This is the continuation of the story I began here. Tomorrow is my eighteen year anniversary, so you know how the story ends…here is how the story begins.
The evening after Matt left to go home to South Dakota, I convinced Jim to walk with me. I needed to know more about this guy and who better to ask than his best friend? Jim was hesitant to talk. I could tell he knew something but wasn’t going to give up his information easily. Despite my questions, he wouldn’t tell me if Matt said anything or not. I figured that was as good as an admission. If he was talking to Jim about me after our brief meeting, that was a good sign.
We walked around the whole circle with Jim refusing to tell me anything. I asked by pointing up the path again if we could make a second loop. His lips turned down and he trudged forward.
I stuffed my hands in my jacket pockets and scowled at Jim in the dark, not that he cared. He trudged just one step ahead of me, head down. Jim was always quiet, but tonight he wouldn’t say anything and I knew something bothered him. He kept shoving his hands through his ever-perfect hair, agitation in every step he took.
I increased my step and looked at him. “I don’t know why you are being so secretive and protective. I’ll find out anyway. I saw his car parked in the circle yesterday. Next time he comes, I’ll just talk to him myself.”
“Why is this so important to you? Why him?”
“I’ve been overlooked my whole life, Jim. Do you know what it’s like to be ignored by everyone you thought was attractive? Do you know what it’s like to always be on the outside, looking and wishing?”
Jim stopped for a second, looked away, then looked at me and nodded his head so slightly I questioned whether he’d done it at all. He scuffed his foot intentionally and strode off, mulling over what I’d said. He’d been at our first meeting, his discomfort told me more than anything that he knew there was something between Matt and I.
“Well?” I pushed. I wanted him to really think about this. For whatever reason, it felt like if I didn’t do something, my world would fall apart. I would be lonely forever.
Jim looked at me, his face, usually smiling, was pensive. “I just don’t want you to get hurt. He isn’t who he seems.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? You can’t just say that and clam up? Don’t do this to me, Jim? Are we friends or not? If you are so damned worried, tell me what’s going on!”
Jim walked ahead of me again and I had to rush to catch up. It wasn’t my intention to hurt him. I knew he only walked with me because he was too nice to tell me to take a hike. Even though he’d always said we were “not like that” he’d never called us “just friends” either, perhaps that meant we weren’t even that, but if not, why was he so concerned?
Jim scowled at me and it made me lose my step, he’d never done that. “He’s a player. He says that kind of stuff to every girl. There, are you happy?”
I lost my step and stopped in my tracks. Really? Was that really what happened? Had Matt seen my attraction and used it over me? Was he just like every other guy out there? Why wouldn’t he be? Why would he ever be attracted to someone like me?
Jim slowed his steps but did not stop. I caught up with him and we finished the circle in silence. By now, I was angry, shaking angry. Too many times I’d found someone attractive only to be laughed at, only to be the butt of jokes. This had felt so different, so special. I slammed into my dorm without a goodbye to Jim.
Even though the main dorm seating area was full and many people I knew sat studying or watching television, not one person came down to see if something was wrong. That hurt even more and solidified that I meant nothing, no one cared or ever would.
I slammed into my room and climbed up into my bed, finally allowing the hot, angry tears to soak my pillow. Why was I such a fool? Why did I always hope? Why did I set myself up for hurt? Never again. No one would hurt me like that again, I wouldn’t let them. And just to prove it, I would go with dancing next time and I wouldn’t give Matt the time of day. Next time he came, it wouldn’t be electricity between us, it would be sparks.