The edges of the stairway I’m being pulled down are gray and cloudy from the smoke wafting up from the basement dance floor.
Kelsey is pulling me somewhere I don’t want to follow.
Why don’t I want to be here?
The answer niggles at the edges of my mind, but I can’t pull it to the front. It’s just out of my grasp, like always.
A sweaty shoulder bumps me into the wall and my hand is pulled from Kelsey’s. Cold, foamy beer splashes out of a red plastic cup and hits my shoulder. Kelsey doesn’t look back to see where I am, and the blonde guy who hit me doesn’t stop to ask if I’m okay.
I steady my feet and take another step down. The dance floor is packed with people and the music is so loud that the thumping bass rattles my teeth. My eyes scan the dark room - brightened only by the strobe light hanging in the center of the ceiling – looking for someone.
The lump in my throat disappears when I realize he isn’t here.
He’s not here.
A mixture of relief and disappointment swirls inside of me. I smile and reach Kelsey at the bar. The guy next to her fills two plastic cups, but I wave mine away. His name is Zander and he’s in my Statistics class and friends with Adam. I laugh at something he says as he and Kelsey leave for the dance floor. The nervousness returns when I’m by myself, and my eyes scan the room. I should leave now, before he comes.
But then I see him, and I can’t help but smile. He’s a head taller than everyone else, and as he hits the bottom stair, he has to duck his head to make it through the doorway. A small section of his black hair falls into his eyes and he flips it back. As if he knows I’m here, his eyes find me immediately and he smiles, walking toward me.
His smile lights up the room and I am no longer worried. Kelsey is gone, Zander is a distant memory, and I don’t know if there’s music still playing.
When Adam is around me, my brain flees and my heart flip-flops. His kisses make me lose my mind and remind me of dark chocolate, full of all those feel-good hormones.
He’s a few feet from me when he reaches his arm out like he wants to hug me. I take a step forward, but before my foot hits the ground, I’m bumped to the side. I blink and a tiny blonde is wrapped around Adam. Her legs are around his waist and her arms are around his shoulders. She’s completely latched onto him. He smiles at me. His eyes stay on mine as he kisses her forehead and sets her to her feet.
“Hi, Amy.” The little blonde scowls at me. Adam’s eyes are laughing at me.
This. This is why I didn’t want to be here.
“So who was the girl?”
I stare at the ceiling, ignoring my therapist’s question. I hate this room. The walls are yellow but not a happy yellow. More like what I imagine baby poop looks like. And the chairs haven’t been updated since at least the sixties. By the time my sessions are done, the only thing that’s changed is the imprint of the scratchy fabric on the backs of my thighs.
Instead of answering the question, I count the ceiling tiles and multiply the rows. Ironic that I use math at a time like this when it was a math class that got me into all this trouble in the first place.
Reliving all these dreams every week is almost as exhausting as having them in the first place. Talking about them doesn’t make anything better.
“Adam?” Dr. Jamison has lost interest in my silence, again, and turns to him. She’s about fifty years old and her faded blonde hair that hangs down to her waist is always braided. She wears flowy, multi-colored hippy skirts and mismatched tops every time I see her. Sometimes I want to ask her if she has a joint, just to see what she says.