Word count: 1,441
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Sometimes I hate clubbing. Most of the time I feel like I’m only doing it because I don’t want to disappoint the girls and because, as a young university student, it’s what I’m ‘supposed’ to do. But I do love dancing, even if I’m not very good at it. My moves are a bit awkward, gangly, but it doesn’t matter, not when I’m this happy.
When I’m feeling like this — surrounded by my best friends, slightly high on sambuca and vodka cranberries, the loud music enveloping me, blocking out everything else — I want these moments to last forever.
Up on the VIP balcony, a lone figure catches my eye. It’s the hot guy from the booth and he’s looking down at this unruly mess of bouncing bodies that I am a part of. From down here I feel safer; I can stare at him without the risk of being seen.
I see a girl walks up to him, her body language hesitant. She has blonde hair down to her buttocks, which in turn are almost popping out of tiny black hot pants. He acts dismissively, but she doesn’t desist, and I see them moving close to each other. She pops out her phone and appears to a selfie, after which she leaves and he goes back to scanning the dance floor.
I’m confused. Why would she want a selfie with him? I guess they could be friends, but something in the way she acted around him tells me that’s not the case.
But whatever. Surely there’s some sort of explanation. I’m finally getting the chance to take a proper look at him. It’s dark, and I can only see him in hasty flashes, but I notice his eyes are big, almond shaped and alert, despite his blasé attitude. Is he looking for something?
His face is a perfect oval, with high cheekbones and a dark pink, cupid’s-bow mouth. He’s taller than I expected, towering over the railing, long-limbed and elegant, with straight shoulders and the kind of arms that are naturally muscular.
I’m too lost in thought to hear Adam calling my name. By the time I realise, I can tell from the tone of his voice that it must be at least the third or fourth try. “Mi-la!” He rests one of his hands on my shoulders. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” I want to ask why didn’t he just phone me but bite my tongue. I prefer not knowing to getting another shockingly disappointing answer like: it’s more fun this way.
The girls quickly figure out that the moment has finally come for Adam and I to talk things through and assure me that they won’t move from where they’re standing right now.
I say goodbye and follow Adam to an outdoors smoking area.
His muscles are almost popping out of the tight t-shirt he’s wearing, and which he has paired with burgundy shorts, out of which stick out a pair of chunky rugby legs. I find myself thinking that he has none of the grace and style of the hot guy from the VIP area.
Yet, here I am, making an effort to talk to him, setting my dignity aside. Because despite everything we’ve been through these past two semesters, I still like him, and I need to know if we’re going to be together or not over the summer. I’d put my money on him saying ‘no’, but in that case I’ve already decided I am one-hundred percent not getting back together with him next year. It’s really over.
I’ve been through this so many times in my head that I know exactly what to say and how to say it, even though now I can feel my voice shake a little. “Listen, Adam…”
But I don’t get to finish my sentence. Before I can say anything else, Adam takes the lead.
“My-my, I think I know what you want to talk about.” His voice is low, sweeter than usual. He looks around, as if checking to see whether anyone’s watching, then takes both my hands. “The summer holidays are literally round the corner and we… well, we don’t know what ‘we’ are, really. Right?”
I don’t answer. I still don’t know what he’s trying to get to — if I should be happy or if my heart should be breaking a little.
“Right,” he continues. “Sooo… Ugh, this is so hard to say now that you’re right in front of me.” I brace myself. Am I really about to get dumped by beady-eye Adam? The guy who thinks he’s hotter than hell and who has played me around for the past ten months?
It’s a cold, bleak relief, but it’s relief nonetheless.
“It’s okay, Adam, you don’t have to say anything. I know, I know.”
“No, no, I don’t think you do. The truth is, I want to be with you, My-my. All through this summer, all through third year.” He breathes out through his mouth. “There, I said it.”
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “Are you drunk? And by that I mean drunker than usual?”
“No, no. I’ve given this a lot of thought. I want us to be together. Officially.”
When I was rehearsing this scene in my head, even in my best case scenario Adam didn’t say anything remotely as nice as this this. At best, it was me telling him that I’d had enough, that from now on it was either going to be us seeing each other officially or not seeing each other at all, and him agreeing to the first.
But now that reality has outperformed my best case scenario by such an enormous margin, it somehow doesn’t feel as good as I imagined it would. I’m almost at a loss, I don’t know what to say.
“So, let’s do this!” says Adam, as if he’s pumping up his teammates before a match. “Let’s be together and see how it goes.”
I realise that, out of all the things he’s said, he hasn’t asked me for my opinion on it once. He takes it for granted that I want to be with him.
“I don’t… I don’t…,” I hear myself mumbling.
Why has everything changed? Had I just heard him say he doesn’t want to be a couple, or if I was having to cajole him into being together with me, that would somehow feel better, more normal, than what is happening right now. I’m just realising maybe it’s because I don’t trust him, and I never really have.
That’s it — trust. Or the lack thereof. Maybe, month after month, argument after argument, he’s broken me down, bled my already precarious feelings for him dry.
“My-my. Mila. Please. I know it’s hard to trust me—” Is he reading my mind? “But give me the benefit of the doubt. Give me this chance to make things work for us.One chance. There’s so many girls, so much temptation, but you’re special. To me, at least.”
I can see that, despite the questionable result, he’s trying hard to be romantic. Beads of sweat are forming around his temples, as always happens when he’s very nervous.Maybe I should trust him. Maybe I should give it a go. It’s what I came here to talk about, after all. It’s what I’ve been waiting for, and it’s what everybody expects of me.
I think of how happy the girls will be when I tell them what happened, how they’ll cheer and ask me to give them all the tiniest details. I think of all the other girls who have crushes on Adam: after all the pitying glances I have received, I’ll be able to look at them smugly as if to say, ‘He’s chosen me. He’s picked me.’ Revenge.
“Okay, let’s give this a go.”
“Really?” he says, finally allowing himself to smile.
“Yeah. But we have to be honest with each other. We have to be a real couple in every sense of the word, not just in the ways you find convenient.”
“Like you cooking Sunday lunch for me in your dorms?” he teases. “All right. I promise I’ll be good.”
“Starting now? Like, right now?”
“Right. I’ll get back to the girls then, they’re going to want to hear this. But don’t let me catch you fooling around. Go hang out with the boys.”
“Okay my beautiful ball and chain,” he laughs. He knows I’m joking. Of course he’s going to be on his best behaviour after all he’s said. There’s absolutely no way he would mess this up, not after this.