“You haven’t changed a day.”
“Haha. You lie.”
“Do I fuck as good as you remember?”
“We never had sex until last night…”
“Exactly,” I smiled and shook the pepper shaker over my eggs.
Jazmine Sullivan sang in a song that her man fucked her so good she made him pancakes in the morning. Nick took me to Denny’s. Good enough, I guess.
“What’s wrong, Anthony?”
“Nothing’s wrong.” I really meant that. This was a dream come true. But I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be.
“I broke up with him, you aren’t a home-wrecker or something.”
“Nick, you could have been married with kids, wouldn’t have stopped me.”
Nick poured syrup over his pancakes while looking me dead in the eye. “If you had said something a while back…”
“Don’t look me dead in the eye,” I start waving my fork at him, “telling me I could have had you all along. You’re not my property. You made your own choices.”
“The boy who just said he’d ruin a marriage is now taking the high ground?”
“I wanted you to be happy.”
“You were scared.”
“Damn right, I was.”
Nick caught my foot under the table with his. He wrapped his leg around mine.
“Do you not like me anymore?”
I paused. Ate some eggs. Refused to look at him.
“It’s OK if you don’t.”
“Yeah. I spent all this time with Marty…”
“I don’t care…”
“And I didn’t see you again unless I was with him.”
“Yeah, it was like you didn’t even graduate. Failure-to-launch?”
“That was harsh.”
“It was true.”
Nick crossed his arms and thought deeply. His leg was still wrapped around mine.
“Nick, what do you want?”
“I don’t know. See where this goes?”
“I’m going. I graduate, and unlike you, I’m leaving. It’s over. You think I’ll stay for you?”
“Are you mad at me or something?”
“I’m not mad. Not at you.”
“Who are you mad at?”
I took my last bite of eggs. “I’m going to the bathroom.”
I got up, got his leg off of me, and went to the bathroom.
I stared at myself in the mirror, and saw his marks on me. Last night was everything, and it was so unreal. I brought Nick back from the party, and Andrea found her own Prince Charming and let me have the place. I kind of wish she didn’t. No, that’s not true, who am I kidding?
“You don’t have to be afraid of what Marty will think.”
“Why would I be afraid?”
“Because we both know you would have tried to fuck me while I was with him. And you don’t want to look him in the eye and know you finally took me from him.”
He was right.
“Do you love Nick?”
Marty continued doing his homework at his desk. “I do.”
“What do you love about him?”
“He makes me feel good.” He never stopped looking at his books.
“But what about actual things about Nick? About who he is?”
“He’s a good person.”
Bullshit. You don’t love someone because they’re “good.” When you truly love someone, you know how horrible they can be. You realize that you can’t just divide people you love into simple “good” and “bad” categories because you know that you can be absolutely horrible yourself.
What does Nick see in him?
“What do you think Nick loves about you?”
“He always talks about my face, especially my nose.” He furrowed his brow. “He thinks I’m too giving for my own good.”
Wow indeed. Fucking brilliant. I guess love doesn’t have to be reciprocal. You just have to say “I love you,” and hope that the other people involved in the relationship say it back, and it’ll just work out happily ever after. But if I say it, if I say “I love you,” who will say it back to me? Who will let me love their face, their soul, their existence? And who will love the same things about me?
“They’re gonna think we ran out.”
“I paid the bill.”
“What do you want, Nick?”
“No, that’s not real. You wanted Marty.”
“That ended so long ago.”
“I don’t care.”
“Yes you do.”
I keep myself from yelling. “Don’t tell me what I care about. You told me so much about your life, your dreams, who you were. I opened up to you, and you left. You left me alone, but you didn’t leave…”
“Let me finish.” I look him straight in the eye. “You didn’t leave. You were still here. Everywhere I went. You would not leave, but you weren’t actually here. That’s crazy.”
“Do you want me to apologize?”
The toilet flushes.
“I want to go home.”
“Anthony, you have so much talent.”
Nick and I are sitting at a café, a weekly ritual.
“Do I really?”
“Stop being so self-deprecating,” he says while adding sugar to his tea. “You’re amazing.”
“If I was so amazing, why didn’t I get into Godspell?”
“1st-years almost never get into the big plays. You have to wait your turn.”
I sigh, staring at the floor. “I think that you’re one of the only people here who believes in me.”
“Of course I do. You need to believe in yourself though. Look me in the eye.”
“Make sure to look in a mirror every day and tell yourself that you are amazing.”
“I’m serious. It’ll change everything.”
I wanted to say “I love you.” I said, “Thank you.”
Maybe I should’ve said it. Freaked him out, gotten some sort of reaction. At least I wouldn’t be in the purgatory of loving someone who treats me like a lover but only calls me a friend.
“Are you ready to go?”
We buckle up, and head down the highway.
“I loved you.”
“You just know everything, don’t you?”
“To be honest, I might have confused my feelings for Marty…”
He turns the corner towards my house.
“I don’t believe you.”
“You don’t have to.”
“What do you want?”
“You. Do you want me?”
“You know the answer.”
I’m at my house. I get out the car. So does he.
“Don’t I get a hug?”
I go over to hug him, he kisses me.
I don’t understand anymore. None of this makes sense. This is real now, and I don’t know what to do.
Nick must have read my mind. “I’m here, Anthony. I’m real. I’m here. What do you want?”
“Here’s reality.” He kisses me again.
It’s all I ever wanted.