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“He presented the cup to Hester, who received it with a slow, earnest look into his face; not precisely a look of fear, yet full of doubt and questioning as to what his purposes might be (Hawthorne).”

This was my day, if I wanted an apology, why didn’t he just give it to me? Sure, he’d apologized on the phone, but it was different in person. It was real.

And I didn’t get one.

“I need to use the restroom,” he said, getting up.

When he returned the tension was still thick.

“Well, I haven’t eaten so I’m going to order something,” he said. It wasn’t the lunch I’d had envisioned. It didn’t matter. I’d lost my appetite.

“Go right ahead,” I stayed cool, swirled my glass of Jager.

He went to the bar and ordered.

“So,” he said when he sat back down, “…are you meeting up with your family or something?”

“You can leave anytime you want,” I fired back. “You don’t have to stay here. I’m fine on my own.” And I was. Sure, I had Aryn, now. But I didn’t have anyone then. It was the having no one that had prepared me for Aryn. It was the having no one that prepared me for this very day, this very conversation.

“Whoa, I didn’t mean it that way,” he said defensively. “It’s just, well I told Amy that we’d meet at 3:15 so –“

“So that means 4 o’clock, right?” I shot back another round of ammunition. I was so sarcastic even he had to think about it. I never spoke to him that way. He was blindsided.

“What? No…”

“Well I just figured since you were forty minutes late…”

She was more important maybe, but she didn’t have his heart. Neither did he. He’d lost it somewhere, maybe in a moving box or under a bed. Maybe he’d buried it late one night with a flashlight in the yard.

His chowder arrived with a small cutting board of warm bread and butter. “You can have some of my bread if you want,” he said. It reminded me of the text he’d sent months after we’d broken up: “You can have my babies if you want.”

“No,” I said, “I don’t want your bread.”

“You should have some. You’re drinking.”

“Look, I’m not eating it.” It didn’t matter what I was controlling, as long as I was controlling something, as long as I was drawing boundaries: across the table, around the bread, in the air. And to think I had imagined us dining together, literally breaking bread just hours before, and now I couldn’t stand the sight of it.

He didn’t care if I was drinking. He didn’t care what I ate. He didn’t care if I was wasting away in my bed, living in fear of injections, barely able to lift my head off the pillow. He didn’t care then, and he had no right to care now.

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