The phone rings.
I turn down the volume of the TV and the laugh track no longer fills the room telling me what's funny. Another hour wasted watching some show I hate.
My hand hovers over the phone, wondering if it's even worth answering. It makes the decision for me finally and I pick it up, not bothering to say 'hello'.
"Hey." His voice is quiet under the static of the phone line.
"The new song's great." Still so quiet. Something is wrong but neither of us says anything. Because asking 'is something the matter?' would be admitting that this relationship could be less then perfect.
"I'll meet you for coffee." I hang up. No 'goodbye' or 'I love you', but that is entirely normal. He knows I hate talking on the phone.
Ten minutes later I'm sitting in the back of my favorite cafe sipping an espresso, still waiting for him to show up. I am turned slightly in my chair so that I can watch the door, a vague feeling of tension that he isn't coming working its way around my stomach.
But then he is in front of me, his green mohawk lying flat because even though it's past noon it's still early for us and he's probably just woken up.
He sits down across from me, clutching his herbal tea. For new year's eve he gave up caffeine and I gave up cigarettes. I can see it in his face he regrets it just as much as I do. We both know that in the end we'll give in. We love our addictions too much not to, but it's a test to see just how long it will take.
"How'd you sleep?" He asks.
"I told you you should have taken a downer. There's no way to sleep after that."
"Maybe." What I really want to say is 'the reason I didn't sleep was because you were supposed to come home with me last night but I watched you disappear into the crowd as I was singing. I stayed up all night watching infomercials worrying that something had happened, that there was someone else, that history really does repeat itself.'
"I didn't sleep either. My brain kept going in circles."
Silence. We both finish our drinks. I slip off my high tops and put my feet up on the table much to the disgust of the couple sitting next to us. After a minute he takes out a red pen from his front pocket, pulls my foot closer and starts drawing on my sole.
"Where'd you go last night?" I have to know. No matter what.
He pulls the pen back for a second, tilting his head to survey his work and then he starts again. "It was your song. The new one."
"What about it? You said it was good." Suddenly defensive. So afraid my talent isn't enough.
"It was. It is."
"It sounds stupid now but...is it about me?"
"What?" I nervously start going through my pockets. Looking for some left over cigarette that I put out when a bus came or something, but all there are pieces burnt down to the filters.
"You know the lyrics: 'it's my turn now/ I'll be the one to make this shatter/ I don't know how to say this/ but since you're prepared for failure/ I'm more then ready to perform/ I'll hang ripped up paper hearts and flowers from the ceiling/ a stage for our little drama'." He repeats my own words back to me perfectly. "I..." He pauses, "I just thought it was a break up song."
"I don't know what it's about. I just wrote it."
He raises his eyebrow in disbelief and I start to get angry."What about your songs? Don't you think I listen to you singing and wonder if I'm the one who you're playing around with? That it's my heart you're going to break? I can recite some lyrics that show just how fucking cruel I know you can be."
"But that's all about before. You know I won't do it again."
"Maybe. But sometimes I have doubts. It's impossible not to when I listen to your songs. They're always about the end, never about the middle or even the beginning."
He takes the ends of his hair and starts pulls on it and I slide my foot away from him. Spread across the bottom is a Picasso-like face, with tears streaming from the eyes, falling into a river that slowly winds away down to my heal.
He sighs. Rubs his eyes. "I was right. This is stupid. I don't know why I always think there is a message I should understand in your lyrics."
"There isn't anything there for you. Usually it's just some words that appear in my head which I can put to music and call a song. You are the one who spends hours on each line so every song is a story."
He grins slightly. Our old argument about which way is better. About who is better. "I love you." He says.
"I love you too."
Neither of us ever knows what comes after that, so we just sit tipping our cups so the last of our drinks swirl around in the bottom. He pulls a dime bag out from inside his coat and holds it out to me. "What to drop acid and go to the aquarium?"
"Only if we get to sit and watch the sharks."
I put a tab under my tongue, sucking my finger tips and then start to gather my stuff together.
On the way out I order a triple espresso to go and once we're on the sidewalk I hand the cup to him. He takes it and smiles, digging into his back pocket to hand me my cigarettes.
"Three days," I say, blowing out smoke, "that's pretty good for us."
He smiles, takes my hand and we hurry to catch the bus. Already I'm writing a new song in my head. Maybe not about true love or forever, but at least about the middle instead of the end. I imagine that he is doing that same. Maybe some one will put them together and realize we're telling the same stories.