The day after you called and told me you wanted to stop seeing me, I sat alone in a Barnes & Noble. I was exhausted from the night before spent lying, screeching on the floor. I sat alone there trying to convince myself that if I could just do my work, I’d stop thinking about you. I used to like thinking about you. It used to make me smile. Now, I think of how it all was just a lie and now I sit alone at Barnes & Noble wondering just how stupid I am. I am sitting for awhile, fighting the sleep that begs to consume my eyes. I sit and I notice the people: a woman tutoring on the other side of the pole, a young black woman viciously eating a spinach croissant while flipping through three different books all at once, and finally a man sitting to my left, with a single coffee cup and a book in hand. This man has been glancing my way for the past 20 minutes. I am trying to stay awake and I am trying not think. I do not want to think about what this man is thinking of me. I do not want to think because then I will think of you. Soon he leaves and I feel a breath of fresh air wash over me. I am sitting alone and I am no longer being watched. Five minutes goes by and that man sits down at the chair opposite my table. I look up and he begins.
“I’m sorry to bother you. My name is Jake.”
“My name is Rhianna, nice to meet you.”
“Again, I’m sorry to bother you but I was wondering if I could take you out to dinner.”
Look, I’ve never known how to handle these situations. What do you say to someone you don’t even know who wants to take you out? How does someone you just met want to take you out more than the person you have spent so much of your time on?
“What..how… how are you?”
“Me? I’m good.”
“How old are you?”
Ouch. Wait, that’s how old my, uh, not ex-boyfriend is. Hold your ******* tongue, dude.
“How old are you?”
“I’m 18.” He ***** in air hard.
“Do you go to UNCW?”
“What are you studying?”
The conversation continues, and he puts his number in my phone: Jake. Not even a last name. Dinner? Yeah, we’ll see. He gets up to go.
“Again, I’m sorry to bother you.”
“Yeah, no worries. Thank you.”
He leaves. Here I am, in a Barnes & Noble. Tears dripping down my face as this man walks away. It’s not his fault. So why am I sad? Was it the way he made me feel? The way he said my name? The way it wasn’t you? I wanted to call you. I wanted you to tell me you were gonna beat his *** if he came back. I wanted you to make me laugh. I wanted you to make me feel better. I wanted you to walk around the bookshelf and scoop me up like you did the night on the beach.
I’m sitting in Barnes and Noble, getting hit on by random strangers. Their interest mocking me, reminding me of your absence.
I guess they’ll have to do.