Cloudy Today: A Vignette

October 1987

I wake up to a loud, panicked knock on my door. I quickly pull on a pair of sweatpants, and opened the door. There is Maggie, tearing up.

“Anna, you’re the only person… I don’t know what to do… Fuck, Anna, I need to talk to someone or I might do something I regret.”

“It’s 2 in the morning.”

Maggie ignores this. “Let’s go somewhere private. The bathroom. C’mon.” She tugs on my arm, and I acquiesce, following her down the dimly lit dormitory corridor.

We sit facing each other in the showers. Her face is red, eyes stained with tears, mascara running. She still looks perfect, and I lean forward, ready with a tissue, and dab at her eyes.

“It’s okay. Tell me what happened.”

Maggie looks up at me with her giant hazel eyes, and a shudder runs down my spine. She gulps.

“I loved that asshole. I fucking loved him. Fuck, I thought I did. Why the fuck do I let people love me?” The tears start again in earnest, and she buries her head in her hands, her whole body racked with sobs.

“What happened?” I ask.

“Fucking guess, Anna,” she snaps. “He goes off for a semester abroad, and insists we can make it work, that long distance isn’t the end, and then I have to hear from his brother that he’s screwing some tramp, some Eastern European slut who can probably bend her legs backwards over her head, and I’m here twiddling my goddamned thumbs, waiting like some pathetic little housewife for him to come back…” she trails off, then looks down guiltily at the floor. Her head turns back up to me. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to explode like that. I found out, like, an hour ago and you were the only person I thought of to tell. Fuck, I know it’s early, I must have paced outside your door for like, twenty minutes, Anna, I did, but I needed to see you, I needed to get this shit out of me, I would have fucking exploded.”

After a few minutes, she pulls away, rooting around in her bag. She removes a cigarette, lights it, closes her eyes, and the smoke curls out of her nostrils. She does everything with such grace even when she’s falling apart. I fall out of my hypnosis and grab the cig from her, stubbing it out on the damp ground.

“What the fuck you do that for?”

“God damn it, you fucking idiot, you can’t smoke in here. You’ll set the alarms off, wake up the whole damn building.”

“Pfft. Like that fucking matters. Like anything fucking matters.”

“Christ, you dummy, yeah, shit matters! I matter! You matter!”

“Fuck it, Anna, of course you matter. I just need a damn cigarette.”

I try to change the subject before she gets herself expelled. “You’ll find someone who deserves you. I told you from the beginning that he didn’t.”

“So what? It’s my fault?”

“Shut up. You know exactly what I’m saying. He was wrong, but he’s not the only one out there.”

“Ehh… I know, but, Anna, I can’t just wait for the right person. What’s the point of a bright future if today is so fucking cloudy?”

I don’t know what to say, so I don’t say anything. I want to dry her tears. I want to put her soft lips against mine. I want to hold her tight and never let her go. A selfish thought crosses my mind: I want her to love me. I want her to know that I am that person, the one who could be right for her, to make her happy, to love her unconditionally.

It’s fucking pathetic. I always said I wouldn’t be the one lusting after the straight girls. And here I am, taking a moment that’s about Maggie, and making it about me.

This is when Maggie leans in and presses her lips against mine. They’re rougher than I imagined them to be. I can’t kiss her back, because before I can even think she’s pulled away again, her expression quickly contorting into a frown.

“What the fuck was that, Anna? I thought we were friends!”

“Mag, you kissed me-”

“Shut up, you dyke! Get away from me!”

She gets up and walks away and it’s like I’ve been punched in the throat because each breath is jagged and I can’t say a single fucking word or do anything useful but smell her lingering scent and hear that heavy bathroom door slam.

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