It was by accident Charlie found Nathan at 3 am in the living room. Nathan sitting in the corner of the coach with a laptop in his lap. The screen light lit up his hair and glimmering eyes, creating a dramatic effect, contouring his otherwise sharp features, softened and dimmed them. His otherwise clearly outlined face now had blurry edges, a fuzzy glow of light. He looked like a ghost.
“Hey West,” Nathan greeted him, looking up from the screen. He offered one of his smiles, the ones that told Charlie nothing. Charlie didn’t know what to think of the smile, it was too soft to be a friendly greeting, too easy to be a proper show of gratitude, too true to be a careless shrug. Nathan simply smiled, and Charlie never knew what was behind the smiles. He would say that they were empty, but then again they were not.
“Hi,” he saluted back, heading for the kitchen. It was a part of the living room, only a counter separated the two. He opened the fridge and sighed. There was nothing to drink.
“There is a bottle of squash in the second drawer.” Charlie scrunched his nose.
“No thanks.” He hated those things that tasted disgustingly sweet and were unsurprisingly made of sugar sludged water.
He got himself a glass of water. Crushing sounds from the ice dispenser was too loud. It was misplaced in the silence. Charlie had to make do with three ice cubes, he couldn’t bear the sound anymore. Nathan didn’t talk in the darkness, he simply sat with one leg over the other, leaning back into the couch, eyes on the screen in front of him. Charlie noticed how his hair was wet. He must have showered. There were droplets of water that clung to the tips of his ash blond hair. The fabric of his T-shirt was wet on both shoulder from the dripping water.
Charlie put the empty glass away on the counter with a soft cling. He felt obligated to speak of something, anything, to break the strange silence between them. Still, he didn’t. He didn’t know what to say. He could always start with a question: “So what are you doing?” or a more casual phrase like “What’s up?”. They were not close. The question might seem invasive. Charlie was reminded that they were barely acquaintances who had moved together into an apartment to share the rent. It was necessity that brought them together.
Charlie had been late with finding a flat, the temporary place he stayed at was devouring his scholarship at an alarming rate, and the tuition fees didn’t make the matter better. Nathan’s proposal had seemed like a good idea, although he was surprised by the approach since they barely knew each other. Urgent situations crave urgent solutions. The choice was made on a whim, and so far Charlie had yet to decide whether he regret his impulsive decision.
He sighed and bid his farewell. Nathan did not respond. He was seated in the sofa, staring intensely at the bright screen. Trying not to take the unresponsiveness as anything offensive, Charlie went back upstairs and fell asleep again.