"He's bad news," Olivia cut in, turning her gorgeous green eyes to look at me. She swung her strawberry blonde hair over her shoulder and sat down next to me, motioning for her friend to do the same. "We went to high school with him; we all used to be best friends, until college rolled around."
"What do you mean?" I more asked her friend, wanting to hear his voice again.
"When we got to college, Frank figured out that girls actually thought he was attractive. After awhile, he ditched us as friends and became friends with all the other assholes on campus who could get some whenever they wanted. Since then, he's had quite the reputation of bedding new girls around here, and his methods are questionable." He shrugged his shoulders. ''But if you dig him, then do whatever you want. Olive and I thought you should know. I'm Mikey by the way." He stuck out his hands and I shook it gingerly, as if touching him would hurt me.
"I’m Lie, and he's not really my type. I’m sort of not interested in guys really."
“Oh, so, you like girls then?” Olivia asked, a smirk on her petit lips.
“What!? No, no. I just mean, I’ve had issues with guys. I don’t date.”
Mikey had stopped paying attention to our conversation; he began to dig into his green shoulder bag. He took out a hefty looking novel and began to read. I studied his hands, his finger nails looked all rough around the edges. His eyes squinted at the book, despite his glasses. Quite obviously, he was very into the book. I decided not to bother him with the countless questions I had in my head.
I went home that afternoon with plans to meet Olivia and Mikey for coffee the next day before our classes started. Olivia had invited me, Mikey merely nodded when I said goodbye to him. He didn’t seem to want to look at me in the eyes. I wasn’t quite sure what I had done wrong.
I arrived home to an empty apartment. My father was at work, but he expected his dinner to be made when he got home, and if it wasn’t, I knew what to expect. My ribs were still sore from the previous week, when I had stayed at school to study for awhile longer than I had realized. So not wanting another repeat, I spent an hour making lasagna with a Caesar salad. I left the table set, and a note for my father telling him his dinner was staying warm in the oven, and retreated to my bedroom. I heard my father come home not too long after that, and I pretended to be sleeping when he opened my bedroom to make sure I was there.
The next morning, I awoke earlier than usual to take a shower, blow dry my hair, and then curl it slightly. I was looking forward for my meeting with my new friends. It sounded stupid, even more so in my head, so I shook my head and laughed as I began to put on my makeup. Lately, I had started a thing for red lipstick. No matter what time of the day it was, red lipstick was my colour of choice. Red lipstick, mascara, and coal liner were my necessities. Then I through on my grey acid-washed jeans with a long sleeved vintage Yankees top. When I was done, I gave myself a quick once over. For once, I felt as good as I looked. Grabbing my leather jacket and school back, I headed out the door for the coffee date.
The coffee shop was located just across the campus, and was already full of students getting their early fill of coffee before the day begun. I looked around for Olivia and Mikey, excited for my first outing with my new friends, and spotted Mikey at a table near the back, alone. I approached slowly, my pulse beginning to quicken.
"Hi," I chirped. He looked up from his book and smiled, making my stomach flutter. He had a gorgeous smile.
"Hey." He set down his book. "Olivia's not here," he said before I could open my mouth. "She called, she's not feeling too well."
"Oh. Well, you didn't have to come then." I stood in front of him like an idiot, not sure exactly what else to say.
He laughed and sat back in his chair. He was wearing a pair of jeans and an anthrax t-shirt. I smiled at this. We already had more in common than I would have guessed.
"If I didn't come you would have been left here all alone. Besides, I wanted to come. If we're going to be friends, I might as well get to know you. And I should tell you now, I’m a pretty shy guy so I guess this one on one time is good for us getting to know each other better." He laughed again, but it was a pleasant, light-hearted laugh. "First, just let me get my drink. What can I get you?"
"Oh, no, I can get my own." I stood up with him, but he quickly replied.
"Please, I insist. Besides, who is going to save our seats?" He wiggled his eyebrows behind his glasses, and when I didn't answer, he asked me again what I wanted.
"Americano, please." I sat back down, and picked up his book. I looked at the title, and smiled to myself. It was the same book that I was reading. I flipped to the page that he had marked off. He was about three chapters behind me, so I found the page where I was at and read while I waited for him to come back. He took a while, because of the long line up in front of him, so by the time that he returned to the table, I had forgotten that he was there because I was so engrossed in the book.
"Enjoying my book?" he teased, as he set down my drink in front of me.
"Sorry," I said, feeling embarrassed. I shut the book and slid it towards him. "I'm reading the same book, I'm just a little ahead of you."
"You like Irving?" He sounded surprised as he began to sip his drink. He sat back in his chair again, his shirt pulling thigh against his flat chest.
"Oh yeah, I love him! I think he’s brilliant. Why?"
"It's just, I've never met anyone our age who likes to read him. Actually, none of my friends like to read in general." He looked at me curiously, his brow furrowing just the slightest.
"I love to read. Sometimes I feel like reading is the only thing that keeps me company these days." I looked down, trying to hide my embarrassment of having just told someone that. I didn’t want him to think I was a complete idiot, but with the curious look on his face, I felt like he wasn’t judging me at all.
"Tell me about it,” he sighed. “I spend all my free time reading and I work at a book store so that works out for me."
"Seriously?” That's a sweet gig. I've been looking for a job everywhere but I can't get one."
Mikey eyed me for a second, put down his cup, and smiled broadly. "Today's your lucky day!" he exclaimed, throwing his arms out and spreading them widely. "You are looking at the man in charge of hiring at Barnes & Noble’s. Pleased to be at your service." It was then that I knew Mikey and I were meant to be friends. But the question in the back of my mind as we sat getting to know each other was whether we could be anything more than friends; the thought terrified me. But maybe he could help take my mind off of the horrible things I couldn't get out of my head, all the reasons I hated to keep my thoughts unoccupied. Maybe, just maybe, he could be my saving grace.
*title courtesy of Cancer Bats