We’re meeting after a year.
I am dreading it.
I am embarrassed.
I know it will be awkward.
I am scared to death because I know how unshaken my resolve is.
I am looking forward to it because I know how nice it would be to see a familiar face.
We’re meeting after a year as strangers.
We’re meeting after years of being (best?) friends.
How screwed up is this?
Guess time to know.
You smile. I avert my gaze. You are not my friend. You and I are meeting for the first time. I don’t smile at strangers. Especially those who are to be my colleagues. Act professional I remind myself. But it’s so hard. I smile back.
They ask us if we know each other. Of course. I hesitate. You nod. I try not to smile again. Because if I say out loud how good I know you, I think all professional ethics would go down the drain that very second.
They told us to ‘coordinate’. That’s when I know what is about to come is nothing to what just happened in these few minutes. How do you professionally coordinate with someone who was so attuned to reading your mood via your body language?
I am laughing inside.
I am groaning outside.
I think you notice but you ignore.
We leave together. And that’s when it happens. The first sign of the old habits. You start sharing. I fail to ignore and I respond. My mistake. Not yours. Mine.
But I need to make it right. I cannot let it happen again. A year. I had a year to train myself. And maybe you too. Why are you doing this again? Don’t act like we are friends. How can you act like the last year never happened?
You ask me to wait. Friends make other friends wait. I am not your friend, remember. I signal. You seem concerned. You try to “break the ice” and that’s when I snap. But not in the manner you and I expected or maybe you did.
This is the final blow you realize. It’s not ice you are breaking, you are trying to shovel through an iceberg. My sharpness surprise me. You wither. I see it happen. And I cringe. It’s not a happy sight. But then you are a stranger I shouldn’t care about. But I do. I don’t act like this even to strangers, and it’s you dammit.
I follow in hopes to reconcile. But you’ve already moved away.
I stop. This is it. Isn’t this what I wanted?
Not like this a voice replies. I never ever wanted to see this hurt.
I never wanted to see you hurt. Period. Maybe that’s why I ran away. Am I trying to justify how much of a coward I was this past year? This does make me a coward. I didn’t want to see any of it.
But now you’ve see me. The mask is finally off. Now you will stop being my friend, now you will stop caring.