I used to care what people thought of me. Like, I’d wonder what the guy at the coffee shop thought about my hair. All through high school I worried about whether or not I was popular. Then I met Marty and he told me nobody gives a shit about anyone else. Seriously, he said, nobody gives a shit. I know that’s the kind of thing people say, but Marty actually meant it. He even put his hands on my face when he said it, not letting me look away, like he really needed me to listen.
Every morning we sit outside on his porch and share one coffee and one cigarette. The first time I went over to his place I brought him his own coffee, but he told me he’d rather just share mine. He only smokes because of the coffee. Those things would piss me off if he were anybody else. I used to hate girls who would sit on people’s laps. I once went on a rant for about an hour because this girl was sitting on her boyfriend’s lap even though there were about five empty chairs right there. But now I get it. I think I’d sit on Marty’s lap if he asked me to. Yes, I would definitely sit on Marty’s lap.
It was the kind of day where everyone’s happy but nobody’s totally sure why. I think it has something to do with the weather, or maybe it’s just everyone being happy that makes everyone happy, like some kind of psychological butterfly effect.
We were sitting on Marty’s porch, but he had to go inside to get something he forgot. He was about to leave for work. Marty’s a lawyer. He says he got through law school by not caring about anybody or anything. He came back outside and just stood there. He checked his phone like he was in a hurry or something.
What if we got married? I asked.
We wouldn’t, he said.
It’s not something we would do.
Sometimes I look at him out of the corner of my eye and I swear he’s different, like he’s only human when I’m looking him square in the face. I have dreams about him turning into an animal, becoming some terrific creature, but it always happens just out of view. The only reason I know for sure he’s changing is because it’s a dream, and you always know better in dreams.
I go into the coffee shop and I order one Americano. I sit outside the shop in one of those metal chairs that it’s impossible to get comfortable in. These kinds of places, the kind where they write your name on the coffee cup for you, never want you to stick around for long. It’s all a bunch of false comfort. I drink my coffee while I smoke my cigarette and I try to think about all the things I’m not going to miss.