In the shower Sidney cleans the cut but he’s quickly realizing that he’ll need stiches. He’ll also need to come with with a lie to tell Halie about the cut.
“So how did you manage to do this?” The cuts been numbed and the stitching is almost done.
“Um, I was just messing around and I fell.” The doctor can tell he’s lying.
“And you waited hours to get this closed? After I’m done we’re giving you a concussion test.”
He rolls his eyes; he feels fine but there’s no way out of this. He leaves the doctors office with a freshly stitched cut and a concussion. On his way to the stadium he stops by the campus store. Mary is working. She’s really nice and one of the best people to work with. Mostly because she always brings cookies and brownies from home or from class.
“Hey! What are you doing here?” She spotted the cut, “Holy fuck! What happened?” The cut, right. Its still numb from the stitching. “Um last night I came home, did a bunch of cocaine and when I went to turn off my lights I tripped over the bed and hit my head.” There’s a silence and then Mary bursts out laughing.
“Sure Sid! Come on, I believe the tripping part.” He smiles and tilts his head to the side, “You’re right. Just fell in the kitchen, was wearing socks. Slippery floor.” Shaking her head, she reaches for a Tupperware container and hands him a cookie. “This’ll make you feel better. So… Why are you here?” The cookie is swallowed almost whole, he grabs another and points to the foam fingers. Mary grabs one and hands it to him. The cost price is almost nothing so she doesn’t even take his money. Things get stolen all the time from this store, what’s a foam finger. He tries it on and foam fingers away the crumbs from the side of his mouth.
“Didn’t know you liked women’s soccer, or is this for something else?”
“Um I have a friend on the team and it would be nice to support her.” Mary smiles and gives him another cookie and tells him to have fun. The cookie doesn’t even make it out of the store. It’s a short walk to the stadium, when he gets there there are just a handful of people, mostly parents and significant others. Finding a seat isn’t hard so he decides to sit up front. Halie sees him and waves at him. Sidney responds by wagging the foam finger. Halie has her game face on and something about that peaks his interest. She looks gorgeous, from her headband to her soccer shorts.
After the game Sidney waits by bench outside the stadium. He feels a tap on his shoulder, “I’m … what happened to your head?” She gently touches the cut. “I fell in the kitchen. I forgot to put on my slippers and the floor is slippery when you have socks on.” He tries to look wounded. “Um you played great.” Halie smiles and she does something that makes him flinch, she takes his hand. They start walking back to his place holding hands and talking about random topics. On the inside the holding hands is making him uncomfortable. Also there’s the fact that he doesn’t know what he’s going to cook? There’s a pub near the bus station on campus, “Do you want to eat here?” Just as he asks someone is being kicked out. Obviously very drunk, they’re yelling and screaming at the staff. They both look at each other, “Pizza?” It’s the safest option and its impossible to be disappointed by pizza. Fortunately for them there is a pizzeria right at the top of his street and they’re renowned for their pizza.
“So I guess this means I’ll have to taste your cooking some other time?” Something stirs inside of him, almost like a false sense of confidence. He loses control and it slips out, “Well I could make you breakfast, my French toast is pretty good.” Very uncharacteristic but she seems to like it, “Hmm well I’d like that.” Halie pays for the pizza and they agree that sitting down on a couch would be the best way to enjoy it. Sidney has a pretty big movie collection so they’ll find something to watch.
The pizza is delicious and the movie is action packed. He seems likes he’s enjoying himself and on some level he is. Despite all the awkwardness and the novelty of this Halie is very easy to get along with and she’s beautiful. He’s having fun but suddenly he remembers that there is a dried up puddle of blood on his bedroom floor. Thinking about it makes him tense up and he whips his head to look at his door. “What’s wrong?”
“Uh nothing, I’m uh… I’m cold. I think I’ll grab a sweater.” He scrambles off the couch and into his room, he even locks his door. Halie just smiles and continues watching the movie. The blood puddle has turned a gross brownish colour. He moves his desk chair and back pack to cover the spot. When he comes back the pizza is almost finished, “Sorry I was really hungry. Hey um where’s your sweater?” In his panic he forgot to grab a sweater. “Right, I’ll be back.” He turns around but this time Halie follows him. “Wow your rooms so plain.” Eggshell sheets, same colour comforter, two pillows, everything looks like its been placed in it’s spot by a scientific algorithm. Even the desk chair and bag being used to cover the stain looks like it belongs. The closet is colour coordinated, “Wow, your room is…”
“Yeah, I like things orderly I guess.” She takes a seat on his bed and his eye twitches. Now the sheets are wrinkled. Now she’s sprawled out on the bed, “It’s so comfortable.”
“It…” Before he can say anything else she’s taken his hand.
“You know you’re kinda different right? I never see you at parties, you’re quiet, but Joe really likes you. He talks about you all the time. Oh and I also read your blog.” He doesn’t say anything, the blog comment surprised him. “How do you know about my blog?”
“You’re actually a pretty good writer. I have my own blog and we actually use the same tags. So one night I found it and I was pretty sure I knew who it was and then in the Peter’s class he read that short and I’d read it the night before. Truth be told I’ve sorta had a little crush on you ever since then.” His face has gone red, “I thought I was doing a good job of staying anonymous.” She’s still holding his hand, “I would’ve talked to you sooner but I always saw you with that Brooke girl.” That’s a name he hasn’t heard in a long time. Brooke was a girl that he was seeing for a time during first year. She drowned while swimming at her cottage. It made the school paper, she was an invaluable member of the swim team and was competing for an Olympic spot.
“Yeah, um we were kinda just friends.” He hasn’t thought about her in a long time. But every now and then he’ll do something that’ll remind him of her.
“Well that must still have been hard.” There’s a certain comfort in death, its final. Most people don’t see it this way, they grieve and become irrational. Some however shut off and that’s the way Halie sees Sidney.
“It was, but it’s a part of life. People die. I was … disappointed for a time but I’m fine now.” Halie lets go of his hand, now she’s looking straight at him. She does have very pretty eyes. He reaches for her hand and puts his other around her waist. This seems like the best way to keep her from talking about Brooke. Her shirt has begun to ride up and his hand is on her lower back, she leans in, he pulls her closer and kisses her. Her lips are small but they’re soft. She lets go of his hand and pushes him onto his pillows and takes off her shirt. “Lock the door please. Roommate has boundary issues.” As she goes to the door he opens the top drawer to the night table and gets a condom and slides it under the pillow.
There are articles of clothing all over the floor, some hers some his. Halie’s head is buried in his neck. All he can think about is Brooke, he hadn’t thought about her in such a long time. He’s glaring at his top drawer.
“Hey?” Sidney looks down, “Hey. Sorry” She kisses him and rests her hand over his heart, “Just close your eyes, I don’t want you to be tired when you make me pancakes tomorrow.” It’s a little presumptuous but he did set this up.
The next morning, he wakes up early to make the pancakes. On the way out of the room he stops to look at the desk, he places his hand on the drawer. Quickly he unlocks it and grabs the small bag. Taylor didn’t come home last night, there’s still pizza left in the box. If he’d come home last night there’s no way there’d be any left.
Pancakes are easy to make, he does it from scratch. After setting the table he pours the water from the kettle into the French press and empty’s the what was left from the little bag into his mug. As he’s stirring he greeted with a hug from behind. “Hey, go sit down.” It’s a bit of a cold greeting but Halie seems pretty determine to break down the walls and Sidney is more than willing to let her try. After all they all try.