Article: 288628 of talk.bizarre
From: (Sweth Chandramouli)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: just maybe
Date: Sun, 01 Dec 1996 16:38:19 -0500
Organization: Bivings Woodell, Inc.
Lines: 147
Message-ID: <>
Keywords: public display of affliction

   i take a deep breath and run through the routine once more: three steps
forward, stop, turn; two steps back, stop, turn; brush hand through hair,
shrug, say hi.  i've already wasted three hours rearranging the
room--putting this book here, that cd cover there, all in a vain attempt
to give my room that certain level of deshabille that might make you think
that maybe, just maybe, i forgot that you were coming over.  the
nonchalant confusion when we first meet, though--that's going to take some
   the song on the cd player starts to wind down; three button presses
later, it's cued back up to that exact spot, twenty-nine seconds into the
track, that might make you think that maybe, just maybe, this cd had been
playing all along--that maybe, just maybe, i hadn't wanted this song on
when you got here.
   the song is restarted twice more before the knock actually comes at the
door, sending me flying out of my chair like a cat after an invisible dust
mote.  i turn the knob, then hesitate for just a moment, wondering if i
really should open the door, or else just pretend i'm not even home; the
decision is taken out of my hands as you sweep in, flushed and dirty,
draped in loose sweats, aluminum baseball bat slung casually over your
shoulder.  you play basball, i note to myself, and wonder (hope?) if you
spent hours deciding just how much dirt to rub into the knees of your
pants, to make it seem as though you had just stopeed by on your way back
from a game; if you spent the last week timing yourself, running down the
street around the corner, trying to see just how fast to take it, so that
your cheeks would have that perfect flush by the time you got to my place.
   all of my elaborate plans dart out the door as it swings shut behind
you; suddenly, the best i can manage is a wavering "hey", and then we
stand there, not saying anything, tentative strangers unsure of the proper
protocol at a time like this. i flash a quick grin, testing the waters;
you smile back at me, mutter something that sounds like "nice to meet
you", and slide into the ratty easy chair in the corner, settling into it
as though it were yours.  i sit on the sofa and stare at you in your
chair, and wonder how you know that it is the most comfortable one in the
room, and if you will always sit there when you come over.
   i wait in warm silence for a few more moments, listening to the music,
trying to guess how long we can stay like this, before someone speaks, and
ruins everything.  just when i think i might get away with letting it go
on forever, you catch me watching you sing softly along with the words. in
a flash, you are by the stereo, hitting eject; i swallow, instinctively,
and am forced to break the silence: "it goes under 'n', on the third
   you nod, and smile at me again over your shoulder, and put the disc
face-up on the second shelf; turning back, you shrug, open your mouth as
though you were going to speak, then close it and return to your seat.
   "why'd you turn it off?" i finally ask, and am rewarded with the first
real sentence i will ever hear out of your mouth: "i just don't like that
   "yeah.  i never really did.  a lot of people think i do, though."
   we sit for another few moments, until you suddenly continue:
   "it's just--i didn't want us to get off on the wrong foot, is all... i
didn't want to begin with a lie, if you know what i mean."
   "y--yeah, i know," i reply, and pray that maybe, just maybe, leaving
the tv on all last night so that the screen would be just dusty enough
that it wouldn't seem like i had cleaned, doesn't count as a lie.  i close
my eyes for a second, and open them to find you sitting on the sofa, just
a foot away.
   "you look tired."
   i smile, and shake my head.  "i'll try not to take that personally."
   "_i'm_ tired," comes your reply, and i wonder if i've failed some sort
of test.  "i wouldn't mind just closing my eyes and sleeping for a week."
   "feel free," i laugh, realizing that you already do.
   "tell me a story."
   "excuse me?"  i sit up, wondering where this is going.
   "tell me a story.  i always like to hear a story when i go to sleep."
   "i... what makes you think i know a story to tell?"
   "everyone knows at least one story."
   "and if they don't want to tell it?"
   "they just need a little help."
   "tell me a story," you say with an almost-terse finality.  we sit for
another minute, each daring the other to be the first to continue; for
once, it seems, i win. as soon as i hear what you say, though, i
   "tell me a story.  have... have you ever had a really bad injury? 
something that was excruciatingly painful, but only you could fix it?" [1]
   "i... i guess so," i say, without really thinking about it.
   "then tell me about it."
   i open my mouth to confess that i can't, but my voice seems to have a
mind of its own.
   "i knew this girl once..."
   "it's always a girl, isn't it?"
   "i guess.  anyway, i knew this girl.  we were--she was my friend.  we
went everywhere together, did everything together--best friends.  and then
one day, she left."
   "she moved.  she wanted to spend some time with her father, who was
teaching off on the east coast.  i knew she was going to go, we had
discussed it over and over, and i kept telling her how happy she was going
to be.  but it was just--it was a bit of a surprise when it actually
happened, i guess.  one day she was there, and the next, she wasn't."
   i stop, and take a breath, and continue.
   "so, i knew this girl once--"
   "haven't we already been over this?"
   "so i knew this girl once.  she was my friend.  we went everywhere
together, did everything together--when we could.  she lived way up north,
and couldn't make it down much."
   "and then one day, she called and told me that she loved me, but she
couldn't talk to me anymore, and she couldn't explain why.  so i said
okay, and hung up the phone."
   i stop again, thinking you might want to make a comment; you just bite
your lip, and stare at me.
   "so i knew this girl once.  she--"
   "does she have a name?"
   "which one?"
   "does it matter?"
   "it would to her."
   "oh... go on."
   "so i knew this girl once.  she was my friend.  we went everywhere
together, did everything together--some days.  some days, we'd just stare
at each other like warring hyenas--just circling, and watching, and
waiting for the other one to die, so we wouldn't have to kill them
   "did you kill her?" you ask, feigning shock.
   "one day, we were just sitting around, listening to music.  and i had
had a bad day, and i was just enjoying being able to listen to the
music... and then she just got up and turned it off, without asking.  so i
asked her to leave."
   "she did?"
   "she did.  for good."
   "so i knew these girls once...  i saw one of them the other day,
walking down the other side of the street.  i walked right past her, and
looked through her, and she looked through me, like we always do; i walked
right past her, and went home, and picked up the phone, and called her,
because... because i hadn't heard her voice in a while, and because i knew
she wouldn't be home.  i called, and listened to her answering machine,
and then hung up and called again, and then again.  and somewhere in
there, on the fourth or fifth call, i guess she got home... she picked up,
and said 'hi', and i didn't know what to do.  the best i could manage was
'hey', and then we stood there, not saying anything."
   "and?" you ask, exhaling slowly, as though you are afraid of what you
will hear next.
   "and then i asked you how you were doing, and if we could get together
next week, and maybe, just maybe, we could start over, like total
strangers, who were meeting each other for the first time."

   fulfilling obligations,

<>  because sometimes chutzpah doesn't cut it.
<a href="">.</a> <>

[1] attdammit: grendel