The first thing I notice is how dark the sports bar is. It’s a bad thing. Darkness is not my friend.
In a dark room, any ability I have to see even dim shapes completely vanishes. Everything is black. I take off my tinted lenses as Dan leads me to a table, but it doesn’t help at all. I can’t see worth shit in this place. It’s making me anxious.
I’m very careful when I settle into a chair—the last thing I want to do is miss the seat and cause a scene. Yeah, I’m sure Dan would think it’s hilarious, but my purpose in life is not to amuse him. Once I’m safely seated, I rest my cane against the table.
Where the hell is our waitress? I need a beer five minutes ago.
“What can I get for you?” a woman’s voice asks.
“I’ll have a Guinness,” I say gratefully.
Dan pokes me in the arm. “She’s asking the other table.”
“Oh.” My face burns. It’s literally impossible to know if someone is talking to me or the person next to me. Any sort of visual cue people give in that situation is lost on me.
The next time I hear a waitress ask what we’ll be having, I wait for Dan to go first so I don’t humiliate myself a second time around. After he orders a beer, I hear her say to me, “And what will you be having, sweetie?”
I notice an edge to her voice—condescension. She’s talking slower than she did to Dan, like I’m stupid or something. She must have noticed my cane. Well, at least she talked to me directly and didn’t say to Dan, What’s he having?
“I’d like a Guinness,” I say, hoping my gaze is directed in her direction, but knowing it’s probably not. It’s impossible to tell where people are in this dark room.
She touches my shoulder. “No problem. I’ll get that for you right away.”
Thanks to how dark the bar is, I have zero idea where my beer is when she delivers it to me. I grope around for a moment until my fingers make contact with the cold condensation on the glass. I pick it up and take a long swig. Maybe too long.
“Hey, slow down there, Kelly,” Dan says with amusement. “I don’t feel like carrying your sorry ass home again.”
“You owe me after all the times I carried your sorry ass home.”
“I’d say we’re close to even.”
We might be even at this point, but considering I have no ability to get Dan home safely if he got shitfaced tonight, we won’t be even for much longer. I take another drink of my beer.
We get our grinders, which helps soak up some of the alcohol in my stomach. It’s nice to eat something besides my mother’s dry chicken. Not that she’s a bad cook or anything, but there’s nothing like steak and onions and gooey cheese stuffed between two halves of a roll.
Only moments after I’ve devoured my sandwich, Dan nudges my shoulder. “I gotta tell you, Colin. There are two wicked hot girls sitting at the bar.”
“So I think we should buy them drinks.”
“I think we shouldn’t.”
There’s a long silence. “Colin, when’s the last time you got laid?”
I nearly choke on a sip of beer. “Shit, Dan. Do we have to talk about this?”
“I’m serious,” Dan says. “Because you were in Iraq for almost a year before this happened. And then you were in a hospital for a while, then rehab, and you’ve been moping around for the last three months. So… about two years, right?”
“So let’s buy these girls a drink,” he says. “Let’s get some action.”
I shake my head. “They’re not giving me any action. Trust me. Not when they figure out my situation.”
One thing I appreciate about Dan Coulehan is he doesn’t patronize me like other people would. He doesn’t say, Don’t talk like that, Colin. You still have so much to offer! He takes me seriously. He recognizes these chicks aren’t going to be hot for the blind guy. I can tell he’s quietly thinking it over.
“How about this?” he says. “You put away the cane, and they don’t need to know you can’t see.”
And then he says that.
“Are you out of your goddamn mind, Dan?”
“What? Why do they have to know?”
I shake my head again.
“I’m serious, Colin.” His glass hits the table with a loud clunk—he must have taken another drink. “You really don’t… I mean, if someone were just looking at you, especially in a dark room, they’d never know. You look normal.”
“Listen,” Dan says. “I’m sending drinks over to those girls. Period. You can either be straight with them and see what happens, or you put the cane in your bag and I won’t give you away.”
I know Dan is going to stick to his word, so I contemplate my next move. I can either go along with this ridiculous plan of Dan’s, which will almost certainly fall apart and humiliate me. Or else I can tell the girls the truth, and spend the next twenty to thirty minutes interacting awkwardly with them.
So you can’t really blame me for putting away the cane.
The girls are named Ashlynn and Debbie. I obviously don’t have any clue what they look like, but Ashlynn is the one who sits down closest to me. When she’s six inches away from me, I can only just barely make out the outline of her head, which is all I need to make sure I’m looking in her direction when she talks. I make sure to keep one hand on my beer at all times because I know if I let go of it, I’ll have to grope around again to find it, and the gig will be up.
Ashlyn and I start talking, which is something I can do without too much difficulty. Sitting and talking—my specialty. But I don’t feel much of a connection to her. I doubt she loves books like Sophie does. Luckily, we’ve both had enough to drink that it doesn’t matter too much.
“So you were in the army, huh?” I feel Ashlynn’s warm fingers on the tattoo I’ve got on my left biceps.
“Yeah,” I say.
“Not anymore though?”
Ha. That’s an understatement. “Nope. Not anymore.”
“Was it tough?” she asks softly.
“Sometimes,” I say, hoping she’ll stop asking about it.
She’s quiet for a moment before saying, “Well, I’m grateful there are brave men out there like you who fight for our country.”
I smile crookedly. “Well, thanks.”
“It’s pretty sexy, actually,” she says in a husky voice.
I don’t know what to say to that.
She giggles. “I bet all the girls say that to you, huh?”
I shrug. I’m not gonna lie—telling a girl I was in the army was a damn good aphrodisiac. Maybe they thought they were serving their country vicariously by going to bed with me? But I was always hopeful I’d land a relationship with someone who would stick with me through my deployments, and none of them seemed interested in taking their patriotism that far.
“I love a guy with a lot of tattoos.” Ashlynn runs her soft fingers down my arm. “It’s so sexy.”
I smile weakly. I’ve played out this scene many times before, and in the past, it’s always ended the same way—in bed. I don’t want to think about how she’ll react when she finds out the truth. Not good, probably.
“What’s this one?” Ashlynn asks me.
I have no idea which tattoo she’s talking about—like she said, I’ve got a lot of them. I always stuck with the rule about never getting a tat in a place I couldn’t cover up for a job interview, but I wasn’t shy about getting them everywhere else. I won’t get any more now though. If I can’t see it, I don’t want it etched on my body for all eternity.
“Which one?” I ask tentatively.
Now I feel her fingers graze my right biceps.
“That,” I say, “is a bee.”
She giggles again. “Why do you have a tattoo of a bee on your arm?”
“This guy in our platoon got blown up by an IED,” I say. “Name was Brown. Good guy. Anyway, a bunch of us went out and got bee tattoos to remember him. Because he was from Utah. The beehive state?”
“That’s really sweet but…” Her fingers graze my arm again. “A bee tattoo?”
“We were pretty drunk.”
I feel Ashlynn’s hot breath close to my ear. “I have a tattoo, you know.”
I pray to God she doesn’t insist on showing me her tattoo so I can pretend I can actually see it. “Oh, yeah?”
“Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see it later.”
There’s no chance this encounter will make it out of this bar, but she doesn’t know that. “I hope so.”
Half an hour later, Ashlynn and I are making out. Not only has it been two years since I’ve had sex, but it’s also been two years since I’ve kissed a woman, so this is nothing short of amazing. I don’t care if she finds out my secret and I’m humiliated—I needed this. I forgot how great it was to make out with a girl.
“You kiss good, soldier,” Ashlynn breathes when we separate for air.
My only regret is I didn’t have Dan take me to the bathroom prior to the girls joining us. I’ve had two beers, and I’ve got to take a piss like nobody’s business. But if I made any attempt to go relieve myself, the gig would be up. I can’t find the bathroom on my own in this place—Dan would have to lead me there.
Dan and Debbie have been fairly quiet, which makes me think they’re making out too. Dan will probably go back to Debbie’s place after he drops me off and finish the job he started. That’s not going to happen for me, but I’m happy with what I got.
“It’s getting pretty late,” I hear Debbie say across the table. “What do you boys say we take this back to our place?”
“You two live together?” I ask.
I suspect they’re nodding, but I’m not sure. Thankfully, Ashlynn says, “Yep.”
“That sounds great,” Dan says eagerly.
There’s a long silence and I realize everyone is waiting for me to say something. “Actually,” I say with an exaggerated yawn, “I’m really tired. So… I might just go home.”
Ashlynn tugs on my shirt sleeve. “Come on, Colin. Please?”
“You really going to turn down this beautiful lady, Colin?” Dan presses me.
I glare in the direction of where I think Dan’s head is. I can’t believe he’s pulling this shit with me. What the hell am I supposed to do? I can’t go to their apartment. It’s amazing Ashlynn hasn’t figured out I can’t see yet—if I stand up and try to do anything, that will be the end.
That said, I can’t argue my case in front of the girls. I’ll have to wait until they’re gone.
“Okay, sounds good,” I finally say.
Debbie writes her address down for Dan, and then the girls leave the bar so we can settle the tab. It’s loud enough in the bar that I’m not entirely sure if their footsteps are gone. “Did they leave?” I ask Dan.
“Great.” I let out a breath. “Help me get to the bathroom. And then take me home.”
“Are you out of your goddamn mind, Kelly?” Dan yells. “Those girls were really hot. We have to go to their place.”
“You can go to their place. I want to go home.”
“So you don’t want to get laid?”
I want to smack Dan in the face. “I am not going to get laid, okay? All that’s going to happen if we go to their apartment is Ashlynn will find out I’m blind and lose all interest in me. Or be pissed off that I tried to fool her.”
“She doesn’t have to find out.”
“Are you joking with me?”
“Just listen to me for a second,” he says. “You’ve both been drinking. The lights will probably be down low. You leave your cane in my car while we’re up there—she’ll never figure it out.”
“This is a stupid idea.”
“Come on, man—you’ve gotta come. Don’t cock-block me.”
“You know what?” I say. “I’ll get the waitress to take me to the goddamn bathroom.”
“Yeah? And how will you get home?”
“I’ll call a cab, genius.”
“Colin…” I hear the frustration in his voice. “You know, you used to always be up for a good time. You used to actually enjoy life.”
I snort. “Yeah, well, sorry I’m not fun anymore.”
I sit there, fuming. Fuming and also desperately needing to take a piss. I need to make good on my threat of finding the waitress but I’m too angry to focus on that task. I have no idea where she even is or how to begin finding her. I don’t know what direction the bar is in. There are few times when I feel the extent of my disability as much as when I’m in a public place and I need help just to get to the fucking toilet.
“Come on.” Dan’s hand drops onto my shoulder. “I’ll take you to the bathroom.”
“Thanks,” I mutter under my breath.
I stand up and take his arm. I don’t bother with my cane, knowing from experience it will just get caught under someone’s chair and it will be an ordeal to pull it free. I let Dan lead me across the bar for what seems like five blocks, until he says, “We’re here.”
The door creaks loudly as it swings open. I can’t bring myself to ask Dan to point me in the direction of the urinals, but thankfully, he does it anyway. He even helps me position myself in front of one of them so I don’t piss on the wall (something I’ve almost certainly done many times now).
I hate that Dan has to help me with this.
I piss for about five straight minutes, which feels almost as good as the orgasm I’ll probably be having alone tonight in my own bed. When I’m done, I turn to my right, in the direction I assume is the sinks, but Dan turns me around and helps me find them. I can only imagine how if he hadn’t come in here with me, I would have pissed in the sink and washed my hands in a toilet bowl.
The truth is, even though I’ve been nothing but a pain in the ass lately, Dan Coulehan has done everything in his power to get me out of the house and make sure I’ve had a good time. He could have decided it wasn’t worth the effort and stopped calling me like every other friend I had, but he didn’t. And even though I’m cock-blocking him, he still made sure I didn’t wash my hands in a toilet. There’s a reason this guy has been my best friend since third grade.
“Okay,” I say. “Let’s go to their apartment.”
There’s a long silence. “You messing with me, Kelly?”
“No, I mean it. Fuck it. Let’s do it.”
Dan laughs and claps me on the back. “Oh boy, this is going to be awesome.”
Hey, I’m horny as hell. May as well at least try to get some action.
We have a great time during dinner. I stop drinking after my one beer because I’ll have to drive home, but Natalie drinks enough that she gets up and starts singing karaoke after we finish our meal. And this is not a karaoke restaurant.
“I think you’ve had enough,” Chris says as he wrestles her back into her chair.
“You are such a party pooper,” Natalie whines.
“I think we’re going home,” he says. “Like, now.”
“Blah blah blah. Fine.” She rolls her eyes at me. “But just because my boyfriend is a party pooper, that doesn’t mean you two shouldn’t stay out. We’ll cover our half of the check.”
Gabe raises his eyebrows. “Actually, you guys are my ride. Remember?”
“Oh.” Natalie mulls this over for a moment before her face lights up. “Well, how about if Sophie gives you a ride home instead?”
Suddenly, three pairs of eyes are focused on me. I’m sick of giving Natalie dirty looks, so instead, I just say, “Uh, that’s fine. But I should probably get going too…”
Natalie stares down at her half-empty glass of beer for a moment. “Hey, Sophie, I gotta use the little girl’s room.”
“Thanks for the update,” I say.
“Do you want to come with?”
I shake my head. “I’m good.”
She smiles crookedly. “I may need you to hold my hair while I puke.”
But when she grabs my hand, I grudgingly follow her to the bathroom. I expect her to make for a stall, but once we get inside, it becomes obvious she brought me in here to lecture me, not puke. I wish she were puking.
“Sophie!” She folds her arms across her chest, looking far more sober than she did when she was belting out “Bohemian Rhapsody” ten minutes ago. “Why are you so down on Gabe? He’s a nice guy.”
“I know he’s a nice guy,” I say.
I shrug. “So?”
“I’m trying to help you here! Don’t you want to go out with him?”
“If he wants to go out with me, he can ask me himself, Natalie.”
“Well, he’s shy.”
I let out a sigh.
“He is!” she insists. “But I can tell from his body language he’s totally into you.”
“His body language?” I repeat, because it’s just so ludicrous. “Come on, Natalie!”
“Listen,” she says, “just promise me you’ll be open to idea of dating him.”
“I’m open to it,” I mumble.
Natalie frowns at me for a moment. Finally, she opens her purse and starts fishing around inside. “Let me do your lipstick.”
I cringe. I don’t have lips the way she does. Lipstick on me doesn’t work. I’ve tried it before and it looks terrible. It only seems to emphasize the fact that there’s nothing for the lipstick to actually go on. It makes the ridges in my skin more obvious.
“Just a little bit.”
“I said no!”
She stops fishing around in her bag. I know she’s had a few too many drinks tonight, but enough is enough. I’m not going put up with this anymore. I’ll drive Gabe home, but that’s it.
“Sophie…” Her face crumples. “I just love you so much, Soph. And I want you to have a guy who loves you like I do…”
Oh, for goodness sake…
Natalie and I end up hugging in the ladies’ room for the next ten minutes or so, until we get enough weird looks that we have to leave. It’s not our first time hugging it out in the bathroom, but we haven’t done it in a while. I really do love Natalie. Too bad we’re not both lesbians.
When we get back to the table, Chris makes a few jokes about wondering if Natalie had “fallen in.” The check has already been paid, and for a moment, I can’t help but wonder who paid my portion. Did Chris pay the whole bill? Or did Gabe throw a few bills in on my behalf?
Is it possible Natalie is right? Could Gabe be interested in something more than friendship?
It turns out that Chris and I parked in opposite directions, so we say goodbye at the door to the restaurant. Gabe accompanies me back to where I parked my car two blocks away, and he stands close to me as we walk. Even though I know it’s stupid, my heart speeds up a bit as we move through the warm summer air.
Gabe probably isn’t interested. And that’s fine. And if he is, that’s fine too. I’m not going to think about it. I’m not going to even attempt to get my hopes up.
When we get into my car, I plug his address into my GPS. We couldn’t stop talking in the restaurant, but now I’m struggling to find something to say.
“Um, so that movie you wanted to see…” I finally say.
“Oh, right.” Gabe is staring out the passenger’s side window as we navigate through the Saturday evening traffic in North Quincy. “Uh, do you want to see it?”
“I don’t know,” I mumble at the windshield. “I guess so. If you want…”
He’s quiet for a full minute. “How about next Thursday?” he finally says.
Thursday. That’s a very undate-y night. If he wanted it to be more than just a friends thing, he would have suggested Friday or Saturday. Although Natalie always says Thursday is the new Friday. Whatever that means.
“Sounds great,” I say.
I pull up to the curb in front of the house where Gabe is renting an apartment. I put the car in park. “So I’ll see you Friday then.”
He smiles crookedly. “Thursday.”
“Right, I meant Thursday.” I clear my throat. “I’ll text you the night before to confirm.”
“Sure, sounds good.”
Gabe hesitates, and there’s a brief second when I think he’s going to lean forward and kiss me. But he doesn’t. He gets out of the car and goes into his house without even looking back.
And of course, this is one of those times when I can’t help but wonder if the night might have turned out differently if I had lips.
Dan’s car comes to a screechy halt, and I hear him throw the car in park. I try to look out the window, but I have zero night vision so all I can see is blackness.
“We’re here,” he announces.
“I figured that out.” I take a deep breath. “Is it a house or a building or…?”
I hear a paper crumpling in his hand. “It’s a small building, and their apartment is on the second floor.”
I reach for my shoulder bag and start pulling my cane out, until Dan’s hand grabs my wrist. “Hey, man, what are you doing?” he says. “You can’t bring that. I told you I’d help you.”
“I’m not doing stairs without my cane.”
“It’ll be fine. We’ll go slow.”
I exhale slowly. The thought of going anywhere outside of my own home without my cane is incredibly scary. Without it, I feel like I could be walking off a cliff at any moment. But he’s right—if the girls see the cane, the gig will be up.
“We’ll go slow,” he promises again.
I drop my bag. I’m not thrilled, but I’m also really horny. Now that I’m almost in Ashlynn’s apartment, I want this so bad, it hurts. I’d rather it be Sophie the Sexy Librarian, obviously, but that’s not a possibility. Sophie knows I’m blind—Ashlynn doesn’t. I’ve got a shot with her.
“Let’s go,” I say.
Dan makes good on his promise. I hold onto his arm while he leads me slowly to the door of the building. He holds the door for me and I walk through, waiting for him to rejoin me. And thank fucking God, there’s an elevator. We take it up to the second floor, and he has to lead me down the hallway. The whole thing makes me wonder how in hell we’re going to pull this off.
Dan rings the doorbell, and I stand there, wondering if I look okay. I have no idea how I look anymore at any given time. Obviously, I know what my face looks like in general, but there’s no way for me to know if I have shit on my face or in my teeth or if my hair is sticking up funny or my shirt is on inside-out. I run a hand through my short hair, not sure if I’m making it better or worse. I check to make sure my fly is zipped—that one I can feel, at least.
“Dan! Colin!” I hear the squeals of the girls from inside the apartment. The lighting is good enough inside the apartment that I can make out fuzzy outlines of both girls. It makes it easier for me to get inside without slamming into the doorframe.
Debbie’s voice: “You guys made it! We were beginning to wonder…”
“Colin almost chickened out,” Dan says in a way that sounds like he’s joking, and everybody laughs.
Ashlynn’s soft hand rests on my arm. “Hey there, sexy.”
“Hey,” I say, fixing my gaze on the dim outline of her head. I hope my eyes don’t look too strange to her and give me away. More and more, I’ve become self-conscious about not having my tinted glasses on.
“Do you guys want a drink?” Debbie offers.
“Actually,” Dan says in a low voice, “I’d love to see your bedroom.”
She giggles. “Well, I suppose that can be arranged.”
And just like that, Dan—the only person keeping me from walking into a wall—disappears somewhere inside this apartment.
My stomach sinks. Shit. I can’t do this. I can’t pull this off. I was out of my goddamn mind. My horniness blurred all my good judgment.
“So, Colin,” Ashlynn says. “Would you like to see my room?”
I would, but I think we can all agree that’s never going to happen. Still, I nod mutely and follow Ashlynn. She takes my hand, which is meant to be sexy, but really helps since otherwise I’d just be desperately trying to follow her dim outline, knowing if she got more than two feet away from me, she’d vanish entirely.
Then we’re inside Ashlynn’s bedroom. I pretend to look around. “Nice place,” I say, even though I can’t honestly say I think so. I see something that I think is a bed, and I feel it, and it feels like a bed, and then I sit down on it, and hallelujah, it’s a bed! Good thing too, because Ashlynn chooses that moment to dim the lights, which means I can’t see a damn thing anymore.
I feel the bed shift and springs creak—she’s sat down next to me. “Colin,” she breathes.
I want to kiss her, but I don’t entirely know where she is, only that she’s on my left. She’s going to have to make the first move if I don’t want to look like a complete idiot. Fortunately, she’s drunk, and a second later, I feel her lips on mine. Now I know exactly where she is, and I can kiss her back, and touch her body and do all the things I’ve been fantasizing about for the entire car ride here.
We fall down on the bed together. It’s nice to fall on purpose, not just because I missed a stupid step. She’s kissing me desperately, and minutes later, we’re pulling off clothing. I know in my head that I need to be careful about where my clothes are being flung in the room so I can find them later, but it’s not like I can say, “Ashlynn, would you mind if I carefully fold my pants and shirt and put them on your end-table?” No, that’s not what you say in the throes of passion. But I can’t think about that right now. That’s a problem Colin from an hour in the future can worry about. This Colin is getting laid.
“I’ve got condoms,” Ashlynn whispers to me. Good thing because I definitely don’t have one, and if I’m hooking up with a girl who keeps a stack of condoms in her room, I’m guessing there are some transmittable diseases I should be worried about.
“Good,” I say.
I feel her hand on my dick, and it’s so good. So fucking good. I can’t believe it’s been over two years. I can’t believe I almost didn’t come here tonight.
“Do you want me to put it on?” she asks.
“Yeah,” I say, because I can’t imagine how I could put a condom on in a million years. It was a challenge even when I was at my best.
If there was ever a plus side to being blind, I have to say that it makes the sex incredibly intense. I don’t know what Ashlynn’s going to do and when she’s going to do it, which makes the whole thing exciting in a way I hadn’t expected. Also, since I can’t see anything, she’s going to have to take the lead, and the thought of that excites me more than I thought it would. I always was a take-charge kind of guy in bed, but apparently, I’ve got a submissive side I didn’t know about.
She’s straddling me when she finally guides my dick inside her. The fact that I don’t entirely know she’s going to do it until I’m sliding into her makes is unbelievably intense. Also, there’s the fact that nobody’s touched my dick but me in the last two years. I have to do my damnedest to hold out long enough to keep from embarrassing myself. You don’t want to cum during the first two seconds after sex is initiated. That just doesn’t look good.
Somehow, I manage to hold out. I get my fingers on her clit, and I work it best I can, the way I remember used to make girls squirm. I make it long enough that I hear her scream, then I let go. Thirty seconds later, Ashlynn is collapsed on top of me, our sweaty bodies glued together.
“Wow,” she breathes. “That was great.”
She cuddles up against me. I feel her head resting on my shoulder, and even though I know I really ought to get out of here before it’s too late, I like how this feels too much. My eyes start drifting shut. Sex always makes me so damn tired.
Oh shit, it’s morning.
I can tell the window is bringing natural light into Ashlynn’s bedroom. The fuzzy outlines are back, although just as dim as ever. I can see the outline of her body next to mine on the bed. I’ve got to find Dan and get the hell out of here.
I sit up in bed but the movement makes Ashlynn groan and stir beside me. Shit.
“Hey,” her soft voice says.
“Hey,” I say back.
“Don’t look at me,” she says. “I look gross in the morning.”
No problem there, sweetheart.
I clear my throat. “I should probably… you know, get going…”
“Yeah,” she says, not sounding particularly broken up. “Okay. You… want some coffee before you go?”
“That would be great,” I say.
I don’t want coffee. I just want to leave. But I need her to get out of the room so I can locate my clothes.
Her side of the mattress raises, then her footsteps grow faint as she leaves the room. I breathe a sigh of relief. Now I can find my clothes in peace.
This proves to be very challenging. It turns out Ashlynn is a slob. There’s a ton of crap on the floor, and I’m having trouble telling her clothes on the floor from mine. I find something that I’m ninety-nine percent sure is my shirt, and I find my boxers, but my pants are another issue. Where the hell are my pants? I even go through the laundry hamper in her room, wondering if it could have fallen in there. But no luck.
This isn’t funny. I need my pants to get out of here.
I know I’m taking way too long, and sure enough, I hear Ashlynn’s voice at the doorway, saying, “You okay, Colin?”
I straighten up, looking in the general direction of where I heard her voice. “Yeah, I’m just… um, having trouble finding my jeans.”
She laughs. “Silly. They’re right over there.”
Presumably, she’s pointing to my jeans, which are somewhere really obvious. Obvious to anyone who could see. And now I’m really fucked because I don’t know how to explain to her that I need her to physically hand me my jeans or else I’ll never find them.
“Colin?” she says again.
I know the bed is right next to me. I sit down, my hands shaking so badly I have to put them between my knees.
“Are you okay?” she asks.
“Is Dan awake?” I ask her.
“I could check.” There’s concern in her voice. “Do you want me to get him for you?”
“Yeah,” I mumble.
I sit there, waiting for Ashlynn to bring Dan to me. I feel like the biggest loser on the planet. I can hear her talking to Dan in a low voice: “…something wrong with him. Like, one of those post-traumatic stress whatever… you know?”
Better she thinks I have PTSD than know the truth.
“Hey, Colin.” I hear Dan’s voice at the doorway and relief floods through me. “You need some help, man?”
“Close the door,” I tell him.
I hear it click shut, and my shoulders sag. “I can’t find my pants, Dan.”
He doesn’t laugh, which I appreciate. A few seconds later, he’s pressing my jeans into my hands, and I put them on. He also finds my shoes for me, which I suspect would have been just as much of a challenge.
“Don’t even try to convince me to stay for breakfast,” I say.
He snorts. “No, even I realize that would be stupid.”
I take a deep breath. “Can you help me get out of here?”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
I can’t even think what the girls are thinking as Dan leads me out of the apartment. I don’t hold onto his arm like I usually do—he keeps one hand on my shoulder, like he’s emotionally supporting me, when he’s really leading me to the front door. When I see the outline of what I believe to be the door come into view, I’m so relieved, I want to kiss it.
“Bye, Colin,” Ashlynn’s voice says.
“Bye,” I mumble. I don’t turn to look at her because I’d probably be looking at the wrong place anyway. I don’t care if she thinks I’m nuts. I just want out.
To be continued...