Opposite of Always(10)

“I know you will.” She lets my hand go, turns to walk away. But she stops and swivels partially back to me, her hair cascading over her cheeks. “And Jack?”


“Don’t be afraid. Take chances. And when those don’t work out, take more.”

I wonder if she means now. As in, Jack, take a chance on me, on this moment. But I don’t budge. Not a muscle, not an eyelash; somewhere a mime is murderous with envy. Instead, Kate walks into her dorm building, into the glass foyer, and it hits me.

I pound on the glass and a startled Kate whirls around, her face making a what the hell look. “How do I get in touch with you?” I yell, my lips pressed against the pane, a condensation cloud blooming against the glass.

She smiles. “Don’t worry. We’ll see each other again.”

Then, like that, she’s gone.

And there’s a feeling I can’t shake—

This isn’t the last time I’ll watch her go.

Sunday Funday

My plan is to sneak into the dorm I’m staying in, except I can’t remember the code to the front door, so I have to buzz the intercom and wake up my host, Albert, who has to drag himself out of bed and walk down three flights of cold stairs. He doesn’t even look at me, only cracks the front door enough for me to wedge my foot inside while mumbling something about a massive headache and responsibility.

I slink back to the room behind him, as he stuffs himself into a three-layer blanket burrito, before collapsing onto my own sleeping bag.

Except I’m not sleepy. At all.

My mind a speedway of competing thoughts.

I nearly call out to Albert, because I want to ask him if he knows Kate— And if he does, how much does he know about her?

Do I have a chance? The slightest?

I’d be happy with the slightest.

I’m not picky. Slightest hope is still hope.

But I hear a thin wheeze coming from deep within the burrito, so I keep my questions to myself. My pocket hums, a text message, and for a second I imagine it’s Kate, that she wants to see me right now, that she’s waiting outside this dorm, homework and a good night’s rest be damned. But of course it’s not her; she doesn’t have my number.

JILLIAN: Hey, are you asleep?

ME: Nope. You?

JILLIAN: Obviously not LOL what are you doing?

ME: Not sleeping mostly. And thinking.

JILLIAN: About what? Lemme guess. The person you shared that wine with!!!

ME: You think you know me or something JILLIAN: What’s her name anyway???

I hesitate before replying.

ME: Kate.

JILLIAN: Jack loves Kate, Jack loves Kate ME: What grade are we in again?

ME: Kindergarten?

JILLIAN: Ha! Just admit you’re in love!

ME: Did you have fun last night?

JILLIAN: Yeah, but I wished you and I got to spend more time together.

ME: You were the belle of the ball.

JILLIAN: Hardly! I kept looking over at you, thinking we should go for a walk or something. When I was about to finally break free from the kitchen, you were preparing to disappear, Houdini.

ME: You know I suck at parties. I’m sorry.

JILLIAN: Don’t be. I’m glad you had a good time.

JILLIAN: And you don’t suck at parties!

ME: You talk to Franny?

JILLIAN: He’s bummed he couldn’t come here with us.

ME: Yeah. He texted me like twenty times. LOL


ME: A conservative estimate

JILLIAN: Very conservative, I’m sure. Well, I’m getting sleepy now. Thanks for chatting.

ME: Anytime.

JILLIAN: Get some shut-eye, lover boy!! We leave in a few hours!!

ME: Night, J.

JILLIAN: Night, J.

I nearly turn my screen off but instead I tap a blue icon. I hit search, typing in Kate.

Kate what, though? The cursor blinks at me, impatiently. I don’t remember Kate’s last name. Or if I ever knew it in the first place. I search for “Kate” anyway, adding “Whittier University” to narrow the results, but the Facebook gods are not smiling this morning. Kate remains a mystery.

The cherry on top? Albert’s only mildly annoying wheeze turns into a full-on death rattle, and I know that his snoring combined with my worsening case of Kate-on-the-brain, I’m not likely to sleep. I stare at the ceiling, and then out the window, wondering if it’s possible that Kate’s doing the same, looking up at a similarly brown-stained popcorn ceiling, eyeing the same sky and early morning sun, thinking about me.

And I’m not sure when I finally close my eyes.

I’m not sure about anything.

“Wake up,” someone is chanting over me. I attempt to crack open an eyelid, but my eye muscles aren’t cooperating. They want more sleep, too.

“Come on, Jack,” Jillian says. She unzips my sleeping bag. “We’ve got to get on the road. You know my mom is weird about me driving in the dark.”

“What time is it?” I ask, eyes still closed.


“In the freaking morning?” As soon as I ask I realize it doesn’t make sense, but I’m suffering from just-woke-up disorientation.

“Uh, try the afternoon. Ha, I don’t think you even left the party before two.”

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