She - Dan Ortzel

Dan Otzel
Chapter One
Three years.
Three years of our lives spent almost exclusively with each other.
Three years in each other’s arms and three years in each other’s hearts.
The best three years of my life.
It began innocently enough. We were freshman in college. It was a small school in southwestern Connecticut. Bridgeport,  Connecticut, to be exact. I was there because I couldn’t get in anywhere else. I longed to go to a big school, where I could get lost amongst the masses of do-gooders, enjoy some cocktails and do my drugs. Instead, I was there. 
She was there because She craved the attention of professors who would teach her about psychology and mold her for life and a career.
It was the first night of school – not of classes but the first day that freshman could move in. After all the rap and emo posters were hung and the parents departed, a few of the guys on my floor and I made our way to the cafeteria, the armory that held the greasy food that would contribute to our “Freshman 15.”
In came the upperclassman, immediately soliciting the fresh fish to come to a party at a house the three of them shared.
“Hey guys,” the leader said, “you want to get your drink on tonight?”
Drink on? 
“Hell, yes,” the four of us almost screamed in unison. 
We must have looked pretty damn cool as we sat there eating our fried chicken strips. 
They gave us directions and went on to the next table (maybe we didn’t look that cool).
We arrived at the house at 9:30. The party started at 9, but we wanted to show up fashionably late. 
No one noticed.
We entered the house with the strange-looking emblem on the door. Although, we later found out that this was a fraternity house and they were looking for ready recruits, we never discussed it. We wanted to believe that we were someone special.
As I was handed my red cup of stale beer, I glanced to my right. I’ll never know why I looked in that direction, but I’ll never forget what I saw.
Chapter Two
She was stunning.
                She had full-flowing blonde hair that would sometimes, unfortunately, hide her eyes. Those eyes, they were deeper than the ocean and the color blue that poets write about and, although they won’t admit it, all guys dream about. Her long, slender body was covered in a golden-brown glaze that featured her perky, 18-year-old, “you-don’t-know-what-you’re-doing-yet,” breasts. The end of her shirt displayed just enough of the smooth stomach that glided seamlessly down into her long legs. 
                She came to Bridgeport from a small town in Connecticut. She wanted to be in the big city. I would always chuckle at that. Bridgeport?
                Of the few kids she went to high school with, many had developed a pretty healthy OxyContin addiction. She was at this institute of higher education to major in psychology and, hopefully, retire back to her small town and counsel its troubled youth. 
                She had it all mapped out. She would begin her own practice, marry one of the guys from her high school that had managed to stay sober, buy a house and have some kids. It was almost enviable, the way She had it “all figured out.”
                But, it wasn’t a pipedream. 
She was smart, but wasn’t brash about it and never intimidated anyone with her acumen. She was funny, but not in a false way. She could charm the Queen of England with her wit and would sometimes laugh at a locker room joke or two, but never three. She was caring, but it wasn’t a front, She genuinely cared. For me, for her family, for her friends, for the afflicted, even for animals.
                She was, as they say, the total package.
Chapter Three
I was the typical 18-year-old kid from the city – New York City. I came to Bridgeport; well, because I had no other options. I applied to one school – UConn. I wanted to get the hell out of the city and UConn seemed like one giant farm. When I couldn’t get in, this place was my last resort. It had a reputable psychology department, but that was about it. Hell, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in and no clue of what I wanted to do.  I hadn’t giving it much thought, or any thought, really.
                High school was a blast. I played football and baseball, and was pretty good at both. I was fairly popular, as most of the jocks were, and had even managed to score with two of the better looking females at the school. 
                More so than being an athlete, though, my high school years would end up being defined by my legendary partying. In my affluent neighborhood, there was no shortage of house parties, in which I was a staple.
                I started drinking and smoking weed my freshman year. I got into coke my junior year, and was willing to try anything, except a needle, by the time I graduated. My substance usage never got out of control, though. I was in it, at first, for purely fitting in and being considered cool. Later, I began to enjoy it.
                I came to college looking to drink on the weekends and use when the opportunity presented itself. I did plan on studying and doing the best I could, without killing myself.
                I just didn’t factor in a broad.
Chapter Four
I’m not going to say love at first sight, but seeing her for the first time was, well, clichéd.
                But, the objective that night was not to meet a girl, fall in love, settle down, and all that shit. We were there on business. We were freshman at an upper class party – a party that we had been invited to (let’s just leave it at that – invited to – the hell with the semantics). We were there to drink shitty beer, tell people where we were from, make connects, and hit on girls – with no intention of taking them home or even ever seeing them again. I knew why we were there, but after five beers and two joints, I had a new agenda.
                She was in the corner with two friends, one fat and one who looked anorexic. Ah, the juxtaposition. But, to be honest, I don’t know if Megan Fox could have made her look bad on this night. She was wearing skin-tight jeans, accentuating a flawless ass, and a simple pink tank top, showing just enough to make my eyes bug out and just a little to leave me wanting more. 
                As I mustered the gumption to approach, paying no attention to much else, despite my roommate Rob’s prodding to watch a keg stand, I meticulously debunked my whole philosophy on girls.
                I always believed that men and women were put on this earth to compliment the earth’s beauty. Looking at her, though, I knew I was wrong.
                As I stood there, slamming down whatever was in my cup, I knew I had never seen anything matching the beauty radiating from the corner of that smoke and noise filled room.
Chapter Five
“Hey, how are you?” I said to her, displaying my total lack of game (both girls in high school threw themselves at me), “I’m Jim.” I thought Jimmy, which is what everyone called me, was too casual for this encounter.
                She stated her name.
                “So, where you from?” I asked, not knowing what else to say.
                She stated her hometown.
                “How do you like your first college party?”
                She said she was enjoying it.
                This frantic search for words went on for five agonizing minutes until, finally, we had finished our beers. I asked her if I could get her another beer and She obliged to walk with me to the keg. 
                We chatted for the next hour or so about everything under the sun. I found out about her past, her well-planned future, and coming to age in Connecticut.
                As the night drew to an end and her floor mates came to rescue, I mean, escort her home in a group (man, chicks love their groups) I threw it out there:
                “So you think I could get your number?”
                She put it in my phone.
                That was a Friday. 
I tried to wait, but couldn’t. I was officially infatuated. So, I broke down and called her on Sunday.   We talked for about two hours and it was glorious. Words flowed from my soul without provocation. 
                We continued to build a relationship via smart phones until the next Saturday night, when we both planned to escort each other to yet another mysterious frat party.
                For two days, I played the scenario out in my head. I would make her feel for me what I felt for her. 
I just wasn’t quite sure what that was.
Chapter Six
We fell in love.
                The week after our second party together, we went on a real date. We went for a cup of coffee, joining every hipster and author in Bridgeport at a local coffee shop.
                That night, we talked...a lot.
                We went on three more dates, one on a Wednesday. When you go on a Wednesday date to Bridgeport’s finest restaurant, you know things are going well. After dinner, She asked me about our status.
                “Well, what do you think?” I asked.
                She said that She thought we were a couple. That was fine with me, as long as we could keep spending time together. She called me boyfriend and that was that.
                Over the course of that first semester, we fell more in love each day. Over Christmas break, we talked on the phone every day. The next semester we took 4 of our 5 classes together. Over summer break, we officially told everyone in our respective home towns that we had met “someone.” The love fest continued through our sophomore and junior years.
                One year, She spent Christmas at my house. My family fell in love with her easygoing, yet, driven demeanor. Her ultra-strict parents even accepted me for one Christmas, liking me better than any boy her town had to offer.
                We shared two spring breaks together, one in Daytona Beach and one in Cancun. We got an apartment together our junior year, much to the shock of her parents, and spent every waking moment together.
                We were so in love.
                She even began planning our future in that drug-infested home town of hers. 
As long as She was with me, I didn’t care where we were.
Chapter Seven
Yeah, it was just another boring and uneventful love story.
                We woke up next to each other, went to class together, studied together, ate together, and partied together. When we got home, we would make love, fall asleep in each other’s arms, and start the magnificent process again the next day.
                She even weathered the storm on one visit when her mother caught me smoking a joint in their backyard. Her parents were pissed, but She threatened to leave forever if they didn’t forgive me. 
                They forgave me.
                Then, it happened. 
                She was out for a girl’s night out and I was over Rob’s watching the Rangers game. He gave me a pill to take with my Bud Light. 
She frowned on that. I could drink and occasionally smoke my weed, but other drugs, even coke and especially pills were out of the question.
                Hell, I thought, She will never find out. And, I could always crash on Rob’s couch. I didn’t give it much thought, not even what it was I took.
                I did make it home, because the next morning I awoke to her sitting on the corner of the bed holding something up and crying. I rubbed the sleep/drugs/booze out of my eyes and saw an empty condom wrapper in her hand.
                Wait, I thought, we didn’t use condoms.
                She asked me what happened, but I had no answers. 
I felt the words “I’m sorry” get stuck in my throat, but I couldn’t choke it out. She left, crying, but I said nothing.
                I remembered nothing.
Chapter Eight
For the next week, I tried to piece that night together. 
She never came home and I skipped all my classes.
                Apparently, I took a whole bar of Xanax and experienced a functional blackout. Meaning, I spent the night as another doped-up college kid, with the same pressing desires and horribly rash reasoning. Eventually, I passed out and had no recollection of the night. I didn’t remember anything after taking that goddamn pill. I was told three large males in a Cadillac dropped me off at my place around midnight, two hours after the Ranger game ended. The temptress left an hour later and She got home an hour after that, only to find the evidence on the floor next to the bed. She tried to confront me that night, but She couldn’t awake me from my drug-induced slumber.
                There were no three males, Cadillac, or temptresses of that description at our small school. “What the hell happened?” I kept asking myself. 
The whole school found out what I had done and I got nasty looks everywhere I went, even from the guys. In the eyes of the school, we were the perfect love story and I screwed it up.
                I didn’t know what I had done, but knew I had done it. 
                I couldn’t tell my parents. I couldn’t tell my friends back in the City. I confided in my brother, a lawyer in Manhattan. He invited me to a Yankee game and, thankfully, I got the hell out of Bridgeport. 
                Somebody tipped her off, because when I got back the next day, She was gone – and I mean gone. Not only did She move out, but She took all her stuff and removed all the pictures in which we shared the canvas. The clothes and hats I had bought her were placed gently on the bed we once shared. Along with the ring, the symbol of my unequivocal love for her.
                She was gone – and I mean gone.
Chapter Nine
Bawls of Blood
What could I do?
                I tried calling for about a week, but to no avail.
                I showed up at the place where I thought She was staying, but two of her girlfriends screamed at me to leave. I went back, but they were ready for me. Her friend’s football player boyfriend and two of his buddies were there waiting. 
I got the hell out of there pretty quick.
                I called her parents, not to explain what I did, just toowell, I don’t know why, I was desperate.  
                When I finally went back to class, it was our last semester and I did need to graduate (my parents loved me but had had it with paying my tuition), She was there, accompanied by more football players. She didn’t even know any football players, but I was public enemy number one on that campus. I also don’t think it hurt that She appeared hot and vulnerable.
                We graduated a month after the incident, and I knew I would never see or hear from her again.
                If you’re asking yourself if I should have keep trying to win her back, the answer is no.
                She had given me everything: her love, her time, her body, her soul. I had done something She forbade me to do and as a result of that, I did something unspeakable.
                I felt bad. I felt lonely. I felt confused.
                But the worst part?
                I had hurt her, I had hurt her bad. Nothing in my life, in a thousand lives, would ever compare to that feeling.
                I had dedicated three years to protecting her. I would have laid down my life before seeing her hurt. The pain that She felt at the core of her world, I had caused that.
                That’s why I stopped trying to reconcile. I would have to stare into those vast blue eyes and see the tears turn into blood.
                I had hurt her – my precious Hannah.
Chapter Ten
After college, I went to law school in California. I wanted to get as far away from Bridgeport as possible. In fact, I have never stepped foot back in Connecticut since I graduated.
                Since the legal job market was so bleak out there, I came back to the City to work for my brother, who had taken over his firm a year earlier.
                I think about Hannah all the time. I have never heard from her since, nor have I tried to contact her. 
Mostly, I think about how her life turned out. Did she follow that roadmap she came to Bridgeport with? I try not to get into details, though. The thought of her with another guy still makes me sick. I just focus on the good times we shared together and wonder when we will love again.
I often find myself ask questions about what connects the past to the future. It certainly can’t be the present. Look around, the present is so messed up, it couldn’t connect Legos. No, I happen to believe that it is hope. Hope is the purest natural resource in the world. Mankind has always dreamed for a better tomorrow, I think that’s why I’m writing this bullshit. Hope reminds us of all that was good and could be again. 
                Well, I know what was good in my life, and I just hope She is happy.


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