WitFit Prompts "Evidence" 2/3/10
She should have known something was up when he called her, more or less out of the blue.
For at least a week, she'd been leaving him messages -- calls and texts -- but he barely answered. It got so bad that she contemplated lying about something, maybe telling him that her dad was seriously ill and he should come over, just to get him to respond. Just to get some acknowledgement from him.
And then her cell rang, and it was him. She flipped it open and hit the key on the second ring.
"Hey," she said, all coiled anticipation.
"Hey," he said back. "Meet me tonight around 7?"
"Sure," she replied, barely able to contain the excitement in her voice. They hadn't seen each other in almost ten days, and she was working herself past fear and up to anger. Once his voice came through, though, she fell right back into accepting whatever he'd ask.
"Okay. Let's go to the Forks Diner. We can get some burgers or something."
"Um, okay, I guess." Not on the rez? That didn't do anything to ease her mind. Why didn't he want to hang out on the rez? "Can you pick me up?"
"No, sorry. I have something I have to do until pretty much right at that time. Let's just meet there."
"See you then."
She tucked her phone back in her jeans jacket and fought the bitter taste of worry that now rose in her throat. He didn't sound excited or in any way happy at the prospect of being with her. She didn't know what that meant. She assumed right away it wasn't good.
The rest of the afternoon, she kept herself busy around the house: straightening up at least some of the mess, cooking a dinner to leave for the rest of the family, cleaning up the kitchen. At 6:30, much earlier than necessary, she got in her car for the drive for the Forks Diner.
She plopped herself down on one of the benches out front of the eatery and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it and drawing on the tobacco with something like satisfaction. He hated that she smoked, although he usually tried to tease and joke her into quitting. The last time they'd spent time together, she smelled like smoke from the cigarette she'd finished before he arrived at her house. He never even said anything about it. The absence of that awareness of things that would provoke him, for good or for bad, scared her the most. A disagreement, a thoughtless comment or a full-blown fight she could handle. That showed he cared enough to get into it with her, that the emotions were still there for her to tease and inflame. His bland indifference, though - that made everything look bad. It was the baldest evidence yet that this was headed in the wrong direction.
At 7:10, he pulled up and parked right in front of her. He gave her a small smile and a brisk peck on the cheek. She turned her head and aimed for his mouth, but he quickly ducked away. He focused on the sidewalk before looking back up at her. "Ready to go in?"
"Sure." She was dying to ask him what was going on, and dying to avoid his answer.
They had their "usual" booth, in the back where it was somewhat dim, but he guided her to the opposite side of the diner. She gave an indiscernible shake of her head at these little actions piling up into one enormous, pending disaster.
Clarice, the waitress, took their order and disappeared into the kitchen. He fussed with the edge of his napkin while she stared at him in silence. This is your show, she thought. Get on with it.
Finally, he met her gaze and began to speak. "Look, I'm going to get right to the point."
"Don't be like that," he said, annoyed. This disgusted and frightened her even more, but she made a movement with her hands that told him to proceed.
"There's someone else," he said flatly, plainly. As if he was telling her they couldn't go to the beach because it was going to rain.
Now that it was out between them, she realized this was the thing she'd known all along. This was what explained his absence, his reluctance, his loss of interest. She blurted out the question that had been waiting for her own awareness to catch up.
"Who is it?"
He sighed, as if reluctant to tell her, before deciding she'd know before the night was over anyway. "It's Emily."
"Emily? Emily Young?" She couldn't stem the fury. Others sitting near them moved halfway around in the direction of her voice, then quickly turned away. "You're cheating on me with my own cousin?"
He didn't even try to shush her. "It's kind of out of my hands, Leah. It just happened."
That got a laugh out of her. "What, she threw herself at you and landed vagina first? What kind of bullshit is this?"
His head snapped up so he could glare at her. "Don't talk about Emily like that. It's not her fault. Be pissed at me but don't blame her, okay?"
"Oh, don't worry about that. I blame you plenty." Clarice was on her way over to them with full plates. The waitress hastily dropped the burgers on the table and then darted back to the counter.
She grabbed the ketchup. She hadn't eaten since breakfast, and she was damned if she'd let Sam and his fairy-tale romance ruin her dinner. This breakup wasn't messing her appetite. She'd see to that.
"Leah." He watched her intently and lowered his voice. "I imprinted on her." He spread his hands on the table in a gesture of helplessness. "Like I told you, it's out of my control."
"Oh, I see," She said, mustering as much sympathy as she could. "You couldn't help it."
"Exactly." Sam's shoulders relaxed a tiny bit.
"How convenient," she sneered. "I'm supposed to believe that? Give me a little more credit, Sam." She swirled one of the fries around in some ketchup.
"Look, you can believe me, or not. You can accept it, or not. It's the truth." He dropped his burger back on the plate. "Emily and I are getting engaged," he said quietly.
That shocked her out of hunger. Engaged? Already? This can't be real. No, Sam must have...there must be some other explanation for this.
"Sam." She couldn't help pleading with him, and she hated herself for it. She hated the both of them. "Don't do this. We were so good together."
"We fought all the time, Leah."
"Because we're two passionate people," she insisted. "We had...have a good thing, Sam. We're good to each other. Emily...she's sweet, sure, but she won't give you what I can."
"Things are easier with her," he replied tersely.
"Easy is boring for you, Sam," she snapped.
He shook his head. "No, easy is good. Easy is peaceful."
She laughed again. "Since when? You liked our fights. You always said you liked how fiery I am. And you especially liked making up."
"I can't do that any more, Leah. I'm sorry."
Now the tears were coming. "What changed, Sam?"
"Everything. I just looked, and I saw her. And that was it." He grasped her hand but she pulled away. She was so pissed at him, she didn't want him to touch her. Especially not because that touch was laden with pity.
"I have to go," he said abruptly. "I wanted to tell you this face to face. I'm sorry I've been avoiding you. I waited too long, I know." He opened his wallet and left a $20 bill on the table.
She threw it at him as he stood up, and he watched it fall to the floor. "Dinner's on me," she snarled. "Go back to Suzy Homemaker and let her give you dessert."
Wordlessly, he walked out of the diner. She knew it was probably the last time she'd really see him alone. And that's what ultimately started her heart breaking. She knew this was the last substantial conversation they'd have, and it ended with her hating him and him feeling sorry for her.
She left the diner and walked past her car. Picking up speed, she moved faster through downtown Forks and moved on to the road to La Push. The shoulder on the highway was narrow, and it was dark, but she didn't care. She ran, the tears drying on her face with a chill that matched everything inside of her. She was headed home, but all that waited for her there had no importance. Maybe she should be running in the opposite direction. She had no idea how to start over at home. All the rhythms and routines there had Sam as their purpose.
Still she ran, trying to burn off every part of her love and the life she'd never have. With her feet flying one ahead of the other, she moved like someone was chasing her. She moved through the night as if she could find something to go back to.