Chapter 6: Not Even When I Kiss Her
There’s a nerve-racking silence in the room when he shuts the door, excluding the muffled sound of music and drunk chatter. I continue to stare at the ceiling, my thoughts loud in my head. My anxiety tells me that I’ve degraded my level of masculinity escaping up here instead of enduring the moment with Gemma. I shouldn’t feel that way, it’s natural to want to escape from something, but anxiety is my mental form of a monster underneath the bed, quietly threatening me, quietly feeding me false facts and information.
“Are you gay?”
The control I have over the fast rate that my chest begins to expand and deflate at is minimal. With everything in me, I try to pry my mind out of the dark hole it’s lodged in. I try to prevent a panic attack in front of the guy who prevents me from existing as a recluse, for whatever self-serving reason that I don’t know.
“No,” I finally answer. My body temperature only rises. What I am is none of his business, and him asking that is plain disrespectful, but he’s onto me - he’s hit bingo.
“I know Gemma didn’t excite you any bit.” His voice appears closer. I register that he’s approaching me. I’m able to breathe a little less, frozen in my skin.
“That doesn’t make me gay, just not interested.”
I stay staring at the ceiling, my fingers gripping the sheets as he comes closer. I feel threatened by him, but I shouldn’t be. He’s got it right, completely right, but there’s no hateful comment that follows the truth out of his mouth.
“I’m not going to judge you,” he says, taking a seat beside me.
I feel him stretch over to grab the cup of alcohol I left on the side, and I hear him drinking the rest of it before he lays back beside me. I’m a blurred mess of drunk and anxious; the ceiling spins. Everything is heightened and I’m prone to spill if I’m not careful - if Christian gets under my skin enough. I don’t want to remember this in the morning.
He turns his head to look at me, our faces inches away. The close proximity eradicates the tiny bit of control I have left over my breathing. I hate not having control. I hate this feeling.
I can tell he’s waiting for me to look him in the eyes and stop denying it, to trust him with the truth, but how can I trust a stranger? A stranger whom I’m letting invade my personal space being this close to me? I’d be reckless. It’s too much.
My throat clamps shut tightly. I find myself loudly inhaling and exhaling. It feels like there are thorns in my chest, piercing my lungs and making every drawn breath extremely painful. My knuckles turn white gripping the sheets. Sweat beads up on my forehead, dampening my hair. The whole room spirals, partly from me being intoxicated, partly from the panic attack that catapults me into a frenzy of fright.
I can’t breathe.
“Tommy?” Christian sits up, sobering immediately when he realises there’s something wrong. I don’t have the air to respond.
In frantic haste, my bones leave my body when I rush to the window and fight the curtains to open it up. I grip the frame, leaning out and taking in the fresh air. I wait for the panic attack to subdue. Hanging dangerously out the window, I’m faced with the sight of drunk students out back, some who notice me and murmur to each other.
“Don’t do that, you might fall.” Christian gently pulls me back by my wrist. My head droops against the wall by the window, my eyelids falling shut.
“I just needed to breathe,” I get out airily.
He lets go of my wrist. “You already were breathing,” he says.
“Properly,” I respond.
My heart still beats unhealthily fast, all because he had to be inquisitive and follow me up here. Talking to him any longer is not a good idea. Any word out of his mouth may just trigger me. He needs to leave, but this is his frat house, so I need to leave.
“Are you afraid?” he questions quietly. I open my eyes, locking them with his. The dim light provided by the bedside lamp tricks me into believing I’m staring into black abysses. I never paid attention to the colour of his eyes before. I find myself wondering now.
“Of what? Stop asking me questions,” I snap. I’ll crumble if he keeps pushing me. To ask myself why he won’t stop is idiotic - he won’t stop because I keep feeding into this conversation by responding to him instead of getting the hell out of here.
“Of people judging you for being gay?” he sighs. Not letting my guard down is starting to frustrate him.
Why does he want me to trust him? Why should I? He may not judge me but who’s to say he isn’t cruel and planning to go and tell the truth to people like Dom? Is what I’m doing even enough anymore to protect my secret given that he caught on so quickly?
I’d be a fool to stay in this room any longer.
With no final words, I barge past him, escaping downstairs and into the mass of people. I stumble over every other step. I don’t know where I’m going, every door seems the same to me. Out of the blue, I’m messily handed another cup. When I look up, I’m facing Gemma again. She’s fully wasted. A few cups more and I will be too.
Maybe it’s another mistake taking a cup from her again? But there’s a part of me that wants to prove Christian wrong, no matter how uncomfortable I’ll get, even though he’s completely right, so I down the cup and all the others I get my hands on. When I’m finally in the state of being anxiety free and uncaring, I pull Gemma right up to me, perfectly fine this time around.
I catch Christian’s eyes amidst the crowd - perfect timing. Gripping Gemma’s waist, I bring my mouth up to her neck, latching onto her skin. My eyes never rip away from Christian’s.
Not even when I kiss her.
Birds chirping and the sound of murmuring out on the lawn wakes me up. I rub the sleep from my eyes, coming to notice a weight on top of me. Glancing down, I gulp, cursing under my breath. What the fuck have I done? The feeling of bare skin is uncomfortable, so is the killing headache I have, but more so who lays naked on my front.
I can’t remember a single thing about the party. Getting out of here is my main priority right now, not questioning what happened, not waking her up to ask, just getting out of here - out of this house. I find my clothes in an instant.
“Hey...” I hear Gemma’s voice. She looks at me in a daze, realisation dawning on her. A flash of hurt crosses her eyes when she notices I was just trying to leave without her stopping me.
The guilt I feel begins to eat me up inside like some kind of disease. She’s too pretty...too kind for someone to do this to her. I don’t want to do this to her, but whatever happened, it’s all a mistake. That word doesn’t have to come out of my mouth for her to know it. It’s a mistake waking up with her on me like that.
Speechless, I leave, feeling gross and in need of a shower. Cowardly, I know, but I don’t want to confront her. What do I confront her with? ‘I’m gay, I could never like you like that’?
I can’t trust her. I can’t trust anyone.
What else happened last night?