I’m sitting across the table from you while we both ignore the cheese fries. I hate sitting across the table from people in places that are so loud. It’s strange that we’re in a sports bar. I guess it’s not exactly a sports bar, but there are a lot of straight people in here and ESPN is on. Either way it’s not important.
I’m just jealous at all the fun they’re having. They’re having so much fun, so loudly, and we are sitting here not eating cheese fries in silence, because I keeping thinking you’re just about to say something, and then you don’t. So then I start a sentence, but stop, because you start a sentence. We’re a bicycle chain that won’t catch in the gear.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. The last time was almost a year ago at Kyle’s party. It would be better if I were sitting next to you. It would be better if it were ten years ago. I finally manage to tell you that I’m going to Kyle’s birthday drink thing on Tuesday. “Will you still be in town?” I ask. “I think so.” You reply. “Well, let me know if you’re going.”
I am riding alone on the F train looking at a sign posted in the car. “If you see something, say something” is a pretty tough directive to follow in New York City. I see something everywhere. I see something when it’s nothing. I see something when it’s everything. But it’s hard to tell which is which, so I try not to say anything.
It is ten years ago.
I am getting ready for class. You kiss me on your way into the shower. It’s raining, like it has been for weeks. I want to borrow your ugly pink umbrella, which isn’t even yours — someone just left it at the bar where you work. They’re not coming back for it though. “How do you know?” I ask. “I just know.” You replied.
So I open your closet door to steal your stolen umbrella. There’s another one in there too; it’s blue. I close the door.
Two weeks earlier, we are at the bar where you work, but you aren’t working right now — unless your job is to drink whiskey sodas. My current occupation is vodka. All the people that belong here are here. I lose you in the crowd for a few minutes when my friend Kyle, who was your friend first, asks me whether it’s “for all intents and purposes” or “for all intensive purposes.” My weakness for malapropism gets me every time.
Then, I see you through the window — outside having a cigarette. You are talking to someone I don’t know and he is upset. I can see his face. I can see his blue umbrella.
I come outside the bar. Your conversation stops. He walks away and you turn to me. “Do you know that guy?” I ask. “No.” You say. I look back into the bar through the window because, for a second, I think I see something. But I don’t see something. I just see everything.
I see my friends still laughing about mistaken phrases. I see the bronze rail of the bar and the worn wooden booths along the wall. And in the window’s reflection, I see you. I turn away from the window to see you more directly. I watch you light another cigarette.
“I thought you left.” I say. “No I’m still here.” You reply. I turn to head back into the bar. “Well, let me know if you’re going.”