Lying here, with no one near, only you
And you can hear me
When I say softly, slowly,
Hold me closer, tiny dancer...
'I'll tell you something that makes a lot of sense', she sighed meditatively. 'It seems like the end of the world, but it isn't.'
I waited for more.
She looked at me, a little surprised that I hadn't recognised the wisdom in her words yet.
'So...?' I prompted.
'So it isn't the end of the world, and will not feel that way', she said, a little impatiently.
'That's the problem. It feels that way right now.'
'So don't let it'. She'd gone right back to complacent wisdom.
Jesus freaks out in the streets
Handing tickets out for God
Turning back, she just laughs
The boulevard is not that bad.
I glanced at her, stirring sugar into into her coffee. We had lost touch after I left the firm; had discovered, thanks to Facebook, that we were both in town for Christmas, and had made a spur-of-the-moment plan to meet up. I wondered if she had ever had the slightest idea. It didn't matter anymore whether she had, but it was definitely ironic that she should be telling me not to let it feel like the end of the world now.
'I don't think it will, much longer'. I focused on a speck on the table.
'It's difficult', she acknowledged, frowning thoughtfully. 'I took it hard too, when it happened to me a couple of years ago. You remember that time when I used to be really irritable at work, and once took that long, three-week break for no apparent reason? May, I think. Or June. But it's okay. You get over it. All it takes is some time.'
'There was none here, Jen', I pointed out. I didn't want to mention that I had very vague recollections of the time she was referring to. It was around then that I had resigned, and I had had issues of my own to deal with. But telling her that wouldn't have been very polite.
'That shouldn't affect your decision'. She straightened. 'You need to think clearly'.
More and more ironic, I thought.
Hold me closer, tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You've had a busy day today
'Let me know how it works out', she said, as we were paying the bill. 'And do learn to show up on time. We were going to meet at five, not five-fifteen.' She smiled. 'I'm glad you admit to the feeling, at least, Ray. I didn't think I'd live to see the day that you felt this way about someone!'
It seemed about time.
'Jen', I looked her straight in the eye. 'This is not the first time I've fallen for someone. I felt this way about you back then, you know. When we worked together. I just never told you. And...' I faltered, suddenly uncertain. It didn't appear as harmless an idea as it had four seconds ago, this choosing to tell her about feelings that I had put away for good. She was staring at me, still with shock. 'And...' I went on, putting all my courage into my words, 'it did seem like there was someone you were constantly thinking about, so it didn't feel like the right thing to do. It's all in the past, of course. Anyway...so I think I'll leave now. See you later?'
'Yes?" I turned. She hadn't moved an inch.
'Think clearer this time." Her voice was hard and her eyes were unusually bright.
I sat in my car, listless and a little troubled. Maybe I should get more coffee to go, I thought, absently fingering the receipt from our coffee. Jen never collected receipts. It was a habit everyone at work used to kid her about, I remembered.
The order for a latte and a double espresso had been placed at 4:53 pm.