The pear-shaped opal ring barely glitters in the fluorescent lighting the afternoon I meet him. It’s not an expensive ring. The neon flecks aren’t prominent or myriad. There are two tiny diamond specks on either side of the stone, said to rid the opal of any negative energy. I bought it the summer before at the Thieves’ Market. When I saw the ring for the first time, I saw hope. Tip pointed out, I wore it like a Claddagh ring to show I’m available. Every morning I slip it onto my ring finger and prepare to hope.
We fall into each other. I bring him my fancy tea and he brings me day olds from the coffee shop where he works. Our hands graze in the exchange. I’m careful the opal doesn’t scratch him. His hands are large, rough. I want them on the sensitive skin under my shirt. That feeling alone would make me moan. Before class we snack on a bench, my knee lightly bumping into his. We pretend we’re civilized.
It’s a few weeks before I invite him back to my dorm room and we get better acquainted. His hands under my shirt are everything I wanted. The drag of his skin against mine. In a freeze frame you’d see him holding me. My arms around his neck, my chest pressed against his. Our mouths having a different kind of conversation. But you’d have to freeze frame it because it didn’t last. I’m getting exactly what I want when his hands slip down and rip off my shirt. I’m topless in front of a guy for the first time. Sharply freezing in the air conditioning. Aware of the random freckles, the skin tags, the unfortunate nude-colored bra that was never meant to be seen by anyone other than me. In his hurry, my opal scratched his neck. He doesn’t seem to notice as he smushes me against him. My body feels all fat and jelly. I push off him with the same motion I’d learned to pass a basketball.
He’s confused, hurt. I don’t know what to say. Words seem impossible. I fumble for my shirt. I’ll be able to think better when I’m dressed. His hair swoop falls forward as he reaches for his bag. It’s firmly on his shoulder when I realize my body is blocking his exit. His face is hard. He’s projecting false toughness, but he’s closed off. I don’t know how to have the conversation I want to have. The boy from the bench is gone, and I let him pass.
The way he tells it he was in love with me and I rejected him. It’s how he gets the next girl. They look into his big blue eyes, see his pain and curse my name. No one ever asks me what happened, no one cares. I’m the past, they’re the future and the past never repeats itself.