I’ve had a productive couple of days, but I’m exhausted. I brought home a ton of stuff that I had amassed in my various classrooms over the last eight years, but I hadn’t really gone through any of it. I shoved books on the shelves, completely out of order. I tossed office supplies on my desk, which is a wreck under the best of circumstances. I left piles of lesson plans and sample student work sitting in open boxes in various corners.
Today I started to tackle some of the clutter. I packed up two rows worth of teaching books, labeled the boxes, and shoved them in a corner. I won’t be needing those for at least a year, right? I then alphabetized my book shelves, adding the titles I’d brought home from my classroom library. Then I went to work on some of the lesson plans and student work. I didn’t get very far before I found the story below. I didn’t put a date on it, so I can’t remember exactly when I wrote it (though I could guess if you pressed me. And it was obviously after seeing/hearing Hamilton). I haven’t posted much in the way of short fiction, so I thought “why not?”
“Missed Connection” by LJD
“I’m dying inside because there’s nothing that your mind can’t do.” ~ from Hamilton
It’s been five weeks.
He showed her where to go. Twice. So when he arrived and she wasn’t there, he figured the glimmer in her eye didn’t mean anything after all. He’d lowered his voice when he asked about her life. Maybe she thought he was making small talk.
Truth was, she got lost. She couldn’t read the map and was distracted by standing so close to him while he explained. She didn’t understand why he wouldn’t walk with her, so she assumed he wasn’t interested. She tried half-heartedly to find the bar and ended up walking around watching the sun set, sad that she couldn’t just grab him and hold him close.
Another girl had speculated about his dick. While she talked a good game with the oversexed girls, she honestly didn’t care how big – or small – he was. She’d examined his hands and found them to be perfectly fine. She reasoned he could provide a lot of pleasure with them. When he returned, the three of them fell in to casual conversation. The other girl shot her some odd looks, but nothing so obvious that confidence broke through her habitual self-doubt.
He didn’t say anything about it after. Another guy told her that they looked for her when they got there. He wished he had said it himself, but that would mean he’d missed her, that he’d wanted her to be there. He did want her to be there, but he wasn’t sure he wanted her to know that.
She was only vaguely aware that he saw her. She didn’t consider that he’d bother looking. It never occurred to her that anyone, especially he, thought she was beautiful.
She was full of questions, but she wasn’t close enough. She listened. She absorbed everything he said and let other people talk to him. She wanted to touch him, tousle his hair, rub his shoulders, lean against him… anything to silently tell him he was okay, it would be fine. She hoped her will alone could comfort and calm him.
He felt better knowing she was there. He warmed when he saw her. He liked that from the start she’d told him she would never stress him. She’d been true to her word so far. Reliable. It made him want to do more for her. He sensed her independence was a choice, but he felt the loneliness that accompanied it was an unwelcome consequence. She could absolutely take care of herself, he knew, which made him want to treat her like a queen. He wanted to do for her because he could tell she did for everyone else. He looked out for her quietly.
She wasn’t sure he was looking out at all. She didn’t even realize she wanted to be taken care of. She’d finally figured out that he was paying very close attention. Her heart fluttered. She liked that he didn’t ask – he only made sure to keep an eye on her. She loved that he did it without needing a pat on the back. She felt special, precious. She wasn’t used to it, but she knew she could quickly adapt, even come to depend on it. That scared her.
Everything about saying goodbye scared her. She had to keep him in her orbit. Somehow.
He tried to catch her eye, to slow her down so he could get her alone, but she seemed to be vibrating. He wasn’t sure if she was ready to run away from him or if her words were a veiled invitation. He wasn’t going to ask. He had her pinned down in many ways, yet something fundamental about her still eluded him.
Then she crushed her body against his.
He couldn’t believe it. It took him so off guard that he didn’t have time to tighten his grip and keep her there, exactly where he wanted her.
She didn’t know what to do next, so she ran. And kicked herself for running. And thought of ways to go back and stand still. But her blood was humming. Nothing inside her was still.
He was planted as she faded into the distance. He could have gone after her. He should have. It would have taken away any doubts one way or another. She was too good though. He wasn’t what she wanted, what she needed. The magnetism he felt was one-sided desire. She was gone, and his life would never be as bright as the handful of moments he’d traveled in her orbit.