Stories that Stick: On Different Pages Pt.4

Posted on February 6, 2014

We’re in the fourth week of the Stories that Stick series and we’re coming to the climax of Ayinka’s short story, “On Different Pages.” If you haven’t read the first three parts be sure to do so (here, here and here). Also, if you would like to share your writing as part of the series, send me an email; hi(at)shakirahadianna(dot)com.

On Different Pages: Pt. 4
By: Ayinka Nmami

I couldn’t get past what he had said. For now.  It meant that we were on the same page; friends for now, but who knew what could happen later.

***

 We decided not to go out.  Joshua said he was always out, and I should come by his place so we could order in and talk without distractions. He opened the door in jeans and a t-shirt.  He looked relaxed and handsome with his five o’clock shadow, not sleep-deprived like other residents I’d seen.

“I’m glad you could make it,” he said.

“Me too.”

“I ordered pizza five minutes ago,” he said, “you still like pepperoni right?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?’”

He smiled.  “I haven’t seen you in a couple of weeks.  You could’ve changed.”

I poked him playfully. “Joshua.”

“Here, let’s sit.” He led me towards the couch, which was a sectional in a burnt orange color, one we’d picked out together when he asked me to help him furnish his place. He had gravitated towards every black or blue item, and I’d leaned my head on his back, with my hands at his sides, steering him away until I convinced him to liven up the space with a couch and make it the focal point of the room. He said it was too much for a resident to spend on a couch so I’d gone ahead bought it for him as a surprise.

We sat together easily, as we had done so many times before, and I listened to the sound of his voice as he talked. It was like the slow rumbling of a volcano when he was tired.  I noticed the curve of his face, how it looked different when he hadn’t shaved, more handsome, more mature somehow. I noticed that his hair had grown a little, which meant he was busy and hadn’t had time to stop at his barber for a trim. Sometimes, it amazed me that I knew these little details about him. Sitting there, listening to him, it made me want to be much closer. He seemed to know this and reached out to me so that I could tuck myself comfortably under his arm. His touch on my shoulder, it was like the igniting of a piece of paper, a flame starting on the edge, and then the whole paper lighting on fire.

***

I stirred myself awake.  It was almost one.  I’d stayed much later than I anticipated. But I didn’t feel like moving just yet from underneath the warm covers. Joshua was lying next to me with a pillow under his arm.  I listened to the sound of his breathing—deep, smooth, peaceful even.  He didn’t have a million thoughts interrupting his dreams, giving him restless sleep, as I did.  I envisioned waking up one day without the guilt, without having to tiptoe out of the bed with only the light of the moon to help me find my belongings.

I moved from under the blanket, slipped my sweater over my head and pulled it down tight.  Before leaving, I wrote him a note, something sweet for him to wake up to. My head was spinning on the way home. How had it happened again? His hand resting on mine a little too long?  Or how he looked over at me, his eyes seeming to read my mind? The tension. The silence. I had tried to start us talking on another topic, but he had stroked my cheek then leaned over to kiss me. And it was all it took for me to succumb, again.

***

Now it’s your turn: How do you think the story is going to end?

Tell me in the comments section below. The end of the story comes next week. You don’t want to miss it so be sure to come back next Thursday.

 

 

 


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