Look at her, face set in serious lines as she types words that you can barely make out on her computer. You’re close enough to read, but as always, your mind is someplace else. She turns to you and points at a word on one of the stapled sheets on the desk. “Qualities,” you say. She is writing your book, typing out previously printed chapters so she can flesh them out. The bulk of it is copied from the internet, but she doesn’t know that yet.
She’s pretty, but she’s no Jane – no one else is.
Everyone knows she loves you; you’d have to be blind not to have noticed. She has for about two years now, hoping, waiting for you to see her. And it’s not that you haven’t seen her, you have. You’ve seen the way her body turns fully to you as long as you’re there, even when it is someone else speaking to her. You’ve seen the way she has your every need memorized and knows how best to meet them. It’s just, your heart is someone else’s. Remember that other girl you dated as a palate cleanser? Even after that ended the way it did, you still don’t feel ready enough for her.
She is leaving you soon. You can tell from the way she has been looking at you like a photo of a dead relative, how she is around less and less, how her phone is conveniently switched off many times these days. She is spent. I imagine you would be too if you had to watch the one you love repeatedly go through meaningless relationships while you stand there with your heart in your outstretched hands. You cannot afford to lose her; who else will be your backup brain?
You know how it ends, of course, you know how you lose her. It’s a classic case of chasing something that will never really be yours in the hopes that one day, they will give up their own chase, turn around, and pick you.
You two will date. You will give her some attention and she will worship the ground you walk on; you’re her dream come true. She is not yours, but you know her. You know the demons she sees every time she looks in the mirror and you will not help her fight them. When the giddiness wears off, you will take her for granted and she will become insufferable. You will prod and misshape her with your words. She will bend over backward trying to be the lover you want, but she will never be enough.
You will get bored, she will get restless and you will leave each other broken. You’ll pull the plug, framing your words carefully to create the illusion of an open door. She will see through your bullshit – and hers – and call you out on it.You will fight, of course; both of you will play the victim.
Six months later, you will write, “Hey beautiful” on her selfie on Instagram. You will send her a DM telling her that you need to talk. She will answer your call and you will tell her how you’ve always loved her, how you haven’t stopped, and how you’re ready to make things work now. She will laugh and shut the door in your face, her resolve as strong as her newly-acquired spine.
That future will begin in a few minutes when you turn to her and take her hands. Her eyelids will flutter and hope will zip in and out of your entwined fingers as you ask her to be yours.