The second chapter of Late night curfew is here. Please click here to find the first chapter. Enjoy

A flash grabs the attention of my closed eyes. I grudgingly open them. Looking around, I notice that I am lying on the end of the single bed, my body in the foetal position to make sure I don’t fall off. Slowly lifting my head up, I look to the other half of the bed. She seats cross legged, staring at me with a subtle smile. Noticing the phone in her hand, I can only conclude that she took a picture of me while I was sleeping. In my deep voice, I quietly ask what time it is.

“It’s only six pm boo, you just passed out thirty minutes ago.” She says as she shows me the picture she took of her, myself and the huge bright brown teddy bear that seats between us in the middle of the bear. Getting out of bed and onto the cold floor, I search for my flip flops. She offers to make me tea; when I agree, she asks me to boil the water, fetch the mugs, sugar and tea bags.

“Why didn’t you just say you want me to make you tea?” I ask with a grin as I gently shake my head. Grabbing the kettle, I open the bedroom door and drag myself to the kitchen. One of her roommates is playing loud music. They’re now both used to me staying for long periods of times when I visit. As I fill the kettle, it dawns on me that I am writing a class test tomorrow. Running back to her room, I remind her of the class test. Her smile immediately collapses into a frown.

“Didn’t you say you already studied for that one?” She asks disappointed. I shake my head. Jumping out of bed, she gives me a hug as we say goodbye. I hold onto her a bit longer, reconsidering whether I could spend an extra hour. However the thought quickly evaporates from my mind as I remember how much flames this module holds. Breaking free, I exit the room and head for the main door. She shouts a “see you later” as she closes her door.

We were now in second year and the New Year had brought with it new opportunities. She had broken up with her boyfriend during the holidays because he cheated on her. It appeared she got over him quickly because he quickly vanished from her vocabulary after their break up. Not to say I was complaining but I had assumed she would tell me about how much she missed him. So much for assumptions. However that also brought with it other questions; had she really let the guy into her heart or did she just convince him to camp outside the premises for two years? Maybe she did not want to talk about him because she was too hurt?

I had told her how much I liked her two months prior. It was quite nerve wrecking, for a while I had considered remaining silent but I always feared regret more than rejection. So I did what any sensible man would do; I went to my leader for advice. He wasn’t particularly direct in telling me what to do. As a matter of fact, he neither supported nor was against my feelings towards her. The most he helped with was to give me perspective, asking whether she was saved, if she was someone I saw myself marrying and what I liked most about her.

After talking to my leader, I spent an extra two weeks thinking things through. I did not really like all the tough questions that came so early in our non-existent relationship but I reckon they were needed at such an early stage. In addition, they made me realise that I had to be serious about my decision. She knew what she wanted but I was not sure if that was me. We obviously did not act like friends but despite the fact that actions spoke louder than words, the silence was more baffling than I expected.

Despite the many ambiguities with her character, my heart still marched forward with informing her about my feelings. This was a week after lectures started; a week before valentines. I first thought of telling her that we needed to talk over the phone, but that puts pressure on anyone who hears or reads those four words. So I paid her a visit instead.

“Hey boo.” She said quietly as I walked in, I had gotten accustomed to walking into her apartment without knocking. Sitting on the side of the bed with her eyes glued to the laptop, she kept her concentration on the laptop. I told her that we needed to talk. With an expectant yet uneasy smile, she looked at me. I took in a deep breath. My nerves sky rocketing as I considered running out of the room.

“I… I like you!” I stuttered, breathing in again, I continued, “You are amazing and I don’t just want to be your buddy, I want more than that. I like you very much.” I breathed in once again. I never thought there would ever be a time where I needed to remember to breathe. She looked away. She never did like eye contact and at that moment it felt like my eyes were burning into her’s even when she was not looking at me. Silence settled in the room for a second or two as she mindlessly gazed at the laptop screen. However it seemed much longer. A chuckle escaped her mouth as her smile remained – although it seemed to be weighed down by her uneasiness. She slightly shook her head and laughed a bit.

“I was afraid you were going to say that.” She said nonchalantly, “I don’t know what to say.” She continued, her eyes never leaving her laptop. I just quietly sat on the chair. I had expected the best from this but I was always prepared for the worst outcome.

“We have nothing to lose, let’s give it a try.” I try to convince her although I knew our friendship was on the line. She chuckles again in disbelief.

“Let’s talk tomorrow.” She says. Uncertain about what to do next, I gently nod my head, stand up hesitantly, head to her bedroom door and take one look at her before I open it and leave. She does not shift her attention from her laptop.

The next 24 hours felt like years to me. Each lecture lugged by slowly like a snail trying to give a tortoise a piggy back ride. I could easily get my mind off her for a while but there were many reminders throughout the day. When the last lecture eventually finished, I dashed back to the flat, awaiting a phone call or WhatsApp message. The latter ultimately came hours later when I had given up hope. She asked me to come to her room. I ran there trying to keep my cool. The tension in the room shot up exponentially as soon as I entered. She started with the formalities but quickly went to the reason I came for.

“I am flattered you like me and all but I am not ready for another relationship. You know I just came out of a long one and I feel, actually I know that I wouldn’t do you justice. I’m not in a position to think about someone else’s feelings. If we dated now, I would most probably hurt you hey. I’m sorry!” she said all in one breath. Once again we both remained silent as I took in everything. I felt a strong urge to ask her when she would be ready but that seemed illogical. I thanked her for her honesty. She echoed my thoughts as she suggested I should take time to think about everything she said.

Getting up once again, I headed for the door, without taking a second look, I exited, slightly crushed by everything. I had prepared for rejection but the reality of it hit harder than I anticipated. Walking down the hallway to the elevator, I thought this would be the last time I step on this floor.

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