rabbit & dragon

by cjra

that night was cold.

there was also mud, but it became hardened slightly by the frost. that slippery sludge our school’s lawns are known for. i don’t remember what month or day it was exactly, but i remember the way my breath escaped my lungs as i crossed campus.

we were sitting with our english major friends around the little fire. they were handing out advertisements and signing up students for tutoring services. such familiar warm voices, so open with you, and i was so shy. and i couldn’t make the excuse of newness since i had known you for months by then. but i learned many things about you just by observing that night’s conversations–you were only 20. you spoke french almost fluently, with another girl of course, and i thought of how i only made it through half of my third year before dropping out of french classes my senior year of high school. then i fiddled with the hem of my sweater, rolling the sleeve up and down my arm.

at this point, you seemed to notice me as i smiled a little, and you were making your way around.

“so, what have you been up to lately?”

you knelt in the grass. we talked about the classes we had been taking. you laughed with me, but at some point i must have looked at you too much because i could see your eyes get that dark look. he always flits from person to person i thought. like he wants so much but there’s not enough time.

see, here’s the deal. my college girl self wanted to hold your hand, to walk around the track with you at night discussing literature and strange dreams and art and home. i liked your feet in your sandals. i wanted my scarf on your neck. i wanted someone to drag me out of bed at 5am for hot chocolate because they needed to see my face. because they needed me.

but you didn’t seem to have any need at all, and that might have been the main thing about you that scared me so much. the hiding of it. and for me to tell you the things i wanted, out in the open–how silly.

at some point you left for a phonecall. stood out of reach in front of the library. i waited for what felt like an eternity for you to come back; i watched all our friends arrange window designs at student union. poked the fire. smelled the soft sweetness of the mud. the embers died and i walked over, saying see you tomorrow. maybe sara new what was happening but i didn’t want to think about that. she was silhouetted by the light, hairs all wispy and shining, smiling warmly. i smiled too but i walked back alone. that cold pressing in so heavy.