"Hi, S. How are you?" asks K. He always liked me, like all of J's friends, co-workers and acquiantences.
"I'm good." I smile and run my fingers through my curls. "It's been a while. How are you?" I exchange pleasantries.
While we're both exchanging these five sentences, I look at J and he's looking down. No eye contact, which is typical. He is one of the least confrontational people I have ever known. He's also one of the weakest.
K knows the game and makes a smooth exit, leaving J and I standing near the elevators.
"Hey." He's still looking at the floor and his posture is slouchy, as if he was lightly punched in the stomach.
"I didn't expect to run into you here."
"Yeah. K said he saw you but I didn't." The eyes glance upwards and to the side. He’s wearing the black sweater I bought right before the breakup. The same black sweater that I was told I’d be loved forever and ever if I bought it for him.
"I saw you and tried to go around to the other side. I didn't want you to see me."
"Mm. I wasn't expecting to see you here."
"A client event." An answer that makes sense to anyone who knows me. "So, I thought I'd pass by Holts to see the sale."
"Yeah, well there's nothing there for you." Snarky remark. J always thought I had no taste because I like to wear a lot of black.
"There are no extra smalls, huh?" The snappy comeback comes too naturally, grinding a little salt into the wound of someone who always envied the fact that I have a good body and can fit into sample sizes.
"I got a card from L," he says while looking away. L is my realtor who was referred to me by J.
"Yeah, he asked for your address, but I didn't know your postal code."
"Mm. He has three months to live. Whatever." J rolls his eyes at this. It's an insensitive remark especially since L does have a condition which affects his lymphatic and immune system.
"That's not a nice thing to say. He doesn't have much time to live."
"Whatever. He's had six months to live for the past few years."
The conversation is already strained so I change the subject.
"By the way, you have a white fluff under your left eye." I point to J's eye.
J pulls at the lashes on his right eye.
"No, your other
J pulls at the lashes on his left eye.
"No, it's still there." I point to his face, starting to glisten from sweat. J pulls at the lashes on his left eye and rubs it vigourously. It's still there, but I don't bother to continue with this line of talk.
There's a short pause that's broken by me. "I know that after yesterday, I was the last person you'd want to see today."
"Look, I didn't like the way things ended yesterday. I didn't want it to end that way."
"Yeah, well." I take a look at J's face and I see it needs a shave. I also see a series of breakouts along the hairline. He looks to the distance where the designers are, but not one of them come over to rescue him. He’s all alone, which is something he doesn’t like to be.
"So how's work?"
"Good. It's my last week at Company X."
"Already? That was fast. Anything coming up?"
"Well, there's a position in the marketing department that I applied for. I don't know if I'm going to get it..." The final words hang in the air as he looks around and not at me. "I know people who work here, but that might work against me."
"That's a good thing. Knowing someone here is always a plus." The designers he works for sell their line at Holt's and they know people in the marketing and communications departments. He'll probably get the job even though he's not the least bit qualified. He has under six months of working experience and almost all of it is in internships (one of which I forced him to take because he had only worked for one month out of an entire year after graduating from his program). The employers will look past that, see him as cute and sweet and bypass his thin and badly organized portfolio.
"About Bryan's birthday..." J starts but I quickly interrupt.
"I didn't want to go show up by surprise and make you feel uncomfortable.”
"I didn't care if you went, or not."
"Yes, you would
have." I know him so well; better than he knows himself. I look at him and he catches a glimpse of my eyes. He quickly turns away. "I did that because of you
. And, I couldn't have gone, anyway. I was at work until 11 pm that night."
"Still, it took me by surprise. I didn't know you were such
good friends with him."
"Yeah, we keep in touch."
"It's not that I care
. You can be friends with whoever
you want." J still hates the fact that his friends, who are my friends by proxy, still like me even though they pledged allegiance with him after the breakup.
When he says this I think, Damn straight I can be friends with whoever I want. Does J seriously think you can own your friends as if they're inanimate objects? He probably does. He's got to be seriously out of his fucking mind.
"Ok, I see that you're uncomfortable so I guess I should get going." J has been uncomfortable for the past couple of minutes but I don't want to let him go just yet.
"Oh, I did
reply to your messages. You
were the one who didn't write back."
“What was I going to say?”
“How should I know? You can’t say I didn’t reply when you never replied back.” And, this is the perfect lead for my next point of contention from his angry texts the night before. “By the way, you deleted me from Facebook and
blocked me. I don’t even know how to block someone. So, go home and check your settings.” I already know he blocked me because he didn’t want to see my status updates, realizing I was living a life and having fun while doing it.
“And about your text about P...”
“Yeah, he told me he saw you on the street afterwards.”
“Yeah, that was really
bitchy of you.” J looks down again, defeated. He can’t win when he plays his petty games with me. This time he knows that I’m right, like I always am.
By this point, I’m tired and I want to leave. This is taking too much time and energy out of my day. It’s Saturday, I should be relaxing, not starting another argument with an ex.
“Ok, I have to go and I know you want to go, too.”
“And you know what I said about the open door. You are always welcome to come over.”
“Yeah, we’ll see...”
“Ok, bye. Talk soon."
He doesn't say anything to me as he makes his way back to the designers and I make my way to the escalators, not looking back.
Even though I know we're not going to talk in the following days, I have a feeling we're going to run into each other in one form or another. And this is going to happen very soon.