Carrie sat cross-legged at the head of her bed, while Josh sat at the foot of it, tapping a pencil against his econ book in a steady rhythm of eighth notes.
Carrie had thought studying in bed would be a good compromise. They could both get much-needed work done as mid-terms approached, and the intimacy of sharing that bed space in her studio apartment held the promise of edging closer to one another, to cuddling, to canoodling, to whatever. Any physical contact would prove a welcome change from the last couple months.
“How’s it coming?” Carrie asked, tentative.
“OK. It's just hard to focus.”
“What’s on your mind?”
The pencil tap slowed, then disappeared. He looked up at her with a sheepish grin. “The Acapocalypse. What else?”
A new a cappella group seemed like such a good idea when she suggested it. She could tell from a summer of talking that a cappella meant a lot to him, and the excitement of creating something new but familiar could take some of the edge off of a first semester at college, give him something to stay excited about. And yet, in the process, she had all but handed her boyfriend off to his ex for hours each week, and re-immersed him in a world about which she knew little, and that he had trouble describing in non-technical terms.
“Do you think they’re ready for Friday?” Friday night marked the group’s first concert. Carrie had helped hang flyers, and had forwarded the Facebook event around to her friends—she could get involved to that extent, at least.
“It’s hard to say.” Josh tapped his pencil in a less-even rhythm. “We’ve been drilling the music, but hardly any of them have sung like this in front of a crowd before. People get nervous, and if one person messes up their part, the whole thing can get screwed up.”
“Well, you know you’ll nail your solo at least.”
“That’s assuming the group holds up its end of the bargain. And we have that guy Russ doing VP on that one. I’m just not sure he’s ready.”
Carrie saw an opening in Josh’s uncertainty. Maybe he was preoccupied with something she didn’t fully understand. But she could take his mind off his problems, help him relax a little. She snaked her body toward him, coiled her arms over his shoulders and kissed. She swung a leg over his lap to straddle him, in the process, knocking his book to the floor.
He pulled her head closer, running his fingers through her hair. For a moment, they were really together again. Then he pushed her away. “I’m really sorry, but I’ve got to study. I’m spending so much time on a cappella that I’m about to bomb every mid-term—”
“Yeah, I understand.” She climbed all the way off of him, and brushed her hair behind her ear. “And we should both study. And we can get to all of that other stuff later.”
Josh smiled and leaned into her to give her a peck on the lips. “Thanks, babe.” He bent over the edge of the bed and picked up his book, then leaned back against the wall to find his page. Carrie sat back as well, back at the head of the bed, back where she had started.