Last night, HJ asked if he could sleep over at X’s. Naturally, she felt insecure again: this was too much X for HJ; surely, something was wrong.
She said yes.
They talked little, touched little: X finished up a homework assignment as HJ scrolled through his phone. Post-hopping into bed and turning off the light, X remembered she’d left cooked quinoa in the rice cooker. There is something about the word ‘ladle’ that X especially liked; it felt like a rocking chair, and she felt this as she scooped the quinoa from the old rice cooker to the tupperware by fairy light, sitting on the floor in her underwear, spilling small solo quinoa seeds onto the carpet.
Today, X brought up sexuality with HJ:
I’m here for you, she said. If you want to discuss. I don’t have experience, but I think I’m a good listener, an ok question-asker. I know you haven’t told anyone else. But if you just want someone to vent to or someone to probe you, I can be that.
Yes, he said.
But I don’t want to hold you back, she said.
You’re not, he said.
But I think I am, she said.
You’re really not, he said
This is an important time to explore, she said.
No, he said.
How no, she said.
I love you, he yelled into the pillow, quietly.
She looked at his tuft of hair in her fingers.
She looked at his buried head, his hidden face.
She wrinkled her eyebrows.
I think I love you too, she said.
The snooze alarm went off for the third time. X threw off the covers. The sky was blue and the air was crisp. They sat up, got dressed, and biked to class.
Have a good day, they said to each other. She turned left. He pedaled straight.