Peter and Audrey flitted by each other for years, and that’s one of the funniest things about it. Peter thought she was attractive but had no special interest — every girl was attractive in high school. He would see her at shows and parties with her boyfriend at the time, Eric. In fact, that was the only reason Peter and Audrey were introduced to each other. Peter didn’t like Eric because he thought Eric was an asshole through and through. Peter’s opinion of Audrey, therefore, was that she was too good for him by default.
Audrey thought Peter a pompous asshole, due in large part to the fact that he flirted with her right in front of Eric at a show once, having not the slightest shame. Eric took it with only a mumbled response which pleased Peter to no end.
High school ended and so did a lot of its relations. Peter stopped seeing the same people, the shows dried up, the parties weren’t worthwhile, and everyone got on with living their life. Audrey, meanwhile, was continuing high school with vexation.
They saw each other once over the course of two years. On this occasion, Peter was in the front yard of his friend Adam’s house, helping him clean his bike when Audrey and some unknown happened to walk by. This unknown male was Aiden, and the two were dating. Adam new Aiden, so they called out to each other and chatted. Peter had never met Aiden, but disliked him immediately. To Peter, Aiden seemed like an aggressive insect — cocky and inconsequential. Peter wanted to put him in his place. The encountered lasted no longer than ten minutes, and Aiden hated Peter by the end of it, so he must have done something right. Still, on this occasion, he had no opinion of Audrey. At this point, she was a recurring character with poor taste in men.
And so time passed for both of them. Peter spent it looking back on his high school career and examining his many mistakes. He had been lonely and was still. He decided, instead of worrying about the wants and needs of others and how he could satisfy them to gain companionship, to focus on his own desires. He thought it couldn’t be worse than what had been, so he did it. He cared for himself, his appearance, grew a modicum of confidence, and developed an ease with others. At least, he thought it was ease. It was actually condescension. Having been cast out in high school, he rejected the norm and saw the whole thing as beneath him. He was insufferable that way. He was still lonely, and enjoyed lamenting his then recently failed romance.
Audrey changed schools almost every semester, due to a “variety” of events, she says. This is an excuse, I think. She was restless and dissatisfied. “Surely there must be more than this.” There wasn’t. Hers was an intimidating and compassionate intelligence, focused not on profits or science, but on life. She sought to feel and understand. She had gotten back with Eric, whom she thought she loved, and so wrote the most divine things about him in her journal. Audrey still felt lonely, though, and that confused her. “If this is love, why don’t I feel it?”
One sunny November day, as Peter was walking to Jamba Juice for his lunch break from the bookstore, he ran into Audrey. Here is what happened.
“How are ya?”
“I’m good. I like your satchel.”
“I am so glad that you know it’s a satchel. Thank you so much. People call it a man purse and I cry myself to sleep every night.”
The conversation continued until eventually Jamba Juice was ditched entirely in favor of a coffee at the nearby Starbucks. They sat and talked. They were sort of catching up, though they were never friends to begin with. She was still with Eric. Perhaps Peter was bored, but he started poking at her. She would bring up some facet of her life and he would critique it with a curiosity that was really thinly veiled condescension. At this time in his life, he had taken to doing this to people. He liked to get a rise and, in a lot of ways, he judged people on how they reacted.
Audrey felt judged, as though she were under a microscope, but she wasn’t without retort and indignation. As I’ve said, she was a girl of intimidating intelligence and her responses were appropriately cutting. Her tone said, very clearly, “Who do you think you are?” until she outright said, “Who do you think you are?” One of Audrey’s talents lies in tempering an ego, and this is what she did with Peter, though maybe she didn’t realize it.
Eventually it was time to go. Peter decided he liked her. She still thought he was a pompous asshole.
Months passed. Peter subleased an apartment from a friend in downtown Santa Monica in a desperate attempt at independence. New Year’s had proved an interesting time, and Peter was so alone in that apartment that he had taken to inviting women over. He grew tired of this and felt unfulfilled. He wanted to hang out with someone for the sake of spending time with someone.
Within the first week of January, he texted her and they made plans to meet him after work on Tuesday the 10th. He got off at 10:30pm and told her that they could do a different time if she wasn’t comfortable with that but she agreed because she lived a few blocks away. His rather naive plan was to cook dinner and chitchat.
If you check, the night of the 10th was not a full moon, so what took place that evening can only be considered either an accident of chemistry or divine magic.
It was late and they were only slightly drunk. As he prepared dinner, he spilled his soul. He couldn’t stop. Her attentive listening was a drug and he told her his life without thinking. He breathed and she knew him. Her input as he spoke wasn’t cliche or feigned, it was usually funny and always compassionate. She was clever and he’d never met a woman that could make him laugh so much. He decided, somewhere deep in his soul, that he wanted to know this girl in any capacity.
Audrey listened and noticed a wall had come down. He was vulnerable and charming. Confident in his insecurities, with a dorky sense of humor that verged on douchebaggery. The most important thing to her, though, was the wall. She liked it. How daring of him to reveal himself to an almost perfect stranger this way. Audrey became curious and rewarded him with her own story.
They made it halfway through a Louis CK comedy special before they erupted. It was passion, it was curious, it was playful, it was conversational. It was the first bit of sex he’d had in which he felt connected. To him, it was his first time once again as their bodies seemed to know each other before they did, and so they reunited like long lost companions.
They fell in love almost immediately that night and it only grew more permanent as time wore on. This is their abridged beginning and I’m afraid to say that their ending is not a happy one.