"The Things You Hear" by Maeve McGeorge

          I peer over the walls of the wooden cubby and see two pairs of eyelash extensions and two perfectly blown out heads of hair clinging to one another in the crammed space of a single library cubby. One is smacking her gum loudly and the other is standing above her, eagerly awaiting whatever new gossip she just has to hear.

          “Okay. But you can’t tell anyone.”
          “Who else would I tell?”
          “True.”
          “Okay?”
          “I slept with him.”

     “No way.”
          “I know. I usually never do that, but, it’s just, he’s so hot.”
          “How did it happen?”
          “I don’t know, it just did.”

          “Can you two please stop talking? This is the third floor. It’s supposed to be the quietest floor in the library,” a complainer in the cubby beside the two girls pipes in.

          “Wait, doesn’t he have a girlfriend?”
          “Yeah, but she’s a nobody.”

          For some reason, her words stung. No context and absolutely no reason to pay attention to their superficial banter, but something made my heartbeat quicken as one small detail kept nagging at the back of my brain.

          “Do you even know her name?”
          “No idea.”
          “I thought last time you saw him out he wouldn’t even look at you?”
          “Yeah because he got all moral and shit. But I guess he forgot about that.”
          “Guess so.”
          “Please be quiet,” the complainer pleads.
          “And you guys have never slept together before?”
          “We’ve never slept together before.”
          “You so have.”
          “He has a girlfriend. I’m not a terrible person.”
          “Yeah, true.”
          “Shit.”
          “What?”
          “Class started five minutes ago.”
          “Whatever. The professor won’t say anything if we’re late.”

          I press the home button on my phone and am met with a blank screen revealing only the time. He’s never slept in this late.

          A short stubby boy sits across from me, throwing his backpack down. Remnants of obscene images are dimly drawn across his face, the result of not having enough time to really scrub the permanent marker ink off. When his head disappears behind the wooden wall, all I can hear is his heavy breathing.

          Suddenly, his phone buzzes, vibrating across our desks. He answers on the first ring.

          “Yeah? You need what? Who do I need to talk to? Why her? Okay, I get that but you’re the one who hooked up with her, not me. Well, of course I will tell her not to tell anyone but she’s doesn’t need to be told. She’s not dumb. Okay fine, bye. Wait! Will you sign this off for me? Please. Oh, come on.”

          “Umm, excuse me?” The complainer asks.
          “What?”
          “Sorry, it’s just this is the third floor of the library. It’s the quiet floor.”
          “Then why are you talking right now?”

          The complainer doesn’t respond. The desks vibrate again. I really should be working on my paper but I check to see if it is my phone. It’s the time, once again.  No text from the person who usually likes to start each and every one of my mornings with a good morning text. This morning, I guess he forgot. The boy across the way loudly whispers into his phone.  

          “Yeah? No, I haven’t talked to her yet. Well, maybe if you promised to sign this off as a pledge task then I would have. Wait. What’s wrong? What do you mean you are going to tell her? It’s a bad idea. Don’t do it. Why on earth would you tell her? She will never find out, and if she does, lie. I mean come on, man. This is your first time cheating. No one is ever going to find out, especially Casey….oh sorry, Claire. I mean who would ever tell her. The only people who were there are your friends. Just don’t tell her. Do not call her! Why won’t you listen to me? Don’t hang up. Shit.”

          The single name he slips causes my trickles to erupt across my skin. I’m in another world, a world where the things I hear is him telling me he would never hurt me, that he loves me more than he could ever love a random girl at a party.

          “Do I need to tell you again?” The complainer interrupts my thoughts.
          “Again, why on earth do you think it’s okay to talk to me?” The pledge retorts.
          “I was just saying. No noise on the third floor.”
          “Screw you.”

          The desks vibrate. My phone lights up with a call from the person who was supposed to sleep over but never did.  

          “Hello?”

          The complainer stands up and stares directly into my glistening eyes.

          “How many times do I have to say this? No talking on the third floor.”