Destructively Oblivious

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Chapter 23: Poetry

po·et·ry

/ˈpōətrē/

noun

1. intense literary work that is expressed from feelings and ideas to create style and lyrics; art that comes from the heart.

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*Asher’s Point of View*

Poetry had always come easily to me. Writing, in general, was something I’d been gifted at from an early age. I couldn’t remember the moment I decided I enjoyed writing, but I remembered when I realized I needed to write. My mom had bought me a diary a few weeks after my dad had left, hoping I’d begin coping with words, and I tossed it back in her face. At age twelve, I did not want anything to do with a diary.

Regardless of my negative reaction to it, she left it in my room and, on a day that I remember feeling particularly terrible, I decided jotting something down inside wouldn’t kill me. And it didn’t.

I discovered that writing things down was a lot easier than expressing them out loud and I never stopped writing inside that journal. Though I’d pasted my writing across numerous notebooks over the years, I only wrote things that I felt were significant inside my first.

Young and creative, I filled books with poems and short stories. I wrote about a ghost who thought no one could see him, only to learn he’d been alive the whole time. I wrote about a dragon who fell in love with a unicorn. I wrote about a boy who traveled back in time after running away from home.

But living in a fictional world grew lonely and I tried to write about real things, which was difficult because I was never sure which parts of myself were real and which parts I had made up for the sake of a plot.

I considered my past stories as an option for my pending class assignment as I simultaneously pondered why my public speaking teacher, Mrs. Zen, thought a poetry unit would come in handy. Whatever her reasoning was, I didn’t mind the assignment, which was simply to describe something. Anything. I could quite literally do that in my sleep.

I did happen to mind the girl sitting next to me, though. She sort of reminded me of Dol. They both shared the skill of being unaware of the definition of peripheral vision and how it worked. Maybe the girl realized I had noticed her and just didn’t care. Whatever it was, she couldn’t take her eyes off me. If I wasn’t so hung up on someone else, I probably would have acknowledged her.

I typed out the final line of my poem before prying my eyes off the screen and rounding to search the girl’s face. She didn’t look away as our gazes met, but she smiled. She was pretty and fully aware of it. She used her good looks to her advantage as she sent a hand flying back through her hair and batted her long eyelashes at me.

Her confidence wasn’t my problem, not that it ever would have been. I only had one issue with the attractive girl, and there wasn’t anything she could do about that. She simply wasn’t who I wanted, which made looking away from her relatively easy.

I hadn’t acknowledged her before I looked away, and I could see that she’d frowned at my lack of address. When she tapped my shoulder, I looked back her way and she locked a smile back in place.

“Asher, right?” she asked, though I was sure she already knew the answer. I nodded, not bothering to ask her for her own name. Her smile widened. “You really sped through your poem.”

I faced my screen, then dragged my eyes across the class, realizing she was right. Everybody else was still typing diligently.

I shrugged. “Motivated, I guess.”

She tilted her head at her screen. “I can’t think of anything to write about. I could use some inspiration. Mind if I read yours?”

She leaned towards my poem on the screen and I swiftly reached forward and shut my chromebook. There was no way in hell she was reading mine. I was already debating turning in it at all. I didn’t want anyone to read it, including Mrs. Zen.

The girl’s forehead was crinkled, confused. I shook my head. “It’s a stupid poem. I’m sure you can come up with a better idea without reading it,” I uttered, and she frowned.

Suddenly, I heard Mrs. Zen’s voice at the head of the class. “Asher, Hailee-” Oh, her name was Hailee, that’s right. “Is there a reason you’re talking during a work period?” she reprimanded.

I shook my head. “No. Sorry.”

Hailee shrugged. “I was just asking for some help. Asher’s already done with his poem.”

Mrs. Zen’s face spread a beaming smile. “Asher! You’ve already finished?” she proclaimed, her hands bunched under her chin. I nodded. “Well, since you’re all done, why don’t you come and read it to the class. I’m sure your classmates could use the encouragement.”

Hailee’s smile was cocky as she agreed with our teacher. I sent her an expression meaner than I intended and watched the woman at the front of the class waving me towards her.

My head was shaking rapidly. “No thanks,” I mumbled irritably.

“Oh, Asher!” she said, her smile nor her waving faltering. “Don’t be shy. I’m sure your poem is lovely.”

I was sure it was lovely too. My issue didn’t revolve around the quality of the poem, but instead the topic. Knowing I had no way out of the situation, I stood reluctantly.

Thanks a lot, Hailee. Sorry, I’m caught up on someone else. It’s not my fault. I didn’t ask for this.

As I made my way to the front of the room, I wondered why I’d felt the need to write my stupid poem about Chloe. The only answer I could give myself was that she had conquered every inch of my thoughts and my fingers had been moving without my brain when they hit the keyboard.

I shuffled up to the front of the class hesitantly, hoping someone else would volunteer and strike me of my misery. No one did. I cleared my throat and stared down at my computer screen, feeling like Dol when faced with any social situation. I tried to swallow the discomfort that came with the circumstances and winced my way through the, in my opinion, embarrassing poem I had written minutes before.

“Describe her, they said. So I tried to think of all the things I could say about you. Like how the blue in your eyes reminds me of a calming sea, an ocean of relaxation I can’t seem to baptize myself in, no matter how hard I try. Or how if my alarm clock sounded like your laugh, my snooze button would remain untouched. Or how my heart shakes like a rickety house in the midst of a hurricane when you smile in my direction. But as hard as I try, I don’t know how to describe you the way you deserve to be described. And so each night, I open my notebook and I write a poem about the perfect woman. A woman whose fingers are like piano keys that play symphonies every time she touches me. Whose lips are as soft as my fondest memories with her. Whose as fragile as the wings she uses to vanish from my arms as if she never existed at all. And each morning, she sounds a lot like you.”

Doing nothing to hide the cringe on my face, I glimpsed up from the screen to see my teacher’s heartfelt expression. She had both her hands stacked against her heart, her mouth in a pout.

“Asher, that was beautiful.” She smiled, asking a question I dreaded. “Was it about anyone in particular?”

Shutting my laptop, I mustered up my best smirk, shrugging my shoulders as I picked up the device. “No, just off the top of my head.”

______________________________________

Laying on my leather couch, I scanned my math textbook over equations that would only be useful to me until the day of the test. Adorable as ever, Dol bolted down the stairs, her tits bouncing with every step she took, opening the fridge and peeling out a water bottle. I began thinking maybe talking about her chest as I called her adorable was contradicting but disregarded the thought when I heard her in the kitchen.

“Whatcha doin?” she asked.

I sat up on the sofa, watching her as she tended her elbows onto the counter, and answered, “Studying.”

Her smile was striking as she walked over to me, collapsing on the couch by my side. “Oh, so that’s what they call porn now?” She laughed at her own joke and my lip twitched in humor over her reaction.

Due to procrastination calling my name, the TV seemed much more appealing than the textbook, and, setting it down, I grabbed the remote, turning the TV to a specific output because I’d decided I was going to spend my studying time playing a video game.

While I planned on playing something that involved lots of destruction, Dol charmingly exclaimed something about Mario Kart and I couldn’t resist. As the Mario Kart game screen popped up onto the television, I handed her a controller. She squealed as she picked out her character: Mario.

“Oh, you’re so going down. I’m the best at this game,” she announced with unfaltering confidence.

“Oh really?” I chuckled at her conviction. “There can’t be two winners and I’m certainly better.”

I picked Yoshi as my character and moved on to pick vehicles, acting far too confident for someone who’d only ever won Mario Kart against a seven-year-old.

Looking notably offended, Dol shook her head. “You’re not going to win. Perdedor.”

I snickered, relishing in the look on her face when she was annoyed, not to mention whatever name she’d called me in Spanish that I couldn’t understand, and proudly stated, “I bet by the time we’re done, not only will I have beat you at this game, but I’ll get you to tell me your favorite candy...” I paused, then grinned, adding, “And what color panties you’re wearing.”

Her finger jabbed the side of my arm as she let out a comically loud laugh at my assessment. “Good luck with that.”

The game began and the speakers belted out the famous Mario Kart music, along with the squeaks and sound effects coming from the racing characters. Glancing over at Dol, her elbows were resting on her knees, eyes drilling into the TV. She had evidently played the game over a thousand times because after going through water, over a mountain, flying, going upside down, and repeating it three times, she came out first. I, on the other hand, came out seventh.

Hopping up, she bounced into the air with her hands skyward in victory. “Yes! How do you like me now?”

I flung my controller onto the coffee table, frowning at her. “I’m not a fan.”

She leisurely sat back down, pouting her lip out. “Well, you know Asher, there can’t be two winners and I’m certainly better at this game,” she mocked my previous statement.

Laughing, I poked her in the side, enjoying the sound of her giggling as she shoved my hand away and began another round.

Irritated when the same thing happened the second round, I groaned something about her cheating, wishing that could explain my numerous defeats. By my third loss, I was frustrated with the tournament, but along with the game, my memory had started up again, reminding me that I had several things to discover about her, including her favorite candy and underwear color.

As the fourth game commenced, I began my interrogation. “So, Hershey bars?”

“What?” Her eyes disengaged from the game for a moment as she pitched me confusion.

“Your favorite candy. Is it Hershey?” She shook her head at my inquiry and I dipped a brow. “Kit-Kats?” I tried, receiving a negative response from her. “Skittles? M&M’s? Gummy Bears?” Nothing. “Crunch Bars? Tootsie rolls?”

She giggled, disgust lacing the enjoyable sound. “Ew! Tootsie Rolls are disgusting.”

I frowned, giving her a puzzled glance. “They are not.”

She cast me a similar expression. “Imagine favoring Tootsie Rolls over anything else.”

I chuckled, then pulled my attention back to my line of questioning. “Uh... Lollypops? Rock candy? Starburst? Candy corn? Swedish Fish?” Had I not been neglecting my shameful video game driving and instead focusing on the details of Dol’s face, I would have missed the slight broadness of her eyes as I correctly guessed her candy preference. I brightened, asking, “Swedish Fish? Is that it? Did I get it?”

Her beyond beautiful eyes rolling, as usual, she let her head dip in admittance. “Yes, okay. My favorite candy is Swedish Fish.”

“That’s such a random candy.” I chuckled. “Are they even good?”

“They’re better than Tootsie Rolls, you weirdo!” she shouted. The displeasure was scribbled all over her face as she mindlessly turned to me, momentarily letting go of her controller as she did.

Sucking in sharply, she hissed when she witnessed my character cross the finish line before hers. Distraction was always a helpful tactic. She threw her controller onto the couch as she stood, shifting to face me.

Her arms flew out to her sides. “You distracted me on purpose!”

My hands went behind my head as I drifted back on the seat, watching the delicate woman in front of me get worked up over a quick game of Mario Kart. My mouth tugged an uncontrollable smirk. “I did no such thing.”

She sneered, “Fuck you.”

“My bed or yours?” My vulgar statement made her angrier and she promptly slammed that perfect ass of hers onto the couch beside me, arms crossed. I laughed as I asked my following question, knowing the next few seconds would be pure fury. “Regarding your panties, are they black? Or maybe blue?”

“Fuck. You.” She stood from the couch and hiked herself into the kitchen.

What a sore loser.

Pushing myself off the couch, I followed her in. “Pink?”

I was expecting a ‘Shut up, Asher,’ or even her middle finger in my face but she stayed silent, pitching against the counter with an angry pout.

“You are a sore ass loser.” I chuckled.

“You're a cheater!” she bit out with a scowl.

Despite being pissed, she looked very cute, and I suppressed the urge to smile at her angered expression. Failing miserably, I released a grin and unintentionally muttered, "You're adorable."

"What?" she asked instantly.

"What?" I asked back, feeling an almost agonizing embarrassment for my comment. In a humiliation-led panic, I backtracked, correcting myself. "I said you're annoying."

"No." She smiled, looking very entertained as she shook her head. "You didn't."

I frowned. "Yes, I did."

Her amusement didn't falter any and she leaned back against the countertop with dimpled cheeks. "Are you really going to argue with me when I just heard you say it?"

"You heard me wrong. I misspoke," I explained.

Despite my irritation on display, she ignored my expression of misery and, giggling, asked, "Well, which is it? Did I hear you wrong or did you misspeak?"

Scowling at her laughter and speaking carefully, I shook my head. "You think you're so funny."

Her laugh dropped into a heart-racing smile as she mocked, "And you think I'm so cute."

Within a seconds time, I had crossed the kitchen and plastered my hand across her mouth to get her mortifying words to cease. "No, I don't. Stop saying that," I demanded.

Regardless of my palm against her face, I could clearly see her smile had yet to make its departure from her expression. I removed my hand and Dol, capturing an opportunity, immediately sang the words, "You think I'm adorable," into the air.

Upon the comment, my hands slipped quickly to her waist as I hoisted her onto the counter. Standing between her legs, I stared into her eyes (which were equally as perfect as her ass) and began to question my mental state. I was certain that putting myself in a position to be this close to Chloe was the first sign that I was going nuts.

Her smile had vanished and been swiftly replaced with perplexion for my actions. I didn't have any explanation for why I needed to be between her thighs other than wanting to, so instead of confronting it, I clarified, "You are adorable. Like a... like a confused puppy."

She giggled at my comparison and I hoped she took my words honestly, though it was more of a half-truth than anything else.

She tilted her head to the side and threw one of her arms over my shoulder as she chuckled. "I'm going to take that as a compliment."

I smiled, joking, "Okay, but I meant it as an insult."

Her expression was soft as she watched me watch her and after a few silent seconds of staring, I felt her hand on the back of my neck, right above where my shirt began, gently dragging her fingers across my skin. Though my eyes were connected to hers, my brain activity was hyperfocused on her hand and the way it felt against me.

She raised her fingers slightly, running them along the bottom edge of my hair, then farther up until her hand was stroking through it. She was studying my reaction to her touch and I knew it, so I tried to keep my expression neutral as to not embarrass myself further, though I was sure my turning stomach was going to fall out through my shirt. I tried to think of something to say to rid the tension between us.

Letting out quiet laughter, my hand landed on her thigh, my fingers flirting along the bare skin until they reached her jean-covered hip bone. “Before I forget, what color are your panties?”

She didn’t miss a beat. “They’re red,” she replied with an eye roll that followed a small laugh, the two words coming out more breathy than I think she intended. Her answer did nothing to rid any tension, but it did make me realize how much in that moment I wanted to kiss her. I was about to kiss her.

And as if the Universe had wandered blindly into the room and seen me in such a predicament, my phone began ringing on the counter beside us.

Dol winced at the sharp sound and I stepped back, releasing myself from the desire I had so badly wanted to give into, and seized the loud device. I spun around and away from Dol, taking three panicked breaths as I pressed the phone to the side of my face, not caring enough who it was to check the Caller ID.

When I felt calm enough, I aimed to face Chloe. She was no longer on the counter but instead standing in front of it as she tried to order away the red-ish hue on her face. It wasn’t working.

“Hello?” I said into the phone.

“Asher, it’s me. I want to-” Hearing the man’s voice, I hung up the phone immediately. Five seconds ago, I was grateful for the distraction, now I wasn’t so sure.

Dol glanced at the phone I had thumped on the counter and sent a questioning look my way. “Who was that?”

Grabbing it off the countertop, I blocked the caller, before re-slamming it, wondering how he got ahold of my number.

“The asshole who likes to call himself my father.” I sighed uncomfortably, not wanting to discuss it, and changed the subject. “Can we get something to eat?”

Though the girl who was still as red as a tomato seemed surprised over my topic change after the brief phone call, she nodded at my question, allowing me to move away from the topic of my dad and the memories I couldn’t forget fast enough.

She smiled at me, asking, “Where do you want to go?”

“Sushi?” I offered.

Dolphin resembled someone who had won a million dollars at the mention of seafood. “Yes!”

“Great, let’s go.” I ripped my wallet from the coffee table and made my way to the front door, stopped only by Dol shifting from foot to foot. “What?”

“I change my mind. I don’t want sushi.”

Pleating my eyebrow and stuffing my wallet in my pocket, my tone was puzzled when I said, “You had a mini orgasm at the mention of it."

She laughed, grabbing her purse from the entry room couch.

“I don’t get paid until tomorrow.” A flash of panic spread over her face after what she’d shared and she hastily added, “And- I don’t want to use any money from my… account because I’m trying to save up and not be so... frivolous with it.”

She winced at her own strange and long-winded explanation as I stared at her like she was an alien from another planet. I tugged my expression into a smile and, to avoid asking her what the fuck she was going on about, I retreated towards the front door, stating, “If you think for a second I’m letting you pay, you’re crazy.”

“Hey, if I wanted sushi that bad, I could pay for myself,” she promised, then squealed as I snaked the little purse from her grasp and walked out the front door with it, forcing her to follow me.

“I know you can. I don’t need to hear your I’m a strong, independent woman speech again. Please, for the love of God." I faked exhaustion as I pulled open my car door, but grinned at the recollection of her reciting the speech the previous night when I’d offered to help her reach something. “I want sushi, now get in.”

I tossed the purse onto the seat beside me when she eventually climbed into my car. “But I always order too much.”

That was her second lousy attempt to get me to take her to a less expensive restaurant to eat. It didn’t work.

Looking over my shoulder and pulling from the driveway, I shrugged. “Order whatever you want.” With a default eye roll, she threw me a thanks and I leered over at her with a smirk. “You can order everything on the menu if you show me your red panti-”

She scowled cutely. “You're going to push me far enough one day and I’m going to kill you, Asher.”

______________________________________

As I smiled at Dol eating some variety of roll she got, she cocked her head down at the roll I had ordered, appearing unimpressed.

She wrinkled her nose. “A California roll?”

“Red underwear?” I copied her facial expression.

The trivial cringe on her face smoothed into confusion. “Do you have a problem with red underwear?”

“On you? Not at all. In fact, I’m pretty positive that you look astounding under all those layers.” I gave her a cheesy smile as I gestured down at her outfit, knowing I was pressing her buttons.

Shaking her head slowly, she picked up a roll between her chopsticks, lifting it in the air. “Too bad you’ll never see them on me.”

I frowned. “And why’s that?”

She wrinkled her nose. “This underwear is only meant to be seen by those who are special, like myself.”

Pondering what she had shared, I rested my elbows on the table. “Are you telling me I’m not special?”

She laughed. “Oh, you're special alright. But not special enough to see me in my underwear.”

Chuckling, I gave her a pretentious grin. “You’re a bit of a tease.”

I was gifted with a smile on her face as she pointed a chopstick in my direction and said, “I hardly call talking about underwear teasing.”

I shook my head to disagree as our waiter said a few words to a passing table before stopping at ours, asking, “Is there anything else I can get you today?”

I looked at him, then Chloe, then back at him. With a smirk, I rested my elbows even on the table and answered, “A second opinion, maybe. You see, I’m desperately trying to prove a point to this ravishingly fine young woman.” I glanced at Chloe, whose eyes were filled with revolt, before finishing my request towards the waiter. “If someone told you what color panties they were wearing, would you call that a tease?”

Dol kicked me harshly under our table, whispering, “Asher!”

I smiled up at the waiter. “Nevermind.”

He chuckled tensely as he made his way to another table. Chloe kicked me under ours again. “You’re an asshole.”

“And you’re a tease.” I laughed.

Her glare melted into a modest grin. She leaned forward to match my position, resting her elbows on the table. “Do you live to torture me?”

No, but I’m almost positive you were put on this earth to torture me.

“No, that’s just one of the many pluses.” Leaning farther over the table so she could hear my whisper, I spoke softly. “Now I have to ask, matching bra?”

“Fuck you,” she reinstated with a laugh, tossing a chopstick my way. I caught it, setting it softly back onto her plate when I did.

“My bed or yours?” I uttered without missing a beat. And seconds later, that chopstick was flying through the air towards me again.

______________________________________

The knock-on my bedroom door came late in the night. So late, in fact, that I was already drifting off into slumber when the soft knock tore me from the almost-dream, and I inwardly groaned. Whoever was at my door better have had a fantastic reason for tearing me from my sleep. With a pained exhalation, I split into a sitting position, scratching an abrupt itch on my bare chest, grumbling something towards whoever was at the door.

It slid open a crack and, due to lack of light, I was still unable to see whoever had decided to distract me from my rest. I leaned into my nightstand, clicking on the lamp that sat atop it, simultaneously shooting my digital clock a quick glimpse, reading numbers that read far past my usual bedtime. My exhaustion seemed to falter when I noticed it was Dol who stood in my doorway, a textbook in hand, and I knew whatever reason she had for waking me up was sufficient enough.

She watched me rub my eye with my hand while concurrently taking a step past my door frame. Her nervous smile eliminated any irritation I’d had towards who was at the door, and her bare legs trailing from underneath the white shirt pushed any weariness from my expression.

“I’m sorry for waking you up,” she apologized, clutching onto the edges of her book.

I sent a dismissive headshake her way, a yawn peeling from my lips. “I was barely asleep.”

“I-I was wondering if you could help me study for my math test again. I aced it last time you tutored me,” she asserted softly, an appreciative sparkle in her eyes. My train of thought was replaced by the memory of aiding her in her attempt to study, pushing her around in the cart of a department store until she began to use the Functional Notation properly. “I understand if it’s too late.”

“Are you sure you didn’t come in here to settle the whole, ‘my bed or yours’ debacle?” I joked, taking into serious consideration what my reaction would’ve been had that been the reason she’d traveled to my room.

She laughed softly, the sound soothing the air, before shaking her head at my obscene inquiry. Observing her as she shifted restlessly from foot to foot, I knew that now that she was here in my room, there was no way I could manage to get back to sleep. I waved her towards the mattress, pulling the blankets back so that she could slide in next to me.

When she was comfortable by my side, I slipped the comforter back over her, noticing she was cold when her icy legs rubbed against mine. I winced away from her freezing skin and when she’d noted my reaction, she laughed, throwing her frigid legs over my lap, searching for warmth. She set the homework on top of her comforter-covered thighs.

I peeled open her textbook, examining the piece of scratch paper she had been doing her work on, noticing countless errors.

“Dol, Jesus.” I chuckled, taking her pencil from between her fingers and scribbling out her incorrect work. I began reworking her equations. “You always use the brackets wrong and it alters your problem.”

She sighed, ironing her cheek against my shoulder as she leaned into me. “I hate math.”

“You only hate math because you don’t understand it.” I used the eraser end of the pencil to tap her kindly on the nose.

Her kissable lips morphed into a scowl and I had to look away from her to stop myself from imagining them moving in time with my own.

“It doesn’t exactly make itself easy to understand,” she murmured, irritably.

Slowly, I explained to her the mistakes she’d made and how to correct them, going into an in-depth explanation about her incorrect use of the Algebraic Cancellation. By the end of my discourse, she was blinking rather slowly, looking exceedingly tired. Strangely enough, I was now wide awake.

“I think that’s enough functions for tonight.” She yawned, shutting her textbook. “I’m exhausted.”

I tugged the heavy book from her lap, tossing it and the pencil onto the floor beside the bed. “Lie down then,” I suggested.

“In here?” She eyed the intimate space between us, attempting to play it off by then scanning the room in its entirety.

“Why not?” I could supply myself with an entire list of reasons why she didn’t need to stay in my bed with me but alongside that, I could provide a novel filled with reasons why she should, most of them having to do with my desire to hold her in my arms.

She shrugged, too tired to argue. Or perhaps she really was anxious to lay with me. Regardless of the reason, I was happy that she was complying with a head on my pillow. I stretched across her, turning off the lamp. Darkness fell over the room and, instead of moving back to my spot on the other side of the bed, I relocated myself closer to her, laying my head near hers. She didn’t comment on my movement, so I assumed she hadn’t discerned that I was closer at all.

The raspberry fragrance of her hair filled my senses and I found myself hyperaware of every segment of my body that was touching hers. Her breathing was slow; the room was quiet. I was terrified she’d be able to hear the sound of my heart pulsating inside my once-vacant chest.

Eventually, she flipped onto her side, facing away from me, and I sighed, agreeing now was the time to get some sleep. Any thought of that promptly exited when she spurred backward, pressing her back to my chest. My brain shut off, allowing my body to drive my actions instead. I bound my arms around her before I had even let the thought mature.

In seconds, her body molded against my own, and the heat from her emitted onto me. She was incredibly warm, and soft. I retired my hand against her stomach, and she settled the palms of her hands over the back of mine, encouraging the closeness.

Minutes passed and I felt her breathing steady out as sleep finally overcame her. With my pointer finger, I slowly outlined the length of her arm. It felt so gratifying to hold her. For a moment, with my nose burrowed against her hair, her hands caressing mine, I could pretend that I meant as much to her as she did to me.

I didn’t want the sensation to end. I wanted to keep her between my arms for the rest of time, never living down the pleasure of calling her my own. Despite the newfound depletion settling in for round two, I refused to sleep, recognizing when I woke up, I’d no longer get to imagine that I was someone she lived and breathed for.

I yawned against her scented hair, shutting my eyes for no more than half a second. Unfortunately, against my will, that half a second lasted longer than I’d realized. Before I knew it, the sound of my alarm was blaring throughout the room like a siren from hell, and morning light was shining past my windowsill.

I was still on my side and I could feel Dolphin shifting out from under my grasp. I squinted to watch her draw herself onto an elbow, straining over towards my nightstand, slamming her fist on top of the plastic alarm until it shut the fuck up. She followed the action with a sleepy exhale, rubbing her eyes. As she attempted to arise, I noticed her white shirt had slid up sometime during the night, bunching around her hips and unveiling her bright red panties.

My hand rested still on her hip, frozen, incapable of peeling my eyes away from her ass that laid mere inches from my instant hard-on. Oh fuck.

Feeling the need to remove myself from her general vicinity, I inched backward immediately, tossing the comforter over my lap and tearing into a sitting position, praying she didn’t feel my eager dick pressing against her backside.

Aware of my hasty departure, Dol shifted to face me, muttering some type of greeting before noticing her shirt exposing her underwear. I never thought I would say it, but her stupid cotton panties were the absolute bane of my existence at that moment and I appreciated it when she had pulled the shirt back to its original length.

A yawn hooked onto the edges of my lips and I leaned forward insignificantly, trying to appear as natural as possible while attempting to hide my morning wood. Dol didn’t seem to notice when she sent me a smile that lit up my room even brighter than the sun outside the window.

“Thank you for helping me study last night,” she praised. “And for letting me crash in your bed. I hope I wasn’t too much trouble while I was asleep.”

“No, you only kicked me three times,” I quipped, watching her amused face turn abashed. I chuckled, following it with, “Just kidding. You were perfect.” My throat tensed immediately after my comment and I looked away, exploring rows upon rows of subject changes in my head. “Class is starting soon,” I said the first thing that had popped into my head.

“I should go get ready.” She tugged herself out of bed, making sure she held down the edges of her shirt as she did, leaning down to pick up her textbook and wiggling it up between us. “And now I don’t have to spend so much time panicking over my test.”

“Yeah, you can help me panic over my unfinished poem that’s due today instead. I haven’t even touched it,” I shared, knowing I should have finished it the day before, but too busy with other matters to even think about it. I’d already turned in my first humiliating poem the day prior and was hoping today’s poem would be better.

She tucked her textbook under her arm, bringing her teeth down to nibble against her bottom lip. “Sorry, I’m bad at poetry. What’s the assignment?”

“The premise is that I’m supposed to write a poem that makes my teacher feel like she’s doing a good job teaching.” I smiled.

Dolphin’s lips pursed in deep thought as she stood by my bedside, adorably tilting her head to the side. Her shoulders lifted in slight defeat when she sighed. “Like I said, I’m terrible at poetry. Just describe something beautiful.”

“I did that yesterday,” I explained.

She grinned at me, letting out a soft, attractive laugh. “Can you ever get tired of writing about something beautiful?”

I shrugged, suddenly inspired. “I guess not.”

______________________________________

Standing in front of the class, I did feel considerably more confident than the day before. I couldn’t understand why, but my laptop was in my hands once again as I stared out over the sea of students.

“You asked me to write poetry. I’m not a poet, but I will try to describe the puzzle that is my life, and how perfectly she fits into it. I’m not a scientist but I know that even the laws of physics couldn’t explain the effects she has on me. I’m not an astrologist, but I know she’s the center of the universe and that she keeps the world revolving. I’m not a doctor, but I understand that she is a miracle of life. I’m not a storm, but I can conjure up harsh winds that can only be calmed when her hand is in mine and she’s coiled in my arms. And though, I’m not in any way a poet, you asked me to write poetry. And I did. She’s the real poem.”

For the second time in two days, I received a heartfelt look from Mrs. Zen next to me. She was shaking her head with an admiration that I couldn’t understand, gleaming. “Once again, that really was lovely, Asher. Was it motivated by anyone this time?”

I reflected for a moment, then gave her a slight nod and a half-smile. “Yeah... just someone I know.”

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