“Now that I think about it,” he says, as if he were, just suddenly, thinking about it, “she might have been faking it the whole time.”
I’m on the train, because I am always on the train. To work, to class, to teach class, to run errands. The little half seat closest to the hinge of the car is my favorite place to sit. I fit in it the way a cat fits in an impossibly tiny vase, but I can also lean against the wall. I’m tired, because I am always tired.
“Because Carly needs someone like me,” he says, “and all she talked about was getting engaged.”
Usually I wear my headphones, but I’m running late and they are tangled and now that I’m sitting, it’s less likely I’ll hear any of the rude comments about my ass that I normally try not to hear. I do try, though, I know when you stop talking, I know when you follow me with your voice, I know. But I confuse your voice with other sounds because I’d rather not hear the exact phrase, imbued in my head to infuse my own thoughts with your burnt ones. Now I keep my head down, and now I hear about Carly, and how she faked her way through a relationship, pretending to be interested in someone for the sake of a potential engagement, and what the fuck, Carly?
He’s still piecing together incredulous truths about Carly’s intentions as I leave. I walk up the stairs of the station to the slushy ground and yellow sunset breathing fire. Sure there is pink in that sky, but yellow as if it were the only color that meant something.
At work, I pace, because feigning activity creates a different sort of headphones.
“We’re trying a separation right now. I’m set up living in a hotel,” he says in a rush. Not a whisper, nothing hushed, but fast enough to make it lighter than it is.
“I’m paying about two grand in alimony,” the guy next to him says. “Have you been divorced?”
I’ve told you it’s about relationships, and it was as true for that story as it is for this one. For all the stories, even if they want to be more.
“Do you remember my name,” he says to me.
“Nope, sure don’t,” I say.
“Are you sure? Just guess.”
I remember, because I always remember. Like those smoky words I try to ignore, they stick to the fibers of my nose, chipotle insults I can’t get rid of for all the other smells in the world. I remember your name and I hear you talk about the woman you thought you loved once.
The guy who asked me for water pets the soda gun from over the bar top like a sweet and starved cat he found on the street. When I give him his water, he continues to stare at his stray friend with a sad fondness.
I forget that people take drugs.
Yellow is the only color that meant something today, and headphones won’t make a difference. She might have been faking it the whole time. Fucking Carly.