I stared at the empty page on my computer screen, the white sheet mockingly bright, giving me a slight headache. I copy and pasted old poems only to read through them and delete them again. It was the last semester of my senior year at Brown and I was starting to apply to jobs, including my dream job of working at The Poetry Review, which I had just gotten rejected from two days ago. I had wanted to work there for as long as I could remember, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I still hadn’t told Harvey. He’d already gotten multiple job offers, including one from our hometown newspaper, The Briar Creek Harold. I kept telling myself the same thing I’d told Harvey when he’d applied to college- that I didn’t need acceptance into something to know my worth. Still, it was frustrating and at this point I just needed a job. My phone rang loudly from my desk drawer- I’d put it in there to concentrate. I pulled it out and realized it was 11:00 PM already. I’d been working on this for six hours.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Maeve Peterson, how dare you be working when I come to town!”
“Sam,” I laughed, “What are you doing here?”
“I’ll tell you if you open the door!” she giggled before hanging up the phone.
I hadn’t seen Sam in a few weeks, but she was my closest friend besides Harvey so we kept in contact. She and Milo would visit sometimes and stay with me, but this was a surprise. I trailed through the house in my fluffy socks and opened the door to see her standing there along with Harvey and Milo.
“Your boyfriend here says you haven’t been out of this apartment in a week and he can’t get you out, so he called backup. I’m backup,” she proudly stood in my doorway wearing a black My Chemical Romance shirt over a striped long sleeve shirt, a miniskirt and Doc Martens, twirling a piece of her signature red hair between her fingers. Harvey towered behind her with a look that asked please forgive me.
“No stuttering! We don’t have time. God, it’s dark in here. Let’s get you into something cute- not that you aren’t cute right now, just fluffy socks and sweatpants aren’t the vibe,” she led me by the hand to my bedroom as I shot a glare back at Harvey.
“I’m sorry,” he mouthed.
After Sam basically threw an outfit on me and put my hair in a more acceptable ponytail, we joined the boys in my living room again. Milo sat on the leather couch in a white tee shirt and jeans, making Harvey laugh at something stupid.
“Well, boys, I think we’re ready to go,” Sam announced. I was tired and I’d gotten so swept up in getting changed that I hadn’t even asked what the fuck was going on.
“What are we doing?” I asked.
“I guess you’ll have to wait and find out!” Sam remarked, reaching for Milo’s hand as she went for the door.
“I just wanna say, this was all Sammie’s idea. I was sitting on the couch watching football and all of a sudden I’m in the car,” Milo chuckled.
Harvey came up behind me, his hands resting on my shoulders softly before brushing down my arms.
“I’m sorry, baby, you were worrying me and I just thought you’d want a break,” his lips pressed against the back of my head and a warm feeling spread through my limbs. I turned around to face him, tucking a piece of his now shoulder length hair behind his ear.
“I did. I’m sorry, Harvey. I’ve been so disconnected with all of this job stuff. I haven’t quite been present the last few days,” I sighed. His eyebrows knit together as he lightly placed a finger under my chin.
“Don’t you worry about it, Peterson. Let’s have fun tonight. You deserve it,” he smiled before kissing me.
He was right. I’d been extremely stressed and I knew he could tell. I hadn’t talked to him as much about my job applications because I didn’t want to stress him out and I knew he was dealing with the same thing. We were both trying to figure out our next step in life and everything was changing so fast. This was when we were supposed to turn into adults. Or at least try to be our own version of a functioning independent human being.
I followed my friends through the city, lights twinkling all around us, the feeling of spontaneity bouncing between us as we walked past packed bars and restaurants. I hadn’t felt this free in a while and it was nice to let go of my responsibilities for a night. Harvey’s fingers laced through my own and I felt his eyes on me. It was the little things he did that made me feel beautiful. Of course he said that I was, but it was moments like this where I felt free or happy and he noticed and decided I was so magnificent right then, in that moment, that he couldn’t look away. The soft breeze gently tousled his long curls and blew open his barely buttoned up blue shirt, revealing the tattoos he’d gotten over the past three years. Something about him tonight made me want to run my hands down his chest and draw over his butterfly tattoo with my fingertips.
“Here we are,” Sam spun on her heel, interrupting my thoughts.
Milo opened the door for her and she gestured for us to go inside. The smell of cigarettes and alcohol hung in the sticky air as “Take on Me” sung by a mediocre voice filled the room. There weren’t a lot of people at the bar. The place was filled with older people in their fifties or sixties out with their friends having a laugh and the walls were decorated with a honky tonk flair. This was a very different scene from the usual students bustling around downtown.
“What is this place?” Harvey asked over the loud music.
“A karaoke bar! Sammie and I always come here after a night out when we visit,” Milo explained. “It’s fun to people watch.”
“Especially when it’s me watching Milo on stage,” Sam poked him in the ribs. “You know he’s actually quite a singer.”
“I gotta get some drink in me first,” he laughed before heading toward the bar.
For the first few hours, we all sat around the stage, thoroughly entertained watching people who were absolutely schmacked trying to sing the best hits from the 80′s and 90′s. Milo leaned back in his chair, applauding loudly after every act and sipping a Guinness as Sam and I critiqued each performance out of 10 and Harvey laughed at us having absolutely no experience to pull from. After a while, Milo had enough Guinness to serenade the room with some Elton John and I would say he was quite impressive. Sam and I gave him a 10/10.
“Milo, that was incredible,” Harvey high-fived him as he sat back down in his seat. “We should start a band or something.”
“Mate, I don’t think the world could take that. Too much talent,” Milo joked.
“You make a point,” Harvey adjusted his shirt collar and stood up. “I guess it’s my turn then.”
“You didn’t tell me you were singing anything,” I said.
He winked at me before hopping up on the stage and turning to the guy behind the computer in the corner, mouthing something to him. Soon after, a sultry guitar solo and a kick drum beat came from the speakers. I immediately knew it was The Chain by Fleetwood Mac as it was one of Harvey’s all time favorites to belt in the car. He tapped his foot along as he sang, his voice immediately commanding the small space. You could tell he was just up there having fun, but he still sounded so good. At one part in the song, he ran off stage to grab me by the hand and pull me up with him. I would usually be way to embarrassed for something like this but he sang to me and twirled me around, making me laugh. He made me feel like I belonged almost anywhere as long as it was with him. By the end of the song, we were both cracking up and Sam and Milo were yelling for us from our seats. It was moments like this where I realized how different life was now from what it was years ago in high school. I had my people. I didn’t know if I would ever have people in my life that I would be able to call friends and I did now. I had success- I got into this incredible school and I had learned so much. No matter if I get the job I want or not, I should know my own strengths and success. And of course, I had Harvey. I’d always have Harvey. I looked up at him, his forehead jeweled with little beads of sweat and his shirt slightly clinging to his body in all of the right places. He noticed my staring and met my gaze, raising and eyebrow.
“You wanna get out of here, Peterson?” he asked, a mischievous look flickering across his face. I nodded.
We quickly said our goodbyes to our friends and stepped out onto the street, only slightly less busy than before. We walked next to each other in the fresh air, Harvey lighting up a cigarette and bringing it to his lips before turning to me.
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he took a drag of his cigarette before smiling to himself and flicking the illuminated ashes to the ground.
“Davis, what’s going on?” I pressed. He stopped on the street, turning to me again.
“You just don’t let anything get by, do you?” he laughed.
He began to seem a little nervous, looking at the ground as if to ask it something before glancing back to me again. He shoved his hand in his pocket and cleared his throat before speaking.
“I’ve been planning on talking to you about this all week, but you’ve been too busy and...” he trailed off, pulling his lip between his teeth. “Listen, you don’t have to take this and please don’t be mad at me, but I sent in your stuff to The Briar Creek Harold-”
“I know we want to be together and I don’t even know if I’m going to take the job there, but I wanted to make sure we’d have an option and they mentioned looking for another writer. I know you really want the job at the magazine and you’ll definitely get it, but I thought it’d make it less stressful to know that you have something else too.”
We began to walk again, this time a thoughtful silence found its way between us.
“Haz, I’m not mad at you,” I reached for his hand as we fell into each other’s stride. “I didn’t get the job at The Poetry Review.”
“Oh, Maeve, I’m sorry. That’s they’re fault, you’re-”
“No, it’s really okay. Things fall into place,” I smiled, squeezing his hand in my own.
Honestly it wasn’t the worst idea ever. Working there could allow me to have steady income and I time to work on my poetry on the side. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It was going to be extremely hard to get my dream job right out of college and maybe if I put in more work and got more poems published, it would help. It wasn’t a bad idea at all. In fact, it was a pretty good idea.
“Maybe we should take it,” I said as we arrived at my door.
“You mean that?” he asked, surprised that I’d decided something so quickly. I was usually one to think things over for a long time before making a decision.
“I think it’d be smart. It makes sense,” I pulled out the key, unlocking the door and we walked into my dimly lit apartment.
“Okay, then... another question,” he pulled me close to him, shutting the door behind us.
I felt his heartbeat against my chest as he looked down at me. He tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
“What would that be?” I whispered.
"If we do this- take the job that is, would you want to live with me? Live together?” the sincerity behind his green eyes made my heart melt. It was never even a question.
“Of course I do,” I replied, closing the space between our faces.
At first, his lips brushed against mine delicately like butterfly wings, but then it was all of a sudden hot and fervent like he’d never get to kiss me again. I felt his hands firmly grasp my hips, pulling me up to his waist before carrying me to my bedroom. There’s a feeling that I get when he touches me like that. It says more than any words he could ever speak. Living with him and seeing him every day wouldn’t change the pit in my stomach that formed when he grabbed me by the waist and kissed me like he wanted us to break each other in the best way.