Thursday, April 19, 2018

Last one for tonight


“Meredith,” he says, “I want to tell you something.”
           He used to be a drunk. I knew that. It’s not like he told me explicitly on the train, but I figured it out easily enough. You don’t speak at an Alcoholics Anonymous conference if you don’t have some experience in the subject matter.
           “I loved someone once,” he says.
           I lift my chin and look him in the eyes. This sounds like Confession Time. I like confessions.
           “We were never together. We were friends. But we were way more. We would sit in the car and talk until two in the morning. We texted constantly. She helped me get sober. She helped me to see that there was more in life than a bottle.”
           My stomach starts to hurt. But why?
           “I mean, she wasn’t perfect. She was demanding as hell. She’d text and get pissed if I didn’t respond straight away. She wanted honesty at all times. I mean, she wasn’t easy.
           “But I loved her more than I think I may ever be able to love anyone again.”
           Oh my God. How old is Paul? Nineteen, twenty? And they say kids my age are dramatic.
           “You’re looking at me like I’m crazy.”
           “You are crazy,” I say without thinking, out of some weird form of anger that I can’t really figure out. So this guy loved someone. So what? “I mean, you were never even together.”
           “Sometimes those are the ones that hurt the most. Look at your situation.”
           And that is why my stomach is hurting. Would Matt be able to say the same about me? Does he even love me? And at this point, what exactly are we to one another?
           “Yeah,” I say. One-syllable words. That’s pretty much all I can handle at this point. Except curiosity comes up and the question comes out before I can figure out how to stop it. “So what happened with you guys?”
           His face slams shut. Something turns a key, locks it. But he speaks anyway.
           “You know, Meredith, sometimes a relationship gets bigger than the people involved. That’s what happened with us. There was just too much to handle. Too much between us. We couldn’t be just friends. We couldn’t be more. We just couldn’t be. You know?”
           I don’t know. If there was so much between him and this phantom girl, woman, whatever, how could they possibly let go of one another?
           “Who ended it?”
           “I did.”
           He’s obviously in so much pain. How could he do that?
           “Sometimes,” he says, “the person who ends it is the one who loves the most.”
           “How?”
           “They have more invested, so when they’re not getting their needs met for whatever reason, they call it quits.”
           “You miss her?”
           This time he doesn’t say anything. His face shuts and stays shut.