gimme shelter

A lot of things happened in not very much time. I was crashing at my bandmate's new place when my roommate called and told me that our house had been destroyed by a meteor. I thought I was being strong and calm and collected when I took her out to eat. We talked about trivialities and skirted around the subject. Then she asked me if I had a place to stay and I just--"I think I need to get some air." I remember walking outside. I remember my hands shaking, fumbling with my phone, walking. Then I remember sitting, trembling, on the front steps of the house of a friend I hadn't seen in years.

Her name was Alex. She was my only real friend for the longest time, by the strange standards I kept at the time. When I moved out east she stayed here, and when the roof started leaking in my place out there and I didn't think to move my roommates' books to safety, Alex was the only person to say "yeah, that's fucked up, I'd be pretty pissed at myself, too." Everyone else tried to tell me it was okay.

Later on I betrayed her trust and I couldn't take it when she forgave me, so I just stopped seeing her, except now I was on her front porch, waiting. I didn't really remember coming here. I could have fled. I probably should have. Instead I waited for her to come up the walk. She said my name, hesitantly, guardedly, and I said something like "It's been a while."

"Yeah." We embraced tentatively. Then she said, holding me at arm's length, "What are you doing here?"

The suspicion in her voice stung, mostly because I knew I'd earned it. "I think I need a place to crash for a few days," I said, trying to sound as unobtrusive as possible. "You won't even know I'm here."

The silence that followed seemed like it lasted for hours. Then, "I'll think about it. You can come in and have a beer, at least."

She led me inside, and we drank, and I was never sure, right up until she went to bed, whether she was going to let me stay. It wasn't very late when she finally got up and made her way into her bedroom. "Just leave the light on out there," she told me, and I thought, so this is how it's going to be? You'll let me stay on your couch but you won't even let me turn the light off?

As I lay down on the couch and put a pillow over my head I noticed her still standing in the doorway. "Well? Are you coming to bed?"

"Ah. I thought--nevermind. Be right there."

I turned the light off on my way in, because old habits die hard.

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