to know everything is to forgive everything
When he first saw her walk in he couldn’t believe it. Not in the usual not believing things, but an actual momentary disconnect with reality. His head didn’t know whether to swim or spin, so it did both.
It had been years. He had decided to start taking some evening courses at the community college and apparently so had she. One of those being the one he was sitting in and waiting for the instructor to arrive to begin the proceedings.
What were the odds?
Immediately he hoped that there would be assigned seating. That they would be forced to sit next to each other, as if circumstance hadn’t done enough.
There was not, they were adults after all, and he wasn’t even sure why he wanted it in the first place given their history. He would pass many an evening sitting in the uncomfortable chair with the bookrack underneath it wondering about that initial reaction.
For the entire eight weeks he sat up front and she sat in back. Not acknowledging each other. Other than the occasional glance and the relentless effort required not to sneak another. He knew she knew when he was looking at her, just like he felt it when she was looking at him.
There were classes where he couldn’t have told you at gunpoint what the teacher was saying, such was his desire to completely forget she was there in the room with him. Had the teacher asked the class what the definition of torture was, his hand would have shot right up. The chances of that happening in an Intro to Econ class were pretty slim.
Over the course of their on-again/off-again relationship she had bought him three gifts. Three t-shirts; a black Bob Ross t-shirt (the background was black, not Bob Ross… which in retrospect would have been much cooler), a black AC/DC concert t-shirt from their Fly on the Wall tour, and a t-shirt with picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger from the movie Predator on the front, machine gun in hand, and the words “Get to the Choppa” emblazoned on it.
It was also black.
He still had all three and they were all active in the t-shirt rotation despite their faded and worn appearance.
The weird part of the off-again portion of their relationship was the fact that all of his male friends would side with her, so he would be in exile until they were a couple again. At the time he knew that despite her many shortcomings, she would never cheat on him with any of them though. She cared for him too much.
Of course he was wrong about that. She slept with every one of his friends.
He remembers how she rationalized it. That life is like driving with your parents when you are a kid. You’ve been given a plastic steering wheel and you’re mimicking your dad’s turns to the best of your ability, in order to maintain the illusion, to yourself and others, but you’re not really in control. She told him that’s how she rationalized his incessant need for her to apologize.
So here it was the last class. His head was never a strong swimmer so it decided to simply spin for the entirety of the proceedings. He answered each question on the final and then stood up to leave.
She was still working on hers.
He walked past her and out of the room.
He stopped on the way home and had an omelet and chocolate milkshake at a Denny’s. Later that night he couldn’t tell if it was regret or indigestion he was feeling.