Authors: Faye McCray
Copyright © 2015 by Faye McCray
Cover Design by Faye McCray
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Thank you for being exactly who I needed.
Buried beneath a mound of auburn curls, she lay nude on my bed. Her face was nestled in my pillow as still as the empty vodka bottle on my desk. Her body barely covered by my dark blue sheets. I stood to pull on my boxers and quietly sat back on the bed, drawing in a deep breath and gazing down at where she slept. I stared at her, feeling a twinge of shame for not remembering her but excited for the same reason. She stirred, her face nuzzling its way out from beneath her curls and greeting the sunlight that had just begun to pour through my window. For the first time, I noticed a yellow dress on the floor by the bed. I smiled.
That, I remembered.
This was the girl in the short yellow dress who swayed to the off-beat at the bar with her girlfriends. The girl who did Jell-O shots with a freshman carelessness, who giggled a little too loud, tugged hastily at her hemline and toyed nervously with her hair. We shared a class last year as sophomores. Statistics or something. It was early. When I showed up, I was usually late. I would slouch down in the back of the lecture hall trying my best to remain unnoticed. Despite the delicate gold watch on her wrist, she kept looking back to check the mounted wall clock above the exit. We would make eye contact, and she would smile, looking away quickly if her eyes lingered too long, running her fingers along the back of her neck and studying whatever blanketed her desk at the moment. A few weeks into the semester, the smile turned to a small wave.
Last night, I watched her as she watched me. I watched her steal glances over her shoulder and look away when our eyes met. The more she drank, the longer she allowed herself to look until her friend whispered something in her ear and she finally made her way to where I stood. I took her in as she walked towards me, polishing off the last of my own drink and resting it on the bar. My roommate, Phil, gave me his wide-eyed approval as she started to dance in front of me. She said something to me that I couldn’t make out over the music, and I nodded and smiled, feeling too drunk to pretend to be looking at anything but how tight that yellow dress was and how good she looked in it. She was sexy, but her obvious interest in me formed a sweet cocktail with the alcohol running through my body and had me brimming with confidence. She pressed into me, and I followed her lead, running my hands all over her. I told her she was sexy, and she melted into me, asking if we could go back to my place.
“I’ll show you how sexy I am,” she had mumbled in a whisper, her eyes hanging low, her breath a mix of alcohol and sugar. By the time we got in the cab, her dress was up and my pants were open. We never even made it to the bed.
Yellow Dress stirred, tried to lift her head, and it fell back down. She tried again, looked up, around, and our eyes met as I pulled on my T-shirt.
“Oh my God,” she said, sitting up and maneuvering my sheets as she turned around so she remained covered. "I'm..." she began. "I –uh…" Her eyes darted around for her clothes.
"I'll give you a minute." I headed out to the kitchen I shared with Phil. I struggled again to remember her name but realized quickly that she never told me. Or maybe she did. I was more worried about finding the aspirin. I could feel the beginnings of a headache start to tighten my temples. I found the bottle, but it was empty.
"What?" Phil said, sauntering into the kitchen. I held up the bottle shaking it upside down. He chuckled, reaching in the fridge for a can of soda. "What happened to you last night?" He took a swig.
"I have no clue." I laughed, grabbing a glass and filling it with water.
"The last time I saw you, that girl with that orange dress had her hands in your pants."
I shook my head. "It was yellow." Just then, Yellow Dress emerged from my room in her… yellow dress.
"It was yellow,” Phil mumbled, laughing to himself and heading back toward his room. "Hello." He smiled in her direction. She waved uncomfortably. "I’m jealous," he said to me just before walking back into his room.
"So, I guess I'm going to go," she said after a moment. Her voice was hoarse and her eyelids were stained with her mascara.
I leaned back against the counter and took a drink of water. "Alright." It was awkward and I wanted her to go. I also didn’t want to be the asshole that rushed her out.
"I was really drunk. I don’t… I mean, I have a boyfriend back home."
I nodded. "Not a problem,” I said. “This will stay between us."
"And him?" she said, nodding in the direction of Phil's door and smiling nervously.
"Yeah, all of us.”
"This is totally not like me."
"Must’ve been that dress." I grinned and took another drink of my water.
She blushed, pushed her hair behind her ear, and headed towards the door. Opening it, she paused and turned around. "Did I leave my number?"
"Nah," I said walking toward the door and resting my arm against the threshold.
“Well, I’m in the campus directory,” she said smiling. “So, if you want to call, you can.”
She smiled again. As she walked away, I closed the door softly behind her. If only she’d told me her name, I thought, as I headed back to my room.
Yellow Dress and I never did get together. Not that I expected we would. I saw her once two weeks later at a Best Buy, hand and hand with the boyfriend. She knocked over a cell phone case display in a clumsy attempt at avoiding seeing me.
“You forgot this one,” I said picking up a purple and white case as she and the boyfriend scrambled to pick everything up. I handed it to her with a smile in my eyes, tempted to pull her into a bear hug and ask her where she’d been. Just to fuck with her. I didn’t, but that didn’t stop her from looking like she would dissolve into a puddle of “holy shit” at my feet.
Phil couldn’t stop laughing when I told him about it later. He called girls like her my “drive bys.” Satisfying their fantasy for a night or two but never staying long enough to make any waves in their futures. I didn’t have an impressive pedigree to tote or trust funds to fall back on. As far as my “drive-bys” were concerned, I didn’t offer much beyond a night.
I wasn’t a typical college kid. At least by elite, private university standards. I grew up in a struggling section of Queens, New York with kids who thought more about getting out of school than staying in. I’m not sure I ever heard my parents even say the word “college,” let alone show any interest in my sister or me going. It wasn’t until a young teacher with chewed fingernails and a savior complex made me her project that college became a reality.
“You are not your circumstance, Nathaniel,” she had said one afternoon, laying her awful-looking hand on my shoulder and a stack of applications in front of me.
I went with it.
School had always come relatively easy to me, and I had no plans for after graduation beyond working at a movie theater for the summer. The day before the start of my freshman year, I packed my clothes, toothbrush, pencils and a half-used notepad. With $26.78 and a one-way bus ticket, I left for Griffin University, an affluent school in a Northwest suburb of Washington, D.C.
Phil was the first person I met.
Phil and I met as freshmen while waiting in line to take our ID pictures. The identification office was too small to hold all of the incoming freshmen so the staff set up tables and chairs in the lobby of the Student Union. It was unusually chilly for that August day in D.C. but the air conditioner was still blasting. The hood on my gray sweatshirt was up over my head and my hands were stuffed in the pockets of my dark blue jeans. I was leaning against the wall adjacent to the line, taking it all in. I watched as a few upperclassmen strategically handed out party fliers to the attractive freshman girls waiting in line. The girls who were selected beamed while the others rolled their eyes or looked away.
“Bring your friends,” one of the douche bags said to a hot brunette waiting in line in front of me. She smirked at the girl in front of her like she had just won the hot-girl Lotto. I laughed to myself. Hearing me laugh, she looked back at me.
I smiled at her.
She smiled back and looked away.
My tall, broad athletic frame and rich deep brown complexion had a way of getting a wary curiosity, especially from the girls. At 6’4”, I left most guys intimidated and most girls blushing. They assumed three things about me: athlete, scholarship and shitty childhood. Only one of those things were true.
“What an ass,” Phil said staring at the upperclassman who handed out the flyers.
I looked up at him. “The chicks getting the invites don’t seem to mind.”
He shrugged. “Girls don’t know what they want.”
I smirked. He wasn’t lying.
“Like this girl I drove up with,” he said leaning in closer. “We went to high school together. We were just friends, but it was a long ride and she’s cute and…” He paused as if sizing me up before lowering his voice and continuing. “We hooked up in the backseat at a rest area.”
Surprised, I looked at him again this time taking in his dirty blonde hair, dark blue eyes, pressed Khaki shorts and green and white striped polo shirt. He didn’t look like he had it in him.
“What?” he asked as if reading my thoughts.
“Nothing, man.” I chuckled.
Phil shrugged, a playful glint in his eyes. “But ever since we got here, she’s been making plans for us, and trying to hold my hand. The thing is, she spent the whole first half of the ride telling me she didn’t want to go to college with a boyfriend. She even broke up with her high school boyfriend so she could be free. I told her I had fun but I thought we should slow down and she flipped out! Now, I’m the bad guy because I’m doing exactly what she told me she wanted to do.”
We moved up with the line.
“Anyway,” Phil continued. “She’s been sending me hate texts ever since I dropped her off at her dorm. I just want to grab my ID, get to my dorm and hide. Fuck it. I may just transfer to another school.”
I laughed. “So what you’re saying is,” I began, moving again with the line. “You took advantage of some poor lonely girl, who probably had a crush on you since high school, and now that you’re done, you want her to leave you alone?”
He frowned, looking slightly offended. “Except I didn’t take advantage of her.” He lowered his voice. “
went down on
“Wow.” I laughed. “That’s some fucked up logic.”
“It’s true,” he said laughing. “I’m Phil, by the way.”
“Nate? Nathaniel Best?”
“I’m Phil Quinn!” he said again. I looked at him for recognition. I was pretty sure we hadn’t met. “I’m your roommate!”
“You didn’t get the letter with your roommate assignment?”
I shrugged. I pictured the letter lost in a pile of mail on the kitchen table in my parent’s house, carelessly tossed aside among overdue credit card bills and old take out menus.
“Next!” The small woman shouted from behind the ID camera. It was my turn. I walked up, handed her my papers and received a small schedule.