“No, no, I’m glad you came by. It’s good to see you.”
I darted into the kitchen with the dishes, calling out questions about Annabelle, his job. He was so put together these days, so successful, so much more outgoing than the quiet boy who had been my first kiss. Everyone in high school thought he’d follow me when I left for college, but that ended up backward. He had a master’s now and a house on the lake.
When I came out of the kitchen with two beers uncapped, he was still standing, running his fingers around the inside of his coat cuff.
“Hey, I can take that if you like.” I stepped forward and he shifted back, almost like a reflex. He caught himself, embarrassed, and forced a smile.
“Oh really, Deirdre, no worries. I’m fine. It’s just so funny, being here again.”
My initial excitement at seeing him dropped like lead in my stomach. He hadn’t stopped by like this, out of the blue, in a long time. Why had I never been invited to see the new house?
I set the beers on the coffee table and sat down on the edge of the couch. I could never seem to just settle into any piece of furniture, mine or anyone else’s. I patted the adjacent cushion, but tentatively so.
He hesitated and a flicker of anxiety went through me. Finally he flung off his coat and sat down. He didn’t reach for the beer.
“Deirdre, we go way back.”
“I don’t think you can go any further back than we go.”
“Right. And just like we said when broke up, that last time, we’ll always love each other, in our way.”
My heartbeat quickened.
“And you know I truly want you to be happy. And I know you want me to be happy, too.”
“Of course, of course. You know, I’ve been thinking about calling you, really, just today I was thinking that.”
“Yeah, we should definitely get drinks sometime soon. All of us. But hang on, before we plan that, I have something to tell you.”
I began to fidget. “Hey, just a second, I left something on the stove. My lunch. Let me just turn the burner off.”
S.M. Knisely | 19