59 - Where There is an Abundance of Romance

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59

         Once we arrived at his dorm, he looked nervous standing there with his hands in his pockets.

         Between the corner of his bottom lip that was tucked into his mouth and his head, slightly lowered, as he glanced around anxiously, everything about him screamed that he was edgy. His flowers, however, made content noises, creating a ruckus I hadn’t heard in a long time as I stepped into his shared room.

         I frowned. “Where is everyone?” I asked, puzzled by the emptiness of the room. Without waiting for the answer that most likely would not come, I crossed over to him, trailing the flat of my palm along the knee-high flowers. They each gave a shrill giggle as I touched their petals.

         “I asked them to go somewhere else for a few minutes,” Jacoby confessed, his voice just as nervous as his stance.

         An indiscernible sound was the only reply I could think of other than merely nodding.

         Jacoby’s anxiousness was seeping into me, and I looked to him uncertainly, waiting for him to start the conversation, because after all, he was the one who’d asked to see me.

         When he said nothing and started to rock back and forth on the heels of the filthy Chucks that he absolutely refused to throw out, I sighed and felt another emotion join the anxiousness: impatience.

         “Sooo…What was it you wanted to talk to me about?” I prompted.

         Jacoby gave a start as if he had just realized I had entered the room. He blinked hard and stared at me. “Oh. Right.” He sucked in a deep breath, but instead of letting himself talk, his breath rushed out unaccompanied by words. His mouth opened and closed like a goldfish, and he started to turn red.

         “Are you breathing?” I asked dryly.

         He spluttered. “Yes! Yes, I am,” he mumbled. Almost all at once, the flowers around him started crowding forward. If I looked closely, their leaves became almost foot-like, and they were waddling towards Jacoby, pressing against his legs in their earnest to express whatever feeling he was having.

         Jacoby was now climbing onto the ladder of the rickety old bunk bed he shared with Dandy’s boyfriend, Sock, to escape his flowers. I knew from Jacoby’s mild complaints that he wasn’t the best person to share a room with when you needed sleep.

         “Feeling a bit overwhelmed?” I snorted.

         Jacoby fixed me with a glare, though a smile fought at the corners of his mouth. He clung onto the edge of the bed on top, trying to tug his foot away from a particularly insistent crowd of lilies, who were shouting in a voice so high and clear that I had no trouble hearing what they were saying.

         “Show her Jacoby, she’ll love it, we know she will!”

         Jacoby groaned and resolved to climb right onto Sock’s bed.

         I leaned against the only desk they had in the boy’s room. The top was messy beyond belief: papers stacked to an incredible pile of disorganization, broken pens leaking ink onto the scuffed wood, and in the midst of all the wadded tissues and 7-Up cans (both empty and half-full) was a beaten-up old square cardboard box.

         “I’ve been meaning to ask,” I said slowly, “what your lilies stand for. Your flowers all stand for something, but I can’t tell what your lilies are for.”

         “Oh.” He looked taken-aback by how upfront I was being. I had a habit of speaking in spirals: taking a long time to actually get to the point. “Um, well, you know what we talked about yesterday before you went to see Kludo?” His legs kicked up and down, thunking against the wooden slats that made up the bunk bed.

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