"I think I'm crazy, baby, let you off the hook too easy.
If you were a telephone, you'd still be off the hook.
What do I do when you get close?
If I kiss your neck, would you slit my throat?" --Brand New, "Moshi Moshi"
The window, cracked as it was, let in a breeze that brought smells of summer in with it, and the sound of children playing at the park made me smile over my coffee. I turned the pages of the back issue of Rolling Stone that I was perusing, feigning interest in what the reviewers had to say. “Pretentious douche bags,” I muttered, tossing the magazine back to its loathsome spot on the coffee table. “If Rolling Stone were the Bible, pretty sure Kings of Leon would be Jesus.”
I sighed, tucking some stray hair behind my ear and turning up the volume on my laptop so I could hear it from the kitchen. I refilled my cup, spilling a bit of coffee on my hand and muttering a string of curse words in the process. “I could be the one to turn you out, we could be the talk across the town,” broke through the Brand New song that was currently playing on my computer. Jason Mraz only meant one thing: he was calling. I rolled my eyes.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Homo?” he replied.
“Hi there,” I said, smiling, even though I was a little pissed off at him for having his phone off when he’d asked for a wake-up call.
“What are you up to?”
“I was reading. I’m about to play some solitaire and listen to more Brand New.”
“You like playing with yourself! Can I come over?” he asked. “I have something kind of important that I want to talk to you about.”
“Yeah, sure, like I said, I’m not really doing anything.”
“Give me ten minutes.” We hung up, and my text alert started going berserk.
“Just a heads up, he’s mad at you,” it said. The text was from his best friend. As if I couldn’t figure that out on my own. Boys are stupid. A few minutes later, there was a knock at my door. He never knocks. He knows he doesn’t have to. I let him in, wondering what the hell I could have possibly done to piss him off.
There was something almost predatory about the way he was staring at me from across the room. Two blazing emeralds, brimming with his anger that he kept under weak wraps, cut right through my skin and charred my soul to a deep black.
“Hi there,” I said, stepping towards him and feeling the tension in the room soar to new heights. His face softened, its hard edges smoothing and contorting back to normal as his anger dissipated.
“I can’t be mad at you,” he said. “I just wasn’t happy that you had Aly over when I was here the other day. You know how I feel about that.”
“She was dropping off some pillows for me. She was here for maybe five minutes,” I replied, my agitation turning my voice to gravel.
“Look…I told you I didn’t care that you were friends with her still, but she lied about me to my best friend, her husband, and maybe that doesn’t mean anything to you, but it’s pretty much ruined my friendship with him.”
“Excuse me? If HE hadn’t been here when you came over, she never would have stopped in. You were drunk anyway, I don’t understand what the big deal is.”
“I just don’t want to be around her. I told you that. I don’t think I should come over anymore if she’s going to be randomly popping in,” he explained, leaning up against the wall.
“Maybe you shouldn’t,” I said, kicking myself as the words tumbled from my mouth. “Besides, you know, Andrew has been spending more time over here than you have recently.”
“I don’t care.”
“I know you don’t, I just meant that I rarely ever see you, and when I do, nine times out of ten, you’re pissed off. I didn’t invite her over. She was dropping something off and picking Andrew up. She was around for a total of 10 minutes. You’ll survive.”
“Whatever. I don’t want to be around her at all, Kelsey. As in never. It was a condition of me starting to hang out over here again that she never be around. I’ll start coming over again once you learn how to keep your word.”
“Excuse me? Keep my word?” I replied, picking up a shoe. I had every desire to throw it at him. In my mind, I saw his look of surprise as the heel made contact with his testicles. An internal giggle escaped.
“Yeah, tell her not to come over when I’m over here.”
“Fuck off! YOU need to learn how to keep YOUR word. Do you know how many times you say you’re coming over here, and I end up waiting around for you for absolutely nothing? Do you know how many nights I have made plans with you and been left alone? Do you know how much it sucks to be disappointed by the one person you think you can count on? Keep my word… Fuck you. Maybe you shouldn’t come over anymore,” I said, putting the shoe on.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Anywhere that you’re not. And by the way, you wouldn’t know it because your phone was off, but I did give you that wake-up call you were asking for at 6:30. I stayed up all night so I wouldn’t miss it and have you be late for work because no one called. All night. And here you are, yelling at me about something that happened a week ago. Well, fuck you. I don’t know if I want to hang out with you anymore.” I put on my other shoe and grabbed my hoodie and Beckett’s leash. She came and sat beside me, and I secured her. “Lock up when you go,“ I instructed. We left my apartment, my face flushed with heat because of my anger. I hightailed it down my building’s stairs, and took off across the parking lot.
“Kelsey! Kelsey, wait,” he yelled, coming through the back door. “Don’t go. I’m sorry,” he said, jogging to catch up.
“I used to like you because everything was so simple with you,” I said, turning to face him. Beckett sat expectantly at my feet, and I scratched her ears.
“What’s not simple anymore?” he asked.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” I replied. “You just have no idea what I go through for you. And I don’t even know why. You’re not my boyfriend. You don’t want to be my boyfriend, and I don’t really want you to be anyway. I just like us. Our friendship is fun, and there’s no real pressure. But you don’t see that it’s wrong to stand me up all the time, maybe because there isn’t pressure on us. It IS wrong. It makes me really mad, and when I confront you on it, you act like you have no idea what I’m talking about.”
“I’m sorry. I’m a flake… That’s all there is to it. You’ve known this since we met in 2004.”
“Maybe you should try to fix that. When you fix being a flake, I’ll start keeping my friends who actually show up when they say they’re going to away from my apartment for you.”
“I said I’m sorry,” he said, stepping close to me and putting his hand on the back of my neck. “Can I get a hug?”
“No! I’m still pissed off at you,” I said, stepping out of his embrace. He closed the distance between us once again, pulling me up against his chest.
“Please?” he asked, looking into my eyes. I felt the earthquakes start deep in my stomach, a gentle shake that meant my resolve was crumbling, once again. I wrapped my arms around him, and he held me up against him.
“I hate you,” I said, pressing my forehead against his chin.
“I hate you too,” he replied, leaving a kiss there, acting as a catalyst for the real tremors to start. We walked Beckett around the park for an hour, making little comments about this and that. His hand found mine halfway around the pond, squeezing gently and gripping my fingers between his. When we got back to my apartment, we curled up in my bed, facing each other. He tucked my hair behind my ears and pulled my head back against his chest. We napped like that for a few hours before he headed to his meeting at work, and I went back to playing Solitaire, alone in my apartment with the breeze coming in through the window, spilling secrets of the upcoming spring season. If only all of those well-wishers in my yearbook could see me now. “Have a great summer,” they scrawled, in sloppy high school handwriting.
I’m going to. The breeze told me so.