By the way

by Doreen F.

It was my last course at university for that day and I was really bored. I only wanted to leave and I was really looking forward to coming home and relaxing, watching TV, whatever. But I would have to wait for nearly an hour until my course was over and attendance was mandatory. I could not leave earlier without a reason. I noticed that most of my fellow students seemed bored as well. Right then our lecturer told us he would make a small break and continue in ten minutes. I sighed in relief. A break was exactly what I needed now. The end of the lesson would have been better, though. I got up and wanted to leave the class room. When I reached the door I collided with one of my colleagues.

“Idiot”, I thought.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I just needed to get out really fast. Are you okay?” He apologised.

“No problem, I’m fine, now that we have a break, I wasn’t looking either, sorry.” I smiled at him. He seemed to be one of the nicer guys and looked quite cute.

“Thank God neither of us was holding a coffee!”

“True enough, but I think I need one now to be able to stand the rest of this class.”

“You’re right, it’s so boring. Could I buy you a coffee?”

“How could I say no to that?”

Together we went to the coffee vending machines chatting all the time. On the way back to class we had to hurry since it had taken us longer than we had thought to buy a coffee. We got into the room right before our professor came in. We decided to sit down next to each other since there was plenty of room and neither of us knew anyone else in this class.

“What’s your name?” he asked when we were sitting.

“Isabel and yours?”

“Ben.”

“Let’s hope we don’t fall asleep during the rest of our class!”

We spent the lecture whispering most of the time and not paying too much attention to what was actually going on. Time passed quickly and eventually the course was over. Ben and I did not live too far away, so we took the metro together. We also exchanged phone numbers. I was looking forward to our next class together although the course itself would be boring.

Next Tuesday we met before the course for a chat. During the lecture we were bored, but what else could we do but fake some interest in the subject.

I was glancing over at Ben every once in a while and we talked, but it was hard not to be noticed. He was really handsome. Not too big, muscular body, short dark brown hair and a really handsome face. His eyes were dark brown, almost black. Ben kept rubbing his chin with his left hand, which seemed to be something he did when he was bored. So we sat there quietly most of the time copying some of the notes, adding some information to our handouts and exchanging meaningful looks. There was not break this time, which seemed really cruel. Whenever I was watching Ben he looked back at me. I was intrigued by his dark eyes and it was difficult not to watch him instead of our professor. I kept glancing over at him and he glanced over at me. Were we flirting? I was not sure. Did he have a girlfriend? I did not know. I usually fancied men who had a girlfriend, so I was convinced that Ben could not be single.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” the words left my mouth without thinking. How blunt!

“No, do you have a boyfriend?” he answered quickly looking surprised.

“No, that’s good to know.” I replied.

“Indeed.”

During the rest of our course I kept thinking about Ben. Eventually the course was over.

“Eh…this may sound weird to you, but would you like to go to the movies with me tonight? I know you’re probably busy, but...”

“Of course, I’d love to.”

This was settled then. He seemed to like me, thank god.”

We watched a rather good movie and afterwards we went for a drink and then for a walk outside. Ben put his arm around me and I did not want the night to end. Suddenly the moon came out and we kissed. Wow, it felt great.

I did not remember how I got home or anything because I was floating.

Ben and I met again the following nights and it was always great to have his company. It felt so good. On the weekend we met at an ice-cream parlour and ate something called “Sweet Love.” The time we spent together was simply amazing and I was always longing to see Ben again. On Tuesday we had our boring course again. We spent the whole lecture watching each other smiling and taking notes and I kept glancing at Ben and suddenly I saw contact lenses in his eyes. Somehow this revelation thrilled me. How come I had not noticed before? What would he look like in glasses? Thoughts were racing through my mind and I must have looked pale.

“Are you alright?” Black eyes were looking at me.

“Yeah, I just, well… I just realized that have had too much coffee today. I won’t be able to sleep.” I managed.

“Maybe you should stay up all night, together with me.”

“That sounds tempting.”

At the end of the course we agreed that I would come over to Ben’s place and spend the night there. I had a room mate so it would be better to stay at Ben’s. I was wondering whether I would get to see his glasses or not.

I did not.

I was there all night and we had a great night together, but he did not show up in glasses. I was not sure whether he had been wearing contact lenses all the time or not. I looked for glasses or contact lens paraphernalia in his bathroom, but there was nothing. Strange, I thought, but there was nothing I could do about it. Ben was gorgeous anyway, but I thought that he would look really hot in glasses.

We did not sleep much that night, but I had class in the morning so I could not stay for breakfast. Ben remained in bed while I got up and got dressed. I came back and kissed him again before I left. I could have sworn he was not wearing his contacts. His eyes looked different.

We saw quite much of each other during the next few days, but he was always in contacts. On the weekend my room mate was out of town. She was back home visiting her family so I invited Ben over to my place and cooked for him. He also stayed the night wearing his contact lenses all the time. Could eyes tolerate contact lenses that long, I was wondering. Ben’s could, apparently, but why did he not tell me about it?

We had been an item for over a month now and I have not once seen Ben in glasses and sometimes I kept wondering whether he actually was wearing contacts or whether it was some wishful thinking on my behalf.

Time passed and we spent nights together, but never once did he tell me about his secret. Sometimes I could tell he was having difficulties with his contact lenses, but he was really good at concealing it. I did not have the guts to ask him about it right away and whenever he seemed distracted and I asked if he was okay, he just said, yeah, sorry and some excuse. I tried to ask him more directly, but I could not find the right words or the right approach and somehow I wanted him to tell me and not me somehow exposing him.

Ben had decided to introduce me to his parents after I had introduced him to mine. He instructed me days before the actual meeting telling me plenty of things about his parents. One day he just casually added, “By the way I will be wearing glasses at my parents’ house. I usually wear contact lenses, but they don’t know I have them.”

I could not say anything, but, “Why?”

“Well, my uncle is an ophthalmologist and when I got glasses he told my parents how bad contacts were and they didn’t want me to get them.”

“Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“I tried, but I couldn’t. I don’t like the way I look in glasses and the fact that that’s the way my parents want me to look. I look like a geek and I feel like one.”

“You can’t look like a geek.”

“Oh, I can, I do. I’ll prove it to you.”

We were in his flat and he went to the bathroom, removed his contact lenses and came back bare-eyed. Then he took a glasses case out of a drawer and put on his glasses. They were heavy and definitely not a good choice. No wonder he felt like a geek. They seemed strong too.

“I told you, didn’t I? It’s like wearing a huge post-it saying, ‘geek’.”

“Oh, come on, it’s not that bad, but the frames are far from trendy. Were you drunk when you picked them or are you that blind?” I smiled and kissed him.

“Yeah, I’ve never spent much time in choosing them. I just wanted to get out of the optometrist’s.”

“Well, I can see that, but with a different style of frames, you’d certainly look extremely hot.”

“You think so?”

“We should give it a try.”

We went to an optician close to university where Ben bought his contacts and they had really trendy frames. Ben had to get quite close to the mirror to check himself out, but eventually he settled for a really nice frame; semi-rimless and very trendy. We were told to come back in hour and after Ben put on his new frames he seemed rather content with the way he looked.

“See, I told you. You look really hot.” I said and kissed him passionately.

“They’re much better than the old ones, but looking through them and wearing them feels extremely weird.”

“That’s because you’re not used to wearing glasses.”

“I guess.”

“I think you’re cuter than ever.”

“Let’s go to my place then, shall we” Ben added with a wicked grin.

“Lead the way.”

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