Erica and Jared sat side by side on the couch in silence for quite a while. May busied herself elsewhere in the bungalow. They listened to her unload the dishwasher and stack the plates in the cupboards. Arrange the silverware in a drawer. Then May loaded it back up. Pots and pans and the cutting board. Cabinets opened, then closed. The screen door opened and closed. May flittered back and forth at the back of the house until eventually she too was quiet.
They could hear the refrigerator humming. The hot water heater kick on then off. But neither said a word.
Eventually Jared placed his hand on top of Erica’s and said “So now what?”
It was Erica’s turn to say “I don’t know.” Then “Maybe you should go. I don’t want to do this with you.”
Jared felt stabbed in the heart but he also very quickly understood he deserved that. He also had to admit he wanted to leave too. The wall between them was too high. She had nothing left to give, no room for a fresh start and he … well he didn’t want to start over. He loved her and he missed her but that wasn’t enough to let her inside his well insulated heart.
So they joined May on the back deck. Had a small and safe conversation before Jared walked himself to the ferry. From the stern he watched Breezy Point disappear and it was then, only there with his back to Manhattan and his eyes on a little girl playing with shells on the sand, that he let himself cry. Truly cry. And he pulled his phone from his pocket, scrolled right to Erica’s number and prepared a text message after wiping the tears away with the back of his hand.
The text messages read thus:
I’m a coward. >send<
And a fool. >send<
You deserve better than this and I don’t know how to give you everything you deserve without losing too much of myself. If ever there were someone I could see myself with, it would be you. It would be you a thousand times over. But I can’t actually see myself with anyone. And that is no reflection on you at all. It’s my crap. Bullshit that has built up inside me for years. Call it a wall. Call it stupidity. Call it being a chicken shit. But… >send<
Hit send too quick. Sorry. Call me a coward (it’s fitting) but I think it’s best if we both move on. You will find someone that is everything and everyone you’ve ever needed in life. And he’ll treat you so much better than I ever would or could. Tell May I’m sorry too. I’m sorry for it all. >send<
And he slipped his iphone in to the front pocket of his shirt and he placed both his hands on the railing of the boat and he dipped his head down and let it all go.
And Erica never texted him back. He checked every 5 minutes for days. Turned the phone on and off to be sure it was working right. Sent messages to everyone he knew, got responses immediately. Confirmed there was no glitch with text messages. And eventually, a few days later, he stopped thinking about her again. Put her in the back of his mind and went on about living. Played on VyRT. Gave a few tech talk interviews. And paid no attention to what he’d done, yet again.
Until a Friday, four or five weeks later, when he was reading the World Wide Trending Topics List on twitter and he saw her name again.
The hashtag read thus:
And Jared flipped the fuck out.