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Damn, I am tired. Been awake for quite a while. The temperature is -11F outside. My pellet stove broke. The auger motor died, so I have to stay awake to fire up my kerosene torpedo heater every 45 minutes to keep the temperature above fifty degrees. I'll need some more kerosene in the morning, plus I have to find out how long it will take to replace the auger motor. 

On top of that fun, I cracked a molar in half and it's killing me. I guess it's a good thing I have to stay awake, since the toothache wouldn't let me sleep anyway.

If you have any spare luck, please send it my way.

Her phone glowed in the darkness as her hand closed over it. She took a moment to center herself before answering. "This is Virginia Ferguson."

"Hi Ginny, it's Brad. I received your text. What's up?"

"I'm scared. Can you talk to me for a while?"

"Sure, I mean yes. I can talk for as long as you want. Lana is sleeping. She's not a night person or a morning person. She goes to bed early and then wants to take a nap after she wakes up in the morning. Why are you scared?"

"I just am. I went into the piano room and then I got scared. Do you believe in vibes?"

"Absolutely. What kind of a vibe did you get?"

"Can I tell you a story?"

"Sure. I mean yes. Go ahead."

"I was in the kitchen. I snoop. I was curious about Brent's life and what kind of secrets he was hiding so I tried to find it. I found a set of keys in his silverware drawer, they were in back, I wasn't going to touch them because then my fingerprints would be on them, but I had discovered them accidentally so I didn't wear gloves. Did you know he has a condo that's two blocks down from here? I walked in and it smelled just like he does."

"The condo is kind of a long story. His massage therapist has a creepy uncle who rented that place so he could hang out with his mistress. He lost his job and gave Lily a sob story about having this place and needing someone to stay there. I could go into the details if you need them, basically he exploited her, manipulated her, took his immaturity and bad moods out on her, and tried to get her to sleep with his equally depraved, wealthier friends for money. Brent has a problem with keys, his solution is to not lock anything or to put keys where he can easily access them, but others can't. When he goes to his yoga studio he's tall enough and strong enough to jump up and grab the bottom of the fire escape. He leaves a couple of the windows unlocked and gets in that way. Fern has a key, I have one, and so does my sister Natalie, Brent theoretically owns one, but he has no idea where it's actually at. He likes to go over there and hang out, Lily was going to hang herself from his uneven parallel bars, she's pretty strong for a woman her size, but of course she was no match for his strength and speed. It took a while, but he got the story out of her, sent me a text saying that he needed some help and he usually doesn't ask so I asked what he needed and then I got more of the story from her. I guess that was a very long way to say that I know about the condo."

"Gretchen said he's hiding something. Do you believe her?"

"Actually I do, but I don't think it's what she thinks. He's smarter than people give him credit for being. He didn't get very good grades in school, but he is smart. He can really read people in a way that I can't. It's kind of annoying, maybe I'm just jealous. My dad is like that too. I'm more willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I end up being wrong more often than they do. If they tell me that someone is trouble, I listen to them. I don't think he's cheating on her if that's what she's worried about."

"She said he was hiding something. Does she know about the condo?"

"I'm pretty sure most of us do. It's not a real secret. I don't think he intentionally tried keeping anything from you. Brent is one of these people who will tell you the same irrelevant thing ten times and not tell you something that was actually very important you needed to know. He's protective of Lily. Fern thought there was something between them, but I think she was just insecure."

"Like you?"

"Probably. Are you still scared?"

"What's the story behind his piano? I get a very scary vibe from it."

"He likes to play so Rita bought him a piano when he and Fern moved to Seattle. Fern wanted him to play for some people that were over, he wouldn't and there was a fight about it. When they moved, he told her to leave the piano, but it got moved against his will and I still think that was a bad idea. Getting that thing up to his place was a process. We took out the patio door that he had, got the piano in through that opening, and then expanded it so he has the doors he does now. He likes being outside, it cost a bloody fortune, but it got the piano in, he got something he wanted, and there was some temporary peace in the family."

"Do you think he's in some sort of trouble that he doesn't want to tell anyone about?"

"I really have no idea. Like I said, you'll hear a lot of nonsense from him and not get the real deal very often so most of the time I kind of just, I read his texts and try to figure out why he's sending them. I don't ignore what he's saying, but I realized long ago that his communication style is very different than mine."

"What do you think he's trying to communicate?"

"I really don't know. Sometimes I think he just likes to ramble outside of his head."

"What can you tell me about the singing game?"

"What would you like to know?"

"How does it work?"

"There are layers to it. On the superficial level you're just singing or saying song lyrics to someone else, but it can be used as a sort of coded language which is, it has benefits and disadvantages. Certain songs can be used to refer to certain people or circumstances. Lana came up with it. I had no idea it would go where it did when it started. I have an uncle who loves music, she knew a lot of song lyrics, she likes the oldies, they started singing together, then Brent joined in, it wasn't my thing and I made fun of them, I made fun of him. I didn't make fun of Lana. It became a way for them to say things to the other person when others were around that sounded like innocent song lyrics, but was so much more to it. You should listen to them sometime, my dad once said that Lana was the smartest person he knew, I kind of, my dad doesn't just say things like that, but he also thought Lana was cute in a neighbor girl sort of way. I should have paid a lot closer attention to his insights, but I was, not that smart."

"How does it work?"

"I don't know if I can really explain it. You start with a song lyric or fragment. Then you wait to see what the other person does with it. You can use it to tell someone something, you can also try and figure out what they might be saying to you or someone else. When Natalie's husband Ryan first came on the scene, Dolly Parton has a song called Jolene. She was a real woman who worked at a bank and none of us could figure out why Lana and Brent called Ryan Jolene. It was clear to me that the song was associated with him, but I didn't know why. I actually talked to her mom about it. Lana is very careful about other people's feelings most of the time, it didn't sound mean when she said it, but it was strange. Gretchen said it was because that was a song Ryan could remember his mom singing to him. Ryan's mom was a wild child who got married after she got pregnant with his older brother when she was a teenager. It sounded true, but I didn't buy it. I could see Lana feeling sorry for Ryan, but Brent and Ryan used to compete with each other so I knew Brent's motivation wasn't maternal, it was an explanation, but not the whole story behind it. Then I found out that Jolene was the name of an oil well and it had been named after the wife of a former business partner and all of a sudden that made a lot of sense to me. There was a fire after an explosion, they were underinsured so they lost everything they had except for certain protected assets the ex-wives owned and controlled. Ryan's mom walked out on him and his step-dad when Ryan was two days old. Jolene was not only a woman who tried to take something that didn't belong to her, she was the ultimate homewrecker. Does any of that make sense?"

"Tell me more please. What does it mean? Why did Lana call Ryan Jolene?"

"You'd have to ask her that. This is just what I know."

"You do know. What aren't you telling me?"

"That really is what I know."

"What was her motivation?"

"I don't know."

"Guess."

"You don't want much, do you? I guess, Ryan seemed like a really straightforward person when I first met him. He asked if I was gay and then he told me I could get away with murder and he said Lana was willing to hang out with me because if I did try to do away with her, people would investigate her death. It was a pretty awful conversation, I really don't know and that is the truth. I think Lana sensed that Natalie really did love Ryan even though she pretended they were just friends, she said she just wanted sex, but, he wanted to love her and she was afraid of falling for him. I think Lana was saying, she was saying that nothing is safe, nothing is guaranteed, you can have it all, money, a cool job, a beautiful home, but it becomes a prison and a trap. The real freedom is walking away from the Jolene types. Ryan is the real deal. He's not fake, he will literally tell you some of the worst things about yourself and other people, I was just furious with him when I was in the hospital and he was telling me he thought I could kill people. A lot of the time I am very annoyed with others, I threw a knife at Brent when we were in seventh grade. My dad came home in time to see that and I got into quite a bit of trouble for it. I don't know how to explain it, Lana can say more by singing a couple of song lyrics than some people like me can say after going on for an hour about something. It's pretty freaking amazing. I'm in awe of her."

"Tell me everything you just said in two sentences."

"Relationships are risk. Measure your level of risk comfort and proceed accordingly."

"Those are the facts. What are the feelings?"

"Remind me not to worry the next time you send me a text. In the song Jolene can take away someone else's man. I think Lana was telling Natalie, you can walk away from him, but scorching the earth is going to leave you in a very black and smoky world. There's a kind of blind clarity when you love someone. It gives you a reason to live and to be a better person. Dan called Natalie his butterfly girl. We kind of laughed about that because it was sappy and sentimental. Ryan had a totally different spin on it. He said Natalie was Dan's butterfly girl because as soon as someone tried to get close, she flew away. I thought that was very insightful for a guy like him. It had seemed like a compliment, but maybe it wasn't."

"What songs does Lana sing about Brent and Gretchen?"

"They both like Madonna. She has a song called The Power of Goodbye, Gretchen is the Material Girl. I think you're misunderstanding the game. Maybe I am. I don't know what to think anymore. I've spent a lot of time thinking about conversations I've been a part of or heard about. Play it with Lana sometime. You'll see how she thinks. I can't really explain it."

"Can you play it with me, please?"

"I suppose I could try. You go first. This is important if you play with other people. Decide whether you want to tell me something, or you want to know what I think about someone or something. I realize these are the advanced rules, but that's how the game is played. Start with a song fragment you think I'll recognize. I'll try to stick to things I think you'll know."

"Can I go back to something you said earlier? What did you mean when you said there's a blind clarity when you love someone?"

"The rest of the world can't see something that's so clear to you, but your vision is, untrustworthy at times. It can seem like that. You just have to trust other people even if they can break your heart. You have to be willing to hand someone your heart and say, here, go ahead and break it, whatever happens, I'd rather be destroyed by you than keep my heart under lock and key for the rest of my life."

"Do you know the song Nobody's Fool by Cinderella?"

"I do."

"That's the song I want to use for Brent. I'm not his fool. He can lie to me, but he's not getting away with it. I can't tell if he's lying to me on purpose, or he's lying to himself. Something is going on with him and I want to get to the bottom of it. He's living a lie. I can see it. I can hear it. I can touch it. I can smell it. I can taste it. This entire place is a lie. Where is the truth?"

"I have no idea. What makes you think he's living a lie?"

"My grandfather was a psychiatrist. My mother has spent time in facilities. It's the look in his eyes. That haunted hunted bewildered look. You don't have it. He's crying on the inside, but it feels like the tears are blocked. He's blocking them and I want to know why. I want to know what's behind it. Gretchen is a fool for going out with him, their whole relationship is a lie. But he does love her. I know that for a fact. He loves her, she loves him, but he's not being honest with her. Why not?"

"I don't know."

"He's playing better than ever. He feels disconnected from reality to me. In the past he cared too much, he didn't do well in Seattle, he tried too hard. Now he isn't trying at all and the distance has given him a competitive advantage, but it's at an incredible cost to him as an invididual. I'm not your fool. I'm no fool."

"Nobody thinks you're a fool Ginny. Far from it."

"He does. He thinks he can play this game with me and I'm done playing with him. I'm done pretending that I don't know these things about him. I'm done. I'm ready to pack a bag and walk out of here and his life for good. When I first met him I couldn't stop staring at his eyes. He has kaledoscope eyes, but they aren't the same as yours even though they're the same color and shape. It took me a while, I was standing at the counter when I saw a sheet of paper that had his handwriting on it. He autographed a bat for my dad. He didn't want to do that. The bat is missing. I want to know what happened to it."

"I would just ask him."

"I did. He says he doesn't know."

"That could be true."

"I think it is true. I think it's one of the true things he said to me."

"Then what's the problem?"

"I was hoping you would tell me. Nobody seems to care that he's going through this personal crisis."

"He tells people things, but, I don't know. I've kind of given up on trying to understand him. I don't think I ever will."

"He needs love and he doesn't think or feel that he deserves it. It makes me so sad. His art is dark. He's hiding in plain sight. He's hiding who he is."

"What's your solution?"

"Workaholics get validation from their professional achievements. Could you use this game to help him feel better about himself?"

"Lana could."

"It has to come from you. He should have been home a long time ago. I didn't want to interfere in his life, but I feel like I have to do something because nobody else will. Call him."

"I can call him. I have to say, I feel incredibly manipulated by this conversation. You weren't scared. You had an agenda when you sent that text."

"I was scared. I'm even more scared now."

"You sure as hell don't sound scared."

"Do you think his mind is a safe place to play?"

"Half the time there doesn't seem to be much in it other than baseball."

"That's what he wants you to think. I'm not his fool and I'm not yours either. He's begging you to see past that and you refuse. I would venture to say that when you do talk, I can't talk to you anymore. I'm scared to go to bed because I'm worried that I'll wake up to police reports of his body tomorrow. I reached out to you because I thought you had more heart and compassion and empathy than you do. You took his woman, you have more money than he does, you are ruining his life, and you don't give a fuck because your sexual needs are getting met. That's shameful. You disgust me."

"I have no idea if Parker is mine or his because identical twins share the same DNA. He could have hooked up with Gretchen at any point in time. She's a flight attendant, she can fly anywhere for free. Any of his games, he would tell her which hotel room is his. You're seeing his side and not listening to mine."

"Then tell me why he and Gretchen aren't thrilled that they're going to be parents? Why is their relationship so strained? Why are they trying so hard to please each other outside of the bedroom? Why don't they sleep in the same room when she's here? Why does he spend so much time buying her presents and making sure that the things she likes to eat are here when she arrives? Why is she so bent on trying to make sure that everything is perfect when he gets home? No. Parker is yours. He has to be. Parker is yours and Brent wants him to be his, but he can't change the past. You seem like the victim, but I think he's the one who is turning things inward and not expressing his emotions in a healthy manner. He does not like himself and I want to know why without going there with him because I have to think about myself too."

"Don't you think I need to worry about me too?"

"You're scared."

"You just said that his mind is not a safe place to play."

"Twenty years from now I want to know what you're going to tell Parker when he asks you questions about why your relationship with his mother failed."

"I'll tell him the truth."

"And what is that?"

"That I was very selfish and very foolish."

"I know you have a softer side. Where is it when he needs you?"

"Who do you think flew out to Seattle to pick up the pieces of his life that he left behind when he refused to set foot in that house?"

"That's a duty you performed. Please Brad?"

"He needs a fucking babysitter. But I am grateful to you for putting up with him. My dad didn't think he'd be able to handle the demands of being a professional athlete. I think success is coming at a cost. I believe you. His life seems too good to be true on the surface, but this is lipstick on a corpse. He's lost a ton of weight and he wasn't fat to start. I would put more of the blame on Gretchen. I went out with her, that was a mistake, but I did that because he was married and, it was a mistake. I regret it more than people realize. I have feelings too you know. She flew out to see him and tell him about Parker. You're not a fool, but I am. I was and I still am. I count the falling tears that fall before my eyes, seems like a thousand years, since we cut those ties. I call you on the phone, I'm such a fool, I'm just a fool, everybody's fool. I scream my heart out, just to make a dime, with that dime I tried to buy your love, but now you've changed your mind, I'm just a fool, fool, fool, fooling, he and Gretchen could live anywhere. They can establish a home base, they could keep Parker away from me indefinitely. They could make sure I see him just often enough to, I was a drug addict, I've gotten a schizophrenia diagnosis. I've seen things that didn't really happen, I've had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, my left elbow is junk. You don't know what I went through to get to where I'm at today. His arm is worth millions. People think I'm him, they ask why I don't play, I have a permanent weight restriction because my elbow is artificial now. I don't play the piano because when I was a kid I saw a pair of scissors in the piano room and that scared me. I got into trouble for not practicing, Rita yanked on my wrist, she broke bones in there, she slammed my head into the piano and gave me a concussion. Then she put me in my room and waited for my dad to come home. Brent is her favorite. He can do no wrong. When I had my elbow redone they cleaned up my wrist for me. I finally have the relationship I wanted with Lana, this is hard on her too. I just don't have anything left for him. I've gone to his games, I've listened to his wife cry. We've cleaned up after parties he threw, I've loaned his friends money, I would have set fire to that damn piano, but then Lana pointed out that we could get it in through the patio if the opening was wider so we went ahead and redid that area for him. We give and he takes and I just can't go through this anymore. I bought him a house that we thought he would like and now he doesn't want it because, I don't even know why, he just doesn't. Fine. I'll keep it or sell it or figure something out, then another problem will come along and we won't want to get involved, but we will because that's what we always do. The roller coaster is a choice and I'm done riding."

"He creates the problems because that's the only way he can get you to be a part of his life. Can't you see that?"

"No. I guess I can't."

"You've had a long night. I'm sorry to have kept you awake. I see your side. I've shown it to him, but he doesn't believe me anymore than you do. Goodnight Brad. I love you."

"I love you too Ginny. Thanks for reaching out. I'm sorry, I just..."

"You don't have to explain anything to me. I understand. The relationship is damaged. It needs to be repaired, but that's going to take a lot of work. I don't know if I'm up for it either. But I thought it was worth a try. Please keep in touch."

"I will. You too." Ginny set her phone down and turned to Brent. "Now do you believe me?"

***

Last night a friend of mine from work came over, we had been trying to get together for a couple days, but it hadn't worked out previously. I don't know what I was thinking when I asked if she wanted to skip the knitting event I had invited her to, I thought she would enjoy it, but by the time I got home I realized I was in no shape to go anywhere. She was sweet about it. When she got here I realized I didn't really have much to eat. She told me not to worry about it. There's always a risk when you let someone into a part of your life that you keep hidden from others. It was kind of funny. I told her to tell me about herself, she said there wasn't much to tell. I talked so much I started losing my voice, but it was incredibly therapeutic. Basically she opened up my head and took a look inside. It still doesn't feel real to me, but I guess it was. 

It all started when she picked up a poem I had written. I have a drawer where I stick poetry. I had been going through that the other night, pulled some things out, and set them on the counter. It was the first thing she picked up when she sat down, I told her I had written it for someone at work and asked if she could tell who. She couldn't, but I told her after she was done reading. At work we have events, one of them was an ice cream social for animals. I worked the event, but I was up front as an extra person because I had asked for extra hours and was granted them. After work I was fried. It was very warm, I went upstairs to wait for a friend of mine. I was in a mood so I started crying. One of the guys I work with came up and asked what was wrong. 

Nothing was really wrong, I was just exhausted, but I thought it was sweet of him to have asked. I wrote a poem for him and that started a spree. I had half sheets of paper that had been in the marketing office, I wrote a bunch of poems for different people and then handed them out, but I held one back since I didn't know how it would be received. I walked around with the poem in my bag for a while, but it never seemed like the right place or time, so I hung onto it. Eventually I decided to stick it in my drawer and go on with my life. One night I was standing at the kitchen counter when I thought about the poem. I wasn't really thinking about anything serious, but I had this flash of insight and wondered what was behind that.

I wondered if this guy at work was possibly contemplating suicide and then I was really scared. I wrote a poem, as I was writing I started crying. I felt better when I was done, but then I had a decision to make. Keep the poem to myself, or hand it to him knowing that when someone has a fragile psyche you can do a lot of unintentional damage. I feel there's nothing I can do. I thought about the people I knew and conversations we had about the topic. I remembered people telling me that they didn't have the energy to kill themselves. I remember walking into a room and thinking, these people are so bad off, how can they be that depressed, they need help, I'm glad that they're here, I would hate it if someone I met actually went through with it. That would be awful. One day we had a new guy instead of our regular leader.

He told me he wanted to talk to me after our group session. I didn't want to be talking to him. I wanted to be able to pretend that everything was okay, but it wasn't and he knew it. I knew I had to be honest. I told him I was worried about these other people, he said he was more worried about me and then I didn't know what to say. I couldn't tell why he thought that they were better off than I was, but I didn't want to ask either. I think I was afraid of the answer. These programs sometimes feel like it's us as patients versus them as practitioners. There was a nurse that I didn't like. I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon. She was very cold and she didn't make me feel safe. I had to talk to my psychiatrist about the medication. That was scary too. He wanted to help, but he didn't know how.

I was walking down the hall when everything started to go dark. People didn't know what was wrong with me and I didn't either. This woman was a nurse, but she didn't listen to me when I told her that I wasn't feeling well. I asked if I could get something to eat or drink and she wouldn't let me. Sometimes I just pass out, other times I can tell that my blood sugar is falling and I have to sit down on the floor, we were doing a guided meditation, I wanted to scream at her, If I'm alive and well, will you still be there holding my hand? but I was trying to use the resources I had to stay conscious. At break people gathered around me, I went outside for some fresh air. Two of the women in my group said that they could tell I wasn't well. 

Well I'm not paralyzed. I told my psychiatrist that I thought I was going to lose custody of my children, I couldn't cry, but I had tears coming out of my eyes. He told me they wouldn't be taken away from me, but I knew that they could. I didn't have a job, I had no money. At the time I still had my car, but it became a game of survival because every time I looked at the gauges I realized that if I hit an immovable obect going 160 miles an hour, there wasn't much chance that I would survive the impact. I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind. I could drive, but I had to talk myself out of the bridges. Suddenly they became very important to me. If not for me, then you'd be dead. Kryptonite.

I started feeling responsible for this guy at work. I've never been good at figuring out what others are feeling, but when I worked with him I felt like I had a radar gun like the one scouts use to determine the speed of pitches. You can try to overpower a batter, or you can try to trick or fool him. One Sunday this guy was in the worst mood I had seen anyone having in a while. This was more than someone who was having a bad day. He had the 'come get me, fuck off' vibe I get from people at times. I didn't want to ignore him, but I really didn't want to talk to him either. I think I asked how he was doing, he said something that was somewhat conversational and I did ignore that because his words were saying something that didn't match any of the rest of him.

You called me strong, you called me weak, but still your secrets I will keep. I had an extra card that a vendor had given me, it was a pretty shade of peach, there were either aqua or turquoise flowers on it, I wrote something in it that I hoped would help, I wondered what a guy would think about getting a flowered card and then I decided that I was just going to use what I had at the moment rather than buy him anything. If he didn't appreciate the sentiment, that was on him. I stuck it in his locker, drove home and thought, I hope I never have to see him again. My friend with the crush had told me that she and my former PT had moments where they would seem to be mirroring each other's emotions. 

I found myself experiencing something similar. If he was in a good mood, I was too, and vice versa. He made a comment about the rain one morning and I thought to myself, I wonder how often it rains inside of his head, but of course that's not what I said. I tried figuring him out and couldn't. At times like that I try to step back. I asked myself - what does he need? The word LOVE flashed in front of my eyes like a neon sign on the Las Vegas strip. I thought he needed love, but that's a tricky thing to give to someone else because they may not want your love or understand that what you're doing is loving, and sometimes, I don't always know myself as well as I think that I do.

I left my body lying somewhere in the sands of time. I tried to build his self esteem. I didn't know why it was low because it didn't seem like it should have been as low as I was perceiving it to be, but I was seeing things I didn't like and that really worried me. I believed that he had a lot of potential, but it was being wasted. I remember being completely burned out when I was in school and wondered if that was his problem. Sometimes people need to figure out who they are. Maybe he was coming off of a bad relationship, maybe his crush didn't like him back. A friend of mine had told a couple of us that he liked her. She didn't like him that way and as I listened to her I thought to myself, you are a naive child and you have no idea what he has to offer a woman, but for your sake, do not go out with a troubled soul.

One day I was upstairs in the break room with him. I gave him a hug, kissed his cheek, and told him that he was loved, and I think I said loved for who he was exactly at this point in time, but perhaps that was what I wrote in the card. If I go crazy... He had heavy duty sex appeal and that really messed with my mind because it didn't seem like a conscious effort on his part. I spent a lot of time trying to deconstruct what was behind that. Was he unconsciously transmitting those signals? Was it actually something he was doing on purpose? If that was the case why wasn't he doing some of the easier, more obvious things? I couldn't figure out his clothes. Half the time it seemed like he might care, then I thought, nobody who looks ill in that shade of green should be allowed outside of psych ward if their self esteem is that low.

He has really nice skin, but that green shirt was like him getting ready to go to his own funeral and because I could see that as a possibility in his near future it pushed me right to the edge because I kept telling myself, it's just a shirt, it doesn't have to be a sign or signal that someone wants to end their life, but that's what it felt like to me. The other day someone asked me how I knew something. The answer is I don't really know. Intuition is those things you know because when I ask myself to disprove them, I can't. They aren't always things I want to be true even if it seems like the answer I want at the time. I ask myself, if you had to swear to tell the truth, could you claim you don't know this thing to be true, and I couldn't. I couldn't tell my mind that something was untrue when I believed that it was.

I don't know when I got in the habit of visiting my friend, we went on break together when I was working more hours, then my hours got cut. I hold on so nervously. Sometimes he was in a good mood, that was dangerous too. Everything about him screamed danger which is what lured me in and kept me hooked. I want to make you move, because you're standing still. I had been married for almost eighteen years and never given my heart to a man that I slept with, I left the marriage with little else, but my heart was intact. If your body matches what your eyes can do. I wasn't flirting with him. But I think he thought that I was and I take responsibility for that.

I knew he probably couldn't tell the difference between someone who was in love with him because they wanted a hearts and flowers type of releationship and someone who could picture a razor slicing into his wrist, a rope around his neck, a gun pressed to his temple, colorful pills in his hand, a lone figure at the top of a great height, was he the type to leave a note? And I feel awkward, as I should. Nothing about this was healthy and I knew it, but I couldn't figure out a way to keep both of us safe without trying to keep tabs on him. Getting friend zoned was infuriating because I had invested so much in someone who had nothing to give back to me, but that's what I told myself I wanted. Well, that and sex. But there was no way I was going to roll the dice on someone at work. I was volatile enough on my own.

One Saturday morning I snapped. I had gone out of my way to avoid him, but it wasn't working. I saw him walk toward the front entrance way, he had what looked like a white collared shirt on and it looked like he had just gotten his hair cut. He looked really good, and even from that distance I could tell that his mood was dangerously low. I had already been upset and anxious, I stood there sobbing in the middle of the sales floor, my boss let me leave early and I cried so hard I thought my nose had started bleeding, but it hadn't. I would have given a lot for any entrance out of the building that didn't involve having to walk out a door past him, but my car was parked in the back and it was pouring.

I went home, crawled into bed and kept crying. I may have slept or laid there for a while. I can't remember if my friend called me or I reached out because I was such a fucking mess. My other friend had told me he ended up working early after he had told customers he was sad. It made no sense to me. Why was he all dolled up if he was in that kind of a mood at work? My friend said it had something to do with a girl, I believed that, but it still seemed strange, the timing seemed off. Anyone can get bad news at any time, but before noon on a rainy Saturday seemed like a bizarre time for someone to be melting down at work, and if he was upset, why the extra external effort?

My friend gave me a much needed pep talk. She asked if had eaten lunch. I told her I couldn't eat or sleep, I was very candid about my state of mind and she said he had done me a favor by revealing this side of himself to me. I was grateful to her and my friend with the crush who rattled on about the guy she liked which helped me take my mind off of what I was going through. I thought about quitting my job, then I decided I was going to, then I sat and sobbed when I thought about having to tell my boss who had been so sweet and understanding. I really don't know how I got through that time in my life, but now that I'm on the other side, I wouldn't trade the experience if it meant having to give up the lessons I learned from it...

I can't write anymore, maybe another day, another time, sorry...

J

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