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I watch them across the table clinking their glasses together, my best friend and his girlfriend. I had not wanted to be a part of their second month anniversary together. But they had insisted. I was after all, their cupid, as Max had so playfully put it. Shay has been my roommate all throughout college. And Max was a friend of a friend. I was the one who had introduced them at a farewell party that was thrown for our seniors.
As days went by, I saw them get closer and closer. Max had this thing about her, that drew you right in. Was it in the way she flicked her hair backward as she was talking to you? Or was it her ability to draw you right in and make you feel like you were the center of her universe? All the boys were swooning after her. So you can only imagine Shay's delight when she took to hanging out with him.
I watch her lean in closer and kiss him across his cheek. I could feel my face grow hot. It felt like I was interrupting something intimate. I wanted to run away but my feet seemed rooted to the spot. I saw her linking hands with his under the table, away from my prying eyes. I wish I could tear my eyes away from them. Each moment felt like pure torture.
It was Shay who had insisted that I be there for their celebration. I knew that Max wanted to spend time alone with him. Yet, here I was, by some cruel twist of fate. I knew that this scene would continue to haunt me as I lay down to sleep that night. Shay would be spending the night at her place. He had told me that earlier today with an embarrassed grin.
Why is it that I seem to be the only one who was stuck in the past? I had never gone looking for love. I was content. But love, the nasty culprit, creeps into your heart when you are not looking. And all of a sudden, the mere rustle of fingers turns into a lingering touch, those secret smiles between two people are encrypted with meaning that only they can decode, there was joy in hanging around doing nothing simply because being with them was enough.
Love had swept me away. I found love in my roommate. Shay. But was it all my imagination? Was I nothing more to Shay other than a roommate and a friend? That drunken night where we shared a kiss was still a vivid memory that I guarded fiercely. In the comfort of our room; our breaths laced with whisky and smoke. The walls around me had come down in his touch as he tugged away my clothes and made love to me all night. It was a strange sensation, but also oddly familiar, like my own body.
He was in the shower when I woke up. Preferring not to talk about it, like he always did when something was bothering him. That was the night he had met Max. Did he hook up with her simply to prove a point to me? Or in his heart, did he really know that he would never have with her what he had with me? Or, I'm afraid to even voice this out aloud, was he ashamed of who he was? Of who I was when I was with him?
I excuse myself and get up from the table, mumbling an excuse about an assignment that was overdue. I can feel his eyes piercing my back as I turn around. I know that I can never be Max, not that he cared. I was, after all, a man.