Alli walked up the stone pathway, in the pouring rain. She wore a water-resistant greatcoat, but her hair was soaked. Jan accepted her in, without question.
The fire leaped, bright in the hearth. Jan took Alli’s coat and let her towel off. They sat in front of the fireplace together, on the bear skin rug, wrapped in a huge afghan.
Her hair was drying quickly, in front of the flames. She turned to Jan and said, “I did it. I left Ran.”
The rain outside never let up. “I’ve been waiting for you to say something like that, for what seems like forever,” Jan murmured. Alli couldn’t help smiling and turned to look at her, “Me too.”
“So, this is me,” Nealy said, unlocking the door.
Alli came in and looked around. The stars burned in the navy sky and the rhythmic chirping of crickets filled the air. Nealy turned on the light, and Alli saw the long hallway, leading to a small kitchen, with a yellow and orange tile floor.
“Welcome to my new home. Our new home, off-campus,” Nealy was saying, as Alli took in the light fixtures, the mint green sofa, the aging television set.
They came into the living room. The kitchen opened into this space. The TV could be seen from the tiny dining area.
Alli continued peering about, at the toaster, the Japanese chef knifes, the breadbox, the juicer. Nealy stepped in front of her and caressed her upper arms. She smelled Alli’s neck, took in her cologne, “You’re going to like it here, I promise.”
A pause followed. They listened to the crickets, imagined the constellations whirling above them. Nealy looked into Alli’s eyes and said, “You know that I truly love you.”
Alli grasped Nealy’s fingers in her hand, “Even a few weeks ago, I would have never imagined this moment, here with you. My dream came true.”
Nealy grinned, “I’m flattered that I was in your dream.” She held Alli’s face between her hands. Alli looked up at her.
The disk of the moon rose in the east and drifted through the stars. Tree branches rustled outside, masking the two students’ muted conversation.