Chord, p.7
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       Chord, p.7

           Chelsea M. Cameron
 
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  Cordelia made a little whimpering sound and I thought I was going to die. The kiss grew more desperate, more hungry, more and more and more.

  I needed more of her. More of this.

  She was the one to break the moment.

  We were both gasping and panting. Her cheeks were full of color and I stared into her eyes. They were more blue today.

  Steven Universe was still playing, but I couldn’t be bothered to stop it. Noting mattered right now other than this kiss with Cordelia.

  I rested my forehead against hers as we both tried to get our breath back. My heart was pounding so hard, I could feel it in every part of my body. I took my hand off the back of her neck and she pulled back a little more.

  “I’m not ...” she said, trailing off. “I mean, I don’t like girls.”

  “Me neither,” I said, and my voice sounded like it didn’t belong to me.

  “I ...” she said, trailing off again.

  “I know,” I said. She sat back and stared at me.

  “What just happened, Chase?” she asked.

  “I don’t know,” I said. Things had taken on a hazy quality and my head felt like it was floating above my body.

  We both sat across from each other silently for at least ten minutes. Neither of us seemed to be able to find the right words. I knew I didn’t have the right ones, but there were a few facts that had to be addressed: One, we had just kissed, and not in a friendship way. Two, we were both heterosexual. Three, there was no going back from that kiss.

  “I kissed you,” Cordelia finally said, and her hand drifted to her lips, tracing them with her fingers. Her lips were just a little red. I wondered what mine looked like. They were still tingling from the contact with her.

  “And you kissed me back.” There were definitely two of us in that kiss. I wasn’t the only one. If I had been the only one, I definitely would have pulled back.

  “I did,” she said in a dreamy voice, still touching her lips.

  “We kissed.” And now we had to deal with what that meant. In some way, it was almost as if we had been hurtling toward this moment since the beginning. I had kissed her on the cheek this morning.

  “I don’t know what to do right now,” Cordelia said, getting up and starting to pace around the small room. She could only go a few steps in any one direction, so she had to keep pivoting around so she could continue pacing.

  “Me neither.” My thoughts spun, but my body was still.

  “We kissed and it was ... well, it was the best fucking kiss of my fucking life and you’re my roommate and you’re a girl and I don’t like girls?” The last part sounded like a question.

  “I don’t like girls either,” I said, but she wasn’t listening to me.

  “I mean, I’ve thought girls were pretty before and whatever, but doesn’t everyone? You’re pretty. I mean, that’s obvious. You’re like, one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen and that’s just the truth. It doesn’t mean anything.” She took a breath and put her hands in her hair.

  She thought I was beautiful? That made me grin uncontrollably.

  “I think you’re beautiful,” I said, and she stopped pacing and turned to look at me as if she was suddenly remembering I was there.

  “You think I’m beautiful?” she said, and her voice cracked.

  “Of course. You’re amazing, Cordelia.” Anyone could see that. She was bright and talented and bubbly and confident and stunning. Being around her made me happier than I had been in a long time.

  She came back to the bed and sat down.

  “I am?”

  “Yes, you are. And I don’t know what this means or why it’s happening, but I want to kiss you again.” I had never wanted something this much. I needed her. I craved her.

  “Okay,” she said, pushing her hair back. I dove for her and we ended up horizontal on her bed. Cordelia laughed, and the sound made me feel like I was full of bubbles. I looked down into her face.

  “You’re really beautiful, Cordelia.” She pushed my hair out of my face.

  “So are you.”

  I kissed her again. And again. And again. I explored her mouth with my tongue and teeth and it was everything. She was everything. I propped myself above her and everywhere our bodies touched caught fire. The more I got, the more I wanted. The hand that wasn’t used to hold myself above her I used to trace her curves. She had them where I didn’t. She was so much rounder and I loved every single inch of her.

  Being with Cordelia didn’t feel like being with a boy. With boys it was always stressful and anxious and nervous and awful. I just figured that was what it was supposed to be. How you were supposed to feel when you were with someone you liked.

  With Cordelia I only felt good. Beyond good. So good I didn’t know if I was going to survive it.

  The only thing that stopped me was a knock at the door. I bolted off Cordelia as if someone had jolted me with electricity. I looked down at her and we both realized that we weren’t the only two people. There was a whole world outside our dorm room. A whole world and a whole lot of questions.

  I shakily walked to the door and looked through the peephole. It was Stella.

  I opened the door and tried to put a neutral face on. As if I hadn’t just been making out with my roommate.

  “Hey,” I said, pushing my hair back.

  “Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to come over and watch a movie or go out or something?” She was all dressed up to go out, but she always looked put-together. I was envious.

  “Um,” I said, looking back at Cordelia. She just sort of blinked at us.

  “Is everything okay?” Stella said.

  “Yeah, fine,” I said a little too quickly. Cordelia nodded. She didn’t seem to be able to form words, which was so unlike her that Stella had to know something was up. I had absolutely no idea how to explain what was happening, and I didn’t really want to. At least not until Cordelia and I had talked about what it meant. She was my first priority.

  “Okay,” Stella said slowly, still looking back and forth between me and Cordelia. “If you want to come over in a few, there will be snacks. Kyle and I went shopping earlier so we have crackers and cheese and soda.” I told her we’d be down without even asking Cordelia because I just wanted to get her out of the room so she’d stop staring at us.

  She knew. She had to know. There were only so many things that could lead to us both looking and acting like this.

  “Sounds good,” Stella said, and backed out of the room. I shut it behind her and leaned on it.

  “Sorry, I didn’t know what to say to her because she definitely knows that something is up.” Cordelia sat up and blew a breath out.

  “So I guess we have to figure out what the fuck we’re doing, huh?” I shrugged.

  “Do you really want to do that right now?” I asked. She laughed a little.

  “Not really. It’s too much to think about right now. Can we go hang out with them and put it on hold? Like, figure it out tomorrow? I’m just not ready to think about all the things I’m already thinking about.” I almost started laughing because I knew exactly what she meant. My brain was already firing with so many different thoughts that I wasn’t ready to begin pondering over.

  “Yeah, sounds good,” I said. I ran my fingers through my hair a few times and tried to get my heart to stop pounding so hard.

  “So, we’re going to go and hang out with Kyle and Stella and we’re going to talk about all the other stuff tomorrow,” Cordelia said.

  “It’s a plan,” I said.

  CORDELIA

  It was a good plan, but the second we walked into Stella’s room (Elise was spending the night with Eli), I felt like I had a spotlight on me. Or that I was in one of those police interrogations and they were just waiting for me to crack.

  Somehow, I put on what I hoped was a normal face and tried to fake that my world wasn’t crumbling around me. I’d always thought I had known myself really well, and tonight had shaken everything up. My
foundation was cracked and shifting and I was barely holding on.

  Kyle asked us if things were going well, and I could tell Stella had told her something was up with us, but Chase and I just nodded and said things were going well and that we were fine and everything was good and fine. I didn’t know how we did it, but fortunately, we were distracted by a movie and cheese and Kyle and Stella chatting about this and that.

  I tried not to sit too close to Chase when we watched the movie. Stella said that Elise didn’t mind if we sat on her bed, but sitting on a bed again was probably a bad idea so Chase and I declined.

  Halfway through the movie, though, I felt Chase’s fingers reaching for mine. I glanced over at her and she mouthed “hi” at me. In spite of trying to sit away from her, I was leaning nearly half off my seat to be as close to her as possible. Oops? While trying not to make much noise, I scooted my chair a little closer to her and then let my fingers twist with hers. It was like when I’d had the panic attack. She ran her thumb across mine. I didn’t even know if she knew she was doing it, but it felt good. Holding Chase’s hand was right. Like I should have been holding it the whole time. It also made my stomach flutter, and I could feel my cheeks smiling. Things were better with Chase. I quickly glanced over at Kyle and Stella, but they were curled up together, feeding each other popcorn and watching the movie. They weren’t paying attention to us. That was fine. I wasn’t ready to answer any questions about what Chase and I were doing.

  So far, we’d kissed, a lot, and we were holding hands. What did that mean? I had never thought about dating girls. Something like that was never on my radar. I’d had queer friends and had seen queer people my whole live. Several of my classmates had two moms or two dads, or any combination of genders. I had just never seen it for myself.

  Now everything had changed. All of my ideas about marriage and who I would marry and how my life would be were shifting and I didn’t like that. I didn’t like the knowledge that I could be so wrong about myself. How could I have been so sure that I only liked guys and here I was, holding hands with another girl and wishing we were alone so I could kiss the daylights out of her? If I was wrong about this thing, what else was I wrong about?

  Ideas and questions burst in my brain like fireworks and I wished I could put my hands on my ears and shut them out. Shut them up.

  I wanted to hit the pause button in my mind.

  And then Chase squeezed my hand and then leaned her head on my shoulder for a moment and I knew one thing: I liked Chase. I liked her more than I had liked anyone. In fact, I couldn’t remember ever having feelings like this before. Crushes on boys had always been lukewarm at best. I’d liked spending time with them, for the most part, but I hadn’t wanted to take it further. Even when I thought about kissing them (or doing something further than a little under-the-clothes touching), it wasn’t with a rush of desire or excitement. It had always seemed like an obligation. I’d never really been into it, even when I’d told myself I was into the boy.

  My brain continued to spin and spin like a bunch of towels in a dryer that wouldn’t shut off. I wasn’t even paying attention to the movie.

  I wanted to talk to someone, but I had no idea who to talk to. The person I wanted to talk to about Chase was Chase. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take this to Dad yet. Not until I was more sure about what I was going to tell him. Was I going to have to come out? Was I going to have to find a label for myself?

  I was on the verge of another panic attack, so I squeezed Chase’s hand and counted to myself. Starting with one and going up to ten, and then back again until I felt the moment pass. It worked, this time. When I opened my eyes again, the movie was ending and I dropped Chase’s hand so Kyle and Stella wouldn’t see. They had turned the lights off for the ambience and I was glad it was still dark.

  “Thanks for having us over,” Chase said, handing back the popcorn. “Next time you’ll have to come over to our room and we’ll host.”

  “How about we make it a weekly thing? Either Friday or Saturday night we’ll watch a movie or show?” I liked that idea, but right now I wanted to get back to our room so I wouldn’t give anything away.

  “Yeah, that sounds great,” I said, hoping I sounded genuine.

  “It’s a deal,” Kyle said, holding both her thumbs up.

  We thanked them again and then walked slowly back to our room.

  Chase closed the door and we looked at each other.

  “Tomorrow. We’ll talk tomorrow,” I said, and she nodded.

  Getting ready for bed was awkward, because we were both trying not to catch the other changing. I’d pretty much been whatever about it, but now it was different. She had always seemed shy, so I’d given her privacy, but that felt so much more important now for some reason.

  I didn’t know what to do or how to treat her. This was all new to me. I had lived nineteen years and I hadn’t gone through anything like this in a long damn time. It was like being a kid again.

  “Can I give you a goodnight hug?” Chase asked when we’d gotten our pajamas on.

  “Yeah,” I said. I couldn’t deny her anything. She hugged me and I wanted to kiss her. Wanted to taste her mouth while it was spicy from toothpaste.

  Tomorrow. We would deal with that tomorrow. For tonight, I let her go and got into bed. I wondered if she was still going to read out loud and was about to ask when she picked up the book and got into bed.

  I would have been upset if she decided she didn’t want to do that anymore. Were things going to completely change now?

  Instead of thinking about that, I closed my eyes and listened to Chase as she read. I let myself get lost in her voice and let the story take me far, far away.

  Seven

  Chase

  I barely slept. There were just too many things going on. Too much to think about. I listened to Cordelia breathe in her sleep and envied her a bit. I turned on my side and looked toward her bed. She slept on her side with her back facing me.

  How had this one girl changed my entire life with one kiss? One kiss that I was having regrets about. If I hadn’t kissed her, I might not be up and re-evaluating my entire life up until this moment.

  But kissing Cordelia was something that was as inevitable as the sun setting. It was only a matter of when, and last night had been the when.

  Today was going to be another story. I didn’t even know where to start. I needed to make a list. I needed to read some articles. I needed to sort out my thoughts in an orderly way. I needed boxes for them. Boxes I could sort them into so then I could handle them. Right now it was chaos in my skull and I didn’t like that at all.

  Part of me wanted to call my parents, but this didn’t seem to warrant that kind of emergency phone call. It wasn’t like I had a medical emergency. I had just kissed a girl and now I had to figure out what that meant.

  There were a few possibilities, and the one that that kept pounding in my brain and in my heart was that I liked Cordelia and I wanted to kiss her again and I wanted to do more than kiss her. I wanted to be like Kyle and Stella. I wanted to be whatever that would mean. Girlfriend, partner, I didn’t know. I hadn’t gotten that far. I couldn’t get that far.

  If I didn’t know anything else, I knew that I wanted to be with her. And not as friends. Or yes, as friends, but as friends with kissing. And other things. Beyond Cordelia, I didn’t have the mental space to figure out what that meant for my sexuality. I had always thought of myself as heterosexual. There had never been any question, for me. I liked boys and I didn’t question it.

  The night was long and the questions were many. By the time the sun came up, I had few answers.

  Cordelia slept much longer than I thought she would and I nearly broke down and woke her up, but I figured that wouldn’t be a very nice thing to do, so I let her sleep. When she woke up, everything was going to change and I had no idea how it was going to go.

  When she finally moved, rolled over, and opened her eyes, I was so on-edge that I could barely sit still.
I’d already been up and had reorganized my bookshelf. Twice. I still wasn’t happy with it, but it had given me something to do while I waited for her.

  “Hi,” she said, blinking at me.

  “Hi,” I replied.

  “Did you sleep at all?” she asked as she stretched and then sat up, her curls a fiery tornado around her head. Seeing her in the morning was my favorite. When she was all soft from sleep and had a little smile on her face, probably from a good dream. I hardly ever remembered my dreams, but Cordelia did. She could tell me about them in extreme detail and I wished I could dive into them at night sometimes when my anxiety was bad.

  “Not really,” I said, and got up to get the coffee pot out.

  “I think I’ll have herbal tea today,” she said in a small voice. Right, the last time she’d had coffee, she’d had a panic attack. Had that only been yesterday? How had so much happened in such a short time? Lives changed in a matter of seconds, never to be the same.

  I put the coffee pot away again and got out some tea. I would join her. I probably didn’t need to have caffeine either.

  She was quiet as the kettle boiled the water and I put honey in each of our cups.

  I didn’t know how to start. I didn’t know where to start. So we just went about our morning routine in silence. I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t keen on the alternative.

  We sat down on the floor and sipped our tea. I wasn’t hungry, and she didn’t seem to be either.

  “Okay, this silence is too much. I can’t deal with it,” she finally said, setting her cup down.

  “Are you ready to talk about this?” I sure as hell wasn’t, but I didn’t think I ever would be. This wasn’t the kind of conversation you could ever prepare for.

  “I mean, not really, but we can’t put it off. We can’t just go on and pretend that nothing happened, and I don’t want to. I can’t stop thinking about it.”

 
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