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I pressed select, and the phone read “silent”.

She kept talking, didn’t notice or acknowledge that little bit of courtesy. Fuck. Would she ever stop talking?

“So I’ve still got that art paper, and something for lit…”

Silence. The sound of me listening to her talk. The sound of me waiting for a chance to speak.

“But you don’t have anything tonight?” I asked, knew the answer already, knew it didn’t matter.

She was used to being interrupted, one of those girls who always worried they spoke too much, thought too much. I imagine her as the child behind her eyes, trapped between optical nerves and brain, watching, cringing with every social misstep.

“Well, I’m supposed to be seeing a movie with my roommate and some friends…”

Every one of her sentences trails off like that. It’s the influence of the frightened child. She won’t be specific, won’t disagree – fears conflict. She leaves that line open because she knows (thinks she knows) her roommate doesn’t want her company. She’s already realized that she’s going to be spending the night at my place, needs some alternative to tell herself if not her boyfriend.

“You should come watch a movie with me instead.” I take one of her fries, dip it in the ketchup still left on her plate.

She gets it, I can tell. Smiles, says

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

This is the back and forth sort of game we play. A phone call, meeting for dinner or lunch, and then back to my place. She’s lost before we begin, and she’s always wanted to lose.

I remember the first night we were together, when I still didn’t understand her. She was telling me about her boyfriend as we got into my bed. She told me about her boyfriend afterwards. Unhappy comparisons, “never”, “couldn’t”, and “won’t”. I felt sorry for the bastard. That poor boy behind the curtain, ignored by both of us, most ignored by the girl who couldn’t and wouldn’t be loved.

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