I woke up alone in bed this morning. That’s not unusual. What’s unusual is that the bed I woke up in wasn’t mine. The pillow was too soft, but it felt good against my lazy head. At first, I didn’t know where I was at all. That’s not really unusual either. I’m not myself a lot, especially when I’m asleep.
I hate the gaps. I didn’t remember last night at all, or how I ended up in someone else’ bed. I lay there hugging the pillow in violate insecurity. The unfamiliar smell of alien fabric softener lingered in the bedding, pleasant and sickening. The white linen felt soft and smooth against my naked body and I hugged the pillow tighter in nervous denial.
The light strumming of a guitar floated in from the other room and I recognized it instantly. It was an obscure oldie Jeff plays all the time because he likes the chords. My body raced with adrenaline and my head raced with questions. Oh my God! Why am I naked in Jeff’s bed? Did I? Did we? I would know, wouldn’t I?
Jeff strummed through the chords a few times while I clutched at his pillow, and he began to sing the words. I’ve heard them many times, but I don’t really know them, so I mouthed the ones I knew quietly into the fluffy feathers. It felt uncomfortable and slightly nauseating to sing along with him. Even though I knew he couldn’t hear my quiet whispers, it felt like acceptance, like complicity.
♪ Misty morning whisperings and gentle stirring sounds. ♫
The lyrics of his song pushed images of a stream through a beautiful grassy meadow in my cloudy head. Birds twittered and a playful fox darted about in the grass. I love listening to Jeff sing; I love Jeff, but my body was reeling. Not that way. I would never. Why can’t I remember anything?
Slowly, I pulled myself up out of bed. There was no sign of my clothes anywhere. I pulled the sheet from the bed, wrapped it around me into a Roman toga, and padded barefoot into the other room where Jeff sat playing in his underwear. His eyes looked approvingly over the parts of my skin that still showed. There wasn’t a falter in his fingers or his voice, as if he was groping me with his song. Is it so bad as that? Jeff really is a beautiful man. I just don’t like him as much as I love him. I tried to keep my eyes to myself as I sat near him and sang harmony to the chorus where I remembered the words.
♪And a river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees, laughing as it passes through the endless summer making for the sea. ♫
Jeff smiled and stared into my eyes as we sang together. We’d sung together before, but never had it felt so impossibly personal. I sat through the rest of the song and sang the final chorus with him, and then listened as he dragged the word “sea” out to see if he could outlast the fading guitar chord.
“I’m impressed, Pockets,” Jeff applauded. “I didn’t think you knew any Pink Floyd.”
“I didn’t know it was Pink Floyd,” I said. “I just know it some from you singin’ it.”
Jeff swept his beautiful brown hair out of his eyes and they flicked to my naked shoulder. “You look good in my bed,” he cracked.
I felt completely naked. “We didn’t do anything, right?” The thought that I might not remember my first time was worse than the thought that it might have been with Jeff.
“You don’t remember?” Jeff’s eyes went wide.
“There’s nothing to remember,” I insisted. I wanted to cry. I hate the gaps.
“Ouch!” He clutched his left hand to his naked chest. “That hurts. That really hurts. Here and I thought what we had was special. Last night you…”
I hugged my arms around myself and squeezed my legs together.
Jeff stopped his teasing and his face went serious. “You really don’t remember anything do you? Sex on the Beach? Falling in my pool?”
Tears squeezed out a little as I shook my head.
He set his guitar down and stood up to put his hand on my cheek. The scent of his body was strong and he was naked except for his underwear. “I slept on the couch, Pockets. Your dignity is safe.”
I wasn’t sure how safe it really was. I could see things stiffening beneath his underwear just from touching my cheek. It was more than a little weird to think of Jeff thinking of me that way. “What happened to my clothes?” I asked.
Trying to pretend I hadn’t noticed didn’t work. My tears fell for real, and Jeff tried to clean them with his thumb as quickly as they fell. His sympathy made him stiffen more noticeably and it was kind of right in my face. I could touch if I wanted to. I looked at his growing concern and then back up into his eyes. My heart was racing with fear and excitement at the same time.
“My mom took ’em to dry ’em out for you,” he said. “Don’t worry, she was the one who undressed you.”
He knew I knew. The flood gates opened and in moments, he was stood at full attention, straining at the cotton and rayon barrier between us. I didn’t know what to do. His hand was still caressing my cheek where the tears had stopped falling. Amorous intentions showed as clearly in his eyes as they did elsewhere.
“It could never work you and me,” he said.
I nodded, admittedly doe-eyed.
“I mean we’re just friends, right?” He was leaning slowly closer and closer. A full calisthenics regimen was going on in his briefs.
“I can see that,” I agreed.
“Kissing you would probably be a really bad idea?”
He put his other hand behind my head, lacing his fingers into my hair to lean my head back. I was freaking out. My head was screaming one thing and my body was screaming another. Jeff solved my dilemma. The second our lips touched, he stood up like he’d been struck by lightning, clutching at his crotch with both hands. He stared at me like that for a moment with a silly-looking, tight-lipped grin on his face.
“Nothing,” he said with a little twitch of his cheeks. “Bad idea. I mean you felt nothing too, right?”
“Not a thing.”
I don’t think the answer made him feel better in his condition, but it seemed like the one he wanted me to give.
“I’m going to go um…” He nodded his head a couple of times toward the other room. “Okay?”
“Okay,” I said.
Jeff trotted off with his hands still hiding whatever he hadn’t felt. I got up and sat on the couch and picked up his guitar. I plucked at the strings and smiled to myself as I listened to the sounds of his shower, glad we were still friends.
© 2013 Anne Schilde