Meet Me In the Hallway

We had made love earlier that day with no strings attached, but I could tell that something had changed - how you looked at me then.


A story in which a college student and an ex-performer are brought together at a downtown bar by a twist of fate.

*characters are not affiliated with real people, just their physical appearances and anything stated*

[WARNING: Strong language, Drug abuse, Sexual content]

copyright © justins_only_babe 2017



9. nine

= Layne =


After my classes are over, I head to a coffee shop that isn't too far away from campus. It isn't too big nor is it too busy. I'd expect lunch hour to have more people dying for another cup of coffee to get them through the rest of their day - I know that's why I'm here. I order as soon as I walk in and examine the room. There aren't many distinguishing characteristics, but it is very cozy and some place I could see myself spending time at. I hear my order, grab my cup, and head back to my apartment.


I pass by the bar on my way home and see that it's fairly empty. It will pick up tonight, Thursday's are the beginning of the drinking weekend. I ascend the stairs and as I'm walking, a familiar blond walks by me. His eyes pierce into mine and a friendly - but forced - smile spreads across his face. I smile back at him and I can't help but feel that I've seen him before. I know I've seen him in this same situation before, but the familiarity goes beyond that. I shake off the strange thoughts and unlock my apartment.


When I walk inside, my coffee is almost gone and a weight falls onto my shoulders. I know this feeling all too well. I feel my shoulders sink as I let out a sigh and put my coffee down. I take off my boots along with my sweater. My feet carry me to the bathroom and I turn on the shower.


I need a shower. I'll feel better after I shower.


It's a lie, but I can try to trick myself into thinking it will help.


The water is scorching when I step in but I don't turn it down. Water that burns my skin reminds me that I can feel, that there is still some warmth in my life.


After my shower, I feel the same as before. The only difference is that my hair was dry before, and now it's wet. I don't bother putting clothes on either, it's too much work. I fall onto my bed and wrap my sheets around me. Giving myself the illusion that it's tomorrow, that it's morning and I have my whole day ahead of me.


"Tomorrow is a new day, it's a fresh start. It'll be better than today, and the day after will be better than tomorrow." He used to tell me.


I want to tell him, "you can't pretend to make yourself happy. Pretending is lying and lying makes everything worse."


But it's too late. It's ten months too late.


My eyes peek out from the covers and look at the clock. It's almost three. I can call off work without penalty if I do it right now. I grab my phone off the nightstand and dial the bar.


After almost a minute of ringing, someone answers. "Jack's bar, this is Ed."


Great. Going straight to the boss. "Hi, Ed. It's Layne."


"Hey, Layne! What's goin' on?" He chirps.


I sigh. I wish I felt as cheery as he sounds right now. "I'm feeling a little under the weather. I don't think I can make it in tonight."


"Okay, thanks for letting me know. Vanessa asked for more shifts and she's off today, I can give her a call. Do you think you'll feel better tomorrow?"


I roll onto my back and break out from my cocoon, feeling the cool air across my body. "Yeah, I should be good tomorrow. I think I ate something for lunch that is making me feel sick. I'm sorry."


"No worries, I hope you feel better. I'll see you tomorrow." And the line goes dead.


I toss my phone back onto my nightstand and wrap my blankets around me again. I stare at a black t-shirt on my floor and reach out to grab it. It's inside out so I can see the label. It's hard to read, especially after how much it's been worn. There isn't a significance to the actual label, but to the fact that it's practically non-existent. He used to wear this shirt every chance he got. I flip it right-side out and read words on the front.


Cease the day - it could be the last one you live.


Tears prick at my eyes and I bring the shirt to my chest. Then I slip it over my head and close my eyes.




= Harry =


My hand grips the cold metal of the door handle to the bar. Once I'm inside, I rub my nose about eight different ways. It won't stop itching. Whatever coke Matt gave me is different than his normal supply, and I don't like it.


My eyes scan the room and fall on an open seat at the bar. I throw my bag to my feet and take a seat. My hands are in my hair, running down my face, rubbing my nose, running across my thighs. This new stuff is bullshit.


I send Matt a text telling him to go back to the old stuff and shove my phone back into my pocket.


The bartender walks up to me while cleaning a glass. "What can I get for you?"


I look up at her and notice that she isn't the person I came here to see. "Where is Layne?"


"She called off. But I'm here," she gives me a dimpled grin.


I furrow my brows at her.


Called off? First she blows me off yesterday, and then she calls off work? What the hell? Is she trying to avoid me? Have I been coming on too strong? What the hell did Matt give me?


"Why did she call off? Where is Ed?" I ask, running my words together.


She takes a step away from me and gives me a look of concern. "I'll go get him."


I nod and tap my knuckles against the bar. My gaze follows the bartender until I can't see her anymore and stay focused on the spot she disappeared at. Seconds later, Ed is walking behind her with an angered look on his face. I see the chick point at me and I watch Ed relax. He says something to her and then starts walking toward me.


I take a deep breath and rub my nose again.


"Dude, what are you doing? You're scaring the hell out of my bartender." Ed says light-heartedly.


"Why did Layne call off?" I ask without thinking.


His eyes widen and his eyebrows furrow - a surprised look of confusion. "She said she wasn't feeling well. Why?"


I let out a frustrated sigh and run my fingers through my hair, tugging on the ends. I squeeze my eyes shut and grab my bag from my feet. "Nothing. It's . . . nothing. I gotta go."


I open the door to the bar and the city gives me a loud, windy welcome. I start walking to the door to Layne's apartment building but then I stop.


This is insane. I can't do this. I'm high off my ass and I don't even know what I'd say. Maybe she really is just sick. Maybe she was busy yesterday. I don't have her phone number so I can't ask her.


"Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck." I say to myself.


A woman walks by me and pulls her son to the other side of her. She keeps her eyes on me the whole time. That's when I realize I'm pacing, pulling on my hair, and talking to myself.


I pull my phone out of my pocket to see if Matt responded. I get a text from him as soon as I get it out:


it isn't new

you just did more than you usually do

don't blame me for your reaction to higher doses


Another message comes through:


if I hadn't stopped you, you probably would have died

you need to start writing again, it's getting like how it used to be


"Fuck you," I say to my phone.


I don't respond and instead call Lucas.


"Hello, Prince Harry," he answers in a mock British accent.


"Let me in your building," I snap. I don't want to talk to him more than I have to.


He chuckles, "why do you need in my building? Are you going to come visit?"


"Shut the fuck up and let me in your fucking building." I'm not playing his bullshit games.


"Oh, Harold, you must be higher than Everest." He sounds disappointed, but it lacks sincerity.


I hear the buzzer sound and the door click. I hang up before he says anything else and walk into the lobby. My legs carry me up the stairs. It baffles me that this building still doesn't have a fucking elevator.


When I arrive at the third floor, my head is pounding and my body feels heavy. My high is still present, but it's slowly disappearing.


I stop in front of the red door and pound on the wood. Jesus, Harry. Might as well knock the damn thing down and tell her she's under arrest.


I pace in front of her apartment for a few seconds and then knock again, softer this time. I clench my jaw and run my hands over my face.


My bag feels like it's suffocating me so I pull it off and throw it on the floor. I hate that fucking bag. Why do I even have it? Oh, yeah, to carry all my baggage in so I can lay it out to everyone wherever I am.


"Fuck!" I slam my fist against the wall.


"Harry?" I hear behind me.


I spin around and Layne is standing in the doorway, rubbing her eyes. Her hair is a mess and she's wearing a black shirt - only a black shirt.


"What are you doing here?" Her voice is full of sleep and is softer than rose petals.


I pick up my bag and push myself past her, welcoming myself into her apartment. "Where the hell have you been?"


I throw my bag on her couch. I look around her apartment as if it holds the answer to my question.


"What do you mean? How did you get into my building?" She's still standing in the doorway.


The only light in this place is the light coming from the hallway. I walk back to the door, causing Layne to back into the door, and turn on a light switch.


I pace to the other side of her one-room apartment and pull at my hair. I hear the front door close and Layne's feet pad against the wood floor.


"Harry?" Her voice is still so soft, it's causing some of the anxiety to dissipate out of my chest. "Are you okay?"


Her hand touches my back and I spin around. She jumps back in surprise then regains her composure.


"Where the hell have you been?" I ask, frustration breaking through my voice.


Her eyebrows pull together in confusion, "what do you mean?"


"Yesterday? We were supposed to hang out? It was your night off? And today you called off?" My eyes are wide and they're searching her face.


Her eyes go from confused to concerned. "Harry," she says cautiously, "I think you need to sit down." She slowly turns around and makes her way to the kitchen.


Sit down? Why do I need to sit down? Is she going to tell me that she's moving? Or that she doesn't like me? Or that she's fucking some guy?


"I'm not sitting down." I state firmly.


She walks back to me with a glass of water. "Harry. . ." she starts to say something else, but I can't focus on it. Every time she says my name, I feel it hit me right in the chest. It's like someone is knocking the wind out of me, but I'm not scared that I can't breathe.


Somehow, I end up sitting on the couch, sipping the water she was holding.


She's standing over me with concern etched into her features. She watches for me a minute and then walks back into the kitchen. I hear the refrigerator door open and the rustling of her moving things around. I place the glass on the coffee table and glance around her living room. There are still boxes stacked up in the corner. I don't know how I know, but I know they're full. One is marked 'FAMILY' and I find myself wanting to search through it.


I'm pulled from my thoughts when Layne comes around the couch. She's holding a plate in one hand and a napkin in the other. She sits next to me and crosses her legs under her. There is a piece of toast with jelly on it and a banana on the plate. I take it from her and apprehensively start eating.


She sighs deeply and pulls her hair into a bun. Her hair seems darker now than it did the other day. When we got slushies, it was light brown - almost blonde - and now it's dark brown, the complete opposite.


"Did you dye your hair?" I ask in between bites.


She shakes her head and leans against the back of the couch. She avoids looking at me and sighs again.


"Are you going to talk to me?" The panic is starting to rise again.


Until now, I didn't notice my high wearing off. My head feels like it's being crushed and my body feels a thousand pounds. I might pass out. This is the worst part of doing coke - the comedown.


Her eyes finally meet mine. They're puffy and red. Has she been crying?


"We'll talk in the morning. I've had a long day," she stands up from the couch, "and you're drunk."


Drunk? She thinks I'm drunk? That explains the food. No one has ever fed me while I was high on coke.


I turn around to correct her but I pause when I see she's carrying a blanket and a pillow. She places them in the place she was sitting, from behind the couch.


She takes the empty plate out of my hands and takes it to the kitchen. I watch as she walks to the door and locks it, then she turns the light off. Everything goes pitch black and all I can hear are her feet against the floor. Then, I hear her fall onto her bed. The sheets rustle for a few moments and then it gets quiet.


I'm still sitting, completely in shock of her reaction to my coming here. Does she want me to sleep here? I don't think trusting a drunk guy - a guy you're assuming is drunk - to sleep in your apartment is a good idea.


"Get some sleep," her voice breaks through the silence and my thoughts. It's still as soft as it was earlier, but somehow she sounds even more exhausted.


Probably because of me.



It's been a long ass time

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