“Jesus! Is that the time?” Sasha exclaimed noticing the clock on Iria’s phone. It was staring back at her ominously proclaiming in brutal honesty that it was indeed 2:45am. Sasha looked up at Iria and only got a blank stare in return.
“It would seem so. Why are you looking at me like that?” Iria asked defensively.
“Because you know I have an exam I have to study for–”
“–and you also know that you know you have an exam to study for.” Iria pointed out.
“No one forced you to stay up this late.”
“I kind of did.” Jessica chimed in, raising her hand timidly. The other two girls chuckled and Jessica watched as Sasha stood quickly. “So, now what?” there was the same air of trepidation that had consumed her during their initial meeting. Jessica very much wanted to stay with Sasha but knew in the back of her mind the answer would likely be not one she wanted to hear. This awkwardness was made worse by Iria who was watching the exchange like a tennis fan expecting a grand slam spike at any moment.
“Hmmm.” Sasha muttered, looking at Iria for assistance. It was clear that Jessica wanted to stay, but Sasha just didn’t quite feel comfortable enough to have her sleep in her bed. “I suppose we could–”
“–you can sleep in my room.” Iria interrupted before Sasha could finish her thought.
Jessica turned from the redhead to the petite asian in the room. “Oh?” she asked, slightly shocked at the offer.
“Yeah.” Iria explained roughly, “I’ve got a king sized bed and as you can tell, I don’t use very much of it when I’m by myself.” Iria held out her arms and looked down at her small frame.
Jessica was taken with the image of Iria being swallowed up by her bed in a storm of covers and scented pillows. “If that’s ok with you?” she asked Sasha, suddenly not sure why she was asking her permission.
“Sure. If you’d like. I’ve got a tiny bed–”
“–I remember.” Jessica snickered and Sasha rolled her eyes jokingly.
“–Annnnnd; I have to be up in a few hours when Jonathan comes over to help me study.” Sasha explained. The strange thing was she now felt irritated that this was the situation. The moment Iria offered her bed to Jessica, Sasha caught herself feeling let down as pangs of jealousy crept through her mind. The feelings of awkwardness had been pushed away by the sudden removal of attention.
“No I understand.” Jessica held up her hand to stop Sasha as she stood up beside the smaller redhead. “Thanks for an interesting night.” she said with a smile before leaning over and hugging Sasha softly. Jessica did her best to mask the attraction she felt for Sasha but the smell of Sasha’s hair, and the feeling of the redhead’s arms around the her body sent mini bolts of electricity throughout her. It made her stomach turn again and her heart flutter like some cartoonish cupid was riddling her body with arrows. She leant in and kissed Sasha on the cheek. “Goodnight Sasha.” she said softly looking deeply into her eyes as if searching for a different answer than she had already received.
“Goodnight Jessica. Sweet dreams.” Sasha felt herself being torn in two. She simultaneously wanted and didn’t want Jessica. Not in the way that you might want a piece of cake but know it’s bad for you. It was far more complicated than that. She felt herself torn between being enamored by Jessica’s affection while being repulsed by it. Sasha couldn’t figure out what was causing such a schism inside of her. “Goodnight roomy.” she turned to Iria and Iria nodded back.
“Night.” she responded in kind. Iria was still sitting and had been watching the exchange with much interest. She couldn’t help but find it fascinating. She watched as Sasha turned and walked away, and much like a dismissed pet might, she took five steps and looked back to see if she was still being watched. It was endearing. Iria saw herself in Sasha. She was a younger Iria; a less confident, less self aware girl with so much potential and so much ahead of her. Iria sighed softly to herself. As much as Sasha was still clearly repressing her own desires for the sake of what was considered socially acceptable, she had come so far.
Iria smirked to herself. Without her soft handed guidance there was no way this night would have happened for Sasha. Now her roommate, challenged with new sensations and new situations would have the opportunity to grow. Iria treated it like a physical trainer might treat a particular muscle group. If you want self confidence to grow, you need to place yourself in a situation that strains your confidence. If you come through it successfully, you’ll end up with a stronger sense of self. It was a technique she had perfected in her own life and now, despite Sasha being completely unaware of it, Iria was using the same strategy on Sasha. She smirked again and thumbed through her phone. A new message had just popped up from Mr. Baritone. Iria shook her head and laughed quietly to herself as she began to key in a quick response.
Sasha left the living room and passed by the kitchen on her way down the hall towards her room. As she passed the front door she could hear a low hum unaccounted for in the normal background noise of the apartment. Sasha stopped in her tracks and listened intently. A moment later the hum came again. “No, it wasn’t a hum.” she thought to herself, “It’s a buzz. A vibration. A phone.” Sasha looked down and saw Jessica’s bag. Picking it up she turned to the brunette, “Jessica? I think your phone is ringing.”
Jessica who had only just sat down again shot up suddenly and nearly sprinted across the room to reach her bag. She quickly rifled through it to find her phone. “Oh shit! Oh shit shit SHIT.” She looked up with Sasha and as the two women locked eyes the realization crept in mightily.
“You forgot to call your mom.” Sasha blurted. She looked down at Jessica’s phone and back up at the brunette.
“Fuck me.” she mumbled, keying through the phone’s recent call list. Her mom was listed 7 or 8 times, but the number at the top of the list; the number that had just called her and had called her three times before that. “Jacob.” she said softly.
“Jacob?” Sasha exclaimed. “Your ex?” Jessica nodded. “Are you going to call him back?”
Jessica shrugged and made a face, “I–I don’t know.” She stabbed away at the keys and brought the phone up to her ear.
Sasha looked on in curiosity.
“Mom?” Jessica said softly, “Mom? I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry. I–” she stopped briefly as mumbled wailings from the other end of the phone percolated through the device. “–I know. I meant to but–” She paused again this time scrunching her face up. “Well you didn’t need to call Jacob mom.” Jessica sighed and rolled her eyes in Sasha’s direction. “Well I know–I know you were scared and all but you still shouldn’t have called him mom.” Jessica’s shoulders slumped and it was clear to Sasha she was beginning to get annoyed at her well meaning but clearly uninformed mother. “Because we’re not together anymore mom ok? That’s why. That’s why you shouldn’t have called him–” She sighed again, “I know you didn’t know–it’s not your fault–it’s just. Well I’m safe ok, so you don’t have to worry anymore ok?” Jessica looked up at Sasha, then back at the floor. “Don’t worry mom, I’m with friends and everything is ok. I’m going to stay the night with them.” She furrowed her brow and continued, “No—no there’s no boys here. I’ll be safe mom.” Jessica sighed again as it was clear her mom was now giving her a lecture after the fact. “Look it’s just a couple of girlfriends. No boys. No drugs ok? No one’s going to gang rape me like on that Date Line you watched.” She rolled her eyes at Sasha again and held up her hand.
Sasha smirked a little. It was clear that Jessica’s mom was a little out of the loop with her daughter. She didn’t know that Jessica and Jacob were broken up, and she definitely didn’t know that her daughter prefered the intimate company of women. If she did, perhaps her reaction would have been different upon finding out Jessica was staying with a bunch of girls. Sasha sniggered to herself and mouthed the words “Good night” to Jessica before turning to walk back to her room.
Also walking down a hallway at this very time was Jacob. He had located the building in question and gained access to it by pretending to be someone that forgot his keys. Remarkable how easily security is breached when people are involved.
He had made his way down each floor’s hallway calling Jessica’s phone as he went. He was listening for her ringtone as he walked by each door. On the first three floors Jessica’s phone toggled over to voicemail after four rings, but this changed when he reached the fourth floor. On the fourth floor, the phone went directly to voicemail. This could really mean only one thing, she was on the phone with someone else right now. Quickly Jacob called Jessica’s mother back and just as he suspected, he received a busy signal in return. Mrs. Anastas’ line was occupied. With a speedier pace he jaunted down the fourth and final hallway, this time not listening for Jessica’s ringtone. Instead he was listening for Jessica herself. About midway down the hallway he could easily detect the tone of her voice.
“Remarkable how that is,” he thought to himself. Without being able to understand what she was saying, and only by hearing the faintest wisp of her voice he knew in an instant it was Jessica. “How it is when you’re in love.” Jacob supposed. You become acutely aware of your partner and their unique fingerprint in the world. Jacob gritted his teeth and head towards the doorway from which her voice was clearly emanating. After taking a few long angry breaths he closed his eyes and knocked on the door.
“Holy fuck!” Jessica exclaimed, startled by the sudden rapping coming from the door. She looked over at Sasha who by now was nearly at the end of the hall and no longer listening to what was happening behind her. Jessica whirled around to look for Iria but she was no longer on the chair in the living room. Unbeknownst to Jessica, Iria had wandered off into her bedroom to prepare it for a visitor. Jessica stared at the doorknob, then the peephole, unsure what to do. In that moment of confusion she heard once more the voice of her mother. Jessica looked down at her phone and quickly brought it up to her ear. “Sorry mom, gotta go. I’ll see you tomorrow kay?” before abruptly hanging up.
Again there was a knock on the door and Jessica stood, frozen in place. Not thinking through her next actions she slowly reached for the doorknob, softly turned it, and pulled the door inwards to reveal. “Jacob? What are you doing here?”