Kate does a pretty good job, I think, but Julia fucks it up again because—you know—that's what Julia does.
“Surprise me. Surprise us,” my voice again, and so from me, and surprisingly so.
“I think I saw you for the first time a year ago, that’s when I started here, or there,” and she pointed to the café, to the people waiting outside its door while others filed out, with more laughter, “I know that this sort of sounds fucked up, but ever since then, that day, you’ve occupied this very strange place in my head.”
“Okay,” I said.
“That didn’t sound right.”
“No, I mean, it sounded fine.”
“But—wait,” Kate raised up an arm, her hand, as if to stop me from moving or speaking, and when she let if fall, it brushed down the side of my jacket’s sleeve. “I think about you a lot, which is what I was trying to say, but in too much of an awkward way.”
“And when you passed out, when your nose bled,” and I’m closing my eyes now, but she’s grabbing the front of my jacket and tugging gently with a quiet laugh, “that was sort of a miracle to me, sort of a sign, but of what, I’m not sure.”
“Yeah, I don’t know. My evil coming out, maybe.”
It was her smile, squeezing my heart until it stopped. “I just knew that it was my time to somehow fit you into my life, in more places than my imagination, at that moment. Like, that was the moment that would start it.”
I turned my eyes to the sky again, to the sun burning down through the chill, onto the two of us.
“So, instead of the subtle flirting, instead of having that frustration level—five days a week, seriously—I figured I’d just ask if it was a good idea for me to be thinking of you like this.”
It became easier to look at Kate, at her standing before me, the sunshine turning her brown hair to a ruddy chestnut while the wind blew softly the strands across her face, and she fought to hold them back, to allow nothing between her eyes and mine. Her voice and words, the anticipation in her eyes, even the goose bumps on her arms—constantly without a jacket and so constantly with goose bumps, it seemed—were all much braver than anything inside of me. So it’s easy to stand humbled before someone who can open up and hold it out like that, for me, no less, essentially a total stranger, and expect whatever it was she expected: phone numbers exchanged or our hands to touch in a much different way than a handshake, or my arms to fold in front of me, perhaps, followed up with a rude snicker.
“You’re not feeling this, though. What—you have to say something.”
It was her beauty, her honesty, that unraveled me, that made me think, This is not something I deserve. It has her honesty and those pink lips, those brown eyes, that made me say, “I’m sorry.” I said, “I’m so sorry.”