Bill and I are supposed to go on a date that next day, but we don’t. I wake up feeling hungover and downtrodden, but still am expecting to go out with him. Knowing that he is a late-riser, I send him a text around 2 pm, “Hey, where shall I meet you?” The message goes where I assume all unanswered texts go — hell.
The more time that passes without a response, the lower my heart slides down in my gut. What have you done?? I keep thinking over and over, but I hear no answer. It is as if my internal voice has deserted me — just like Bill. The clock hits 5 pm, but I am still glued to my office chair. My head knows he will not answer, but my heart is still holding on. This is going to be the second time he’s stood you up, I realize but I keep imagining a happier end to my day.
Around 5:30 pm, I finally leave the office but I don’t head home. Denial simply won’t let me. Instead I walk over to a local Barnes and Noble and start scanning the shelves. I don’t want any books — I just want to be somewhere I feel comfortable. At 6 pm, my heart loses this battle and I find the nearest train station and venture home.
I ignore Nej, and head straight to my room. I strip off my clothes, and pull up the comforter. Netflix provides comfort in the form of Paris is Burning and I watch it until sleep comes to relieve me.
“You know what you have to do right? You need to go over there and apologize to him!”
Nej is lecturing me over drinks at Simpson’s and if the floor could swallow me I’d take that for 3,000, Alex. Our friends, Marie and Nancy are with us and nod along to Nej’s advice. She’s right. But I’m scared. I have never behaved like this before, and like a child who crayola’s their mother’s beige walls I cannot find an excuse in my head for my behavior. Probably because there is none — besides stupidity and lack of judgement on my part.
We finish our drinks and walk over to LCY. My heart is beating like a Calvin Harris beat in my chest, and I feel my legs may give out at any moment. Nej rushes over to Bill, who is behind the bar, and let’s him know that I wish to speak to him. She soon leaves and it is me, Nancy and Marie sitting at the bar.
As crazy as it sounds I feel an anger towards him rising in my belly. I want to scream, “Why didn’t you call?!” “What do you want from me!!!?” I’m confused. Nancy and Marie are enjoying the scene, and at one point Marie asks loudly enough “is that how he shook you up and spilled you out?” when she catches Bill shaking up a customer’s drink. Where is Hades to pull you into the underworld when you need him?
I finally muster the courage to ask Bill to step outside for a quick convo and it goes nothing like how I expected. I’d already promised myself that I would apologize for my behavior, confess about everything that happened that night, and beg him for his forgiveness but he is the one who ends up in my position.
We slide into a makeshift alleyway, and the March winds quickly remind us that we have forgotten our outerwear inside.
“What happened to you?” I ask.
His eyes begin to dart left to right, and I can tell he is just as nervous as I am.
“Val…I…I’ve been having housing issues with my cousin. I live with her…and I’ve been a coward about it.”
“Yes, you have been a coward.” I’m glaring at him when all I want to do is hold him.
“I truly apologize. I should have called you. I know. I’ve just really been a coward about it.”
“Bill, its us…its just us…” I cannot find my words. I want him to know — I don’t know what I want him to know exactly. I want to tell him, but I know this is not the most appropriate time. But the truth is burning on my tongue, demanding to be set free. I stop, hesitate and then repeat myself. For being so unsure of my message he seems to understand me, but my conscious tells me it wasn’t the cousin-living situation that had him AWOL. I suppose he wants the waves to stop and the waters between us to be calm again. I do too. We kiss and he holds me for a minute and I feel my happiness surging back to me.
Its 2 days before my birthday, and it feels as if everything is looking up. 8 days later, a tidal wave of pain would rise and come crashing down, leaving me drowning in tears and regret.