Flat


Bella was contrite when I went to see her the weekend following Alice’s wedding, and I had to believe her remorse was real, even if she made no attempt to change her behavior. I went home to see her every weekend, despite the fact she hadn’t come to see me since the day I moved in. The irony that half the girls in my building treated me like I was a prize to be won, while the one woman whose attention I desired avoided me like the plague did not escape me.

The fact my room had become a den of hedonism did little to discourage the attentions of the girls in my dorm. I wasn’t sure why it bothered me so much; I’d witnessed much more egregious displays of flirtation directed at my father by women who were old enough to know better, and it wasn’t as though I’d never been hit on by high-school girls. This seemed different somehow, like their obvious intelligence made their behavior that much more repulsive. There wasn’t anything I could do about it. My roommates liked having the girls around. Tyler ended his relationship with his girlfriend at home and Mike had difficulty committing to a drug dealer, let alone a girlfriend. To quote Mike, “Parties equal pussy.”

When I asked Mike if he minded toning the insanity down a bit during the week, he told me there was no way in hell he’d let me go all Theodosius on his bacchanalia and proceeded to found Hard Drug Tuesday, a weekly event in our room focusing on the usage of psychedelic hallucinogens. Inevitably, I spent most of my time at Firestone or with Angela, who was quickly becoming my savior.

She was the kind of person I’d always hoped to meet when I went away to college, but of whom I’d begun to doubt the existence after a few weeks of living with Mike and Tyler. She studied, but unlike me she didn’t hermit at Firestone. She was devoted to Ben, but she still partied on Thursdays. Though she prioritized her grades, she didn’t do so to the complete detriment of her social life. She and Ben took turns visiting each other on weekends, and despite their distance during the week, they seemed to be growing closer, not apart. Seven weeks into the semester, she’d already gotten college life down. I’d mastered none of her balancing, and with the exception of occasionally taking a bong hit with Tyler and seeing Bella on weekends, my social life was no more exciting than it was in high school.

Still, I liked where I was. I liked that I was surrounded by people who shared my interests, even if I rarely socialized with them outside of classes and meals. I could see myself fitting in here, but not without Bella’s support and occasional appearance.

“Does Bella know she’s welcome here?” Angela asked as we walked back to Mathey after class.

I’d spent the past ten minutes whining about my plight.

“I’m always telling her I miss her and that I wish I could see her during the week.”

“Okay, but have you specifically invited her to come see you?”

“Should I?”

“I can’t believe how dense you’re being.” Angela laughed. “Yes, Edward. You should invite her. If she still never comes to see you, then you have a legitimate gripe, but you really have no business whining about doing all the work in your relationship if you never give her the opportunity to hold up her end.”

“Point taken.”

“Let me know how it goes.”

“Thanks, Angela.”

I called Bella as soon as I was back in my room.

“Talk to me, Edward,” she answered.

“I need to see you. I hate to ask, but can you come up?” I asked.

“I’ll leave now. See you in an hour.”

Well, that was easy.

Sixty-four minutes later, she called me from the parking lot of the U Store to tell me she had arrived. I went downstairs to wait for her at the entrance to my dorm.

I pulled her into my arms as soon as I saw her.

“Was this a booty call?” she asked.

“Huh?”

She pressed her hips against my hard-on, then flashed me a diabolical smile.

“Oh, that. Yeah, kind of.” My cheeks burned with my admission.

I took her by the hand and led her upstairs. We exchanged brief pleasantries with Mike and Tyler in the common area before heading into the bedroom. Bella kicked off her shoes, and knowing it was where I slept, climbed onto the top bunk.

“Coming?” she asked.

Yes, and if I had my way, I wouldn’t be the only one. I joined her in bed and had just begun to kiss her when there was a knock the door.

“Come in,” I barked.

“Sorry, I just needed my jacket.”

Sure you did, Mike. And if you happened to see Bella’s boobs while you were in here, well then, getting your jacket was just a bonus.

“We’re heading out to the Street later,” Mike said to Bella after grabbing his coat. “You guys should come. Edward claims it’s not his scene, but he’s been known to put in an appearance from time to time.”

“The Street?” Bella asked, looking at me.

“Eating clubs,” I explained. “Thursdays are a big party night around here. Thanks anyway, Mike, but we have our own plans.”

“I’ll bet you do.” Mike winked at me before shutting the door behind him.

“God, he’s repulsive,” Bella whined. “Please tell me the girls around here don’t fall for his shit.”

“Not that I’ve seen.” I lifted up Bella’s sweater and to expose her stomach. “Of course, I’m not usually here on weekends.”

“That’s somewhat reassuring.”

“I didn’t invite you here to talk about Mike.” I pulled her sweater over her head and cupped her breast through her bra. More quickly than I would have thought possible, we discarded the rest of our clothing and Bella was astride me, impaling herself on my cock.

“Fuck,” she moaned.

I was finally getting used to her dirty talk. She seemed to enjoy it, and even though participating in it made me feel kind of dumb, I was willing to step out of my comfort zone for her.

“I am fucking you, baby.”

“No, I think I really hurt my head.”

Uh oh.

I sat up slowly and as carefully as I could, ran my fingers over her scalp.

“You already have a bit of a bump forming.” I lifted her off me and sat her between my legs. If she had a severe head injury, her memory would be affected. I asked her a question I knew she could answer under normal circumstances. “Who painted Carnival Evening?”

“Rousseau. I bang the shit out of my head and you quiz me on art? What the hell? Fuck, I’m dizzy.”

No memory loss.

“Okay, Bella. Just breathe. On a scale of one to ten, how much does it hurt?”

“Um, maybe a seven? Shit, now my ears are ringing, too.”

“You have a concussion; I’m just trying to ascertain its severity. I know the basics, but maybe we should bring you to the emergency room.”

I hopped off the top bunk and pulled on a pair of pants before lifting Bella from the bed and carefully placing her on her feet. Wanting her to be comfortable, I grabbed an undershirt and a pair of my boxers for her to wear, fighting the urge to smile when she had to roll the waistband of my shorts five times before they would stay up. I ran to the common area to grab something cold for her head, and when I came back, she was sitting in my desk chair.

“This will numb it,” I explained, handing her a can of beer.

She looked at me like I was on crack.

“As much money as the three of you have, you can’t spring for some decent beer? I haven’t had Natty Light since I was underage.” She cracked open the can and sighed. “I’m going to need a glass for this.”

“I didn’t mean for you to drink it. Hold it against your head. I don’t have ice, but this will work just as well. I’m going to call my mother.”

“Why?” Bella seemed irrationally panicked.

“Because she’s a doctor.”

“So is your dad.”

“He’s in surgery.”

She was really acting strange.

“Bella, is there a reason I shouldn’t call my mother?”

“You’ll know.”

“Huh?”

“I mean, she knows.” She blinked twice. “Like, she will know that I came up here.”

“So?”

She sighed. “Never mind.”

She was so nonsensical, I wondered if maybe she did have a severe concussion.

“Will you be okay if I call from the other room? The signal in here isn’t always good.”

It wasn’t a lie—I dropped more calls from my bedroom than anywhere else on campus—it just wasn’t my primary motivation for leaving the room. It just seemed wrong to talk about Bella with her sitting right there.

“Fine, whatever.”

I went into the common room and called my mom.

“Hello, sweetheart,” she answered.

“Hi, Mom. Bella drove up to see me and she hit her head. I’m fairly sure she has a concussion, but I don’t know how bad it is.”

“What did she hit her head on?”

“The ceiling.”

“Sweetie, she’s five-foot-four.”

“I’m aware of this.”

“How did she hit her head on the ceiling?”

Fuck his lecture about non-emergency phone calls when he was in surgery; I so should have called my dad.

“You’re the one who insisted I take the top bunk.”

Please don’t make me explain myself. Please don’t make me explain myself.

“Right, and there’s plenty of room between your bed and the ceiling. How the hell did she manage to give herself a concussion up there?”

Fuck my life.

“I don’t know, Mom, I had my eyes closed.”

She erupted into hysterical laughter.

“This isn’t funny.”

“You’re right; it isn’t funny. It’s fucking hilarious. Not that Bella is hurt, but the way it happened. So you were…”

“Yes, Mom.”

“She probably has a concussion because of the angle at which her head hit the ceiling. Unless you were being rough, there’s no way she could have serious head trauma.” She stopped speaking.

She couldn’t possibly be implying what I thought she was implying.

“What?”

“Were you being rough?”

If I got any more embarrassed, I would spontaneously combust.

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”

“It’s relevant, Edward.”

“I was being a perfect gentleman.”

“The two aren’t mutually exclusive, you know. Some women like to be thrown around a bit.”

I did not need to hear this from my mother.

“No, Mom!” I practically yelled. “I wasn’t being rough.”

“She should be fine, then. Use cold compresses for the swelling, and watch her as she sleeps. You should probably wake her up every hour as a precaution, and she shouldn’t drive home tonight.”

“I figured as much. I don’t need to bring her to the hospital though, right?”

“No.”

“Thanks, Mom. Oh, and one last favor?”

“You name it.”

“Can you promise me never to mention this conversation to me again?”

“Hell, no.” She was laughing again. “I love you, Edward.”

“I love you, too, Mom. Bye.”

I pressed my face against the cold glass of the window, hoping it would chill the heat of my cheeks. Having no such luck, I went back to the bedroom.

“Okay, you’re lucid enough that a hospital visit isn’t necessary as long as you don’t become too disoriented. You can’t drive home…”

“What?” She looked appalled. “I have to stay here?”

“You can’t operate a car like this, and I have an exam tomorrow. Do they give teachers sick days?”

She nodded.

“I suggest you take one. I’ll drive you home after class tomorrow.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“No, not really. I’ll get your phone so you can make whatever calls are necessary.”

“It’s in my purse.”

I retrieved Bella’s phone from her purse then excused myself, feeling like a complete shit. As much as I wanted Bella to spend time with me on campus, I didn’t want it to be under duress. Four minutes and six seconds later, she emerged from the bedroom clutching the beer against her head with one hand and holding her phone with the other.

“All done. Weird, I thought you said the signal was bad in there.”

I ignored her question. “Will you be okay for a few minutes? I need to run to the bathroom, and it’s on another floor.”

“What?” She looked confused. “How do you shower?”

“I know you’re familiar with the mechanics; it’s not like we’ve never showered together.”

“I didn’t hit my head that hard, you know. I mean, with the bathroom on another floor and all.”

“The same way I always did. It’s just a bit of a longer walk.”

“Do you wear a robe?”

What guys wear robes? Oh, yeah. The ones with insecure girlfriends.

“No. I just wrap a towel around my waist and make a run for it.” I repeated my previous question. “So, will you be okay on your own for a few minutes? I doubt Mike and Tyler will be back any time soon.”

“I’ll be fine, Edward.”

I took care of business as quickly as possible. When I got back to my room, Bella was sitting on the futon with Angela.

“I’m really sorry to intrude. I know how precious your time is together.” Angela stood up and discreetly winked at me. “I just had a question about one of our assignments.”

Angela and I spent six minutes and three seconds discussing the molecular biology midterm we had tomorrow when she changed the subject.

“I see the experiment you needed to conduct independently was a success.”

“Huh?”

“You know, the one I provided the data for this afternoon,” she explained. “Were the results positive on your first try?”

I smiled. “They were. Thanks for your encouragement; I don’t think I would have attempted it otherwise.”

“No problem.” She moved to the door and addressed Bella a final time. “Nice meeting you, Bella.”

“Likewise.” Bella forced a smile, speaking again only after Angela left. “She seems nice. I can’t imagine her throwing herself at you.”

“That’s because she wouldn’t. She’s practically engaged to her boyfriend from home. He’s at Columbia. They try to see each other on weekends.”

“You seem to really like her.”

“I do. She’s probably the best friend I’ve made on campus. She’s really helped me find my place here.”

“I’m just surprised you never mentioned her to me. I mean, you said you were friendly with your lab partner, but you left out the part about her being female.”

“Are you suggesting I intentionally mislead you?”

“Didn’t you?” she asked.

“No, Bella.” I sighed, unable to hide my disappointment that she still didn’t trust me. “Where would you like to sleep?” I changed the subject.

“Wait, there are options?”

“We could sleep on the futon out here, if you’d prefer. Of course, I’m not sure when Mike and Tyler will get in and they won’t be expecting us here. It could get awkward if they aren’t alone. I don’t blame you for being hesitant to return to the accident scene, but my bed is probably the best bet.”

“You won’t let me fall out, will you?”

“No, Bella. I plan on holding you all night.”

“Fine, then. The top bunk it is.”

“I’ll take you to the bathroom so you can get washed up.”

“I’m sure I can find it,” she insisted. “Just tell me where.”

“The halls wind around and around and there are lots of steps and doors. At best, you’ll get lost. At worst, you’ll feel like you’re trapped in an Escher print.”

“Okay, then. Just let me get a towel.” She moved to my closet and opened up the door. “What the fuck is this?”

Like she didn’t know what she was pointing to.

“That would be a three-foot-tall bong.”

“I can see that it’s a three-foot-tall bong. What the hell is it doing in your closet?”

I shrugged. “The last time they did room inspections, Public Safety put a post-it note on it telling us we couldn’t leave it in the common room anymore.”

“They didn’t confiscate it?”

“If they had, it wouldn’t be in my closet, now would it?”

“I really don’t like the idea of this being here. The University may not care, but Edward, it is illegal to even have something like this in your possession.”

“It’s Tyler’s. We share a closet. There’s not much I can do about it.”

“How often does he smoke?” she asked.

“Daily.”

“Please tell me we’re just talking about pot.”

“Yes, with the exception of Hard Drug Tuesday, it is just weed. Well, in our room at least.”

“My concussion must be causing me to hallucinate. You did not just say your roommates host something called Hard Drug Tuesday.”

“Ironic, considering hallucinogens are what Hard Drug Tuesday is all about.”

“Doesn’t this bother you?” she asked in disbelief.

As if there was anything I could do about it.

“I’m just happy they contain it to one day of the week.” I shrugged.

“Do you participate?”

“Not in Hard Drug Tuesday. I have taken an occasional bong hit when I’ve been incredibly stressed,” I answered honestly. “I can’t see myself ever doing it with regularity. I don’t really see the appeal of stoner culture.”

She shook her head, looking appalled.

“Aren’t we the little hypocrite,” I teased.

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about; you know I don’t smoke pot.”

“You don’t now. But I’ve seen your college photo albums. Despite all of your claims to the contrary, you’re noticeably stoned in roughly fifty percent of the pictures, and so are Alice and Jasper.”

“That was different,” she insisted.

“I can’t wait to hear how.”

“I went to school in the middle of Amish country. There’s nothing else to do out there.”

“Bella, you have to realize how ridiculous you sound. We both know your drug use in college went well beyond experimentation, yet you judge me for taking an occasional bong hit. I thought we’d progressed beyond the double standards.”

“It’s not a double standard; I just want better for you.”

“Duly noted. Now, let’s get you ready for bed.”

I grabbed a towel from the closet and walked Bella to the girls’ bathroom. She had inside all of twenty-two seconds when Lauren and Jessica, two girls I unfortunately knew well from the parties Mike and Tyler were always hosting, made their way down the hall toward me. I ignored their gawking, cursing my lousy timing when they joined Bella in the bathroom.

Fuck.

“Could today get any better? First I get an email telling me my morning class is cancelled tomorrow and then I see Edward Cullen shirtless. Life would be perfect if he weren’t so wrapped up in himself.”

Nice, Lauren. And to think Mike wondered why I found you repulsive. Shit. If I’d known she’d be getting cheap thrills from the sight of me, I would have thrown on a shirt.

“According to Mike, he’s not wrapped up in himself at all. Apparently, he’s just devoted to his girlfriend from home.”

Jessica wasn’t much better.

“Right. Well, that will probably be over by Thanksgiving. Do you know what the deal is there? Is she still in high school?”

“You could say that. Mike says he’s dating his former English teacher.”

“Oh my god, Jessica, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

“I wouldn’t make something like this up. She’s twenty-five. Mike met her once. He says she’s hot.”

“She may be hot,” Lauren began, “but she’s not here. Proximity is everything.”

Great. This was just what Bella’s jealous streak needed to hear. I’d mentally prepared for a spat, yet when she emerged from the bathroom, her smile was almost serene. She cupped my face in her hands and leapt onto me, wrapping her legs around my waist. I knew her sudden willingness to engage in a public display of affection had everything to do with claiming ownership of me and nothing to do with feeling more comfortable about our relationship. I didn’t mind, though. Maybe this is what Lauren needed to see in order to finally leave me alone. I put my hands on Bella’s ass and held her against me, ever willing to go along with her.

The second I heard the bathroom door swing open, Bella slapped me on my shoulder.

“Edward, we’re not alone.”

“I’m sorry. You know I can’t control myself around you.” Very carefully, I placed Bella back on her feet before addressing my classmates. “Jessica, Lauren. I don’t think you’ve met my girlfriend, Bella. I’d love to stay and chat. However, I really should get Bella in bed.”

“Goodnight, girls.” Bella used her condescending teacher voice. “It’s been…enlightening.”

We didn’t speak again until we were back in my common area.

“Could you hear what they were saying from the hallway?” Bella asked.

“That was actually a bit mild for Lauren,” I said with a nod.

“You seem to handle the attention well.”

“Do I?”

“Edward, there’s really no polite way to address being objectified like that. They’ll lose interest eventually. Unless, of course, you break up with me over Thanksgiving.”

I laughed and pulled her against me. “Never.”

Later, as I held her in my bed, I couldn’t help but think about how vastly my fantasy of her first night on campus with me differed from the reality.

“I’m sorry, Bella. This wasn’t how I envisioned this evening. I always want to spend the night with you in my bed, but waking you each hour to ask you inane questions was never on my agenda.”

“Huh?”

“I’m not supposed to let you sleep for more than an hour at a time. My mom says you could slip into a coma.”

“Oh. So why did you really need to see me tonight? It wasn’t entirely about sex, was it? I mean, you were going to see me tomorrow anyway.”

“I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected lately.”

“From me?”

“Not exactly. More like I have two very separate lives.”

“Do you mean you act differently here than you do at home?”

“A bit. I know I’ve only been up here for two months. I feel like I’ve already changed so much. I’m concerned that unless you start spending more time up here with me, one weekend I’ll come home and you won’t know me.”

“You mean I won’t recognize you because you’ve become pot-smoking man meat?”

“No, Bella. Just that I’m…different. When we met, I was completely isolated from anyone my own age. I was socially awkward and I had no friends. That’s obviously changing. I feel a connection to some of my classmates, a lot of whom are like me. I’m neither the youngest, nor the smartest person here. I blend. I feel almost normal.”

“I’ve never understood why normalcy matters to you so much.”

“You wouldn’t,” I explained. “You’ve never felt like a freak.”

“No, I’ve just been mind-numbingly average.”

“There’s nothing average about you. I often wonder how things would be if things were reversed. If I’d met you while you were still in high school and I was eight years older than you. You probably would have stood out to me as much as you do now, though for entirely different reasons. Of course, I would have felt just as drawn to you physically.”

“My father would have shot you.”

I laughed. “With some of the things I want to do to you, I can’t say that I would blame him.”

“Oh, fuck my head,” she wailed. “I want you to demonstrate.”

“I will next weekend, when you’re not in pain.”

“Edward, do you really think that we’ll drift apart if I don’t visit you more often?”

We had to make things better before they got any worse.

“Yes.”

“My hesitancy to come up here has nothing to do with how I feel about you. I worship you. I’ve just done the undergraduate thing already. I loved nearly every second of it, but I have no desire to relive it. I feel kind of like a third grader trying to squeeze myself into a baby swing.”

“Would you like me to look into off-campus housing next year? There’s not much of it, and it’s very hard to get but if that would be better for you…”

“Do you enjoy living on campus?” she cut me off.

“I kind of do, but not as much as I miss seeing you during the week.”

“Then you should stay in the dorms. I want you to enjoy yourself, Edward. I never want to hold you back…”

Bella stopped talking when we heard voices from the other room.

“Hi, honey, we’re home,” Tyler and Mike called out.

“I should go explain to the guys that you’re still here. I’ll be right back.”

I jumped out of bed and went into the common area.

“Hopefully, you got laid and you’re done being emo,” Mike said.

“Yeah, about that. Bella’s still here, so do you think you guys could behave yourselves for the next twelve hours?”

“Wait, she’s in the bedroom? Is she naked?”

He was unbelievable.

“No, Mike, she’s not naked. She’s also not deaf, so you may want to try to keep your voice down.”

I turned and went back to the bedroom, unaware the guys were following me until Bella addressed them from the top bunk.

“Thanks for letting me spend the night.” She forced a smile.

“Decide to keep Eddie on a shorter leash, huh?” Mike asked.

“Bella hit her head on the ceiling getting down from my bed and she has a slight concussion. I wouldn’t let her drive home,” I explained.

“Are you okay?” Tyler asked Bella.

“I’m fine, thank you for asking. I’m just a little dizzy.”

Tyler opened the closet and grabbed his bong. “Do you smoke?”

“Not anymore.”

I tried not to be annoyed that Bella was more honest with Tyler about her past recreational drug use than she was with me.

“Will it bother you if we do?” Tyler asked. “We’ll keep it in the other room.”

“No, that’s fine. Thank you for being so considerate.”

He turned to me. “Care to partake?”

“No, thanks.” I gestured to Bella discreetly. When Mike and Tyler left the room, I joined Bella in bed.

“Don’t decline on my account,” she said.

“I didn’t,” I explained. “I have an exam tomorrow, and I need to be sharp for it.”

“Oh.”

“Does it bother you that much?”

“Yes, though I know it shouldn’t. I know I’m being a hypocrite. I just hate the thought of Mike and Tyler corrupting you.”

“I understand.”

“How can you?” she asked. “I’m not even sure I do.”

“You feel excluded.”

“I guess I do.”

“I’m not saying I agree with it. I think you’re being completely irrational, but I understand why you feel this way. You think that as long as you’re the person corrupting me, whatever evil in which I partake is simply part of coming of age. If you’re not there to supervise, you complain I’m being reckless. You both want me to experiment and fear me doing so simultaneously because you still don’t feel secure in our relationship. I’m telling you right now, Bella. You need to get over that or you’ll spend the next four years panicked.”

“I know, Edward.”

I kissed the top of her head. “Now try to get some rest. I set the alarm on my phone for an hour from now to check on you. You’ll be fine.”

“You’ll be so tired for your exam tomorrow.”

“Taking care of you is more important to me than my GPA.”

Taking care of her was more important than just about everything; I only wished it hadn’t taken a head injury for her to let me do it.


next





Leave a Reply

2 Responses

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

  1. on 07 Jul 2010 at 8:55 amluckyduck0076

    Bella is a control freak. She is slowly becoming the more dominating one, but at the same time Edward is slowly getting more control. Its sorta fun trying to figure out who holds more power in the relationship. I think someone should tell Bella that while in a relationship, she gets to do what she feels comfortable doing. If she feels like she wants to go on campus, she can. I think she has always wanted to go on campus with Edward, but won’t until he says she can come up at any time.

    [Reply]


  2. on 01 Sep 2010 at 2:43 pmizziey

    i’ve read stories that have multiple pov’s and at times they are just repetitive; i enjoy this story because of the fresh information and insights. in this chapter i particularly liked edward’s talk with his mother and angela’s clever comments.

    [Reply]