Really, darling. You said, "fuck you,"first. Can't expect him not to react in kind.
Of course not. That would be far too normal and mature. I think I'd have hired a bloody marching band for the day if he had just once asked me why I did it. It wasn't just to make his life miserable, you know.
Although you did try.
Clearly, it didn't work.
Yes, well, that's another problem.
I handed the cashier a twenty and waited impatiently for my change. The littlest things set it off – rain on a Tuesday, a five-minute delay in the arrival of the train, the color yellow. I had become a slave to the unending litany in my head.
Unlike on television or in the movies, logic never quite won out.
If you were logical about it, you'd have to admit what you lost.
Oh, please shut up.
The cashier quirked an eyebrow at me, the look on his face so curious I almost wondered if I had become the entire cliché – a bewildered, somewhat pathetic woman so obsessed with the recent past that she wandered lost in thought and mumbling to herself.
Was I bewildered? Perhaps.
Pathetic? Without a doubt.
If I found out I'd been talking to myself, I'd sign up for the looney bin for sure. They say it's a sign of intelligence, but in my case, I'm relatively certain that didn't apply.
"I know this is going to sound kind of creepy… but are you in my Spanish class?"
"I've never taken Spanish." My voice was flat, disaffected. I sounded absolutely mental. Oh, god.
He looked vaguely disappointed. "I could have sworn…"
He frowned a little, squinting pale blue eyes at me. "Your name's not Genna?"
That halted the wave of impatience washing over me. I stood a little straighter. "It is." Looking at him a second time – actually, for the first time really looking at him – I tried to place how I might know him.
He was pretty in an imperfect way and he looked far too young to have any classes with me. Freshman, my brain classified absently. At most a sophomore. Then again, his clotted cream complexion could have been misleading.
"What's your major?"
He smiled sweetly, sheepishly. "Mathematics," he said, as if he was used to being called a geek or worse when people found out. "My name is Matt, if that helps."
I was suddenly tired. This whole routine was oh, so old. I didn't want to meet new people, pretend I cared whether or not they sat three seats behind me in some random class I showed up for half of, just because it meant I'd get the attendance bonus I didn't need.
I didn't want to meet someone else I was going to have to say good-bye to.
Why don't you just admit you miss him?
He doesn't deserve to know how much he meant to me.
And you called him immature.
That's because he is.
Bringing myself back to reality, I had to think about what he'd said to get it to register. When it did, a sort of half smile of politeness automatically and insincerely crawled across my face. "Maybe a Statistics class, then," I suggested. "Or linear algebra, maybe?"
His face lit up. "No! I have Current Events with you! You always come in halfway through class!"
Busted. That was how they always recognized me. "Yeah," I agreed, interest fleeing like a winter wind, "that's me."
"I don't know why I didn't think of that at first."
I just shrugged. "My change?"
Again the disappointment. He recovered quickly, digging absently through the change drawer. "Higgins always turns purple when you walk in the door."
"It's a good color for him." Please just give me my money.
"Do you do it on purpose?" he asked, slowly drawing out a quarter.
Two more, two dimes, and three pennies, I urged silently. In the meantime, maybe responding would induce him to hurry. "Come in late? Of course. It means I don't have to listen to him."
Now his expression turned sly. "No, although I bet that doesn't help. I meant when you argue with him. Do you intentionally take the opposite stance of whatever he's arguing?"
He had my attention again. "He's a right-wing conservative prick who thinks we're still living in the 1950s. Women's lib was not a passing fad, contrary to what he teaches. The sheer amount of spite that comes out of that man's mouth is appalling. Hell, yes, I argue with him on purpose. No one else has enough balls to."
"Are you a lesbian?"
Speaking of politically incorrect…
Why do you care?
You never would have let Chad get away with saying something like that. You're the one who's always screaming about double standards.
He's not Chad. He's some poor deluded kid who's been brainwashed by a series of misogynistic idiots.
I forced a smile onto my face and ignored the mocking voice in my head. "No, I'm not a lesbian." Chad could attest to that, if nothing else. "I just think he's an ass."
Matt nodded slowly, digesting this. "I just wondered… You got pretty worked up the other day during the discussion about same-sex marriages."
"Because Higgins is an ass," I repeated. "He also wasn't listening to a word I said."
"He doesn't like you."
"I could give a flying fuck," I answered. "My change?"
He handed me another quarter. "Do you really think they should be legalized?"
Sighing deeply, I realized I wasn't going to escape until I'd answered his questions. "Why not?"
"Well, the church says homosexuality is a sin…" Looking uncomfortable, he stopped. "You can't force people to believe it's right."
I rolled my eyes. "There's a difference between 'legal' and 'right,'" I said dryly.
"If it's against the church's beliefs…"
"See, that's the same thing Henderson accused me of," I interrupted him. "I'm not saying the churches should be forced to marry homosexual couples. If they don't want to, that's their decision. You can't change the basis of hundreds of years of religious belief. I don't agree with it, but it's their doctrine, not mine. But if a church is willing to marry a homosexual couple…" I met his eyes squarely. "Why shouldn't the government recognize it?"
The question seemed to stun him. He sputtered for a few moments, then finally said, "I don't know."
I held out my hand, waiting, long enough for him to drop both dimes into it. I was twenty-eight cents and four dollars short. I wondered if the newsstand had comment cards.
And what would you write? Matt is a lovely cashier, but he doesn't have Chad's soulful brown eyes. I also strongly disagree with his political views.
I don't think his views are well informed enough to disagree with. And Chad's eyes aren't soulful, because he doesn't have a soul.
Now you're just being cruel.
Yeah, well, sometimes the truth hurts.
"Homosexual couples should receive the same benefits that heterosexual couples do. Period. They should have spousal rights when it comes to medical procedures and decisions, have the same inheritance rights and reap all the other benefits that married couples reap. If you want to really get into it, you can find homosexuality all the way back through history. It's only unnatural because culture has defined it as such."
"But… I thought it was always considered wrong."
I shook my head. "Read up on the Ancient Greek culture, for starters. Certain aspects of it weren't accepted, but other parts were considered a normal part of every day culture. Can I have the rest of my change?"
His blue eyes were earnest as he handed me the pennies and the last quarter. "Maybe we could get together some time. Have dinner, talk more about all of this." The shy smile was back. "I'd like to hear more about what you think."
"I don't think that's a good idea," I said as nicely as I could.
He appeared disconcerted. "Why not?"
Because you're a frigid bitch.
Could you please be a tad less insulting?
We've had the discussion about being honest with ourselves. Might as well admit it.
Having just gotten out of a bad relationship does not make me frigid. It makes me healing.
Who said you weren't frigid before you got out of the relationship?
I really wish you would shut up.
"It's a really busy semester for me," I found myself saying.
Perfect. Next you can tell him you're busy washing your hair. Cliché, anyone?
His face fell, and I suddenly felt incredibly guilty. I was only half-lying, of course. It really was going to be a busy semester for me. I'd realized halfway through college that I couldn't sleep if I didn't over commit myself. The more free time I had on my hands, the less I knew what to do with myself. Except that wasn't the reason I was putting him off.
"You've got really interesting ideas," he said. "I wasn't hitting on you." Then he flushed a dull red. "Well, not entirely."
I found the corners of my mouth quirking involuntarily. "Most people would call me liberal at best and strange at worst." I intentionally ignored the statements that had followed.
That's the understatement of the year, if you ask me.
Luckily for us, no one did.
"So I've been told."
"Ouch," he grinned. A curious mixture of persistence and shyness tugged at the corner of his mouth. "Relegated to normality with the rest of the masses."
He's kind of cute.
Just like a puppy, and you don't want to take one of those home with you, either.
Who said anything about taking him home?
"I hear it's not so bad," I shrugged. "Look, Matt, it's been really nice talking to you, but I've got to run. Can I please have the rest of my change?"
The disappointment flashed again. "Will you at least think about that coffee? Consider it one more person you've rescued from Higgin's brainwashing."
Apparently he'd missed the part where this was a bad idea. "Matt—"
He smiled sweetly at me. "I just said think about it." Taking a piece of paper from the notebook lying next to the cash register, he scribbled his name and number. Holding it out to me with my remaining change, he continued, "You don't have to call."
"You should give seminars on how to execute a successful guilt trip," I grumbled, but I took the paper and slipped it into my purse anyway. Really, what would it hurt? "I'll see you Monday."
That wide smile never wavered. "See you, Genna."
When I got home, I deposited the groceries into the refrigerator and logged onto my computer. I'd taken to checking my email obsessively, although I knew better than to expect a peace offering or an apology. Knowing that didn't make it any easier to stop hoping.
I was surprised when a dialogue box popped up right after my messaging program loaded. Less than happy to see that it was Chad.
TheChadster (7:43:26 PM): you there sexy?
If you don't want to talk to him, shut the damned window.
That's a fantastic idea.
But instead, I just minimized it. And, less than five minutes later, found myself responding.
JennaJayne11 (7:47:56 PM): did they forget to teach you punctuation in grammar school?
Yeah, so I was a bitch. I'd long since gotten over it.
(7:48:33 PM): charming as ever i see
TheChadster (7:49:54 PM): so do you miss me?
Like a raging yeast infection.
I'm sure he'd find that far too flattering.
(7:51:38 PM): although I doubt you're going to believe me, no
TheChadster (7:51:59 PM): im crushed
Now he was ignoring punctuation just to piss me off, that ass. I decided not to comment and checked my email instead.
(7:56:42 PM): so what have you been up to these days?
TheChadster (7:57:01 PM): pining for me night and day?
JennaJayne11 (7:59:23 PM): I see your ego hasn't deflated any
JennaJayne11 (8:00:02 PM): but to answer your question, no. I hardly think of you at all
Funny how it was so much easier to lie over instant messaging.
(8:01:47 PM): im devastated
TheChadster (8:02:14 PM): i think ill go watch tv and cry myself to sleep
I gritted my teeth and resisted the urge to say something nasty.
(8:04:17 PM): don't forget the ice cream and the tissues
TheChadster (8:04:49 PM): thats heartless genna
TheChadster (8:05:09 PM): are you sure you dont want to come over and comfort me instead?
Chad's definition of "comfort" was far different from mine.
You can't blame the poor boy for wanting a little action.
Poor boy?! You are officially delusional.
"We," darling. We are officially delusional.
JennaJayne11 (8:07:37 PM): I think you'll manage on your own
See? I can be civil, although he doesn't deserve it.
TheChadster (8:09:22 PM): ill give you a back massage if you come over
I retract my previous statement. If he thinks a back massage is going to make up for everything he's done, he's delusional.
Finally something we can agree on.
PM): I think I'll pass
TheChadster (8:13:00 PM): why?!
And that was when I had my own epiphany and realized he really just didn't get it. I didn't think he ever would. I was only hurting myself by continuing this. At least I could truthfully say I hadn't been the one who'd started it in the first place.
This time. What about the other eighty times you messaged him when you said you wouldn't?
I was an idiot. Go ahead, have a field day with that one. I know you're going to.
If you follow through on this, I'll give you a free pass.
(8:14:25 PM): I've got to go
TheChadster (8:14:58 PM): whats that supposed to mean?
JennaJayne11 (8:15:06 PM): it means good-bye
JennaJayne11 (8:15:23 PM): take care of yourself
And quickly, because I was a coward, I removed him from my buddy list before he could respond. I'd long ago set it to private, and if you weren't on my buddy list, you couldn't see me. It seemed the safest way to go and the only way to rid myself of him.
I stood up from the computer, amazed to see that the entire interaction had taken a little less than half an hour, and yet I felt so much better. It's funny how much things change when you accept reality.
Wandering back into the kitchen, I dug through my purse for my phone. I wanted to call my friends Kayla or Megan to let them know I'd finally let it go. As I lifted the phone from my purse, Matt's number fell out.
He'd seemed sweet this afternoon, I mused, if slightly misguided. He had sexy handwriting. I stared at the letters slashing across the page boldly, all sharp angles and confidence. Maybe it was time to stop pushing people away.
Before my brain realized what my hands were doing, I'd flipped open the phone and punched in his number, feeling an odd nervousness flutter through my stomach. Nervous! I was in the middle of praying that he wouldn't answer when I heard an uncertain, "hello."
An odd sort of calmness settled over me. I could do this.
"Matt? Hi. It's Genna from Current Events."
Okay, then. I have no idea where the hell this came from, but Genna has now infiltrated Désenchantée, as has Matt. I think I'm probably opening up a bad can of worms when Genna talks about same-sex marriages, but she told me she was a liberal and there you have it.
I'd appreciate, if you're going to comment, that you do so on the story and not on her beliefs. It's fiction, and they really aren't meant to be a focal point. And if you don't want to comment, thanks for reading anyway. :)
I swear this is the last "getting over someone" story I'm writing for a while. When I as the author am getting sick of it, I know it's time to quit. That said, I was trying for a (somewhat) more positive note. Here's hoping it worked. And, on a side note, if you can think of a better title, I'd be very, very happy.
You're all fabulous!