I jog to her house with my Australian Shepherd Jake pulling on the leash beside me. We walk to the commons gossiping as if we haven’t just spent the last 40 odd days together nonstop. Finally, as Jake stops to sniff and mark his umpteenth bush her voice falters.
“I have something to tell you but I don’t know if you will want to know.”
I bristle. The hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. I swallow.
“Okay…” I drag out the A as if it is the last vowel I will ever sound. Stalling but curious. You know what they say about the cat… and curiosity. Still, cats never stop exploring and I can’t help but anticipate the fall when climbing that first hill on a roller coaster. My stomach is sick and peering out over the edge, I don’t know yet why.
She studies my face. I feel like a house must feel as its foundations are inspected. I’m strong enough, I think. She carefully places the weight of her foot on my floorboards.
“It’s about Luke.”
I freeze the smile on my face. Refusing to let it disappear. I want so badly to be fine with whatever she is going to say next.
“He’s seeing someone,” she says and then quickly adds “But J says it’s not serious.”
Blurry thoughts race through my mind, glimpses of his last email. This is a surprise. I shouldn’t care. I don’t care. I care more than I thought I would.
I brace myself.
“She did meet the family already.” Then, “Are you okay?”
I burn his image into the pavement with my soles. I have no right to feel anything about this. I’ve already moved on physically and emotionally. If it’s a race; I’ve been winning for months. Why do we always think they should pine for us? Why do we always think we can still be friends? I’ve been telling people he should move on for months. I’ve been saying he deserves someone more compatible. He deserves someone who won’t guard their heart the way I do. A fresh start. Still, we never know how the hammer is going to feel until it hits our thumb. Bad. But, how bad?
I ask the one question that has been eating at me. “What does she look like?”
That’s it. Line up the nail.
Of course. Here comes the hammer.
“Um, and J says she has big boobs.”
Ouch. That ones going to leave a mark.Well, at least the pattern still holds. They always go for my opposite after me. I take comfort in routine.
I blink back one stupid tear. She puts an arm around my shoulders and leans her head against mine.
“Aw. Who needs ‘im.”
I wipe my eyes. “Let’s just run, yeah?”
“Yeah… Linds you’re going to be okay right?”
I smile that lopsided smile I can’t control and take a deep breath. “I’m already okay, Tas.”
We run. Jake tangling his leash between us; tripping over each other and laughing, I am okay. I think I’m okay. Somewhere someone pops an Advil and places a Band-Aid carefully over a throbbing finger. A forehead gets kissed. It hurts. But, hey it could be worse. They’re okay.
They are going to be just fine.
Josh Mease – White Diamonds