There are few nights colder than those of a Kalamazoo winter

And even in my sweatshirt and thermal socks, there was no getting warmer. I was the only one still shivering, but then again, I get cold easily. Saturday night and the dorm, Harmon, was gutted. Nothing stirred that wasn’t already stirring:  faucets improperly shut, ancient heating apparatuses turning over in the boiler room. Banshee winds brought snow from the west, from the Lake. We weren’t going anywhere.

There was no staying in my room. Too antsy, too anxious. But your room was open, as it always was. Just down the hallway. You, and your roommate too, should have both been gone, lost to some party basement, stumbling in the dark with drink in one hand, the other pressed toward the ceiling. Your ‘college girl’ dance. But you weren’t. Your roommate knocked on my door and commented on how very lonely my suite was before I’d even gotten out a greeting. She told me to make my coffee and come down to your room.

There was talk. There was chocolate and popcorn, and the lamentation of a sober Saturday. I didn’t feel that, though. You couldn’t have known, but I wasn’t feeling most things then. Or maybe it’s something of the opposite. Like every nerve was twisted with bolt-coil intensity, so that any little movement was white-hot broken glass below my chest. The only protection from that is to stay so perfectly still, to retreat altogether. But I could laugh when I needed to, smile with too many teeth, agree to quickly to the audaciousness of certain gossip.

Your roommate was tired, but the hour was late. A movie was in order with the lights low and the wind all a-choir in the eaves. We agreed on The Royal Tenenbaums, as your roommate and I were shocked to find you’d never seen it. She crawled into bed and turned over, lost before the opening credits. But you and I, we lay sprawled on the floor. Blankets beneath us, blankets on top of us, body pillows trussed up for our heads.

The lights low, the wind all a-choir. Luke Wilson shaving, then whispering, then bleeding. Your toe touched mine through my thermal socks, and you too were whispering, too quietly for me to hear. Our shoulders grazed. Again. White-hot broken glass at every brushing contact. I thought to myself, I’ve never before been so afraid of a body.

But I let you fall asleep and, ashamed for something I didn’t really understand, retreated to my own bed.