Because we're not okay yet, and you need your space.
"Did you ever cut your toenails?" was the first thing she said to me after we hadn't seen each other in a week.
I paused, looked down, then answered quite intelligently, "Uhh… no?"
"What?" She asked, then, having looked downwards to find as well as I that my nails were fast growing to a length society deemed unfashionable, replied "Oh… I see."
The hair near the crown of her head was sticking up like always, frizzy and dark where her roots were growing in. She was wearing the white flip flops my mom and I bought for her to complete her outfit for Anime Expo during the summer; a few of the shells sewn together to visualize a flower on each strap were strangely gone. She mentioned it to me before, but I forgot why they were missing. She had her arms crossed over her chest, rubbing her arms although her tan corduroy jacket seemed warm enough. But she was always cold.
A familiar tone sounded from my pocket. I fished my phone out and read the text message. After responding to my mom, I slid my phone back to its usual place, scratched my head and resumed looking back at the girl in front of me.
"Who was that?" She asked. She could never keep quiet for long. Plus she was still paranoid because of what happened between us a few months ago. Even though I told her I was changing. That I had changed. Seems like she still doesn't trust me.
"Mom," I told her.
"My mom," I repeated. Was it always going to be like this?
"Oh," she said again. Then, "What about?"
I sighed. "She asked me if it would be okay to have a salad for dinner."
She nodded, looking around at the road, and the people around us. Her oversized black bag and blue tote bag dwarfed her tiny frame. One day she was going to have shoulder problems. If only she would let me help her carry them. But I knew from experience my offer would just get shut down again. Like always.
"So," I began. She looked up at me, probably hurting her neck again like she always complained about. There was nothing I could do about it; she was barely 4'11'' and I a comfortable 6'2''. "You didn't cut your hair."
"Yeah, I was scared it would look funny and there would be no way for me to hide it. Plus, I don't have enough bobby pins to pin up the short ends for work." She looked away again. The bags under her eyes were darker than usual, her nose a bit red. Did she get sick again? Or was it just her allergies? "So you got my letter?"
"Yeah, I got your letter." She seemed embarrassed, "How did you get in?"
"I was waiting outside the door and then someone by and said he would let me and this other guy waiting outside in. So I dropped off your letter at your door and left. You're not mad are you?"
"What for?" She was doing it again. Trying to act like she didn't care, but I know she missed me. At least, I hope she missed me.
She shrugged, "Nothing. Nevermind."
Maybe it was too late. Maybe I waited too long and she gave up and moved on. But she didn't change our relationship status on Facebook. And she wasn't ignoring me. I reached out my hands; she eyed me warily, backing up. "What are you doing?" she asked.
"What does it look like I'm doing? I'm trying to give you a hug." A-ha! Got her. "And you were going to hit the person behind you."
She smelled so nice, and felt so soft. I felt her mumble something against my shirt. I gave her an inch and leaned down, "What did you say?"
She pursed her lips stubbornly, refusing to meet my eyes. Then sighed, and mumbled "I'm embarrassed," before slamming her face into my chest.
"Ow. No, it's okay," I squeezed her tighter when she tried to move away, "Can you just let me hug you?"
She slowly nodded. I breathed, relieved. "Thank you."
She stood still as a board, then suddenly dropped her bags and wound her arms around me tightly. Ah, there we go, typical as always. "You suck," she mumbled.
"You suck too," I told her.
"I know, I'm sorry. I was just so mad cause I wanted to be with you but then you were gonna have your mom take me home and I felt so stupid because I thought you might have asked me to stay over but you didn't."
"Shhh," I rubbed her back, "Come on, let's go somewhere else."
"No!" She held on tighter.
I scanned the crowd, although I could already felt their eyes on me. I hate this feeling. "Please, can we go somewhere else?"
She shook her head, and then took in some deep breaths. After a moment, she breathed a shaky, "Okay."
"Okay." I agreed, pulling away.
She held onto my arms, keeping her head down. "I'm sorry for crying on your shirt. And I don't have any napkins on me."
"Hold on, okay?" I squeezed her hand comfortingly, then shrugged off my bag and reached in for my pocket tissues, taking out one and handing it to her. She unfolded it, blew her nose, folded it again, and blew it another time. I handed out my hand and she warily placed it on my palm as she used her right hand to scrub her tears away.
"Thank you." She said.
I switched the used tissue to my other hand, took her left hand and guided her away towards a quiet area away from all these people, tossing the napkin into an open trashcan on the way.