We sit in a restaurant. It’s Chinese. Not where we’d first met, but it’s good enough. Close enough.
Everything is polite. Safe. I ask about your family, you ask how my mother is doing. I inquire about your job, the one you’ve had since forever. The one you’ve always hated. You tell me it’s fine. We both know that’s probably not true.
We sit, silent, unsure of what to say. Our food arrives. You reach for chopsticks, I default to the fork. You laugh. I could never master chopsticks, not in all the years you tried to teach me.
You tell me about the guy you’re seeing now. He’s a musician. Very creative. Very motivated. Great sense of humor. It stings a little. I smile anyway.
I talk about her. You smile, happy I found someone else. I smile too. She’s more than just “someone else,” and I always worry I’m underselling just how important she is to me.
I remember that you were important to me too, once. My heart pangs.
We eat in silence for a moment. I think on why we don’t do this often. Why we seldom see each other. I suspect you’re having the same thought. Outside of the pleasantries, there is nothing else to say. We both know each other so well…
Knew each other so well.
The check has come and gone, and we’ve split the bill down the middle. Is that so we don’t feel beholden to the other? Does that keep this from being a date? It has been years since our first date. Months since our last. But this is just dinner.
We walk to the door, still smiling, making polite small talk. I wonder if you do this out of pity. I wonder if you would be happy never to see me again. I wonder if you’d have any emotional reaction to that at all. The idea of you feeling nothing hits me harder, feels worse than the notion of you bring pleased to be rid of me.
We say goodbye. A polite hug. I get in my car, you get in yours. I drive home, making out the road through wet eyes and a rain-soaked windshield.
In my mind’s eye, I can see the exact moment our relationship had fallen apart in the first place. My fault, my fault, my fault.
I climb into bed, and filled with regret, and rest my head on a pillow that had optimistically thought it might stay dry tonight.
I look over to her. She sleeps peacefully, more beautiful with each passing moment. I feel privileged, honored to get to be a part of her life at all.
I close my eyes and think of you as I drift away.
"Jerk it to the Limit", sung to the tune of "Push it to the Limit" from the film Scarface.
"Shame of the Otaku" by MC Frontalot always comes to mind, but perhaps that’s far too cool a song to associate with Bashcraft.