"Coffee?" she asked just as my ass started to thaw from my long trudge in the winter wind all the way to her apartment. I was sitting on her sofa, toying with the spoon she placed along with the coffee cups on her little TV table. So many things I wanted to say, but like my fingers, my tongue was frozen. She, on the other hand, seemed bent on not saying anything, teasing me with her silence.
She walks over to me, pours coffee into my mug, sits next to me. I could smell her perfume. She always smells good. I make a play for the sugar cubes, and all of a sudden they looked pretty interesting. Maybe I didn't need just one, but three sugar cubes. Maybe more coffee. Anything but looking into her eyes and admitting that I'm a basket case.
"Good thing you're here. I thought we ought to check out the spa nearby. They've got 2-for-1 winter-fucking-revival deals. Who else will I drag to the spa with me but my best friend, right?"
"Right," I squeak. My heart is trip hammering, but she doesn't seem to notice. Maybe I've become invisible to her. Maybe we've known each other so long all she sees is the ninth grader with pigtails. The little girl who made a vow we would be friends forever, and from that moment on fell in love with her.
"You OK? You look--I don't know, disturbed." She's looking at me now. She's going to find out. And then I'll never see her again.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just cold."
"Come here, you're freezing," she says, and wraps me in her arms. I can hear her heart beating fast, but it must be the coffee. I say nothing.
After a while, she gets up, takes her mug to the kitchen sink. She doesn't look at me. When she comes back, she's got her coat and mufflers on. "I gotta run to the store for something. You mind sticking around until I get back?"
I nod. I've been in her apartment less than 15 minutes and already I'm driving her away. The thing about love, it's a curse. It's better to have coffee.
First published: February, 2006
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