I slide ungracefully into the passenger seat primed with the line, “Do you make a habit of picking up strange women at bus stops?” But to my chagrin I can barely manage a loaded “Hi,” that heralds a textbook pregnant pause… this baby is overdue. Seven years’ radio silence and I open with Hi.
He Hi’s back, flashing a grin that I swear literally flashes, and mercifully the bus I would otherwise be boarding is pulling up behind us so I can occupy some seconds otherwise devoted to a silence that feels traumatic to say,
“We should move. The bus is here.”
Poetry! Wow, Morgan, you are just loquacious. Way to represent.
I can’t see his eyes to discern the legitimacy of the effervescent smile he’s directing at me because he’s wearing the sunglasses I gave him. Wait, what?! Why is he wearing the sunglasses I gave him? How the hell does he still have the sunglasses I gave him SEVEN YEARS ago?? Any normal human being would have lost them by now. Or maybe that’s just me – there I go projecting again, assuming that, like me, everyone else in the world can never keep track of their sunglasses.
They’re $37 shades. Seven years! What the fuck?
Now, these glasses are a somehow subtle shade of bubblegum pink, and I’m telling you, you could slap them on a disgruntled gargoyle and you’d suddenly find yourself in serious distress because you want to fuck a gargoyle. And that’s not normal. Pervert.
Alex is no gargoyle. Far from it, to use the phrase “easy on the eyes” does his good looks a disservice. Add those glasses and Jesus H. Christ. It isn’t fair. It killed me seven years ago and it’s killing me now. In a sexier alternate universe I forgo any semblance of niceties and just tear off his clothes.
Instead I say, “Normally I don’t get in cars with strangers,” much more sarcasticallythan intended. Blurt, rather. The slightest of inflections yet loaded like a freighter. As with no one else I’ve ever met, with Alex I lose 70% control of what comes out of my mouth. I find it to be morbidly fascinating – it’s like encountering a different version of myself. She’s more authentic, but it comes at the price of composure – but I’m a narcissist so what do I know.
I do know that in saying ‘Normally I don’t get in cars with strangers‘, to him in the way I did, I actually said, seemingly with intent to wound: You might as well be a stranger. That is all I value you as. Which is to say I don’t value you at all. Whatever almost happened between is of so little consequence it doesn’t even elevate you from stranger to acquaintance. You occupy no space in my head or heart. Why didn’t you ever find me? I hate you.
Having just revealed to him and myself that I’m kinda a dick, it takes me a moment to process the accidental subtext and implications of my own words. So when Alex lobs back a base,
“We’re not strangers, Morgan,” it feels like a small betrayal bereft of a segue.
Seriously? Already? Two dozen words in – we can’t ease into this? No.
No, of course not.
I arch an eyebrow and clip my words, “Then what are we ex-act-ly?”
He realizes ‘Friends’ is ludicrous as the word is halfway out of his mouth, but “Frie…” is damning enough.
“So we are…?” I prompt. Or barb. Whatever.
“We’re… just us,” he states as if it’s a blatantly obvious deduction that I failed to make.
“There is no us, Alex!”
“We could have been friends…” he grumbles under his breath.
“Never wanted to be your friend Alexander.” In the perverse half language of Morgan + Alexander I have effectively bared my soul.