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The Changes - Part 2

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After Alex agreed to give me another chance that Christmas of our third year, I spent the days trying to rekindle our friendship. Text messages, FaceTime, Facebook, phone calls... When I mentioned moving to Toronto after graduating, he was supportive. When I talked about us rooming together, his voice turned hesitant as he chuckled and mumbled maybes.

But following my confession of love and our agreement to date, he tweaked his plans slightly to adapt to me. The one bedroom he'd planned for could stay one bedroom since we were dating. The location didn't change because the cheaper areas were the cheaper areas. But he included me in every decision. Which apartment, which furniture, which dishes, which bedsheets... I didn't dare make any choices; what right did I have? Decisive, stubborn Alex didn't seem phased by me leaving things up to him. Still, he'd always ask first when it came to the next thing.

The apartment we were renting and all the furniture in it had been 90% paid for by Alex. 9% were graduation gifts. 1% came from me. I was basically mooching off my boyfriend. Alex had been planning everything for himself since before he came to Toronto for uni. He'd had a list and a timeline. He had talent and personality. So, naturally, everything had fallen into place by the time he received his degree.

If only I had been able to spend last Summer working full time instead of taking courses to catch up on credits. If only I had decided on photography to begin with, then I wouldn't have needed to catch up on credits. If only Alex and I had been together since high school, then we would've been planning together since high school.

     Sunday morning, Alex sat on the bed, watching me get dressed for the day. I winked, standing in my boxers. "Checking me out?"

He smiled, amused. "Maybe? Mainly checking out your boxers."

I looked down at the simple, striped underwear. Alex wore tight trunks that showed off his legs and butt. He put his fingers against his lips, still looking amused and increasingly... sympathetic? "Your taste hasn't changed since we were twelve. Striped boxers. You wore that when you came to visit me at uni too."

Touching the hem, I thought back to ten years ago.

"Come payday, we're going shopping."

"You don't remember, eh?"

"Remember what?"

I turned my back to him and put on my shirt as I revealed something embarrassing. "We went to the mall for back-to-school shopping and my mom tried to let me pick out my clothes for the first time. I still couldn't be bothered to choose, but she was really pressuring me to be independent, so I asked you. 'Which do you like best?' You said the stripes."

The silence was getting to me, so I turned my head to peek back. Alex's lips were parted, smile was gone, and brows ever so slightly pinched. His mouth opened and closed a few times before he said, "I remember sleeping over one night and after your shower, you randomly coming to me and asking what I thought of your boxers."

"Probably after we went shopping." I turned back around to step into my jean shorts.

Warm arms wrapped around me from behind, pinning mine to my sides. His cheek moved against my back as he said, "I'm sorry."

"What are you apologizing for?" I was the one who should apologize. And it wasn't like I thought of Alex every time I bought underwear. Stripes just became a habit after that; I hated shopping and picking out clothes so little thought went into anything.

His eyes said he didn't know, but he was sorry, so I kissed him. "I love you," I found myself saying. I kissed him again, this time deeper. I really loved him and really wanted to show him. "What time are your friends coming over for the housewarming again?"

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by Lena
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