Don’t Blink

“Don’t blink.”


“Just don’t do it!”

“Okay fine,” he said. She ripped the splinter from his foot. “Ah, fuck! God damn it.”

“You blinked!”

“What the fuck does blinking have to do with anything?”

“I don’t know. Just to give you something else to focus on,” she laughed.

He started bleeding from the gaping hole that the sliver of wood from her apartment porch rented in his foot. She went to the bathroom to grab some gauze and bandage wrap. He couldn’t recall if he even owned band-aids. She came back and wrapped up his foot. He wanted to cry but he wouldn’t. He did a poor job of hiding it.

It was the morning after their second date, if you counted the first one as a date. The first one they were hanging out at a small get-together at a mutual friend’s house. They developed an immediate rapport, he with his insistence on dominating a conversation whilst trying to be funny and she with her actually being funny. They spoke only to one another. They got so lost in their conversation the host had to kick them out, as everyone but them had already left. Upon leaving she asked him if he wanted to go to a bar or something for a nightcap, he declined.

Their second date was a real date. Dinner. Movie. He wasn’t that creative. She didn’t appear to mind. During dinner they were rapt in the the same rapport they had developed at the party. He asked her what she was going to order before their waiter came by. When it was time to order, he ordered for her. She was not impressed. She told him it didn’t count as charming if she had told him what she wanted to order. He apologized, she said not to sweat it, she was just joking. At those words his heart rate settled back down, he was worried he had blown it.

The movie they saw was one of those ensemble comedies where some famous comedian and his friends smoke a bunch of weed. It was only okay, but they laughed through it. They agreed they’ve both spent $20 on worse things.

After the movie, he drove her home and she invited him upstairs. He relented at first, but she insisted. He relented at his relenting. They went upstairs and drank some more, talked some more, and they had sex. It was good. He could see himself doing so again. She said she enjoyed it, which he took as either true or indicative of her grace that she would bother to lie to him about it.

That next morning she got up and made him coffee. She brought it to him in bed, telling him that she would be out on the porch if he was ready to get up, if not, that was cool too. She was wearing a big t-shirt that went a quarter-way down her thigh. As she walked away he had to follow. He got up and threw on his shirt and pants and followed her outside. He was barefoot and with the first step on to the porch the wood bit him. He yelped.

After she cleaned him up and he came to his senses beyond the pain in his foot, he could smell something from the kitchen.

“Hey, what smells so good?” he asked.

“Oh, I’m making cinnamon rolls.”

“Awesome, how much longer until they are ready.”

“I don’t know, thirty minutes?”

“Oh, okay,” he said. He looked at his phone. It was 9:30 am. He had to be at work by 1:00 pm.

“Do you not like cinnamon rolls?”

“No, it’s just that I have to get to work soon and, yeah.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I was just hoping we could hang out for a bit and I could do wifey stuff for you.”

“Oh, well, I can hang out for a little bit, I guess.”

“Okay, cool.”

They chit-chatted while they waited on the cinnamon rolls, but it wasn’t the same kind of conversation they had at the party or at dinner the night before. It was small talk. Work. Where they went to school. It was boring. When the cinnamon rolls were ready he ate his before it had cooled off. He inhaled his before she reached the third bite of hers.

“Wow, dude, do you want another one?” she said. She smiled. She thought it was cute.

“I wish,” he said, “but I’m cutting it close now.” It was 10:15 am. Her smiled turned to a pout.

“Are you sure you don’t want to call in and hang out?”

He wanted to more than anything.

“I’m sorry, I can’t.”

“Oh, okay then.”

He went inside and she followed him in, watching as he put on his socks and shoes. She walked him to the door and they agreed to call each other later that night. They kissed. He got into his car and drove home.

He blinked.


Always Crashing in the Same Car

I keep driving around your building writing a letter to you in my head. Sometimes the words don’t come to me. Sometimes I can come up with a line or two that I’m proud of, that deliver the exact message I want you to receive, but I never get to write it down. All I have are some crumpled up McDonald’s receipts and a couple of pens from the bank that I steal from that little canister when I go through the drive-through. When I think of something good I try write it down on the materials I have available but the paper is too crumpled. Between red lights I try and straighten it out on the steering wheel but I can’t get it quite right. When I do get one of the receipts right the light turns green or it is too dark where I am to write it down. Then I forget the idea.

I could always just park somewhere. How hard could that be? Just park somewhere and write it out. Hell, there’s a pharmacy on every corner, I can just walk in and get some notebook, a fresh pen, and have the space to write out my thoughts. Hell, if I am to do all of that I can just go home.

I give up on the letter idea. It’s a little trite, isn’t it? Maybe there is some romantic idea of that being a thoughtful personal thing to do, but I don’t know. Living in the same city, knowing where you are, what reason is there to write a letter? I could just park in your building’s lot. I could just walk up to the door and buzz you and you would let me in. I would walk up the stairs to the third floor and avoid touching the handrails because of the one time you told me you were walking behind some woman down the stairs and she hocked a loogie in hand and rubbed it off on the handrail you were using. I could use my stupid coded knock rhythm that I picked up from my uncle when I was eight. You would open the door with the rolling of your eyes and a smile. You would let me in and I would go to the fridge and check for your leftovers. You would tell me what was in there and then make it for me not out of kindness, but because I always make a mess. You would tell me about your day, who pissed you off, who you pissed off and how you didn’t care, and I would pretend to care. You know that, but you don’t care. You know it isn’t personal. I would eat the food you reheated for me, make a second plate, and make the exact mess you were hoping to avoid. You would make me clean it, but I would do a shitty job so you would grab the rag for me and call me useless. You would only half mean it.

We would go sit on the couch and put on some sort of tv show we have watched a thousand times and I would rant and rave to you about some bullshit, bullshit you aren’t interested in but I am passionate about. I know you don’t care. I don’t care. I know it isn’t personal. The conversation would continue, and while you didn’t care you were still listening. You would pick up a word or phrase of what I said and it would take you back. It would take you back to something I did that wasn’t so wonderful. It would make you mad. You would be right to be mad. I wouldn’t know how to make up for it. Even if you never say anything in the moment, I would know that you hated me. We would get tired and go to bed. We would have sex, or maybe not. We would fall asleep, and you would hate me.

So back to the letter. I’m still driving around. I keep looking at your building. I have a horrible conception of relative space, but I know which apartment is yours by the awful dying plant your Mom got you that you never wanted. I don’t park. I don’t write the letter. I don’t want to. It just feels worse than speaking words. I can’t go upstairs either. You would let me in. I don’t want to make you hate me again.