There is little that feels worse in life than being in love with an unattainable person. Especially, when you suspect or know that they love you back, but can’t be with you. She did not know for sure what he felt for her. She hardly suspected he loved her, she was mostly wishful, hopeful he did, but what they had together still wasn’t allowed. They still had to keep all their encounters a secret. And perhaps that was why he was still going back and forth between her and an old flame or two.
She asked him about it one day, asked if she was just supposed to wait around for him all the time, and he casually told her, she could do what she wanted, it was her life. She had no desire to see anyone else, she simply wanted to know where they stood, what kind of relationship and future they had. He wasn’t giving her much input, wasn’t working to have her all to himself no matter who knew, and it was beginning to bother her.
When she and the girls would go out dancing, drinking, the usual stuff, guys would talk to her, hit on her. She never really paid them any attention. She just wasn’t interested in anyone else. She’d take a number and discreetly toss it later on. After all, she only had eyes for him, even if she wasn’t willing to admit it.
One afternoon, he wasn’t returning her pages. And she began to think the worst: that he was with another girl. Again. She was foolish for thinking she meant anything to him. She was just another lay.
She waited for a response from him as long as she could stand it, and in a desperate moment of frustration and fear of her own feelings for him, she looked for a number she had tossed in the trash can the night before. Two could play at whatever game he was playing.
She invited the other guy over. He was the friend of a friend. He came in and she noticed he was quite the opposite of her love in every physical way. She wondered if she had done that on purpose, knowing there was only one him so why bother trying to duplicate or imitate him? He didn’t talk much, and in this particular instance, she didn’t mind in the least. She had no real interest in him whatsoever. Truth be told, she was behaving out of jealousy, a child acting out.
He handled his business quickly and the sex was perfunctory, she didn’t even orgasm. He asked if he could spend the night and she said yes, praying he would actually sleep and not try for another round. In truth, she didn’t want him there. She wanted her love. But he was nowhere to be found. Until around 1:00am…
She had just dozed off when the phone rang. It was a collect call from the County lock up. She accepted the charges.
“Hello? What happened?”
“We had open containers on the street. No big. They’re letting us out in a few minutes. Can you come pick us up?”
She glanced over at the man in her bed, who looked at her inquisitively. “I don’t know…”
“What’s up? You got someone there?”
How the fuck could he know that?! She was immediately defensive, “Well, you didn’t call back.”
“It’s cool. Don’t worry about it. We’ll call someone else.”
She regretted everything about that night immediately. How could she have thought she could do this? She hadn’t even wanted to. She was certain she had just been another one on his list, but now he sounded angry. She knew she fucked up. “No! I’ll come. I’m coming right now.”
She told the guy she had to pick up her brother and his friend from the county jail downtown. “Sorry. You’re gonna have to go.”
She drove downtown, and picked them up. He was silent except to tell her to take his friend back home. She drove them to the other side of the town, and finally asked him where he wanted to go.
“You get rid of your company?”
She gripped the steering wheel tighter and looked down at her hands. “Yes.”
“Take me back to your place.”
He still seemed upset, but he hadn’t rejected her. Hadn’t told her to go to hell. Hadn’t even decided to go be with someone else.
She brought him back to her place. She changed the sheets on the bed, and left the room to take a shower. She cried the whole time she was washing up. Yes, she had really fucked up. So why was he still there? It didn’t make sense to her. She didn’t understand why he would stay after what she had done. Nothing about this exceptional man ever made sense.
They didn’t have sex that night, they slept side by side, waking to share breakfast in the morning.
“I want to say I’m sorry for la…”
“Don’t apologize. Just tell me why you did it.”
“Because, you leave here and you go to her place. Because you didn’t answer my page.” Because I want you all to myself.
“Well, now you know, if you don’t hear from me, there’s a good reason.”
She nodded in agreement, as he gave her a quick kiss. She felt a lump form in her throat. She loved him; there was no doubt about it. She didn’t know where to go from here.
Looking back years later, hindsight told her he really did love her. He wouldn’t have turned his anger aside and forgiven her if he didn’t. Why couldn’t she have seen it then? Why hadn’t she just told him how she felt about him, instead of trying to stay two steps ahead? And why hadn’t he just said it out loud? Star-crossed lovers come in all shapes and sizes. And they were quite the pair of them.