Friday, February 17, 2012

Two Pages

He woke with a start.  He felt like he was falling, but -no -he was safely in his bed.  And, where was she?  She had been lying right next to him, warm and soft.  Now her side of the bed was cold.  He threw back the covers, still half asleep and half-convinced she must be in the bed somewhere.

But she wasn’t.

Now he was fully awake, and frustrated.  When the alarm went off on his phone, he picked it up and threw it.  Then he realized that he wanted to check it for messages -any possible messages from her.  He closed his eyes, feeling intensely stupid.

Later that day, as he sat in his dungeon of an office, a cup of cold coffee turning into a brown stain on his desk, he realized -as the clock struck dangerously close to 5 p.m. -that he’d done next to nothing all day but think about her -she of the no messages all day.  Nothing, not one single text.  He half wished he still lived in the olden days, when everyone had to write letters.  Maybe waiting days or weeks for a letter wouldn’t be half so bad as waiting all day for a text message that should have been there now, that morning, last night, at lunch, during breakfast, in the middle of the afternoon, just... now, right fucking now.

She should have been there for breakfast, sitting across from him -no, wait, he never sat down for breakfast -standing up, wearing one of his shirts, leaning against the door, holding a mug of tea and watching him through perfect bangs -her perfect bangs.  The sound of her voice wishing him a great day, laughing at him, with him, one last hug, kiss, or roll around in the sheets -or an attempt anyway, with her pushing him off, but only half-hearted, with one hand on his chest, the other on his arm, and her legs spread wide open, a total invitation in her eyes.

He sighed.  He ran his fingers through his hair, messing it up; making it stand on end.

“Bad day?”  One of his co-workers walked by.

“Yeah.”  He didn’t bother to look up.  What is she doing now? he wondered, Why won’t she fucking text me?  Instinctively, he checked his phone.  No messages.  None from her anyway.  He felt as though the image that was his phone’s home screen was making a mockery of him, although it couldn’t possibly be.  It just a shot of a building -a building that meant something to him.  

He thought about changing it to an image of her.  He’d had this embarrassing thought multiple times.  He looked around his office, around the edges of his cubicle, hoping no one could see how stupid he was being.  Then he checked the pictures gallery on his phone (again), as if checking again would change the fact that he didn’t actually have any photos of her.

Dinner was a disaster.  His coworkers had convinced him to have drinks after work.  He’d nursed a beer and then switched to a whisky on rocks, trying to look tougher; trying to look more... into it.  Yeah, he thought, This is so fucking stupid.

But some girl had sidled up to him, next to him, made eye contact, and then moved down further along the bar with her friends.  They had looked him over multiple times, making eyes; giggling (he imagined); smiling (he was sure of it).  Finally, one of his coworkers had punched him (not too hard) in the arm -really, it had been nudge of encouragement:  “Jesus Christ, man, go get it.”

The girl at dinner had fidgeted with her hair and looked down a lot, nervous, all of her confidence blown over those long looks and giggles at the bar -and also the fact that he barely looked at her.  All of his interest had gone with the whisky.  They made awkward small talk.  It was so uncomfortable, and the wine (which neither of them had really wanted but had felt compelled to order because... well... that’s what people did on early dates -especially first dates), the wine did not help.  It was kind of gross, actually.  He thought people who liked wine were jackasses.  She thought people who liked wine were smarter than she was.

When the check finally came, he grabbed for it, probably too fast.  He dropped his cash in the tray before the server could leave and said, “No change, man.”  Thanks, whispered the server solicitously, vanishing by backing away slowly.

He dropped his coat and his keys and kicked off his shoes.  She didn’t quite know what to do, but the bottle of wine was in her veins and in his too, so they wound up having wet, mildly desperate, vaguely unsatisfying sex anyway.  Afterward, when they were lying side by side -she under the covers and self-conscious; he under the covers and wanting her to leave but not knowing how to make that happen without seeming like an asshole -they didn’t say anything to each other at first.

“I have to be up early,” he said finally.

“Yeah...” she replied, feeling disappointed and embarrassed and angry and sad.

“Let’s go to sleep, okay?”

“Okay,” she responded, feeling a lit bit lighter, like she might actually float away.

He woke with a start.  She was still in his bed, her side of the bed warm with her body.  He felt heavy and a little bit under from the mixture of wine and beer and whisky in his belly -and half confused, but he got up and he made breakfast, something he didn’t normally do.  Halfway through cooking, he looked up.  She was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, leaning against the jamb, looking at him through her bangs.  No, she wasn’t looking at him.  She was looking down, tugging at the bottom of his shirt to cover that she hadn’t put on any panties.

After an awkward but not awful pause, he said, “uh... I hope you like eggs.”

Instead of saying yes, she just smiled and gave him her number.

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