Prevailing Love

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10. Endorphin High

Shane Rikers

“What are we doing here?” I ask lipgloss warily, staring at the students milling about the student union building. We had made plans last week for her to give me another “lesson” on love today. I just didn’t expect her to lead me here of all places. How could standing outside this building possibly convince me to fall in love again?

“Just trust me,” She says quietly, sitting down on the bench we were previously standing in front of. She’s been oddly quiet ever since I caught up to her here after she texted me to meet. I’m not used to there being silence between us. Even when she didn’t want to talk or associate with me before, she was still vocal with me about that fact. But seeing the way her shoulders were slumped, the downcast of her eyes, and just her overall somehow defeated demeanor threw me for a loop. It was so different from the confident, outspoken girl who would put me in my place.

Trying to lighten her up, I say “so are we waiting around for Cupid to swoop in and do a demonstration of love? Maybe shoot off a few arrows and hope he makes a perfect match?” She cracks a small smile at my joke, but I can see it doesn’t reach her eyes. Before I can gain the courage to ask her what’s wrong, she points discreetly at a couple walking by.

“See them? What do you think their story is?” I stare at her dumbfounded. Their story? What type of fucking shit is that?

“Um he chased her forever and now that she agreed to fuck he’s stuck being her boyfriend. See how he’s not smiling and she’s clinging onto his arm like that? He knows he’s in too deep.” Raine, exasperated, finally gets some spark back in her as she swats my upper arm, exclaiming loudly “Shane! Humor me please!”

“What? That’s seriously what I see. That’s what 90% of “relationships” are nowadays anyways.”

“You are so pessimistic. You’ve got to let all your hurt and anger go if this is ever going to work. Your whole perception of love needs to change.” Turning away from me, she points to a different couple sat inside the building, noticeable through it's glass windows.

“You know what I see when I look at them? Can you see how his body is slightly turned towards her, and how his eyes never stray from her? I bet you they’re just friends, but secretly he wants it to be more. Love is so much deeper than sex or even just physical things like touching or kissing. Love is body language and sensation. Your body doesn’t just crave another person, but so does your mind. It’s an entire experience of the mind, body, and heart.”

While she’s busy staring at and predicting the love lives of strangers, I’m too busy staring at her. Despite whatever funk she’s in, when she talks about love it’s as if she can’t help but look so passionate. She looks so sure of herself, as if love is just that simple. As if that bodily experience makes up for all the hurt and bullshit that can accompany it.

“You know, staring at strangers and talking about them is weird right?” I ask her, wanting to shift topics. I didn’t expect things to get this deep. Talking about love like this makes me nervous as fuck. I can’t be that guy anymore. I tried being him with Jasmine, and it wasn’t enough. At least being the asshole who sleeps around is a role I’ve yet to fail at.

“I don’t think either of us are up to this today. Let’s call a rain check and do something that’s not love related. Are you hungry?” I’d say or do just about anything to spend more time with lipgloss. Too bad I can barely admit that to myself, let alone to her.

“I’m starving.”

Leaving the dining hall, I groan and feign clutching my stomach. Lipgloss laughs, shaking her head at me. The entire time we were eating she stared at me and the two trays of food I had dubiously.

“This is what happens when you decide to act like a pig!” I love that I can her laugh after she looked so down earlier. Finally gaining some courage, I ask, “Are you alright? You seem upset.” Biting her beautiful lips, she looks away from me and quickens her pace a bit.

“What do you mean? I’m fine.”

“Okay, so that’s a fucking lie.” Clearly taken aback by my comment she stops suddenly and turns towards me sharply.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me. I called you a liar. So I’m going to ask again: what is wrong with you?”

“You know what Shane? I told you I was fine and I meant it. So please mind your own business.” She spits, clearly trying to end the conversation there but I’m not having it.

“No Raine. Stop!” I exclaim when she tries to walk away from me. Rushing forward, I go to grab her arm so I can knock some sense into her and get her to explain what the hell is going on. However, nothing can prepare me to watch the way she sharply flinches away from my touch, her entire body seeming to shrink in on itself. Seeing unnamed terror flash in her brown eyes sends me staggering back.

“Raine, I’m so sorry fuck I didn’t mean to-“ I begin to trip on my words before she interrupts me.

“Don’t apologize Shane it was nothing. Sorry for snapping on you. Can we just pretend the last few minutes never happened?” She pleads, her beautiful brown eyes wide and begging. But there’s no way I can pretend she wasn’t just terrified of me. No way I can pretend that she wasn’t afraid I was going to hurt her. Before I can tell her just that, someone calling my name steals both of our attention.

“Shane!” Some random girl catapulting herself into my arms stops my barrage of questions for Lipgloss from spilling out. Confused about Raine’s reaction and this new turn of events, I almost don’t recognize who just threw themselves at me. But once it hits me I want to groan.

“Hey Beth. Long time no see.” I say awkwardly, trying to extricate myself from her. Beth smiles breathlessly at me, her emerald eyes glimmering mischievously.

“Yes it has been a long time. You never called even though I gave you my number afterwards.” She says coyly, while running her finger down my chest, and I want to throttle her. She not only interrupted an important conversation, but our old tryst is not something I want to discuss so blatantly in front of Raine’s face.

“You know what? You two should catch up. I’ll see you later Shane.” Before I can even protest Raine is walking briskly away from us in quick, determined steps. And no matter how hard I stare and silently beg for her to turn around, she doesn’t even glance back. All I could see with her back turned to me and even as she crossed the corner out of sight, is the image of her frightened face from mere minutes ago and the implications of her reaction.

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