BY: Susannah Chovnick

The sun was bright on the cold day. The snow, a blanket over the tall trees and dead shrubs. I had spent the night, so I’d be happy for a week or so, I thought, as he drove over the icy roads to drop me back at home.

Whenever I went to his place, we’d smoke his strong weed. We drank heavy beer and smoked cigarettes too. It made it easier to be near him, to be intimate with someone. We’d sit in silence. Sometimes a movie played in the background. Sometimes he’d play one of his band’s CDs. Usually though, we’d just listen to the radiator tapping and my stomach grumbling. In the morning, he’d wake up and smoke more, then go back to bed for another hour. He told me I was beautiful and asked what kinds of things I liked. What I wanted to be when I got out of school. He was ten years older and worked for his parent’s steak house. But his passion was music. He played in four bands, went touring on the weekends.

We’d always fuck with the lights on. He had dragon tattoos and a girl’s name across his right forearm. I asked him who she was; he said it was for his grandmother. I saw a hair clip on his dresser once. I didn’t ask him about it though. We never pretended to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Only once he asked me if I wanted to get breakfast in the morning. A milkshake, actually. I said yes, but it made my stomach tingle and I got giddy. I was a little high too, and so I started laughing real hard in the car, and he changed his mind. He drove me home instead.

Sometimes he’d drop me off in my driveway, sometimes he’d just double park across the street. I always felt like he was mad on the days he didn’t make the effort to go a few more feet to the driveway. It was a success if he did; I’d leave glowing a bit, convinced the night had gone well.

He’d call me up about once a month. It was a small dark town in the winter. Quieter when he was gone. But I always felt he was nearby. When cars drove by, I’d look out the window, searching for his. Black and low to the ground. It never was though.

We met at the end of September, right as the leaves were turning brown. It was at a college bar and he was there sitting on a stool, watching everyone. A week later was our first date.  Our only real date, outside of his house. We went to a spot downtown and he ordered us two mojitos. We went out for a cigarette break and never went back in, left the bill. He said it was fine.

I wore a lot of black dresses and tights back then. He said he liked ripped tights, so I ripped all the ones I had. Knowing well the dead of winter would seep through them.

I came back from winter break early that year, just to see him. But when I called to say I’d arrived, he didn’t return my call. I drank in the house, with my lamp on. My roommates would be gone another week or so. So, I played music loud and sang to it, danced even. Just hoping he could feel how alive I was. It must have worked, ’cause he called a few nights later. I spent an hour putting on eye liner and brushing my hair and looking at myself in the mirror as I blew smoke rings and drank a PBR.

He seemed to have so much hatred for the world. To know he didn’t hate me, was everything.

Susannah Chovnick, originally from Brooklyn, has always enjoyed storytelling. After receiving a degree in Journalism from Ithaca College, she ventured across country and spent several years in San Francisco, where she dabbled in stand-up comedy. She now resides in LA, enjoying warm weather and writing in her free time. She’s had work featured in several online publications, and in 2017, had a story nominated for a Best of the Net Award.