Tuesday, March 22, 2005

7 days: depression and anguish. 14 days: carpal tunnel syndrome

Steph pulls her coat on and follows me back out the door. The room goes deathly quiet.

We stand at the top of the steps. She kisses my cheek.


"Steve, thank you so much for what you did. I really appeciate it." Her eyebrows arch; her lips pout. "You are so sweet."

Why do I suddenly feel like the guy on The Bachelorette who doesn't get the final rose?

She sighs deeply, watching the passing traffic. I want to ask her what's wrong, or ask her what she's trying to say, or a million other things. But I want to hear exactly what's on her mind without interference from me.

"This- still doesn't feel right to me."


"It feels like we're back to normal. We're talking on the phone every day, and you're doing nice things for me..."

Yeah, pretty much what I was going for, sweetheart.


"I'm not ready to be back to normal yet."

So much for not caring how much time she needs. It amazes me how none of the little mind-fucks that worked so completely on other girls do anything to Steph.

"You're not?"

"I feel like such a... bitch for this. I feel like I'm making a big deal over nothing. But I just can't... I don't... I can't go back to normal right now."

"You're not making a big deal over nothing."

"That's what it feels like."

"So what is it that you need?"

"I TOLD you what I need. I asked you for time."

"You also told me I could call you the next day."

"Well, I think maybe you shouldn't call for awhile."

"So you're breaking up with me at Kevin's house."

"I'm NOT breaking up with you! I'm telling you I need time. And I've already TOLD you that once before, Steve!"

"You told everybody else too, evidently."

"I told ELENA. She opened her big mouth."

It wasn't supposed to go this way. Not at all. This is starting to sound very discouraging all of a sudden. Usually, when I get a kiss-off like this one, I never hear from the girl again. Usually I don't care. In fact, usually it's a relief.

Not so today. Today, I desperately want to ask her how much time, or when I can expect to hear from her. I want to know our fate as a couple. Shit - at this point, I'll settle for Vegas odds.

"When you say I shouldn't call for awhile..."

"I know you are a detail person. I know you want to know how much time I need, and I just ... can't tell you. I don't know! And I know that's not good enough for you, and I would understand if you... couldn't wait for me..."

"What does that mean, Steph? What does that mean, you understand if I can't wait for you? What are you saying?"

"Nothing! I just... know that you need... parameters."

"You think I'm just gonna walk away? Because you need time? Is that what you WANT?!"

"No! Of course not! But I don't know how much time I need! It could be a week, it could be a month. I don't KNOW!"

"Well, I'm pretty insulted that you think I would just walk away because of that."

"Well I didn't MEAN any insult!"



We both turn slowly and stare at the speeding cars.

"I don't wanna fight," she says finally.

"Yeah, we shouldn't, 'cause I guess this is goodbye for a while."

"Don't be mad."

"That's easier said than done."

"I feel terrible. I feel like I'm punishing you, and I'm not! I just need to process."


"I'll call you when I'm... ready."

"Do you promise?"

"YES! Of course I promise, Steve!"


"I AM serious! Ste-eve! Why are you saying this?"

"No matter what you decide, just promise you'll call me."

"I promise."