"I hate men."
Tabitha's first words shocked me. Considering we were at a bar, you would expect her to be perfectly aware of how she would, more likely than not, be hit on. I told her this, and she gave a snort, short and sweet.
"Like I give a damn. They can flirt with me until they go red in the face, but I'm not screwing any of them."
I laughed, because it was really funny how she said it, but she didn't seem to think so. She shot me a glare, and I swallowed back what was left of the laugh with more gin.
That was another odd thing about her. She wasn't drinking alcohol. She had asked for a water with lemon when she arrived. Her hair was in a bun, and she was wearing jeans, converse, a hoodie, and a white tank top. She didn't even wear skinny jeans, just baggy ones that hung low on her slender hips.
"Sides, I didn't come here to get laid or get drunk," she paused long enough to gesture to her water, "I merely came because my friend Katie is going to be getting boozed up. And SOMEONE is going to have to drag her useless corpse back to her apartment." She puffed up her cheeks, and blew out a strand of hair which had fallen in her eyes.
I really didn't know how to respond, so I didn't. And I guess Tabitha liked to be able to talk for once, because we talked all night. And after I gave her my number and we went on a date, she still kept talking, and I didn't mind, because she stopped for me to talk, and she was always saying something interesting. Maybe she was really only ever talking about boring and mundane things, but the fact that it was
may have made the boring things interesting.
Sometimes, Tabitha would feel brave and talk to me about why she didn't like men. When she was seven, her father had begun to molest her. Her mom ignored her. When she was twelve, her father discovered people would pay to do to her what he did for free. Finally, she went and robbed one of her customers and ran away, living out of his Ford. She was sixteen, and her Dad had killed himself, and her mom was in rehab. When she was eighteen, she became a legal adult and finished high school.
Tabitha was worried I would refuse to date her because of what her Dad did to her and made her do. I asked her why I would worry, we weren't really having sex due to us being asexual, but she told me other girls did, because they thought she was sick, even though she wasn't, and it made me really sad, because I thought Tabitha was so perfect, even though she said her dark brown eyes were squinted a bit and her nose was a little crooked from when her Dad punched her.
Sometimes I would visit Tabitha at work. She worked at this old toy store, and whenever I walked in, she would be crouched over with a little kid, reading them a book or helping them find a toy they wanted. It was a little odd, and I could never tell if her happiness was real or forced. Judging from the smile on her face, I assumed it was genuine.
She was so happy at the toy store.
Once it was raining, and I told Tabitha how many puddles there were going to be outside. She didn't have work that day, but I did. I was drinking my coffee, and I told her about how we should get pizza when I came home from work. But she ignored me. She was watching the rain, with lazy fascination, like a cat.
When I returned from work, I was greeted by Tabitha standing in the rain. She had on a yellow sundress and no shoes.
She once told me about her baby brother. He had died when he was four and she was twelve. He had leukemia, and he wasn't doing to hot. He loved rain, so she tried to take him outside, because she thought it would make him happy, and that the fresh air would do him good. But the poor kid couldn't even get up. So she picked him up, and carried him out into the rain. She just held him, and he laughed a little until he began to cough stuff up and she had to take him inside and dry him off.
He died a week later.
I just stood across the street and watched her. Her arms were still at her sides, and she looked very sad. I quickly crossed over and stood before her.
She looked at me. "His name was Oliver." She had never told me his name.
I nodded. She looked back up. "Oliver loved when rain turned into snow. But he died before it could turn into snow." Again, I nodded.
Tears welled up in her eyes again. "He just wanted to see it snow."
I held her until she calmed down. By then the rain was done. I took her inside and dried her off. She never talked about Oliver ever again.
That was the thing about Tabitha. She had that ability to make you feel special. I am one of the least extraordinary people I know, yet when Tabitha smiled at me, I felt like fucking Superman. She never asked me if I was a boy or a girl, and she never once misgendered me.
She didn't leave a note. That really hurt, the fact that she didn't think to say goodbye. Maybe she was in so much hurt and pain that she couldn't stand to say goodbye, and her farewell to this world had to be from our bed with blood gushing from her arms and an empty bottle of pills.
At her funeral, all I could think of was how well they had fixed her up. They managed to fix up her arms, and you almost couldn't tell she was dead and not asleep. I reached out to touch her hair, but the softness made me sad, and I had to walk out into the hallway.
I was surprised to see her mother had shown up. She had gray hair and a tired college suit, and was standing in the hallway. She had Tabitha's eyes. With a brisk march, she strode up to me, and with a glare and a snide introduction as Tabitha's mother, she held out a piece of paper.
"What's this?" I snapped, taking the post it note and glaring back.
"My address. You're sending me three dollars and twenty eight cents for the bus ticket here and back," She crossed her arms, and shook her head, "Can't believe my slut of a daughter fucked my husband and then ran off to fuck some stupid dyke."
I stood there, speechless. Then, anger boiled inside of my veins. This woman had abandoned Tabitha. Tabitha, the prettiest woman in the whole world, who cried when a dog got run over. But that meant nothing to her. She just tossed her aside. Her daughter was worth less than a three dollar and twenty eight cent community bus ticket, I thought.
How close had she lived that that was all a ticket cost.
I threw the paper at her. She blinked at me in surprise.
"Listen here, you cheap cunt," I snarled through tight lips, "You may have ignored Tabitha's cries when she was being raped. You may have ignored her cries when Oliver died in her arms. And you may have ignored her cries as she bled out on our bed because she was so fucking miserable. But I am here, and you will not hear me cry, but scream. And I feel that I should inform you that the knowledge you are going to burn in hell alongside your shit stain of a husband gives me one of the best feelings I have ever felt."
She gaped at me.
"Why did you even come here?" I asked bitterly.
Her eyes squinted, and she reached into her other pocket and withdrew an envelope, which she handed me.
"Tabitha sent me this. She said she wanted me to give this to you, because she knew you would stop her if she gave it directly to you." With a curt nod, her mother walked away.
I stared numbly at the envelope, heavy in my hands, Tabitha's beautiful scrawl bearing my name. Then I opened it.
I don't think I will ever tell what she said to me. It is very personal and precious, and I would really rather not share it. I will say, though, that it was both the happiest and the saddest thing I had ever read in the world.
I went home and watched as it began to rain.