She’s my best friend’s girl now
Her face has the same sadness as a glimpse of sunset after a long day of steady rain, full of what ifs and things missed.
She always disguises it with so much make up, giving her cheeks the white washed look of an ageing picket fence, and her eyes the painful squint of a rusting hinge.
During my time with her, she wore makeup only twice, neither time for me, rather for some boss she needed to impress.
Lately, she comes around more often and more heavily painted, as if each layer intends to hide some feeling she fears to show too well.
She rarely cries.
I’d see that only once that Easter she decided to get ride of me and balled more than I did.
I had seen it coming for months the way you see a train wreck coming – obvious but inevitable.
I also saw how attracted she’d become to my best friend, Pauly, and knew better than to get in the way.
No use throwing myself in front of a speeding train either, I figured.
Then this woman comes down with some mysterious ailment and is forced to spend Easter weekend in a hospital instead of with me, and I’m a former lover making the trek to visit her, a perverse ritual performed on this day of resurrection.
Seeing her now, like this after so much time has passed, I think she is someone other than who she is, and not the same person I knew back then.
I am no longer the same person either, more father or brother or priest rather than one-time lover, a remote character who just happens to know all of her intimate secrets.
Perhaps she has come back to rekindle the old flame, and I know I should offer some word of encouragement, but I can’t.
I lack the tact to lie to someone I see as making the same mistake again and again, throwing herself on the pyre of love for each knew man she meets.
I am empty and weary, and deep down I know she blames me for lighting the first match.
Suddenly, I’m jealous again, not of Pauly or any other rebound man she has found to cry with, but over the fact that she can still cry over anything when I cannot.
I ache to take her in my arms, to beg her forgiveness, to tell her how we might make love work again if we wish to try.
But I remain silent, tell her the only truth I can about hoping she will heal soon, and then I leave, not so much reborn as refried, like a left over meal cooked too many times over too high a flame, crusting at the edges, edible but not very tasty, a batch of empty calories I know time will never let me shed.