Sunday, November 09, 2008

"Never Special," Pie, pt. 3, 358 words

"Your boyfriend was in here just about ten minutes ago," she says, and it's only through an act of great will that I keep from reproducing a cartoon spit-take all over her.

"I'm sorry," I ask, feebly.

"Isn't he," she asks. "Your boyfriend, I mean. You two always looked like you'd just come out from a bit of a romp together, whenever you came in here before."

I blush furiously at what she's suggesting, and manage a weak, "No, we, we never..."

"Oh, I'm sorry," she says, her cheeks reddening a bit as well. "You two just always seemed..." She shakes her head. "I'll go get that pie for you."

"Thank you," I manage, and turn back to finishing my coffee.

Bill paid and pie in hand, I hurry out the door just a couple minutes later and look up and down the street. Not many people tonight, but for some reason I don't feel like flying. I step briskly down the street, towards where I know the bench must be, where he must be.

He's sitting in one of several benches, towards the middle of the whole bunch. His silhouette is still much the same as before; skinny, a little hunched over, like an underfed and nervous dog. There's no way he doesn't hear me approach, but he's very studiously watching the bars down below.

I sit down next to him, setting the slices of pie between us, next to a thermos. "Ned," I begin quietly, and finally he looks at me. I think he's a little skinnier than I remember, and there are new lines on his face. I miss his glasses, too. But he's still the man I knew, who I first met nearly a year ago.

"Ms. Park," is all he says, or all he can manage to say.

"Please, for once... call me Amanda."

***

"I missed you," he says, his arms tight around me, and it's the happiest I've ever seen him. His giddiness cuts my nervousness free, buoys me up like a hot air balloon casting off its ballast. I hug him back, hesitantly at first, then with a light touch.

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