A.T. Sayre has been writing in some form or other for over three quarters of his life, ever since he was ten years old. From plays to poems, teleplays to prose, he has tried his hand at pretty much every form imaginable. For the last couple of decades his focus has been in filmmaking/ scriptwriting, but recently he has returned to writing prose, specifically short stories. So far in this new stretch he has had two stories published, in Liphar's Short Story Collection #2, and more recently in Abstract Jam issue #3 which came out in June 2016. Raised in New Hampshire, he lives in Brooklyn and likes to read in coffeehouses.
By A.T. Sayre
You first notice her when your mind wanders from the lecturer to the people in the room, as you sit on one side of the semicircle of desks and her on the other. It's nothing ground shaking noticing her; its not like you hear harps in your head. It's just boredom really, your eyes wandering around the room, trying to find something to keep your attention as the lecture drones on. At first it doesn't even occur to you that you are staring at someone specific. To you it's the contours, the shapes, the shadows falling across her nose, under her brow. It is a person, a fully living, laughing, crying, yelling human being, of course you know that, but that's not much more than just a casual realization for you at first.
The thing that catches your eye and makes you focus on her, is her glasses, resting on her face in no remarkable way as she takes notes. In no remarkable way, that is, except in how the angle of the lights above you reflect in those lenses, directly to the angle of your eyes. The lights don't blind you, the way the sun might if reflected into your face.
It's really strange, you think, the reflection in those glasses. It's so complete that the lenses seem to look like they were painted white, her eyes underneath invisible. They're circle rims, and they rest on her face in an otherworldly way, two perfectly white orbs on both sides of her nose. It reminds you of Little Orphan Annie comic strips you had seen once, how her eyes were like that. You try to remember what you had heard those eyes described as once by an artist friend of yours. And after a moment, you remember- they were called saucer cup eyes. Yes, that was it.
She has your gaze now, even if she doesn't know it or care, and you stare at her without thinking about it much. Your attention wanders about her in a casual, curious way, using her eyes as a stopping point in between one area and the next. You look at her hair, straight and brown, falling thinly about the sides of her head and cascading down her back, with a few strands falling down her brow lazily. And then back to the Annie eyes. Onto her cheeks, protruding only the slightest bit from her face, and the line of her jaw, strong and definite, as it runs back to her ears. No makeup, or at least none that is overtly noticeable. And back to the hidden eyes again. She has a firm neck, strong as it is skinny, arcing back to her body in a way that you find most attractive. The eyes. From what you can see of her torso behind her desk she is thin, a bit small breasted, perhaps just a bit smaller than you would imagine the normal would be. That might not be accurate though, because of the loose black T-shirt that stops short of her waist as she leans forward, revealing a tight and straight stomach. And back to the eyes that you still have not been able to see. And then down to her legs. She is wearing denim jeans that look to hug her long legs comfortably, as she crosses them, and taps her black booted foot in the air. You almost think you can hear the song that she's thinking of by watching her tap the time.
All in all, as you watch her foot dance to its own rhythm in the air, you think to yourself, that while not a total knockout, the kind of girl one agent away from a modeling career, she is attractive, in a more intelligent, down to earth way. In a way more based in reality.
And then you look back up to her eyes. Which now, because her head is no longer downwards, and the trajectory of the lights has been drastically changed, you can see through those glasses at the eyes underneath, her real eyes, that are now staring directly back at you. Her expression isn't one of animosity, or attempted intimidation, or even curiosity. She is just staring at you. You stare back at her, trying to determine the color of those eyes newly discovered. Curiosity, that's all. You are just about to make a decision over the distance as to whether they are blue or hazel when she immediately stares away from you, at someone else. Only then do you break out of the stare, and also look elsewhere, at the blond a few seats away, the one that is one agent away from a modeling career.
Still, all through class you keep her in your peripherals, studying her movements, her postures, her reaction to the clichéd jokes the teacher utters. All the time trying to get an idea of her character is what you think you are doing, or at least that is what you are telling yourself you are doing. But more because, and this is not as much a deep, dark, and dirty motive, but just too simple to be a reason. Which is, you're staring at her so much because you like to look at her.
Then the class is over and you watch as she sits up and starts for the door, which is on your side of the room. You estimate quickly that you need to stall for at least twenty seconds to manage to leave just before or after her, hopefully before, so you can turn around and say something, instead of trying to engage with her back. As you stand up very slowly, burning off two seconds, she is halfway along the back wall. You ask the woman who sat to your left, the housewife with the free time, about some aspect of the lecture that you are surprised to realize you really were listening to after all.
But except for the short answer you were hoping for, which would have been perfect for you, the woman, with short graying hair and a pleasant face and far too much enthusiasm, answers your question and then asks another of you, one that takes time to answer properly. Not wanting to be impolite you answer, make good and polite eye contact with her as you do, but mentally ignoring her and watching the door with your peripherals.
And by the time you finish answering, and manage to get out of the conversation that you bring to a quick end, the object of your attention is already at the door. You know you'll never catch up to her in that crowded hallway. Even if you run, and push and shove your way through, by the time you'd get there, you think, she'd be long gone.
So you walk dejectedly towards the door, looking ahead at her while she's still in view. Just as she turns left in the hallway beyond the door, you see that she has taken off her glasses, as she turns quickly and looks back in the room at you.
Her eyes are blue, you decide.
* * *
You do not see her around the campus at all for the next two days. And you do look. Not openly, no, but you scan other crowds constantly for a glimpse of her casually while talking with people, hanging out around the campus square, or walking alone. What you really would do if you did see her you have no idea at all. Would you actually have the courage to go up and say hello? You wish you did. But no, you wouldn't. Ten seconds of eye contact doesn't make her an acquaintance. This is all just reconnaissance. Information gathering. Find out who she knows. Maybe even some friend in common, that you could go say hello to while she's around. But probably not. No, that would be too much. You know to be patient with these things. Still, you look. All the time, it seems.
You don't see her, though. Not once in the two days before you have that class again. Which doesn't bother you, seeing as you at least know that one place, your shared class, is the place where she just has to be. So you know you will see her there.
And the day of your class comes soon enough, with only the slightest anticipation within you. You had decided when you had gotten up that day that you would show up a few minutes late, hoping the only open seat would be near her, or even if you were real lucky, right next to her. Why you think that silly pipe dream is going to happen you have no idea. But if it did, you think, you'd have the easy in to conversation, you could ask her something about the class, what you missed, and use that to start a conversation with her. That is what you hoped.
So when you walked into class five minutes late, the lecturer already starting in on his program for the day, you quickly scan the room, to find that she is not there. You hide your disappointment very well, as you take a seat in the back, between the guy with the obvious hangover and the shy little girl who looks thirteen. You listen to the lecture with only one ear, as the other is muffled by the arm you lean your tired and heavy head on. Within minutes, you are quietly asleep in the back, dreaming of things you do not remember when you wake up later.
That night, after a short nap in your room, you go out to a party and get solidly tight. A grand time, that party, as they all are. You go home with a redhead named Helen. It takes little effort to pick up Helen, as she came out specifically to get taken home, and you find yourself in her bed almost before you realize what is going on. And a grand, grand time was had by all.
You realize, as you leave her bed and her room to walk back to your own comfortable bed, that you have already forgotten her name. Which is, you realize, completely all right. You never did give her your name at all.
And all the time you think of the bespectacled Little Orphan Annie in your class.
* * *
You have the class that the captivating woman is in three or two times a week, Monday and Tuesday weekly, and every other week on a Friday. And you show up for every one of them. Your attendance for a class has never been so good. You show up every day, hoping for that strategic seat that will give you the best chance to hear the only thing that you are missing, Little Orphan Annie's voice. You realize that you are doing this, one day, when you have arrived early and she comes in to the room, in that confident walk that you admire in her, and sits right down next to you.
For the briefest moment your heart skips, and you turn and smile at her. And suddenly realize that you can't think of single damn thing to say to her. Incredible. You've always been good a talker, you can strike up a conversation with anybody, but just at this moment, nothing comes out. And she is as silent as you are. And before you can come up with that great opening line, the class officially starts and talking is impossible.
For the next two hours the only thing you can do is exchange the glances at every stupid comment that is uttered in the class with her, which you do with great enjoyment. The feeling of some shared joke that only the two of you get is a wonderful feeling. Just to have an excuse to look at her, and to watch her fluid body in the withtaking glance is enough for you right now. You have patience. And besides, you haven't come up with an adequate strategy yet to win her anyway.
You stick with what is there already for starters. In class the two of you have an understanding. You are both, you think, apart from the others, because only the two of you understand what is going on. You think this, both of you do. You have no proof of this. You could never prove it to anyone if you tried. But you believe it anyway. That's the way it is with these kind of things. Things like being in it, or of it, or with it, are always like that. Always just a sense that's able to defy evidence either pro or contrary. You can never even prove that anyone else you are with thinks it either. You just have to go on faith, in a way, and whatever miniature body language you can find. You pray to God almighty that when you finally do sit down to talk with this woman that you are not proven wrong.
And, just as you are wondering when this chance will arise, the class is over. Everyone, including yourself, arises from the stupor of a lecture to leave. Your eyes reflexively go to look at her as you stand. And, to your own happiness, she is looking back at you. Your now already malfunctioning heart stops as she gazes at you. Her look is quite odd, you numbly think. What is to be read into that? Everything, maybe everything, maybe she wants you as much as you want her, you can see that in those blue pupils, but whether that is just your imagination or not is questionable. After all, her eyes could hold nothing for you, she could be just another mindless drone that are so common in the world. Or even worse, your better. But you stare back at her, trying to mimic her passivity.
She talks to you, as she stands. She asks you some question that you only machine- like understand and answer. You are too thankful to hear her voice, deep and intelligent, to understand exactly what she is saying at first. Before you come around, and actually know what you are saying you have already agreed to come to the coffeehouse with her, for a cup or two or Java. Which is fine, you do have another class after this one, but priorities rule.
You learn her name, and her basic common background. Her real name, which you store in the very important part of your mind, thinking that this woman is one to never call by the wrong name. But really, her name, to your mind, does not matter. A name is only an identification badge. To you, she will always be your Little Orphan Annie with the saucer dish eyes from that first day. Even though she hasn't worn those glasses once since, it doesn't matter. When addressing her, yes, you will use her real name, of course you will, but when thinking about her, it will always be as Annie.
You sit in the coffeehouse with her, sipping your cup, as the two of you talk so wonderfully. You find many common interests and opinions. Concepts on art, philosophy, politics, all the true and meaningful things. You think, as you talk about Sartre's true intent in No Exit, that you may have put her on a physical pedestal before. She has her own mind, makes her own decisions, and is completely devoted to self- reliance. You like that. You can't stand the kind of woman that is so reflexively subservient as to be afraid to show their own mind, or disagree with anything anyone says. And she is definitely not like that. You feel, as you talk politics, that the two of you are kindred souls, from almost the same mold. She is the type of people that you need. Need to know, need to talk to, need to keep.
But then the coffee runs out, and you find you must take you get going. Approximately twenty seconds after she has already said she must go. In the back of your mind you wish you had decided first. It would be so much better for you. Still, you try to stand up in unison with her, and walk towards the door, still talking about Joe Orton as you leave. You think you salvaged a good amount of leverage with her. Everything must be kept in balance, you think to yourself, or if not that, then tipped in your favor. As you both walk towards the door, hiding your need as much as you can, you make plans to visit her at her off campus apartment the next Sunday. To go out for drinks.
You are so happy at your breakthrough, that you are incredibly festive at the party that night. You pick up a fake blonde, take her back to her place, and have sex with her an unprecedented five times before you take your leave and go home. All the time, thinking of Annie.
* * *
The Saturday before the important Sunday comes along, and you have inwardly thought of nothing other than your date with Annie. Even throughout the sex with the blond the same day as the coffee house, or even the tiny brunette on Friday, you have anticipated the calm afternoon in Annie's bedroom, or living room, meeting her roommates, talking great with everyone, and the hopefully great impression that you will make. You have even gone to the extent of thinking of all the witty remarks that you will deftly and brilliantly weave into the conversations that you will have that Sunday.
But today is just Saturday, and you have a whole twenty four hours before then. And you must go out, down to Beaver Street, to the good little indie party they have each month for rent. After all, there isn't anything else to really do in this sad, small college town.
So you go to Beaver Street, and you drink, and talk to friends that you see there, and do not pay any attention to the amount that you are drinking. At one point early on you offhandedly think that you've had about seven, which is close to the truth. You know that you are very drunk, which is confirmed as a fact to you when you find yourself discussing in detail your masturbation habits with someone you have never met before.
And as fate would have it, that is when you first notice that Annie is at the party. You see her through the fog that is your world of the moment, talking with a friend. You stop the stranger in mid-sentence and stumble over to her, nearly falling down three times in the short fifteen feet, to come to rest on her shoulder, much to the obvious surprise of Annie, who nearly jumps out of her skin.
The effect of your last beer, coincidentally or not, starts to affect you seriously at this very moment. God knows what the one in your hand is going to do. So you have no idea what you are doing, or saying, or even thinking. For some reason you seem to have the mindset to treat her as just another pickup, so you think that you are using the standard pick- up lines. But you can't be certain that you are even pronouncing the words right, let alone using them at the right times.
But deep down, in the last sober brain cell that you have, the last microscopic bit of intellect that you have left, you first realize how much of an idiot you are being. Pick- up lines will never work on Annie. Not at this point of knowing her at least. The rest of your mind deals with this fact, as it continues with its disingenuine talking, not as should be hoped by stopping the cheesy lines, but instead by trying to figure out exactly why you're using them, even as you continue to do so. Then your last brain cell is finally grasped by the beer, and there is nothing left to save your dignity.
You continue on, making more and more of a fool of yourself to her. You have no clue what you are saying, nor do you realize how much you are pawing at her. At first it is supposed to be meant as a sign of your understood bond, but naturally it gets to stupid levels.
Soon enough the party is over, and they are telling people to leave. Sheepishly you do with all the others, Machiavellianly making certain that you are following Annie, who is with an older man who is looking at you antagonistically. And you follow the two of them all the way back to Annie's place, with you talking incessantly, and them trying to ignore your existence.
And then, at the door, when the older man enters before Annie, you (to your drunken logic) go to enter the house as well. And it is at that point that Annie, the annoyance showing in her completely, tells you to go home, right now, you are being a drunken fool. Which, like a foolish and finally sensible sheep, you do, telling Annie that you'll see her tomorrow between hiccups, as you fall down on the sidewalk in front of her house. To which she promptly and heavily slams her door.
And somewhere along the walk home, you start to feel the tears well. You don't know why. All you can tell through the booze is that your heart and mind are in real dark places. You get real sad, and soon start to sob and then heavily cry as you stumble along the empty morning streets, all over something which you don't remember anymore.
* * *
You awake the next day with a terrible headache, groaning heavily as you sit up in bed. You do your cursory check of first, your bed, looking for anyone in it, and then your own memory, to piece together as much of the night as you can. After a few moments and one cigarette, you think that you have an accurate memory. Although you have forgotten seeing Annie at all the night before, either consciously or subconsciously.
You go about your traditional Sunday routine, eat, shit, shower, shave, do the laundry, and when that is all done at three, you decide that you are finally ready, in your best shirt and pants, clean and shaven face, to go visit Annie So off you go to her house, along the path that its oddly familiar to you.
You still have no idea of the night before as you ring the bell, whistling a light tune, thankful that your hangover is gone. Even as you are let in, by the older man that is vaguely familiar, you still do not remember. The memory only starts to fade into your mind as you sit in Annie's bedroom, on the floor, as she sits at her desk, in a position of judgment over you, telling you all about your actions of the last night.
At first you cannot believe your own memories of the past night or her recounting of it. Then they are so clear, or at least as clear as a drunken memory can be, and denial is simply foolish. Then your are ashamed to have acted in such a stupid way. Then guilty, as you apologize for the whole thing. You sit there, on the floor, shrinking and shrinking with each passing moment, as she sentences you to a life of endless guilt.
You apologize more in that short amount of time than you think you have ever in your life. You are definitely in the wrong here, there is no way to excuse your actions, you were very rude, very crass, and very intimidating, to the point where Annie actually feared her own safety, and was thankful she walked home with Stuart, her roommate.
That was what hurt you the most, the fact that anyone could actually fear you like that. You apologized for that more than anything else.
But it was never going to clean up your actions in her mind, you could tell that. Your excuses were not even taken with the traditional nodded head of barely accepted rationale. She actually used them against you. She wasn't happy to destroy your drunken mindset of the night before, she also had to bring your entire personality into question, as she sat on her backless chair above you.
You're selfish, she informs you, all you ever think about is yourself. You only ask things about others when you have an end to meet. For example, just now as you entered her room, you asked nothing of her, asked nothing of how she was doing, merely started straight in on how your life was going, as if her life and personal happiness was not important to you, because there would be no benefit in it for you. She accused you of being a predator, hunting constantly for conquest, and caring nothing for what things you may do to others. And she had never actually considered anything personal or intimate between the two of you, that if she had given off the wrong airs she was sorry, but in no way did that excuse your behavior. And on top of that she tells you that you may be an alcoholic.
And you take it all in because it confirmed the deep fears you have always had about yourself. You have always feared being a superficial womanizer, and here Annie was, giving voice to all of it, fulfilling the masochistic needs of a lifetime. You cradle your knees close to your body, and fight back the tears and depression, all the time that you are there. Crying now would only make you more pathetic.
You leave soon enough, weakly leaning against the door as you go. Thankfully you have been allowed to still be Annie's friend, which is more than you deserve, and all that you will have. You take it because you need at least some tie to her, painfully aware at every moment how insufficient that tie is.
That night, still heavily depressed, you pick up a woman of neither good body or intellect, take her back to her place and have pitiable sexual intercourse with her just once. All through the bad sex you are only thinking of Annie.
* * *
You see her from time to time. Naturally in class and afterwards, when you can find a substantial reason to do so. Most of the time in the coffee house, as you sip at cups with her and talk about things, taking great care not to talk about any aspect of yourself that is not asked about. Indeed, the mere uttering of the word 'I' makes you wince in her presence no matter how it's used. You never talk about yourself with her, making certain not to appear selfish. All you ever talk about now is her life and times. A subject that she enjoys very much.
When you see her in bars or at parties, you take great pains to only give her the friendliest of hellos, and only slight small talk. Your drinking slows. You know at all times where she is on the premises and make certain to be at the other end as much as you can. You do not want a repeat of that night ever again in your life. You wonder to yourself which you dread more- the actual chance of making a fool of yourself like that again, or the recriminations from her that would follow.
Time passes, and the slight hint at that bad night totally disappears from her language. Although you doubt from her mind. Soon enough you almost feel comfortable in her presence. You can almost reflexively revert to the passive mentality when you see her without even thinking about it. You take the constant recriminations of your character that never have subsided totally without even a whimper, agreeing with them all with a cynical nod of your head. It is the way of your friendship.
But still, every time that she has just left your presence, you get that all-encompassing hollow feeling, that makes you so melancholy for a while. You think you know why that is, but you have no idea as to how to put it into words. No matter. It goes away soon enough.
Then she is having a party at her house one weekend, and she actually invites you. There is no question of you attending. You actually call in sick for work as soon as you get up even though you feel more bright and chipper than you have in ages. You are determined to try to win her back, subtly, through strengthening your bond of friendship with her, and totally convincing her of the goodness of your nature.
But of course it doesn't work like that. You go to the party with a case of good beer, and get seriously drunk. At some point in the night, you realize that she has started seeing Stuart, her roommate. You don't let that bother you openly, although you can't help but wince when they embrace.
Through the course of the night, you proposition two of her close friends, make sexual hints at another, and end up in a corner in the upstairs hallway, crying and shaking in the warm air. And that is where she finds you, in her rounds as the begrudging and supremely drunk good host.
She crouches down to you, nearly falling over herself, and tries to comfort you. She tells you that you should cheer up, and have fun, this is a party, after all. She almost sounds annoyed at you for being so depressed. Just be happy, she tells you. Smile, and everything will be all right. It's a certain kind of logic that makes perfect sense to you after having too much to drink. But you still cannot do it.
You look up at her, and start to try to tell her everything. Everything to those bleary unfocused eyes, with the red haze around the foggy and dilated blue pupils. Everything that is within all comes out at once, all the thoughts and dreams that you can remember belch out in delirium all at the same time, and make no sense. You could tell right away they didn't register, were too garbled into each other. You want to try again, to let her know all these feelings that you've let germinate inside your psyche. But you never do actually say it. You can't. You just can't. You try a little. At one point you think you might be saying it, but you aren't and you do realize it deep down. You can't formulate the words, although you think it must be just as simple as a few syllables. All you say to her, as you look up with your red eyes, is that she should be back down at the party, and not to worry about you. You'll be fine. Honest.
But you never were. That moment started a drilling in your spine, from the stupid way she looked at you in the hallway, the way she stumbled off after the most unconvincing assurance in the world. You started to question your own assessment of her character then. The Annie that you thought she was would have understood the angst you had at that time, but you got none of that from her. Not that you expected her to sit and hold you like a baby, that would have been nice, but its not that she didn't that gets you. It’s just the apathetic way she acted that night, the casual lip service concern she gave you. There you were, feeling it all the way down heavy, drunk or not, you still were still hurting bad, and all you got from her were some phony optimistic words that a host of a party is supposed to give, even to a stranger.
And then you start to put together how phony most things she does are. Well, not phony. But they weren't the same as you once thought they were. You notice that she only half- heartedly thinks similarly on your deepest passions, as if in passing fancy. You notice how casually she can disregard your friendship. You notice many other flaws in her character that you were blind to, the more you think about it.
For one, you notice that she cannot tolerate anyone in the world that she thinks is below her. She won't talk much with anyone like that, or not at all if she can help it. She shakes off some of your friends without even the politest of nods. Most of your friends don't like her at all, think that she's an arty- snob. Indeed, you do notice her friends that you meet are all in the extremes of everything from style to intellect, with no real idea of what they are ever saying. Being different from society in every way they can, while being exactly the same as each other. The jet set pseudo- bohemians, you think, doing all the bohemian things without understanding why.
You also notice how annoying and tedious talking to her has become. Every time you see her now you notice that you are the one who has to leave first. Because you run out of things to say to her without doing the taboo and volunteering things about your life apart from her. Because you can't seem to be able to pin her down to a serious discussion on anything. Every time you try, she shrugs it off without the slightest thought to make viscous comments about the fat old man with the bad weave and plaid pants who's ordering a coffee. And after that there's simply no going back to semiotics for her.
You decide to be patient. Perhaps it's just a passing thing. Perhaps she'll be the interesting person that you enjoy being around again in a little while. It's unfair to expect warmth and depth from her all the time. Nobody can sustain that. So for now, you'd just go with it, and wait around for improvement in your relationship. No matter how hard it is getting.
The last day of your class comes, and you and Annie go to the coffeehouse for that traditional drink after class together. She hasn't worn her glasses since that first time you saw her, either in class or out of it; she always has her contacts. You think about this as you talk numbly with her.
You sit at your traditional booth, and desperately try to find the one subject that hasn't been worn to death. Luckily she finds it. She starts to talk about a movie she saw the other day, and starts to rattle off her impressions of it, in a clichéd way that bores you. Yet you listen intently, or at least pretend to.
You've seen the movie, and tell her so, and then start on a story about a time when you watched it, which has enough of a link to the conversation, you think, to excuse the personal nature of it. You tell her about the time back home when you were watching the movie last, you were at a friend's house. You tell her briefly about the friend. And about the two girls there who flirted with you the whole night, and how you could not decide who to flirt back with. Then about how during the movie, they sat on either side of you on the couch, and both at the very same time, put their hands in your lap. You laughed as you told her how you had absolutely no idea what on earth to do. How you were trying desperately as you sat there, to figure out just what you were supposed to do about the little dilemma without either embarrassing them both or alienating either one of them. And how soon enough, the two girls' hands connected there, in your lap, and they both realized quite suddenly the similarity in their ideas. Instead of quickly pulling back and not talking about it all, you told her, as you expected they would, they started fondling you together, in unison, as well as each other's hands. You end the story with a smirk and raised eyebrow, telling her with a naughty and hiding smile, that it was a very good night.
You probably shouldn't have told her that story, because her expression turned from casual listening to disapproval as it progressed. But you couldn't stop in the middle of it, you were too much into the recounting of it. Even if she wasn't. Which was quite obvious by her reaction. She told you as you ended how horrible a story it was, that it showed just the sort of piggish thing about you that she simply could not stand. Just another example of your immature sexist attitude.
That is where it started. Calmly and quietly, even if darkly. The conversation simply started with you defending yourself and your gender in an incident that you did not initiate (and you hadn't started it. Did she actually think you'd stop them?). She responded to that by quoting feminist pamphlets to you, saying ugly things about men, and most specifically, you, and you alone. From there it slowly degraded into you getting venomously angry with her, her quietly sinking in her chair, as you told her off soundly. Now, when you finally had the words and the capability and the mindset to tell her what you thought of her, it wasn't the sweet, romantic things that they might have been, but were now laced in poison, and were acid on the tongue. You told her off quite completely, not missing a single flaw that you had ever noticed, and even adding one or two that she didn't actually have, just to round it off. You ended it with telling her that you would be around to collect the book you lent her, because there was no point in wasting such good literature on her. With that, with all your frustration and anger spent, with it all out of your system, you left, trying not to think of her still at the table, sitting quietly, and not saying a word.
You wondered many things on that walk home. You wonder why you ever bothered with her. You wonder why you ever put up with her. She was the only person that you had ever let talk to you that way. And not just once, but constantly, and not just her words, but her whole attitude. You let her talk down to you, patronize you, you let her think her and her superficial little mind riddled with quotes she didn't understand and had stolen from TV have all the leverage. You let yourself be just a part of her entourage, her collection, some kind of prize in her trophy case of acquaintances. It made you feel so damn stupid to think about it.
Why did you let her? You don't know. Yes you do. But it is so complex a thing that you cannot put it into words. Or you don't want to. You wonder why that is. You wondered what she would say to her friends about it, about your acidic attack and the ending of the friendship. You wonder if what you had said had even registered, had hurt her as much as it hurt you to say it. You wonder why you feel so bad now, why you are starting to feel like yet another cry over her.
You do just that too, as you sit underneath your desk as if playing hide and seek. With the shades drawn. Your favorite depression place. You let the water roll down your face unattended.
But it passes. Almost. That night you go out and pick up a nice looking blond and screw the memories of Little Orphan Annie out your mind, deciding as you get the blonde's panties off, to start fresh, never see her again, let her keep the fucking book, you can buy another, and wonder passively who'll be in next term's classes.
It doesn't occur to you that even now, in the dark room and on the soft bed, as you kiss up and down her inner thighs, you are still thinking about her while having sex with someone else.