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22(OVER SOON) -Bon Iver


When I woke up, the light had shifted in my room enough that I could tell I had been sleeping for a while. I felt fuzzy. The way only a medicated sleep can make you feel. Like no time has passed at all. I turned over onto my side to find that Jey had fallen asleep too. He was hugging a pillow, his cheek smashed against it and his mouth hanging open just a little. The Office was playing quietly on my TV but with the Spanish subtitles turned on. I was reaching out to brush a stray curl off his forehead when there was a soft knock on my door and my mom pushed it open. I snapped my hand back to my side. "Hey, Ben—" she cut short as she noticed Jey sleeping, then dropped her voice to a whisper, "I'm sorry. I just wanted to know if you needed anything." I shook my head no and blew her a kiss. She smiled brightly back, then shut the door with a nearly inaudible click.

I laid there for a while longer, half watching the show and half watching Jey. Sleeping, his face looked so much more gentle and open. He was generally pretty guarded, keeping his facial expressions to himself. But asleep, his cheeks relaxed and nose unwrinkled, I could see the lines of his cheekbones and the deep curve of his Cupid's bow. I was beginning to get lost in looking at the arch of his eyebrows when I remembered the text from Hannah sitting unread on my phone. The ethereal feeling that had been growing in my chest deflated like a balloon. Retrieving it from under my pillow, I swiped open the text.

Hey Benji. I'm sure you don't want to hear from me but I just wanted to say that I'm really sorry. I was drunk at that party and made a stupid mistake. I'd really like to give us another try.
Also, I heard about your accident. I didn't come to the hospital because I thought it might be inappropriate but I'm really glad you're okay. Let me know if you need anything.

I grimaced. She wanted to give us another try? Is that what she was thinking when I caught that guy sucking on her tongue? I could feel my thoughts start to spiral. Mad. Sad. Hurt. Mad again. I locked my phone and shoved it back under my pillow with a grunt. Maybe I should just tell her I'm gay, I thought. This sent me down another rabbit hole of contemplation. Am I gay?

For as long as I've had romantic feelings for other people, I can remember being attracted to guys. I remembered, then, a very vivid day when Simon and I were middle schoolers. We had been sitting on the edge of the public pool when we saw one of the new lifeguards walk by. I had commented about how cute his hair was. I could still picture the exact look Simon had given me. Part shock, part confusion, part distaste. I had brushed off the tense moment by insisting that it was totally normal for guys to be able to recognize when other guys were attractive. That you could think someone was attractive without being attracted to them. We had argued for a minute about this, but then he gave up and my answer had seemed to satisfy him. But, since then, little moments like this had happened more than once. Simon always twisted his face into the same look and I always managed to spin it around. I was straight. I was a ladies man! At least, I always thought I was. All my friends were. Am I gay? I thought again.

I was starting to feel a little panicky when I heard Jey start to stir. Pushing away my thunderstorm of indecision, I smiled at him as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes with the back of his hand and yawned, "I didn't mean to fall asleep." His voice was gravelly and a couple notches lower than usual and I felt a now familiar flutter in my stomach. "That's okay, I haven't been awake very long," I choked out. He propped himself up on one elbow. His curls were wild now. Instead of flopping in front of his face, each curl perfectly defined they had now twisted together and stuck up every which way. I could see his rich brown eyes better than ever, flecked with gold in the sunlight and framed by dark eyelashes. He was leaning closer to me now, a smile playing at his lips. His dimple flashed as he tried to hold it back. "Do you," he began softly, then ran a hand through his hair, "Do you remember what you said to me right before you fell asleep?" I absolutely couldn't tear my eyes away from him but I moved a little closer and gave him a tiny nod. He didn't say anything.

Our faces were close now. I could see the fine lines between his eyebrows where he must've creased them when he was upset. I could feel his breath. I put one hand out and smoothed those creases with my thumb. His breaths quickened. "I really did mean it, Jey," I breathed, "I can't explain it but you make me feel like I had the wind knocked out of me." I moved even closer, moving my whole body this time and pushing one foot over his legs so ours were tangled. He was so warm. He glowed in the sun. I reached again up to trace the line of his ear and this time he caught my hand and held it against his jawbone. He blinked slowly. Like he was trying to soak in everything about that moment.

And then we were kissing. It was slow and so warm. His lips gentle and persistent against mine. I could feel him slide one arm behind my back and pull me even closer so our chests were pressed together. I kissed him a little harder, losing one hand in his hair. I had never kissed another boy before. Where Hannah had been soft and round and small, he was angles and ropy muscle. I could feel his hipbones against my thigh and his arm felt tight around me. Like if I wanted to escape, I might have a hard time. But I didn't want to escape. At that moment, I couldn't think of anywhere in the world that would be a better place to be. Kissing Jey made me feel a way that no girlfriend I'd ever had made me feel. I felt breathless but it was okay because he was breathing for both of us.

Then, as quickly as it had was over and we were laying there, just staring into each other's eyes. Both of our chests were heaving and the sound of Netflix still buzzed in the background.

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