how to make love stay
(originally appeared in Yareah Magazine 6/30/2014)
As I made my way down the hallway carrying my laptop and bed sheets I couldn’t help but the envy the kids that had come to college with a high school friend. It would have been nice to know somebody right from the get go. I had put my name in to get a roommate but as fate would have it I got a single. Nice to have some private time but I was a little nervous the initial lack of opportunities for making new friends.
I ducked and dodged my way down the hall, sometimes bouncing off a wall to keep all of the items in my laundry basket from falling out of my aching hands.
The first time I walked right by my room because the door was open and a girl was standing in the middle of it so I assumed that it couldn’t be the right one. It was only when the numbers on the doors indicated I had missed it did I turn around and walk back to find that it was the correct room after all.
Empty this time. No girl. I couldn’t help but feel it was foreshadowing for what was to come with the ladies. Nerd in high school. Nerd in college. I was on the express train to celibacy.
I began to unload and set things up but the slight scent of perfume in the air was a bit distracting.
My concerns about making friends was unwarranted and within a few days I’d found a small group to go eat and hang out with whenever I needed a break from my studies. I even mentioned the girl that was in my room that first day but nobody could place her. For some reason I couldn’t stop thinking about her.
Petite and redheaded with pale skin. Ever since reading Still Life With Woodpecker, I’d wanted to date a girl with red hair. I’d only glimpsed her but every time I thought about her I’d remember some new detail. The human memory is a funny thing. Little freckles. Flip flops.
Late at night I’d lay in my bed and I could swear I smelled her perfume.
A week or so later I was walking into the dorm with a friend and I noticed her again. She was standing on the far end of the hallway and staring right at me. I couldn’t even pretend to act casual. My face must have lit up because even though she was far away I felt the hairs go up on the back of my neck. My legs were jelly and I stopped quickly to collect myself.
I looked up again and she was gone.
I realize that these two brief encounters don’t seem like much but you have to understand I didn’t see much female action. I had no game whatsoever. These encounters had pretty much been the high point of my sexual interactions to that point in time.
There was no denying she was looking right at me. She didn’t turn and look away or act like we weren’t staring at each other. She might as well have invited me out to a movie right then and there.
Things were moving pretty fast. It wasn’t even another few weeks before I saw her again. This time she must have been working up her courage to say hello because I looked up from my desk to see her standing in my doorway.
Keeping my door open was just one of the many elaborate schemes I had for seducing the other sex into my lair. There were also posters hung of cool bands as well as multiple chairs in case any female was just too exhausted to make it back to their own room and needed a place to collect themselves. Obviously I wouldn’t have used the term “other sex” to describe girls if there was any danger of me having to use the word “sex” again when describing my room or my first few weeks of college. There wasn’t any danger of it. At all. I just wanted to somehow get the word in because it was pretty much all I could think about since I arrived on campus.
I made my move. I cleared my throat and looked down as I pushed back my chair and stood up. When my eyes finally returned to the doorway it was empty.
She was gone. All that remained was the smell of her that hung in the air for what seemed like hours.
I’d blown it again.
For the next few days I was asking everybody I knew about her. I described her in as much detail as I could. My college wasn’t that big and I felt like the Prince with the glass slipper looking everywhere for a mystery girl. Nobody knew a girl fitting the description.
Meanwhile everywhere I looked I saw swarms of beautiful women in short skirts and tight blouses. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a cute girl. Which, ironically enough, was probably a better strategy in introducing myself to one than I had been employing. Apparently college girls didn’t like flustered, mumbling, awkward, shy-but-wild-eyed-with-passion come-ons.
I was ready to burst. I swore the next time the red-headed girl showed up I’d be ready.
It wasn’t until the semester was almost over that she made an appearance.
It was late but I was lying in bed thinking of all the wonderful and terrible sexual things I wanted to do to a female in that bed. I was going down the list of things I’d heard about or read about or watched online. Having not done any of them they all held the same vague but urgent appeal.
That’s when I smelled her perfume. Stronger than ever before. It was as if I had willed her to be there. That’s when I noticed a small shadow interrupt the light coming in from under my door. And then again.
Feet. Somebody was standing outside my door.
Without thinking I jumped out of bed and threw it open. I wasn’t going to let another chance slip through my hands.
It was her. Red hair and freckles and flip flops. She stood there and my heart began to pound.
She put a single finger on my chest and slowly pushed me back into the room and didn’t stop until I fell back into a seated position on the bed. The door slowly closed behind us and the room was plunged back into shadows.
It was going to happen. Just like I’d imagined a million times.
I felt her lean in close to my neck. I felt her breath on me and I began to wonder how any man holds out until the actual act of intercourse. I was dizzy.
Her finger slowly ran up my chest until it was under my chin. She lifted my head up until I was looking directly at her. She spoke.
“This used to be my room. I went here three years ago. I invited a boy into my room one night.”
Her voice was so soft, it seemed to almost be a whisper. Almost a counterpoint to the erection thundering between my legs.
“I thought he was nice but he wouldn’t stop when I asked him to. He said he couldn’t. I tried to make him but I couldn’t. He killed me right here on this very spot.”