Tuesday, May 20, 2008

She wasn't going anywhere. She just told him everything he had done to wrong her and was proud of how directly she spoke. She laid it right out on the table, and immediately afterwards, she knew he had to be contrite. The trouble was he couldn’t say it, and he couldn’t say much else either.

“I mean, you have to understand. I just think your actions are completely incongruous with your words. Don’t you understand why that might be frustrating?”

He nodded and she thought she saw his eyes welling with tears. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an old bandana. With his nose scrunched like a marshmallow, he rapidly released three sneezes into his rag and wiped his nose clean. Swallowing hard, he uncrossed his legs and leaned forward in his chair. She faced him bravely and thought she might kiss him. She wasn’t particularly attracted to him then, but she felt that it was sometimes okay to act purely out of habit. People thought they were cute together.

He wasn’t wearing a shirt. He had a few at home, but chose not to concern himself with them. His pants were faded gold and skin-tight down to the middle of his shins, at which point they flared about a foot in every direction and made upside-down blossoms around his flat feet. She didn’t like how he wore so many necklaces— it troubled her. She told him more than once that he was begging to be assaulted, but he would respond every time with, “Me?”

They had seen a lot together. When you spend time with a person, he or she grows on you, even if it’s only familiarity. Their first kiss was an accident. Both of them thought the other one was leaning in for it, and neither one felt any differently about it happening or not happening. A kiss is just four lips instead of two, and his rarely stuck together.

He blinked at her slowly and moved his face so it was only six inches from hers. She thought she might really love him. She thought, “This must be it.”

The sun streamed electric red through thick windows. The day was ending. “What do you want to do?”

He looked around the room, took three yoga breaths, and said he’d like to stay where he was. He removed his boots and folded his hands in his lap. She took this as an indication that she should also stay, though she had no real reason to stay there. She said everything she had come there to say, but she couldn’t help hoping that he would say everything she had come there to hear. The conversation was less than enriching, and her sweater suddenly felt very tight. The smell of dust and rotting wood was making her feel slow. “When are you going to leave?” She spoke like a manager.

“I left someplace already. That’s how I got here.” He spoke without speaking to her, even though there was nobody else in the room. His big eyes kept blinking and watering, and she thought it was because of all the emotion he was bottling up. She knew there was so much depth to him, she had spoken about it many times with her friends— how terrifying his thoughts must be! How unique his ideas were! If only he would include them in conversations.

Her friends listened patiently, and she appreciated them for that, but she didn’t like what they told her. She didn’t like hearing that the object of her effort and repeated tries at affection could be anything but what she imagined he was. And if he wasn’t capable of brilliant thoughts, she didn’t want to know and preferred to think for him silently on her own terms.

“The VCR broke six weeks ago. I can’t show anyone the movies from the week we spent in Maine.” She wanted a response.

“I can try to fix it.”

“It’s just the VCR. You know what? I bet somebody somewhere owes us a favor. That’s how things really get done.”

Several seconds passed, but to her, each one was an era. “We just won’t know enough about each other to have this...” she motioned between the two of them, “…happen.”

“Don’t you want to have sex at night?”


“I do, too. That’s something, isn’t it?” He reached across the table and cupped his hand around hers. She giggled.

Her thoughts kept swirling around an old question that now seemed silly. How could they be strangers? In what ways were their souls not touching?

“You like trivia, right?” He asked and blinked.

“Some of it.”

“Everyone has the same dreams on different days of the week.”

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