Sometimes I imagine my life as a montage sequence. Slices of film. A soundtrack; most likely what’s playing in my headphones. Convenient…
He did something that surprised you. You knew what he was but the ties began to regrow. A mass of veins spreading from him to you. You welcomed him back in. He needed you.
You welcomed him into your home for a time. You began to feel neglected, just like last time. You didn’t really mean to click on the messages between him and the girl he had used to leave you. You weren’t even painted as a friend in those messages. You were the girl who said she would help him out… “Ugh,” he told her. Ugh.
You have a moment of clarity. You take a walk on the beach. You pick up a rock for his collection. You give it to him with a smile. He smiles back and pulls you in for a hug. The hug makes you feel nothing. You realize you’ve conned him back.
I’ve always found a light shade of summer freckle on a man to be an attractive feature. Pair that with an effortless baseball cap and I’m probably halfway to love.
It’s as if I’ve formulated this notion that if you’re a freckled man, you’re an approachable man, you’re a good man; worthy of my planting a kiss on the impression the sun has left on you.
If only all that were true.
Staring didn’t accomplish much. The peanut butter would win that contest. It could have been anyone who left it out. Everyone had free range of the kitchen last night, I’m sure there were various cases of the munchies. But I hated that midnight peanut butter toker.
The morning – well, my shifted version of the morning – was spent picking up last night’s shreds. The seemingly never-ending supply of red cups the floor had been graced with, the empty beer bottles that had been gifted to odd corners of rooms or various house plants, and the excessive amount of grime that had mysteriously made its way everywhere.
I didn’t touch that peanut butter though. It was all too well-placed. I used to find it there in the morning – not that exact jar, but the same creamy off-brand kind. It became our sort of routine. He would wake up around the 3am mark, shuffle over to the peanut butter’s home, and gouge out a spoonful. I’d clean up the evidence of his food excursions in the morning.
For months after he left I would wake up around that same 3am mark and unceremoniously think of him and his damned peanut butter. When I heard that he was back in prison I started eating a good amount of that creamy peanut butter, until I remembered that I didn’t really like it.
So I stood there staring at the peanut butter, the morning after the party I had thrown, to maybe help me finally think about something else. It wasn’t really accomplishing much.
The all too cliche “Hello old friend” was the only greeting I seemed able to express. I had seen hints of you in the last months, but now here you were, draping yourself over the other side of my booth. My eyes adjust to your presence.
Your warmth was melting my ice cubes. Their shape was more rounded than it had been. You have that affect.
I tried to soak you in, let myself be impressed by you. There had been days that I’d near begged to see you but you’d refused. The moment felt momentous but I couldn’t seem to muster the proper emotion. I only found myself hoping you’d be back for good but I knew that realistically you still had a couple more months away.
The diner began to fill. Chatter of fresh patrons leaked into our reverie. I felt a chill.
The last time I saw him he would look at me like he was trying to peel the layers of facade away from who I truly was. It had been a handful of years since then. Granted, things had changed; including my inclination to be swept up by unremarkable lovers; but he wasn’t even looking at me. I had been in the practice of peeling away my own unnecessary reservations, but I wasn’t totally void of a guard that needed to be coaxed into taking a step back and I was disappointed in his lack of effort.
“Come here, you,” he whispered emptily as he pulled me closer and kissed my neck. This was all wrong. We were supposed to be facing the other way in a warm room draped in California summer and stuffed with meaning.
I began I mourn the evolution of my mentality, because maybe it was just me. Being lost and open to letting someone catch my falling spirit had allowed me to get swept up in all that was him. I had felt like we were some sort of androgynous soul.
I tried to get back some of who I was in that California summer. Perhaps being slightly delusional would help me appreciate this unexpected second chance.
But when I locked eyes with him, I felt nothing. I was no longer pulled into what had once been the spirit of the world.
The train stalls just as I see he’s holding some other girl’s hand. I look up and out the window. I’m doing my quietest panic, seeing as I’d rather not give my fellow passengers a more memorable commute.
In the empty courtyard below there’s a figure dancing, headphone cord swaying. I title the display “rhythmic jumping.” My hand is burning. I look back at her hand in his. The burning spreads to my face. She has nice nails; way nicer than mine.
There was that one time we walked down that icy road holding hands for support and joking that we’d let the other fall. We had made some sort of bet back at the bar that we’d decided had ended in a draw. The stakes involved a number of kisses; which we now each had to deliver on. I used his hand’s support to catapult myself toward his lips.
The train slowly begins to roll again. I look up and catch the eyes of a fellow passenger. I then, almost too quickly, look back at my phone. As my stop approaches, I exit his Facebook page and note that stalking is not for the faint of heart.