You decide


May 15, 1980


It is late – or early, depending on your perspective.

And I sit outside the Tick Tock Diner with bran muffin and coffee, debating in my mind the strangeness of the wild world.

I just dropped off my girlfriend – who may or not be my girlfriend – the final act to a series of external conflict, mostly dealing with her, her parents, and the concept of love.

“They (meaning her parents) do not want to see me hurt,” she told me when sitting on the edge of my bed back in my coldwater flat in Passaic.

She says she loves me and I shiver undecided within myself as to just how I feel, undecided about love in general.

This came after we had taken in a movie in Manhattan, and a question that hovered in the air above both our heads. But she was again thinking of her parents and how she might hurt them.

“They really do love me,” she said.

“I’m sure,” I said, watching her twisted a rubber band she’d been fingering the whole time, twisting it until it broke.

She took a deep breath, paused as ready to say something, but nothing came out, instead she stared at the wall, as if blaming it for our dilemma.

Then she rises and goes into the bathroom

The telephone rang, startling us both. I grab up the receiver, and hear her mother’s high pitched voice asking if she is with me.

“Yes, she is,” I said, hesitating to call her to the phone to talk to her mother.

“Oh, well, just tell her that her father has fixed her car and so she can use it again,” her mother said.

“Okay, I will,” I said, glancing over at the clock and wondering why her mother called at midnight to tell her this.

I knew her mother and father worried about her and that she did not orchestrate the call.

But when she reappears, she seemed to know about the call.

“They love me,” she said. “I should go home.”

“Do you want to?”

“No…oh, I don’t know.”

She sat again on the corner of the bed and left the matter with me to decide, but I had no more of an answer for her than she had herself. But eventually, I drove her home, and stopped here on the way back, to sip coffee I do not need and eat a muffin when I’m not hungry, feeling utterly alone.


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