The Consequences of Dissonance - Chapter Eighteen
The confusing swirl of dreams resolved itself into my alarm chirping at me from my desk. I reached a sleepy hand up above my to whack at it until I managed to hit the snooze button. I rested on my back for a few moments longer before rolling over to slap at the power strip on the floor until I found the switch, gratefully rocking it to the ‘on’ position.
My computer’s fan buzzed briefly to life at the sudden burst of power before the case reminded it that no one had yet hit the power button. More importantly, though, a vague hiss signified my coffee maker just starting to heat up. Everything was on the power strip, and before going to bed, I had loaded the coffee maker with grounds and water. I had turned my computer off, turned off the power strip, then turned on my coffee maker, despite no power going to the device. It was the closest thing I had to an automated system.
I dozed lightly for another few minutes until my alarm chirped at me once more, and this time, the smell of a freshly made pot of coffee was enough to get me to swing my legs over the edge of the bed and rummage around on my clock for the switch to turn the demanding alarm off.
I shifted my bulk over to my desk chair and fumbled with the container of powdered creamer that I had mixed sugar in with when I had purchased it, dumping a healthy portion into my travel mug, followed by a sloppy pour of coffee to fill the mug the rest of the way.
I freely admitted to being one of the world’s stupidest people in the mornings, so streamlining my coffee intake process was a very important deal.
I stared dully at my computer’s screen as I sipped the acrid but caffeinated drink, and all I could do was wonder how monitors showed the color black when they were a brownish shade of dark grey when the pixels were off. My thoughts climbed slowly through the strata of rational thought, lifting away from primal urges, into base emotions, then logical thought, and finally, after nearly twenty minutes, the more complex emotions.
Relief. It was Friday. The week following Thanksgiving was, I had been told, the last real week of school. I knew that next week would be what was called Dead Week or Hell Week, depending on who you asked. The week before finals. Relief sank into a mixture of fear and depression — fear for the upcoming exams and depression at the thought that the exams would be followed by a month at home.
I tried thinking about the week past instead, but was confronted by confusion and frustration at the memories. Trapped by negative emotions on either side, I gave up and swallowed the last of my coffee, slipping into my robe and the dollar pair of flip-flops I used as shower shoes. My towel and I made our way to the showers.
The bathroom was delightfully deserted now, at not-quite-six in the morning. The powerful spray of very hot water struck me in the back of the neck and woke me up the rest of the way in only a few seconds. I cursed quietly as I remembered that i had gotten up this early in order to try running again. Now that I was awake and in the shower, the idea just seemed absurd and stupid. There was a foot of snow outside, I would likely freeze, and I just plain didn’t want to.
Instead, I stood in the shower for a while, letting the hot water keep me warm. Finally, I shampooed quickly and rinsed myself off, grabbing the towel from the stall door in order to dry myself off as best as I could in the cubicle before wrapping the towel around my waist and slipping back into my robe.
I headed back to my room to get dressed and pondered my options for the sudden burst of extra time I was now blessed with. I decided I would go get some breakfast, since the dining hall would likely just be opening, then head over to the library for a bit.
Full of eggs and clutching the morning’s second cup of coffee safely ensconced in the travel mug, I half-jogged toward the looming bulk of the library from my dorm. I slipped in and stood in the spaceous lobby for a few moments to warm up. A quick look at the clock told me I had about forty-five minutes until class started. Plenty of time.
I didn’t come to the library to check out any books. I had only ever checked one out during my time at the school, and that was for a class. Instead, I just wanted to walk around inside. The sight of all the books, neatly ordered on the shelves and smelling of beautifully aged paper seemed to do plenty for me when it came to thinking.
I made my way downstairs to the fiction stacks and moveable shelves, walking slowly and holding my coffee cup close against my front. I passed shelf after shelf stacked full of words and meaning and let my mind wander.
Kris and Jamen were currently battling for center-stage in the theater of my thoughts. Jamen had efficiently avoided me for nearly a week by now, ever since we talked on Saturday. I would see him in the hall and he would look right through me, heading back to his room as soon as he could. I hadn’t said more than a greeting to him since then; I hadn’t had the chance to, what with him always ducking away like that.
It weighed heavily on me that for some reason, a person I had considered my friend was doing his best to not speak with me or be around with me, and considering our conversation on Saturday, all signs pointed to that delightful mess as the reason for him avoiding me.
I ducked into an aisle between shelves and trailed my fingers along the smooth spines of the books there as I dwelled on Jamen. I had become obsessed, arguing with myself all week long about who he had been talking about during our conversation about aversion therapy organizations. Possibilities ranged from ‘he was lying, it must have been himself’ to ‘his boyfriend’ and ‘maybe a sibling?’ All those and several more seemed just as likely.
And Kris. We had spent all of Sunday together, and it had been decidedly wonderful. She had commiserated with me when I had talked about Jamen, and I had listened to her describe the rest of her vacation with her parents, filling in the details that I had missed during our talk in Boulder, learning more about the dynamics of her family. Just catching up with her as we walked around campus was enough to get me back into a positive mindset. Eventually making our way through the Oval, we held hands and talked until it started snowing. Since her dorm was closer, we made our way there instead of heading to mine as we usually did.
Finding myself in the corner of the stacks, I turned toward the movable shelves, walking slowly and thinking of that evening. Shivering, we had shed our jackets and brushed the snow out of our hair. We kicked our shoes off and climbed up to her bed to wrap ourselves up in her comforter, clinging to each other as warmth returned slowly, aided, of course, by shared affections of kisses and touches.
What started as a game of warming the frigid hands on the other’s skin soon made its way further to, in Kris’ case, warming the cold fingers beneath Cory’s waistband. I remembered the lump that had formed in my throat as she had teased at me for a minute or so with no result other than me getting more and more nervous.
I had tried, really. As much as one can try to respond to sexual advances, that is, but no such luck. The more I tried, the tenser I became, the more nervous I felt, and the more nothing happened. I suppose it really hadn’t been all that long, but it felt like forever before Kris pulled her hands from my pants once more and slid them around my sides instead.
“What’s wrong, Cor?” she had whispered.
I just shook my head and slid my arms around her more firmly, squeezing her to my front and rolling carefully onto my back to pull her up onto me. Her giggle at the maneuver made me smile. “Just feeling kinda nervous or something,” I managed after a few moments. I leaned up to kiss her before adding, “Just nerves, promise.”
She felt tense against my front as she returned the kiss. “Well, alright.” She relaxed to let her legs rest down on either side of my thighs, joking,“So long as it isn’t the fact that you’ve got a girl messing with your junk and not a guy.”
I laughed and shook my head, doing my best to slow my heart at the fear that that might’ve been the case. I let my own hands settle against the small of her back, fingertips pressing in against her to either side of her spine, rubbing in slow circles while I was there. “Nah, that’s not it. Just nerves,” I repeated.
My ears were red even now, as I jabbed at the button on the edge of the stack, a faint hum rising as the shelves of books slid smoothly on their tracks, opening up the aisle of bound journals to let me in. I wanted to feel even more secluded than I already was.
The memory went on. Kris had relaxed some at the careful massage I had given her, hands wandering up over her back so that fingertips could knead here and there. All of my touches helped to push her closer and that, more than anything calmed me down; the feeling of her on my front and my heart rate slowed to a more normal level. She had made these little grunts of moans at the attention that made me laugh, which she had hit me, however feebly, for.
After a few minutes of that, she had shifted above me and brought her knees up so that she was kneeling to either side of my hips, straddling them. I had responded then (as I responded now, making me thankful for my parka and baggy jeans) and she picked up on that, for she moved against me, pressing herself in closer and smiling, her nose inches away from my own.
Ears flushed bright red, I shook my head and made my way towards a stair well. There was no sense in dwelling on the rest of the time we spent in her room now, considering I had fifteen minutes until class, and the music building was a fifteen minute walk away.
Despite the cliche, the chilly air did much to help turn my thoughts away from the baser portions of that afternoon. My brow furrowed as I walked quickly. The downside of not dwelling on the actual sex was that I wound up thinking about how nervous I had felt at first. I had felt the same way around guys, too, but not to the extent that I couldn’t even react to a sexual situation. The trouble, of course, being that my current situation made that a whole lot more meaningful than it might have been if it had been with a guy.
Doubts had clung to me all week long as I alternated between fantasizing about the second half of the afternooon in her room and dwelling on the first half. Even with all the time I spent thinking about it, I was still unable to dissect what I had felt in order to find the root cause of it. All that time, and I still didn’t know why I had reacted the way I did — or rather, not reacted in the way I wanted to.
I shook my head angrily and picked up the pace of my walk to the music building, reaching down on a whim and grabbing a handful of snow from where it was piled next to the side walk, squeezing it into a clump of ice until my fingers went numb. I dropped the ice and rubbed my hand over my face, feeling the cold tighten my skin further. Dwell on it any longer, I told myself, and you’ll make your fears into truth. Even if it’s not the case, I railed on in my head, you’ll make it about her gender, and you’ll never respond again.
My chest was filled with coals of determination and a longing to see Kris again, and I let that warm me the rest of the way to class.
That evening, Kris lay against my front, the only thing separating us being a thin sheen of perspiration.
My determination had carried me through the rest of the day. I forced myself to think about the more pleasurable half of the encounter the previous Sunday rather every time I found my mind wandering back to what had gotten me so down for the week. Kris had been busy with projects for most of the week and I saw her little so we had planned on spending Friday night in my room again since Thomas would, as always be out. Now, as the day progressed, I refined those plans in my head. I needed proof that it had nothing to do with gender? Fine. Assuming Kris was up to it, I’d get my proof.
Kris, it turns out, was indeed up to it, so what began as canoodling while listening to music went further beyond that, and we had watched each other undress after Kris had remarked that we had never really seen each other naked. My nerves had started up at that point and I felt logic getting in the way of lust. As if she was reading my mind, though, Kris had distracted me, and now here we were, sprawled on my bed, still naked, with Kris relaxed on my front and the covers half over the both of us.
“You, boy,” she said, breaking the silence. “You’re all sorts of crazy.”
“Mmhuh?” was all I could manage as I fought off the post-coital drowsiness
Kris laughed and lifted her head to put a kiss on my throat. “You’re just weird. What brought this on, anyway?”
“Brought what on?” I laughed, slipping my arms around her waist.
“This, dork. The sex.”
“I dunno, just been thinking a lot about Sunday,” I replied. It was true enough.
“Well, cool, I guess.” She stretched against me before rolling in my grasp, tugging me onto my side along with her. She twisted about until she was nestled back against my front. “It’s certainly nice. Just crazy. We were all concerned about rushing, then bam! Three times in three weeks.”
I laughed and kept her held against my front, “Yeah, I guess. Guess I’m a pretty standard guy, what with the thinking about sex all the time.”
“I noticed,” Kris shot back. “You had me worried for a bit there on Sunday, and even some today.”
“I was worried, too, kinda.”
“Yeah? I thought you were going to tell me it was all a mistake or something, you really were gay.”
I held on a little more tightly and she hugged my arms to her front. “Yeah, I’ve been beating myself up over that all week,” I blurted out. I rushed to finish before losing my nerve, “I don’t know why I got all nervous, but almost convinced myself it was because I was gay.”
I felt Kris tense up against me as she nodded. I kissed the back of her head and murmurred into her hair, “But I think we proved that wrong.”
Kris nodded again and squeezed at my arms in her hands. “I didn’t know you were thinking about it all week,” she replied quietly. “You should’ve told me.”
“Oh… I’m sorry. I didn’t want to… I dunno, scare you or anything by bringing it up.”
“But I want you to talk about it, Cor,” she mumbled. “If you don’t talk about it, then I dwell on it too. We could’ve at least worked things out. Not that I minded this proof of yours, of course.”
I nodded a little and held onto her quietly.
“Promise you’ll keep me in the loop with how you’re feeling about this relationship?” she prodded.
“Of course. We’re in it together.”
“Duh,” she laughed, wriggling herself back against me. “Sometimes it sounds like you’re quoting lines from a movie.”
I lifted my head a little to seek out that spot on her neck that I had decided was the perfect place to kiss. “Mmf. Sorry.”
Kris wiggled all the more before turning in my grasp to face me, hugging one of her arms up around my back and staring me in the eye. “I’m serious, Cor. Promise you’ll keep talking to me if you keep feeling like that.”
I nodded and did my best to hold her gaze. “Promise.”