Jiri lived at the university. He was doing a science degree on a scholarship, and was very bookish, and had stellar grades, but Jiri had never kissed a girl.
The residences were co-ed, and he had a few friends. Most were his fellow students, who appreciated working together with him to finish their assignments. Some of them were female, and some of these really liked Jiri, liked him a lot.
But Jiri could see that they only wanted him for his brains, which seemed to him like an unsound basis for a relationship. How can you have a good relationship if the only thing you have in common with your partner is some smarts? He hoped that, one day, he would find a girl that would want him for his body, for love, for sex. Oh, she'd have to be smart, too, of course, but he really wanted to share some spark of physical desire, of lust, of passion.
Jiri was not a prude. There were plenty of parties on his floor, and he enjoyed getting drunk or stoned, and having deep-and-meaningful conversations late into the night. These spells of drunken intimacy gave him some feeling of connection with his fellow human beings, and he was content with his lot. But he never seemed to connect with any women.
Then Cindi moved on to the floor.
Cindi turned up in the middle of the year, from somewhere up north, judging by her broad accent. She had put her name down early on Jiri's table for the mid-year dinner, unseating someone else, and making herself unpopular with the organizing forces in Jiri's clique. So, even before she had met anyone, she was on the wrong side of Jiri's friends.
She ended up sitting next to Jiri. She was tall, and a bit thin, and a bit gawky. She was obviously feeling a bit self-conscious, and no one else would talk to her, so Jiri tried to strike up a conversation, out of politeness more than anything. She didn't say much, and soon Jiri was having a good time with his usual yabbering with his friends, and he did not give her much thought. She slipped away after the meal, and nobody noticed her passing. Except for Jiri.
"She won't like it here," he thought.
He did not see her again until the following evening. Jiri was working away on maths assignments, when a soft knock on his door disturbed his concentration.
It was Cindi. Jiri didn't really appreciate the intrusion, but, feeling a little sorry for the new girl, let her in to sit on the bed with him, the only seat to be had in his tiny room.
Cindi had brought her backgammon set. Jiri had enough curiosity about his new acquaintance that he accepted her challenge graciously, although he didn't expect to be away from his assignment for very long.
Surprised, Jiri found himself enjoying Cindi's company. Her earnest, shy manner concealed a quick, dry, wit, and she was a good player. They chattered on, and Jiri learnt that Cindi had been raised in Cairns, and had until recently been at James Cook. Out of polite interest he inquired about the reason for her switching to UNSW, but she simply let the question hang, unanswered, until he changed the subject.
It was after midnight before Jiri realized the time, and, with lectures starting at 8am the next morning, Jiri suggested they call it a night. Cindi agreed, and reaching over to him, gave his hand a squeeze. Jiri was a little surprised at her touch; there was a real warmth in her fingers, and they lingered, and Cindi stroked the back of his hand. She looked at him then, with a quiet intensity that surprised him, and he felt a jolt of desire beginning to call to him, to fill him. Softly, she released him, gave him a peck on the cheek, and left him.
The days after that were somewhat peculiar. After her faux pas at the dinner, none of Jiri's friends showed the slightest interest in getting any further acquainted with Cindi. Whenever Jiri sat down at Cindi's table at dinner time, she would look a bit awkward, and would clam up. In the end, he rejoined his usual dinner companions, and left Cindi to eat pretty much by herself.
Most evenings, though, there would be that soft tap on the door, and Cindi would slip into Jiri's room, where they would play backgammon, and talk. During the course of each evening, Cindi, seemingly unconsciously, would softly cover Jiri's hand with her own. Jiri would let her gently turn his hand over, and she would delicately stroke him with her fingers, her fingers tracing quiet patterns on his palm, as if tracing out his life-line.
He came to enjoy the sound of her voice. Although the accent was broad, he appreciated her candour and passions, and began to spend longer and longer moments just listening to her views on life, with that constant pleasure surrounding his hand, and the intensity of her eyes.
These visits continued for several weeks, and Jiri grew to depend upon them. He sometimes visited Cindi in her room, but this did not feel right: he did not feel unwelcome, but these visits did not create the sense of a new space in his life that her visits to his room had begun to open.
.... There is more of this story ...