twelve - back up

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I'm laying on the couch with my feet propped up on the arm rest. One of my feet nervously bounces as I try to keep myself calm. Nigel is in the kitchen on facetime with James and they're talking about Pokémon go or something that hasn't been in trend for at least a year.

Kylie is at work and I feel like I'm a prisoner cooped up in this apartment jail cell with my punishment being listening to Nigel and James. The more I think about it, the more I realize that my life sucks. I don't have any friends—except for my roommates—and I most certainly don't know how to make them. Plus, even if I make them, how the hell do I keep them?

I open up the app store on my cellphone and start searching for apps. I choose Tinder. It's probably the worst choice, but I knew I would get the quickest results.

My foot is bouncing faster now as I go through the sign up process. I accidently bite through my lower lip and scowl quietly when I taste the broken flesh. It's not quite bleeding, but it's definitely raw. Nervous habits suck.

I would like to see: Males / Females

I chuckle to myself and hit "females." I'm definitely interested in females as friends, and that's what Tinder is for, right?

After signing up, I see a lot of females who are blatantly not on this app to make friends. I hit so many red X's that my eyes start to hurt and Nigel's voice drowns out in the background.

I come across Jackie, and a wave of confidence rushes through my chest. I know her! We can definitely be friends!

I happily hit the green checkmark but nothing happens. I'm just shown another female who has boobs front and center in her picture. Seriously, though, there wasn't even a face. Just cleavage and 1/4 of a neck.

I let out a really loud sigh and drop my phone onto the floor next to the couch. My headache is pounding now and I just want to go somewhere other than here.

"What was that noise?" Nigel quickly exclaims after my phone thuds on the carpet.

I really can't tell if he's talking about the very quiet noise my phone made on the short journey from the couch to the floor, or something that he heard through his video chat with James. I don't answer him and rub my temples instead.

"Okay, I guess he's playing the silent game," Nigel snickers in the background.

My eyes roll to the back of my head and I sit up on the couch before abruptly standing up. I hear my bones and joints crack as I stretch but Nigel remains focused on his little boyfriend through a phone screen.

My feet barely make any noise against the carpet as I shuffle towards the front door. Very quietly, I sneak out into the hallway and begin walking towards the front of the apartment building so I can get some fresh air outside.

The door pushes open easily and I'm blasted with cold air and the faint buzzing and humming of city life. A page in a newspaper blows down the sidewalk in front of me, whirling and scratching along the cement  before hitting a lamp post.

I feel like my body is in a daze. I reach into the pocket of my hoodie to find my cigarettes but there aren't any. My hand drops back down to my side in defeat, and I begin wondering if I should try to bum a cigarette off someone or just suck it up and try to wean off the addiction. Either way, it sucks.

Making a left, I let my feet skid down the sidewalk and take me to wherever they desire. I don't have my phone with me—or any money—but that fact doesn't worry me like it used to. I don't care anymore.

"Hey, knucklehead."

I hear someone speak a few feet behind me and I'm tempted to turn around and answer them, but who would call me knucklehead? I can literally count the people I know on one hand and none of them have ever called me knucklehead.

"I'm talkin' to you."

I shake my head in confusion before I look over my shoulder. It's Ivan.

"Hey, what are you doing following me?" I jokingly ask, relieved I'm able to identify Ivan.

His hands curl over my shoulders from behind and he gives them a small squeeze. "Ain't following you, just the earth's gravitational pull bringing us together."

His hands release from my shoulders and I turn around to look him in the eyes. They're not bloodshot but certainly as blue as I remember. His tousled black hair is being pushed back with a red bandana, a faux leather jacket completing his look.

"Wow, I didn't know you were so philosophical, Ivan."

My words slip through my half-grin, and I can't help but reach out and adjust his jacket since one side was slightly folded under towards his shirt. He doesn't seem to reject the action, though, so I just casually slip my hands in my hoodie pocket afterwards.

"Is your name Evan? I really don't remember," Ivan admits as he reaches up to push some of his hair to the side.

My expression drops and I tilt my head to the side like a little kid who just got told they couldn't get a candy bar. He doesn't even remember my name. If I were a little kid, the tantrum would come after he admits a second time that he doesn't know my name.

"Dude, you look so upset. Eliott with two t's, right? You thought I'd forget, but I didn't," Ivan cheerfully tells me as he sticks his hand out for a handshake. I return the gesture and after a moment, he leans in closer and licks his lips like he's got something super important to tell me.

"I wanna give you my number," he whispers into my neck, "give me your phone."

I laugh and back away to look at him, puzzled that he's actually being serious.

"I don't have my phone with me. I'm trying to make friends on Tinder," I tell him like the normal thing to do is make friends on Tinder.

Ivan blankly stares at me before he doubles over in laughter, almost falling onto the cement sidewalk.

"What's so funny?" My voice trickles out compared to his boisterous laughing.

"Tinder is for hook-ups, basically," Ivan finally huffs out as his arm is clutched over his stomach, "I hope you're prepared to hook-up with a lot of different people."

I scratch my head and look at him dumbfounded.

"I may be a drug dealer, which is really fucking dumb, but this might top me!"

Ivan starts laughing again and he actually topples over this time, his lighter and cigarettes falling out of his pocket as he spreads out on the sidewalk. I watch his chest rise and fall slower and slower as his laughing begins to cease again.

I grab his cigarettes and lighter, pulling the pack open as I bring a single cigarette to my lips to light. I take a seat next to him in the middle of the sidewalk with my knees openly pulled up towards my chest.

I inhale the smoke and feel his hand creep up my back slowly, almost like he meant to do it. I catch him looking at me from his spot on the cement, a fond smile on his lips.

"You make me feel really free," he mumbles as I bring the cigarette down from my mouth. My wrist rests against the top of my knee as I shrug in response.

I've never bummed a cigarette easier than this moment.

Ivan wasn't too bad, either.

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