By Mackenzie Rossero, Staff Writer
This is a follow-up to “Caroline and Jack from calc,” which ran in the Oct. 18 edition of The Miami Student.
Jack was sitting on Caroline’s bed, chatting with Caroline and her old roommate, Madison. Having just returned from Uptown, they were all exhausted — Jack especially.
Somehow, in the midst of Caroline and Madison’s gossip, Jack fell asleep. And when Caroline slid into bed next to him, Madison quickly excused herself.
Nothing happened. There was no sex, no socks on the door. Caroline and Jack spent those following hours talking, cuddling and sneaking in a kiss every now and then. They were encased in the innocent bliss of this new relationship — comfortable with each other, but not totally familiar.
“How do you feel about me?”
It had taken her awhile, but eventually, Caroline had gathered up the courage to ask. After the long, confusing struggle that had ensued during her visit to Notre Dame a few weeks ago, Jack knew how she felt about him. But what did he think of her?
Jack looked at Caroline, offering her a small, mischievous smile before saying matter-of-factly, “I like you.”
A massive smile lit Caroline’s face and she unsuccessfully tried to hide it by closing her lips. Instead, she cocooned herself in blankets and burrowed into his side.
They fell asleep like this.
Jack left the next day, with the all-too-familiar promise of “I’ll text you later.”
Caroline did not hear from him later. Instead, she saw him from across the ice at a hockey game with Robin — his “best friend” that he had casually hooked up with last semester.
But from their touchy, hand-holding, arm-over-shoulder body language, Caroline was suddenly suspicious that there was more to their relationship than Jack was admitting to.
Caroline didn’t like assumptions and didn’t like rash conclusions. She knew Jack. She owed him the opportunity to explain things to her.
So, Caroline went about her Friday night the same way she went about every Friday night: she went to Brick Street.
Standing near the bar, a Trashcan in hand, she texted Jack: Hey, I’m at Brick. Are you out?
I’m at New, he responded.
Text me when you get to Brick, she told him, familiar with his habits.
An hour or so later, Caroline felt a tap on her back. Spinning around, she realized that it was Jack.
“Hi,” she said, surprised. “When’d you get here?”
“Just now,” he explained, despite the nearly empty beer in his hand.
They stood there briefly, not speaking, not making eye-contact. Jack had to have been at Brick long enough to get his beer and drink it … why had he waited to find her?
Despite this, Caroline let Jack follow her to dance floor. They didn’t dance but began to make small talk. It was only for a few minutes, but it felt as though that brief conversation had lasted an hour. The pauses between their words seemed to grow, and Caroline realized that Jack was studying an area just over her right shoulder, not looking at her at all.
The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” blasted loudly from the speakers, but Jack still stood out of reach — she would’t have been able to reach out and touch him without taking a step forward. Caroline’s hand began to fidget, adjust her shirt, pat her hair.
“Where are your friends?” she finally asked, suggesting he go get them.
Jack left, but he didn’t come back.
Soon, Caroline made her way back to the bar, intent on another drink to make it through the night. After ordering, she noticed some of Jack’s friends lingering nearby. She approached them.
“Where did Jack go?” she asked. “I thought he was looking for you.”
“Oh,” one began slowly, “he left with Robin.”
For a moment, Caroline was quiet. Then, without waiting for the bartender to finish making her drink, she walked off, passing through the patio gate and bracing the cold night.