I see you.
You don’t see me, but I see you.
You’re not supposed to be here — outside my office on a Thursday after midnight. But [to be fair] my office is in the middle of downtown where the foot traffic and the traffic-traffic never really stop, day or night. This isn’t me giving you the benefit of the doubt, though. There’s no reason for you be here.
I am sitting inside my car with a French Vanilla Cappuccino between my thighs and my eyes on the rearview mirror. The scalding hot chalky sludge comes from a sputtering machine in the Circle K by my house. Stop by at any given time and you’re guaranteed to encounter at least one cashier of indiscernible gender. It’s a thing. Sometimes when I’m writing late, I grab a large cup of this molten sugar and suck it down as fast as I can. But right now, it’s just tucked into my lap; unsipped and radiating heat into my crotch while I watch you step out of your Jeep and onto the sidewalk.
I think about bolting straight for the side entrance into my office. Pulling my hat down over my face. Slamming the door behind me. But I don’t because I can’t take my eyes off you.
What are you doing here?
What are you doing when you’re not right here, right now?
And where have you been?
You look good. Your hair is fuller and you’re impeccably put-together, as always. For such a surprising encounter, you look unsurprisingly like yourself. But seeing you makes me more self-aware — my thinning hair, my bloating gut, the wrinkles in my forehead and the lines around my mouth. We’ve aged, but I’ve done so more profoundly. On the outside, at least. In this moment, I realize I’m feeling shitty about myself just by looking at you. Some forgotten wiring in my heart that still works, apparently — the current in my chest is making me want to throw the door open and projectile vomit on the street.
I think about killing you. Unspooling your brains onto the sidewalk. Creating a future where I can’t see you on the street ever again. But I don’t because I’m haunted enough.
It’s December outside but it’s stuffy inside my car. I finally take a sip from my cup and I wince. In my rearview mirror, you are rocking on your heels and exhaling thin clouds into the air like empty speech bubbles. You’re waiting for someone. Shit. How did it take me so long to realize that? You’re obviously waiting for someone and here I am staring at you from the blind of my Ford Fiesta. And I kind of give a fuck who it is.
You look down at your phone and smile.
I smile with you, but not with you.
I can't help it, but I wonder what would happen if I walked over and said hello. I could step out, head towards my office, look your way, appear to be surprised (not stunned), jog over, shake your hand (because it would catch you off your guard), act normal, just the basic pleasantries, the vaguest sense of interest, nodding, smirking, acting, bullshit. Maybe I fist-bump you. Then I turn away and walk back to my office without looking back over my shoulder (like you'd expect me to do). That actually sounds like a great plan. I am in control of this situation. I'm doing this. Now! I open the door and swing my legs out. The cup in my crotch crushes between my thighs. Hot cappuccino slime splashes all over my sweatpants and somehow makes immediate contact with my dick and balls. I scream "AH! FAGGOT!" I jump out. I am splattered with it. I look up and you are staring at me.
I put my hand up and stick my chin out. The universal hey what's up. Your expression doesn't change. You look stunned (not surprised). "Welp," I say much louder than I mean to. And then I roll my shoulders back and casually strut away — not towards my office, though — in the opposite direction for some reason. Down the other end of the street where there isn't really anything besides the Greyhound station, which is terrifying, but now it appears that I'm headed that way so I guess I'll hang out in there for a while until you're gone. Or maybe I'll just a buy a ticket to somewhere. I've got work in the morning, but I could always shoot my boss an email right now and tell him I'm feeling feverish. Oh shit. I left my wallet in the car. Fuck it. I'll live like a homeless person or a transient tonight. This isn't going to kill me. Unless a homeless person or a transient kills me. Oh God, I'm scared.
Anyway, it was great seeing you.