Jeff turned over, trying to catch the soft breath of the fan on a little bit more of himself.

Damn this heat; he hadn’t been able to get a good night’s sleep for days. His little room with its one window didn’t have nearly enough air movement to keep comfortable at night. He was already sleeping on top of the covers; there wasn’t much more he could do.

At length, either some shift outside let the air cool down a bit, or fatigue finally won out. At long last, he drifted into fitful slumber.

At times like this, maybe it wasn’t so surprising that he kept dreaming of things he might have done differently in life. This time, though, it was unusually specific and vivid. He went back five years, to his graduation party. To Kim Hastings, somewhat ill-at-ease in her fancy black dress but filling it out wonderfully. To the time they’d slipped away from the crowd, enjoying a few drinks in the relative quiet of the yard. To the moment they’d turned to go and paused, meeting one another’s gaze.

Part of him had wanted to move closer. To offer a kiss, even, and see where it went from there. Instead, he’d looked away, turned aside, and they’d gone their separate ways.

Tonight, though, he didn’t. He reached up to her cheek, and she leaned into his hand with a smile that made his heart race. He leaned toward her, scarcely believing, but she never pulled away and nor did he. Their lips met – a bit awkwardly at first, then settling in a little better. And when they went back inside, it was arm in arm.

And from there – what? They could’ve gone out together – they’d always had things they could talk about, unlike the other girls and one guy Jeff had dated. Enjoyed a few nice-ish restaurants, or taken a picnic out by the shore some evening. In his dream, a few brief arguments came and went, always stopped before they got too far, talked through, replaced by calm, companionable silence and contact.

Together, they rented that two-bedroom apartment Jeff had looked into, but not found a flatmate for. It had several windows, and air conditioning, and it faced north so it wasn’t so sun-scorched. It was roomy enough for two, but not so big that they rattled around.

And then, one cool evening when he was discreetly tending to himself, she came in to ask him something, and instead came over, kissed him, and wrapped her hand around his shaft like she’d done it a dozen times. She rode him there and then, and afterward, they drifted off together on his bed.

He opened his eyes, only to see the same cramped space he’d known for a few years now. Nobody kept him company here, and the only way he ever got off was by a few clumsy minutes with his own hand.

Once he’d shaken off the paralysis of sleep, he sat up with a sigh. If only he’d gone ahead and kissed her back then…

Well, maybe it was too late for that idyllic life together, but he could at least try to get back in touch, couldn’t he? Wouldn’t hurt to see how she’d done since school.

Sleep was a lost cause for the rest of the night anyway. Jeff swung out of bed and crept over to his desk. Time and then some to see if that email address he had was still good.