.”

I laugh at his dramatics as I watch him swivel towards the door. He turns to push the door open with his back and offers me a quick salute before exiting. I continue to smile for another two minutes before I realize he’s long gone and I’m beginning to scare the people around me.

I return my attention to my computer where I attempt to do a bit more research, but my heart isn’t in it. I just can’t stop thinking about Trevor. Now I’m going to have to spend the rest of the semester working with him, while fully aware that his heart aches for some other lucky girl out there. I’m just glad this quarter is almost up, and we can have a break from each other. I need to let myself do some healing because whether he knows it or not, Trevor is shredding me to pieces.


I stay at the cafe until six o’clock and am able to accomplish absolutely nothing. It’s amazing how time just gets swallowed up when you’re letting your brain turn to jello while absorbing pointless facts on the internet. It’s a drug for sure. They should call it Cybercaine or Webamphetamine or Heronet, or Webjuana, or... nope. I’m done.

I trudge my way back to my dorm knowing that I’ve only got about five minutes before Trevor is planning on meeting me, and I’m dreading it. I’d rather shave my eyeballs with a blunt razor. I push the button to the fourth floor and hum into the silence of the elevator. I shove myself away from the wall when the doors open and slothfully glide my way towards my room.

I’m a couple meters away when I finally pull my gaze away from the carpet and meet a set of emerald eyes. It’s obvious he’s been watching me slug my way down the hallway. Yes, I mean slug because that’s basically what I represent. I’m leaving all my courage and security in a trail of slime behind me, and now I stand before him with trembling fingers and a limp heart.

“Hey,” he says quietly.

I’m frozen in place for a moment as I take in his casual stance. He’s leaning against the wall near my door with arms crossed over his chest and a reserved smile playing at his lips.

“Hi,” I respond as I brush past him to unlock the door.

I already know that Mercy is gone because Tuesdays are normally jam-packed with classes for her, and she’s out late since she has no morning classes on Wednesday.

“Come on in,” I say as I lead the way into my room and flip on the lights.

“Ready?” I say as I step out of my shoes and throw myself across my bed, burying my head in my pillow.

I hear him laugh behind me. “I am, yeah.” I feel the bed dip slightly with his weight. “Are you?”

I groan as I roll myself onto my back and look at him through lazy eyes. He looks so comfortable as he leans against the wall with one leg stretched across the end of the bed and the other dangling off the side.

“Ready as I’ll ever be.” I push myself up into a sitting position and snag my computer from my bag that I’ve thrown beside my bed. “Alright, Toots Magoots. Let’s do this.” I yawn. All enthusiasm has left the premises.

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