He had been warned, repeatedly. Mother, Brother, Ex-lovers, he had met them all and they had all said the same thing. “She’s crazy.” What followed changed but always had the same point. Her mother, master of failed relationships, followed the “She’s crazy.” With, “Maybe you can change her.” It was the same as her friend’s advice, “Stay away man, don’t let her get too close if you do go for it.” Even her brother’s “You are the best guy she has ever dated.” They all screamed run. He didn’t take it to heart. His biggest concern was how close her name was to his mother’s.
After two years of sleeping with the security blanket of solitude he wanted to feel for someone again, whether he knew it or not. His last relationship had been a flagship disaster. Three long years of codependency and utter emotional terrorism had left him bitter and seeking loneliness. Sure there were girls, sometimes quite a few of them, but none of them stuck. Sometimes it was one date, sometimes five, but after a few times he withdrew like a crab into the mud of silence of the unanswered text message.
The first time he saw her she was pouring herself a shot of Irish Whiskey behind the bar. She darted in, almost a shadow. Clothed in black, with a corset to add to the tip jar, long black hair pressed straight. Gemstones adorned the space around her dark eye shadow and thick mascara. A ring played on the left side of her nose. Her lips, painted grey, were mesmerizingly full. She downed the shot; it might have been a double, and disappeared back to the other side of the bar behind a wall of drunks.
“I’m gonna go talk to that bartender.” He said to his friends, thinking he was out of earshot of the beautiful specter in black. As he walked over, building up the nerve, he heard her say, a bit too loud, to other bartender,
“I’m getting out of here. I’m getting a drink at the Hotel.” a little divey place he had been in the night before in fact. He wasn’t going to follow her there. He didn’t think she had noticed him. Twenty men of great variety hit on her every night, he didn’t want to be lumped in with them, that wouldn’t get him anywhere.
He was back just a few days later, alone this time. When she went out for a cigarette he took a chance, still not knowing this would be the one he would care about. He didn’t remember exactly what they talked about or how it happened, when it goes well you never really do, but he returned inside with her and got her number. He put the contact in First Name: F. Last Name: Has Tuesdays Off. He sent the “Hey it’s me,” text and went back to his end of the bar, there were other girls to talk to.
The next day he texted her. She didn’t answer. It was Saturday so he would be back at the bar that night. Fearless after a glass of Jameson, he approached her.
“Hey did you get my text or did I get the wrong number?”
“I was out late last night, sorry.”
“Ok well I’m gonna text you later and you should text back.”
“I will.” He didn’t have to text her again, she did first. It said, “Tuesday I’m off but I might get off early tonight.” She was off early.
They met and had a few drinks. She mentioned having some cocaine so they did some in the bathroom. When it was close to out and the bar was close to closing they went back to his place. The dealer met them there with more. The next thing he knew they had spent the night between his bed and the desk where lines sat like train tracks. They had some fun but didn’t have sex. She asked him to be exclusive and he said yes, but he thought he was lying. They slept curled together like a yin-yang. When they woke they fucked, hard and fast and good. It helped to kill the comedown and the hangover.
He drove her home and wasn’t sure if he would see her again. His friend at the bar had warned him to keep his distance. He was at her house that night to watch the super bowl with her mom and two brothers. Granted that’s not exactly what he expected when he said he wouldn’t mind coming over to her place. She had mentioned that she was in bed. There he was, and far more comfortable than he expected to be. He had a few beers; he was still worn out from the night before. It was incredible, he had known her under two days now but they were perfectly comfortable with each other. It was all happening far faster than either of them expected, stranger still, he wasn’t sure he minded. He stayed over. The sex was just as good as that morning had been, maybe better. It was after this that his best friend told him they were moving to fast.
It was a month later. They had spent nearly every night together, drinking, doing cocaine, or both, up until the past week. They had spent Saturday night in Philly, his first time there. They had well crafted cocktails, tapas diner and some hits of weed for dessert. That night when they had sex for hours, he had no idea it would be the last time. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. He never got the chance to ask. The next night he was on his way to the city, he had some matters to deal with. The following night he stopped in at the bar, had a beer and left.
Tuesday she went to New York to grab a drink with an old friend, one with past connections that were deeper than friendship. He had said it was fine. In his subconscious, he felt differently. They talked briefly on the phone while she was heading there. He texted her, heard nothing back for hours. The stress bubbled up to the surface. They exchanged a few texts and he left it at that. The next night they went out for a drink. She was withdrawn and he pushed too hard. It wasn’t good. Friday came around and he stopped by the bar. She treated him like any other heavy drinking regular. He left, got drunker, came back, and acted like a fool. He went home alone that night.
The next time he heard from her it was at 5:30am that Sunday morning. She sounded very drunk. She asked to come get her rings that she had left there. He knew what that meant. He didn’t want to accept it. She never came. The next night, she texted him about the rings. He brought them over. There was no conversation. He gave her a day of radio silence. He heard nothing, she had promised they would talk, they hadn’t. He texted her on the Tuesday, her day off.
“So I’m gonna assume we are done unless I hear otherwise.” Two hours later he got back.
“Yeah I’m sorry I just feel strange about everything right now”
“Ok.” Then a second text, he wanted to know why, it was eating him up. “You gonna tell me why?” Not five minutes past.
“I just realized this is more than I want.” He sat, alone at the bar with a beer in his hand and his phone in the other, reading the text. Then he put the beer down to text back.
“Ok.” A small gray -Delivered- appeared under the message. She would see it at some point. Besides, did it honestly matter?
This is how it has stayed, a tattered question mark in his mind. He wondered why. He questioned every action he ever took, every sentence he ever uttered. He already knew this was what you did when they left you. Was it the same the other way around?
They had moved too fast, and the blame for it ending was spread between the two of them. At least it made him feel better to think so. Time has passed, not much, but enough so her appearance in his dreams is far less frequent. Now, more than anything he wishes he had gotten some closure.
-This is a work of fiction-