Shoulda Known Better


Would you believe me if I said I had no intention of seeing Zack again after that night? No? Me either. I have been sitting here in this coffee shop all morning, hiding out from any type of reality I may have been forced to face, trying to convince myself that the day before was a serious mistake on my part and I cannot let it happen again.

It wasn’t going so well, actually. I had enjoyed the time I spent with Zack, as much as it pained me to admit. I liked his touch, his lips, the way he breathed my name into my skin. I couldn’t stop replaying the events of the day before. It was almost surreal, like a giant fog had clouded up my vision of the two of us tangled together in my sheets. But, it wasn’t surreal, it definitely happened and I definitely allowed it to proceed.

Shaking my head at my own thoughts I took another strangled sip of my coffee with my shaking hands. It must seem strange to you, the amount of anxiety I was having over some guy who had been a quick fuck more than once now in my life. But, I had my reasoning. Everyone has their own reasoning.

Out of all the people I could have slept with more than once, it had to be Zack, of course. I felt bad; he didn’t know what he meant to me. Not in that way, okay? I wasn’t getting all mushy and sappy over a guy who had unceremoniously found himself between my legs more than once. I just…there are things not everyone understands. Ways in which the mind works that take the simplest act and associate it with everything so much worse. And I had made the mistake of getting to know one of those things, one of those people, too well.

And though everything in my mind was screaming at me to just go home, face the music, I couldn’t bring myself to move. Maybe Zack would still be there waiting where I had left him sleeping in my bed. Maybe he had taken the hint and realized that I didn’t want this. I shook my head once again, scowling down at my phone in my hands. I couldn’t even call him if I wanted to; I had never given him my number. Maybe I could get it from Johnny? No, no, no. That was just too weird and suspicious. The last thing I wanted was for him to find out that I had slept with Zack.

I resigned myself to sitting at this table alone, scowling over a cup of coffee. It had been hours already since I had left. I was sure he would be gone, but what if he wasn’t? What if he was still there waiting for me to say something? I didn’t have anything to say. I didn’t want a relationship. I didn’t even want a quick fuck in all honesty. I just wanted to be alone, maybe have a couple friends. Romance and everything in between left me feeling sick and disgusted the day afterwards, and I’ll be damned if I let it happen again.

I turned my attention to the window beside me. If you peeked between the plaza next door, you could almost see the ocean. I sighed, knowing full well I wasn’t going to own up to my own actions anytime soon. I wonder if I could just float away on a raft and everything would just move on without me.

I wasn’t sure how long I’d been staring at that sliver of waves before the sound of a chair being pulled back caught my attention. I snapped my head over and met a pair of sad green eyes. “You really need a car if you plan on dogging people like that.”

I didn’t respond.

“Are you going to say anything?” he questioned, his eyebrows knitting together. I knew he knew that I had left for a reason, but I didn’t expect him to find me, let alone want to talk to me. And now he was sitting before me, patiently, expecting some type of answer that I wasn’t ready to give him. “You know,” he chuckled, after I had failed to say anything again, “it’s usually the guys that sneak out in the morning. And it’s not usually from their own homes either.”

I shrugged, “What do you want me to say?” My tone was flat and void of emotion, just like I felt.

I watched him run his hand through his dark hair more than once before rubbing his eyes and placing his hands on the table before him. Almost inches from mine, but I recoiled. “What changed?” he pressed, “I mean I’m not trying to make anything serious happen here, but god I was not expecting you to just desert me in the morning. I didn’t think that was your style.”

“You don’t know my style.” I muttered, looking him straight in the eye. “You don’t know me.”

He sighed, and grabbed my hand that I had precariously placed at the edge of the table. I looked down at his touch, feeling myself softening a bit for the first time since he arrived. “I know I don’t. But, I could get to know you, if you’d like.” The patience in his voice almost made me want to give in, but something in the back of my mind was aching for me to run away, now.

I pulled my hand from his grasp and tried to look anywhere but his eyes. I needed to say this to him. It was the only way either of us could move on happily with our lives. “I’m leaving, Zack. I’m going away in a little less than two months. You don’t need to waste your time with me, you or your friends. It was a mistake to try to get to know people here at home. It was a mistake to think that I could have some semblance of normalcy in my life. It was a mistake to…to think that I could do what we did last night and think everything would be fine in the morning.” I shook my head and finally looked into his piercing jade orbs. “I should have known better, Zack.”

He didn’t respond at all. He just kept looking me up and down as if trying to assess if I was speaking honestly. I tried my hardest not to let my emotions waver, to give him some glimmer that I meant nothing of what I had just spoken. I couldn’t take his gaze any longer and turned my head once again to that small view of water outside the window. I kept my eyes glued to it, as if it would hold the floodgates of my mind that were just bursting to be freed.


I snapped my eyes back to his. “No?” I questioned, completely aghast. “What do you mean no? I think I have a right to choo—“ My rebuttal was cut off by Zack’s lips on mine. I stuttered into the kiss, but managed to break away before I gave into my own desires.

“Stop kissing me.” I demanded, now scowling at him. “You can’t just do that whenever you damn well please. I’m a person too. I have thoughts and feelings all my own. How dare—“ His lips reattached themselves to mine again and this time my mind went fuzzy. I felt myself moving my lips in sync with his for a few blissful seconds before I pulled away, a disapproving glower etched into my features. “Seriously, Zack, don’t do that again.”

I hadn’t realized I had been staring at his lips while I spoke until I noticed the corners of his turn up into a small smirk. “I don’t believe you.” He whispered, and I realized just how close he had gotten to me in a matter of minutes. I also realized that we were still in a fairly public place.

“Listen, I can’t do this here.” I muttered, my eyes breaking from his lips and moving across the room to the various people sipping their coffees around us. I nervously ran a hand through my strangled hair. “Can we not do this here, now, Zack? Please?”

He frowned and leaned away from me. After a second of staring at me he spoke. “I guess you’re right.”

“Hm?” I hummed and tore my eyes from his, choosing instead to look out the window. I could tell his tone implied more.

He had fully moved away from me at this point. I could feel the lack of heat as his body quickly pulled aside. “You’re right that I don’t know you,” he started, “but for some reason I would like to know you. And I would like to kiss you. And I would like it if you didn’t consider your moving to be a factor in either of those two things.”

His cheeky smile almost made me snort. He was being coy again, and I found myself playing into it immediately. I opened my mouth to retort, to give in to his slightly bashful expression and the timid flecks of green in his eyes, but thought again, always again, of everything.

“I don’t know what to do.”

It was an honest statement, a reckoning truth I rarely ever uttered even to myself. But something about the past few nights had thrown me off. Hell, something about this entire trip was twisting something inside my gut. The words spilled out of me before I even had a chance to analyze what I was saying.

“Zack, I cannot deny there’s something I like about you. I doubt I would let you sleep with me twice if there wasn’t.” I laughed, trying to encourage myself to continue. “I have a lot of…baggage, I guess you could call it. And I’m not sure what to do with it right now. This is happening at a weird time. I wasn’t expecting to see you again. I thought I would be facing my issues head on, but this whole thing has thrown me out of whack and…I just don’t know what to do.” I hung my head a bit and turned my eyes back towards the large, glass window.

Zack sighed, and I could feel him leaning closer to me yet again. “Hey,” he spoke softly, and I could feel his knee nudge mine under the table, trying to get my full attention. “I get that. I got that the other night and I’m not going to press it.”

I looked up at him again, and could see the sincerity shining through his eyes. I thought back to that night on his porch and how we watched the sunrise together. I had felt so comfortable with him then. He slowly looked down and I watched as his hand crept cautiously over to mine and gave it a light squeeze. He looked up at me again.

“Just don’t write anything off yet, okay?” His voice sounded oddly high-pitched, almost vulnerable. His eyes searched mine for a response and I realized I hadn’t moved or said anything at all to him.

I thought about it for a second. I still wasn’t sure what I should be doing, why this whole situation had to happen here, and now. Why I couldn’t seem to stop myself when I was around this man, and why it seemed so absolutely devastating to me that he seemed to give the slightest shit about me.

Too much! It was all too much for such a short span of time!

I exhaled and went to move my hand from Zack’s but he gave it another short squeeze and a very genuine and encouraging smile.

“I probably seem like someone who’s off their rocker,” I laughed nervously, glancing away and then back again. “I’m not. I promise. I just have a lot to figure out still.”

Zack smiled and removed his hand from mine. He brought my coffee up to his lips and took a deep sip before placing it back down in front of me.

“Maybe I can help.”

I looked down at the cup in front of me and then back up to him. Something warm overtook me entirely at his words. “Maybe,” I chirped.

Before I knew it I had jumped a foot in the air as Zack hand smacked the table. A couple customers at the tables around us looked up in fright. The barista behind the counter glared. “Great!” he exclaimed, “Lets start at the beginning.”

I giggled at his forwardness. “You sound like my therapist.” He breathed out a laugh and struck a playful, thoughtful pose. I could tell he was trying to lighten the mood.

“Oh really,” he pressed, “and how does that make you feel?”

I covered my mouth to hide my grin and giggled again. “You’re incorrigible,” I managed to get out with a straight face. He shot me a playful look in return. Just then, his phone started going off and he quickly dove into his pants to retrieve it.

As he looked down at his phone he said, “Ah, the guys think I’m dead. I should probably give them a call.” His voice was reluctant.

“Oh” I mumbled, completely forgetting about his friends, and the idea that they were probably looking for him. They seemed like a tight-nit group from what I gathered. “I should head home anyway. Always books to be read and passages to be highlighted.” My tone didn’t sound convincing, even to me.

“Are you sure?” His face held that questioning glance I was learning to recognize almost instantly. I nodded fervently. “Okay, I guess.” He stood to collect himself and looked down at me in my chair with an apprehensive expression. “Are we okay though? You’re not going to disappear entirely the minute I walk out of here?”

I snorted at his harmless teasing. Bless him for making light of such a strange, and frankly awkward, encounter. “Yeah, we’re okay.” I sent him a weak smile. “There will be no escape acts here,” I conceded, “at least not for a few weeks.”

He smiled again at me. I felt myself melting into a puddle and sighed. I stood too and collected what little I had fled with to the coffee shop. As Zack and I walked towards the exit and out into the parking lot, he turned to me again.

“Here.” He handed me his phone. “Put your number in there. I’ll text you in a few days and we can get a coffee together,” he emphasized the together, “or a drink, or a jay, whatever. But it would be at least a little easier if I could reach you.”

I couldn’t read the expression on his face, yet again, but decided there was no harm in giving him my number. Besides, two of his friends already had it themselves. He could just get it from them if he wanted to reach me. I had considered the thought myself less than an hour ago.

I punched in my digits and handed it back. “I’ll see you around, Zack.” It came out more awkward then I intended.

He grinned. I could tell he noticed the awkwardness in my voice. “Of course.”

Before I knew it, his hand had wrapped around my forearm and he was pulling me closer to him. Just as I realized what he was doing and looked up at his face, I felt his lips connect with mine once again. I was entirely putty in his hands for the two seconds that he held me there.

When he let go, he just grinned his textbook smile and said with a wink, “One for the road,” before disappearing to where, I can only assume, he had parked.

Later that night, as I was smoking a joint in my bedroom before falling asleep, trying desperately to rid myself of all the anxious thoughts that had persisted since I had woken up, I heard my phone buzzer go off.

I reached for the device and looked down at the unknown number who had texted me. Opening it up I read, “G’night, beautiful.”

I fell asleep with the stupidest smile on my face.
♠ ♠ ♠
so its been a real-long while.

I stumbled across my file of this story tonight and was struck so suddenly by where this plotline should head and how many little woven tales I have set myself up for along the way. Looking back, I'm so happy this has all been so vague with my hints, because I've got some great things planned.

I can't promise anything soon, but I can promise you that I have the desperate desire to finish this story.