Since their meeting in the coffee shop, Amy had not seen Karma around campus at all. Or well, she had avoided seeing Karma. Step one, she stopped going to the coffee shop where they had met and step two was just basically skipping places whenever Amy thought she was seeing glimpses of auburn haired girls. It might’ve seemed like Amy was overreacting to just how well they interacted, but whenever she was home, Liam went on a rampant about Karma and how wonderful Karma was and how they were getting closer and going to places Liam wanted Karma to get to know around the city.
It kind of resented Amy, since she proposed that to Karma before Liam did, but whatever. Anyway, Amy just didn’t do that. She didn’t fall for straight girls, she knew better than that. She did it once, it didn’t go well, Amy was a wreck and Liam – as always- was around to pick up the pieces.
That’s why she couldn’t do that to him. She couldn’t go for the girl Liam was starting to like. And that was huge for him. Amy didn’t see Liam pining after a girl since freshman year of high school. And that lasted for like, two weeks. This Karma thing had been going on for almost two months now. It was a huge step for Liam, and Amy didn’t want to say Liam was falling in love, but that’s what he seemed to be doing. He also always sneaked up in their conversations about Karma how badly the girl wanted to meet Amy.
Yes, maybe Amy figured out the Karma she met and Liam’s Karma were the same girl, because how many people named like that existed in their campus? Not many, Amy calculated. But Amy was a pretty common name, so Karma could only think it was a coincidence.
Amy had been taking this like a champ for the team, avoiding Karma at all costs, but even her ninja skills weren’t enough sometimes. Sometimes, she got a glimpse of Karma far off from where she was, and she just allowed herself to stare for one or two seconds. Amy just really appreciated the girl was always smiling, and how wonderful her smile was. Or how sometimes she studied in the green spaces of campus, lying around in the grass, with an assortment of books around her, legs crossed and up and concentration in her face. Okay, so maybe Amy allowed herself to stare more than a person who’s really trying not to like someone would. But Amy just longed for whatever they could’ve had, even if it was merely friendship. Karma had made some friends lately, which made Amy happy. She liked to see Karma happy, because she seemed like a good person. Of course Liam would fall for the most amazing person, because to Amy, Liam was pretty amazing, too. So of course he deserved the best.
She was pretty sure no one had picked that she was avoiding anyone, let alone liking someone.
But of course she had underestimated Shane.
“Okay.” Shane came up to her one afternoon when she was studying and sat down across from her, looking at her with the most serious expression Amy had seen on the boy’s face in this entire time she’s been around him, “Spill.”
Amy grabbed the bottle of water beside her and let a little spill on the ground beside their table.
“What are you doing?” Shane asked, confused.
“You said spill, so I just did.” Amy laughed at her own joke, “Get it?”
“You are so weird.” Shane’s face was mock disgust, “I know something’s going on, Amy. And I know you well enough to know it’s not about the classes, because so far you’re going pretty well, otherwise you’d be full on freaking out, but instead you’re really quiet and pensive all the time. And that’s not default Amy.”
“Hey!” Amy said half-shocked, “I am pensive. I can be pensive.”
“Right, but tell me one thing. What’s in your Netflix queue?”
Amy scratched her head, “Uh, nothing? I haven’t really been in the mood for Netflix lately.”
“What?! I’m just really busy with college stuff. I’d rather pass my classes than procrastinate.” As she said that, even she knew how much of a lie that was. Granted, Amy studied and did well on her classes because she thought it was important to do well in college and she liked to learn new things. But procrastination was something Amy did almost on a daily basis, for a few hours a day.
The thing is that Amy hasn’t really been up to watching anything lately, because sitting around watching movies can be a very dangerous thing when you’re trying not to think of someone. It started one day when, for no apparent reason, Amy thought it was a good idea to watch ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days’. It started pretty well, nothing much, just pretty much default Amy thinking Kate Hudson is really hot and all that. And then she began to wonder if Karma liked that movie. And if the couple in the movie were them, would Amy be Matthew McConaughey or would Karma? She settled with Karma, because she really hated that guy. That day ended up with Amy being a mess on the couch, crying to Matt McConaughey and Adam Sandler’s lousy acting. So she decided to stay away from romantic comedies and Netflix altogether. She dare not speak of this day to anyone. When Liam arrived home from whatever joy cruise he had been with Karma that day, he noticed her eyes were all puffy. When he asked about it, Amy dismissed it, saying she was just watching ‘Marley & Me’ again.
“Amy, come on, what’s her name?” Shane’s voice now was warmer and he looked at her with worry in his eyes, so she decided to come clean.
“Okay. I might have a crush.” Amy begun, testing the ground, watching Shane’s eyes getting brighter by the minute and the knowing smirk on his face getting progressively larger.
“Good for you, boo!” He said with excitement.
“No.” Amy said and watched all his excitement disappear from his face, “It’s not good for me. It’s bad for me.”
“Oh?” He tilted his head like a confused puppy.
“Okay. So remember that day we were talking about me taking the reins of my life and putting myself out there?”
“Right. Well, I went to get some coffee and I met a girl. And I have been avoiding her since.”
“I don’t get it…”
“Alright, so you know how Liam and I were gathering boxes for some new girl that was moving out from campus?” Amy asked and Shane nodded again, “Okay. It’s the same girl.”
“Oh.” Shane said and remained quiet, Amy just gave him a moment for him to realize the bit of information she just told him. Understanding lighted up his face for a brief second, before it was replaced by a frown. “Oh! Liam likes that girl, right?”
“Yeah. Liam likes the girl. And… And I think I, too, like the girl.”
“It’s okay. I’m dealing with it. I’m… taking action so as to not let this interfere with our friendship.”
“How exactly so?”
“I’ve been avoiding her, for one thing.” Shane huffed at her, “Excuse me, that’s a good thing to do to prevent myself from going even further into this crush. Isn’t it?”
“It’s a coping mechanism, I guess. Do you feel different? Do you like her less? Have you been thinking about her less?”
“Define ‘liking her less’.” Amy winced and Shane threw his arms up in despair. “What do you want me to do, Shane? I’m trying really hard, okay! I bury myself under tons of biology articles, I stopped going to the coffee shop I usually went to, because she goes there frequently, even though it’s really close to my building and I have to cross the whole campus to get to another coffee shop, but I do it. I am really trying. But she always creeps up in my mind, you know? And this campus is big, but it’s not exactly so big that I don’t run into her quite often. It doesn’t help that she always seems to dim the color of everything that isn’t her, and everything else is just dull, blurry background. It doesn’t help that she’s pretty much sunshine and smiles all the time. And also how she’s completely nice to random people. And let alone whenever she lays down on the grass to study and the sun reflects on her hair and her eyes become this really intense hazel, okay?” Amy breathed but she still wasn’t finished, “And it doesn’t help her name is Karma. I never even believed in karma but I’m pretty sure she’s mine.”
Shane just sat in silence, too taken aback to formulate a quick response. “Wow, Amy… That’s, that’s a lot.”
“I think you’re trying hard.” Shane reached out and held her hand that was resting on top of the table, he gently smiled at her and just that gesture alone made her feel a little better. “But we can’t help the people we’re going to fall-“
“I’m not falling in love.” Amy interrupted, abhorring that thought. “I don’t even know her that well. She could be a horrible person. She isn’t even into girls.”
“Okay. We can’t help the people we are going to feel affectionate to.”
“What do I do, Shane?” Her voice cracked when she said his name. She couldn’t help it, she was feeling so vulnerable. She had been pining after Karma all this time and she tried so hard not to. Everything just felt like a huge failure. And she couldn’t betray Liam like that. What would he say? What would he even do? Being the incredible person Amy knew he was, he would mostly just step aside and let her be. That’s why Amy wanted to let him be with Karma so bad. Because he was a better person than she was.
“You clearly like this Karma person. And she’s very lucky she’s got your attention. And Liam’s. You’re both great people. You’re like, siblings. The honest thing to do is just to talk to him, Amy. Make him realize you know her, and that you’re starting to have feelings for her.”
“I can’t do that. What’s your other suggestion?”
Shane squeezed her hand lightly, “The other suggestion would just to be letting go. Go after what you want. If it’s Karma, then be it. The heart wants what the heart wants. Test the waters with her, see where you can go with her, see how comfortable you feel around her. Maybe this is merely platonic, and when you get to actually know her, you’ll see that there’s something of a hamartia that will make you realize you don’t like her so much, not romantically, at least. And then you can step away and let Liam and her be together. But at least you’ll have the clear conscience to know you’ve tried.”
As soon as Shane said it, Amy’s heart pounded with hope. That’s all she wanted to do. She wanted to introduce Karma to all the places she loved, she wanted to really get to know Karma. Not in the knowing where she grew up kind of way, but the real things. The things Karma would only trust to people she held in the highest esteem. Amy wanted to be that person. But that would be incredibly wrong and disloyal to Liam.
“I don’t even think she’s into girls.” Amy said again, because that was still the only thing that kept coming up when she searched for reasons to not do what she wanted.
“How do you know?”
“Because she likes Liam back!”
“Really? Are you serious right now?” Shane raised an eyebrow in disbelief, “Have you ever heard the word ‘bisexual’? It means that one can be attracted to genders that are not only the opposite of yours. That’s really biphobic of you.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be. But usually when you meet someone who’s into guys, you jump to the conclusion that they are straight.”
“Yeah, but you shouldn’t. I mean, you never know, Amy. That’s the point. When you met her, were you guys just friendly or were you stepping into flirting territory?”
“I think we might have flirted a little.” Amy said, honestly.
“There you go!” Shane stopped grabbing her hand and lightly tapped on the table, “Talk to her! Stop that creepy secret admirer thing. You got game, Amy. You are the hottest lesbian I know.”
“You know what, like, two lesbians?”
“I know a bunch of them, okay. Most are in my thespian group.” Amy laughed at Shane’s stupid joke, “Besides, Liam and Karma are just hooking up, right? They are not into any kind of serious commitment right now, are they? He just keeps talking about her with you, and to me he’s just crushing. If it were something serious, you would be the first person to know.”
“I guess.” Amy looked down at her book and then up at Shane. “Yeah, I think you’re right.” A smile began to sprout on her face.
“Aren’t I always?” He said, opening his arms.
“Don’t be a jerk.” Amy threw a pen at him and he made a noise of mock outrage, Amy just got up to her feet to hug him and kissed him on the cheek, “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“You’d probably be a very sad little person.” He smiled.
“You’ve just ruined it.” She stopped hugging him and messed his carefully composed hair causing him to protest. Amy grabbed her stuff from the table, “I’ll catch up with you later! Thanks for the advice!” She said as she turned away and left for class.
The classes went terribly slow that day, but Amy felt good. She had finally figured out what she was going to do. She was going to come clean to Liam. She was nervous about it, yes, but it was the right thing to do. It was up to them to talk about it and figure it out.
As soon as Amy set her feet in her apartment, she scented something delicious in the air. Instantly, she knew Liam was cooking, and she was very appreciative of that.
“Hey, I’m home!” She said, announcing her arrival.
Liam came from the kitchen, sloppily drying his hands on the apron he was wearing.
“Hey,” He met her with a fist bump. “How was your day?”
“Good. I had a bit of an epiphany today. With Shane’s help.”
“That’s great. Can’t wait to hear it.” Liam said and stood in the same place for a bit. Amy knew something was off about this. The look on his face denounced him. He was dying to tell Amy something.
“What? Spit it out before I’m eighty-five, will you?”
“Okay. We’re not alone.” He said and waited for Amy’s reaction. When it came up blank, Liam winked at her and smiled sheepishly. “Wait here.”
Liam went back into the kitchen to get something, and Amy waited in the same place she had been since she arrived. She put her bag and books down, and finally took a look at her surroundings. Smudged between two cushions on the sofa, was a patterned rucksack. The minute she saw it, she knew it didn’t belong to Liam. Because Liam was the last human being in the face of the Earth that carried a satchel with him. And she knew whom that rucksack belonged to. She had seen it around campus way too much to not know it.
Amy’s stomach dropped. This wasn’t supposed to be happening today. Not when she was going to finally come clean to Liam.
“Amy,” Liam said, waiting for her to look up, she stopped glaring at the rucksack and turned to see Liam, with his arms around someone’s shoulders. Karma’s shoulders. “This is Karma.” He introduced her and smiled like a kid that just found ten dollars on the sidewalk and spent it all on candy. He was expecting her to say something, but instead she froze, looking at the girl who had inhabited her mind in the last few days, right in front of her.