Basically, it's "Subway Ride" again, except this time it's real. Sat in bed typing this into my phone at 3 am, unable to sleep, trying to exorcise the demons of the past year.
A restaurant. I wasn’t eating. She slipped, and he reached out to steady her. Logic told me that he was there to see me. Intuition told me that he’d rather it be her. I was correct.
A coffee shop. I shivered. It was cold, that was all it was. He placed his hands over mine.
A restaurant. I couldn’t eat, but I could drink. Four days until I might lose him, unless the most tentative of plans worked out. Somehow, they did. Somehow, it didn’t matter.
A restaurant. I looked him over awkwardly. I told myself no. I just wanted a distraction, that was all. Someone to pursue, someone to want, someone to reassure me that I could still play the game. I was telling the truth. Seven months later I would tell myself the same thing. That time, I’d be lying.
A cafeteria. He grinned impishly at me. I grinned back; I couldn’t help it. All he wanted was attention. He didn’t care who it was from. He didn’t deserve mine. He didn’t offer it back to me.
A restaurant. I knew he’d be there. I didn’t know how I’d feel about seeing him again, after so long. He barely remembered me. I felt nothing. I headed off to work, knowing that I’d never see him again. As it turned out, I was wrong, but it didn’t matter.
A kitchen table. I took a snack, cracked a joke; he responded. But I was never on his radar. He was there for her, was always there for her. I didn’t understand what tied him so strongly to her, but that was how it would always be. Nobody else existed to him.
A cafeteria. I needed to get away; I ate alone in the corner. I left in a daze, now numb rather than upset. He had to wave wildly at me to get my attention. Just to say hello. That was all he wanted. I smiled. He always made me smile.
A coffee shop. I told myself that lie.
A restaurant. I told myself that lie again. This time I knew I might be in trouble. I stacked the milk pods on the table, as I always do. Something to keep my hands busy. Something to keep his eyes on me.
A restaurant. I watched the two of them across the table, thinking about the things they had in common. No indication of any interest in each other, but I wondered how I’d feel if that came to pass. I noticed how deliberately he’d sat down beside her, rather than beside me.
A restaurant. She should have been there. She wasn’t. The field was clear, but I’d already decided not to play; my window of opportunity had come and gone. I glanced at the collar of his shirt and wondered. A question I felt no need to answer. Relief.
A coffee shop. He always sat with her. He always sat with her. A mantra, in my head, telling me to trust my intuition. Once again, I was correct.