Thursday, September 6, 2012

Grey Hoodie

A short story:

We kissed once but it was awkward. I had convinced myself that I was in love; that I would be happy with her by my side. I was really just looking for someone to be by my side.

I pretended to like her music. I was never proud of it, never proud of faking it. But I was never ashamed either. After all, I had tricked myself more than I had tricked anyone else. It was something poppy and feminist. As a child of angry post-boomers I never really fell in love with the pop music bull that was the sound of the liberal arts girl I thought I had fallen in love with.

There were nights I would lie in bed staring at my ceiling convincing myself that if I just held her hand, just leaned in and touched my lips to hers then all my problems would go away. All my yearning. All my loneliness. Somehow life would make sense.

And all I did was hide myself under layers of ego and self-deception.

Months later I ended up stuck in a room with her alone, watching TV. Our friends had all somehow disappeared and we were there together. I had long since given up listening to her music and had gone back to dressing in oversized grey sweaters.

After an awkward moment she spoke. There are strange lulls in a friendship where the only thing that makes any sense is a pervading silence. Are we friends? What are we doing? Why do we hang out? Who are you? And I sat there and tried to care about the movie on TV. I think it was some chick flick where all the chemistry that was built up during the course of the exposition and some sort of BS struggle/conflict was satisfied by the two characters kissing in the rain. And the quirky funny sidekick best friend found an equally quirky funny random kind of ethnic looking guy. Paying attention to the movie sucked. I had to do it, and I knew I had to do it even harder when she opened her mouth to speak.

“What are your plans for the weekend?” I internally sighed, a non-controversial topic. Until I realized my answer.

“I'm going on a date,” the words spilled out of my mouth absently. It wasn't what I meant to say.

“Oh, with who?”

“Whom.”

“Hmmm?”

“No, whom.”

“Don't know her.”

“Funny,” she had baited me. I was a sucker for bad grammar. I couldn't help but be a smug asshole every time I heard improper usage. “You wouldn't know her,” a pause, “besides I'm not sure it'll be anything.”

“Who does?”

I mumbled to myself, “I thought I did.”

“Speak up!” she threw a pillow at me. I looked up and she was smiling. It was a compassionate smile.

“What's that smile for?”

“You just seem so sad, so down. What's eating you?” There were a million things eating me. Mostly they had to do with the fact that my hoodie smelled like me and one half of my bed was always cold. I had kept trying to fill it. Trying to make the darkness of night not close in on me. She snapped me out of my trance, “I'm not sad y'know.”

My heart raced, “about what?” I knew though.

“We wouldn't have made any sense. I'm sorry you spent so much time trying to make it work.”

“What?”

“Months. You convinced yourself for months that we would fall in love.” She grabbed my knee, “but that's not us; it never was.” She was right. I had spent months making myself perfect for her. The perfect guy she would just magically open up her eyes to and see. For the first time. See past whatever coldness I had put up to hide myself.

I was bad at hiding apparently.

“You shouldn't worry. We're friends and that's alright.” She leaned her head on my shoulder. We sat that way for a while and I felt quiet.