I slowly seared my rigid hands on the smooth scalding surface of my first cup of coffee. There was a time when heat frightened me to the point of paranoia of my house catching on fire. Even a simple cup of hot chocolate was filled to the brim with fear of burning myself. But now I found a sort of comfort in the smarting pain the heat induced, holding my fingers around the overly warm mug for as long as possible as I let the physical pain flow in and release the pain within me. Just a few seconds longer and I could achieve a tolerable numbness.

The buzz of the doorbell broke my thoughts and my hand escaped its danger on its own. I clutched my throbbing fingers as I approached the door, thinking, who on earth would be calling so early?

I glanced at the microwave clock. 12:30 in the afternoon. Okay, maybe not so early.

I pressed the button by the door.

"Yeah? Who is it?"

" It's Jonathon. Can I come in?" A distorted voice replied.

My heart stopped. I closed my eyes and tried to remember how to breathe.

"Uh, yeah, just one sec."

My eyes ran over the mess of my apartment and my arms flailed in silent helplessness. There wasn't any possible way I could cover this in "just one sec". I settled for emptying the ashtray and hiding the ashtray itself in a cupboard nearby.

My hand reached for the door handle, my face attired itself with a makeshift smile, my lungs heaved, and the door opened a crack. I stuck my head into the outside world. And Jonathon was standing on my doorstep.

"Jonathon! Wow, what a surprise." Well that was original.

"Yeah, sorry, I should've called first."

"Oh! No, no, that's totally totally fine. Um, come in! "

He was taller than I remembered. His hair was the shame, if a little on the short side. He was wearing a jacket I didn't recognize. I used to know most of his clothes by heart—every rip, every zipper. Once I borrowed a jacket of his and forgot to give it back. I wore it one day and discovered that one of the strings had a handmade knot in it. I knew him so well that I was able to speculate how the plastic end had broken and tried to fall off, but a knot was made to keep it from escaping.

"You look good," I said, in an attempt to be honest.

"Uh…So do you."

Upon hearing this comment, I realized what my current wardrobe consisted of.

No wonder he was giving me funny looks.

Having only woken up about half an hour before, I was still dressed in my pink penguin P.J's, my hair in a bed-messed braid, and my hand was still throbbing and bright red.

"Yeah, this is pretty unexpected as you can see. I was just…. Cleaning," I lied, gesturing to my horrendous mess of a front room. "And ya know I didn't really have time to get dressed or anything or have… breakfast- so I hope you don't-

"Oh, no, of course, I understand. It's kind of interesting actually. I don't think I've ever seen you in pajamas," he said smoothly.

Yeah, that's cause we never got that far.

"Ahahahahaha," I laughed, obviously faking it, as I gestured to a chair up ahead which he could seat himself on. If only there were a separator between my "front hall" and the "main room". Then I would've been banging my head on the wall quietly in frustration with myself, as well as jumping up and down for joy at the return of my ex.

Managing to contain myself, I followed him to the sofa.

"You drink coffee now?" he said pointing at the cup. Oops. I should've hidden that.

"Oh! Only occasionally, ya know, to wake me up, get me going." Ten cups a day, same difference.

See, I used to never drink coffee. I made a point of it. I used to tell my friends "I've never drunk a single drop of coffee" and they'd freak out. But now I needed something more than uncaffeinated tea to get me through the day.

I sat down next to him on the gray couch and pushed the coffee mug aside, as if to hide it behind the packet of cigarettes.


"A friend of mine was staying over for a couple days. I guess she must've left these," I fibbed as through the half-empty packet aside.

"So, what exactly did you come here for? Not that I object to you coming here or anything, I mean, I'm glad that you did come. I mean I'm always glad when you come but I'm really glad that you came now it's just that it seems like you would have a reason to come and see me now so I was just wondering and ya know what? I'm gonna shut up and let you talk." My God, I am such an idiot. I shut my mouth and tried to look as if I were listening attentively, despite the fact he wasn't actually saying anything yet.

He was looking at his hands on his lap. A gray shadow fell across his face, the likes of which I hadn't seen since… In a long time.

Still staring distantly at his lap, he opened his mouth to speak.

"Natalie broke up with me."

"Oh. Wow." Oh. Wow.

A large portion of my insides did a double back flip of joy. This was, after all, what I had been praying for, for the last two years. The rest fell over in despair of seeing him so hurt. No matter what the cause, his pain was my pain.

And besides, he needed me. Oh, thank you, God. He wanted my support as a friend. And we always said that no matter what happened, we would always stay friends. I had to be there for him.

"She said she just can't handle things. With the both of us being so busy…. Or me being so busy… She didn't really see the point in staying together, she said."

Ouch. That sounds familiar.

"Oh, Jonathon, I'm so sorry. I really am. I hate to see you in this place again." Now, why the hell did I say that?

Jonathon shifted uneasily. "Yeah, it is kind of similar."

"When did she tell you? I mean…when did it happen?"

"Just this morning. I really wanted to sit and talk it over with her but she had somewhere she had to go. I started to just go home, but halfway there I changed directions and started heading for your place. My place is too filled with memories and I really wanted someone to talk to so… I just didn't know what else to do."

As he put his head in his hands I nearly started crying. He looked so sad. His face was just as it had been when I broke up with him. I scornfully hoped that Natalie was feeling as guilty as I had. I made the bold decision to put my hand on his shoulder.

"I'm glad that you chose to come to me Jonathon. And…I hope that I can be of some help, even if it's just a shoulder to cry on." He looked up at me with eyes like a puppy-dog's and whispered a small thank you.

"How about I make you some tea?" I gave his arm a little squeeze before rising and heading towards the kitchen.

Filling the kettle with water and placing it on the stove, I became thankful for the long sleeves of my pajamas. I realized how obvious the scars on my arms would be without them.

" She must've meant a lot to you."

"Yeah, I suppose she did." Did he just use the past tense?

"But I know you can get through this. You'll get over her. You've done it before right?" I listened to my voice as the slightest bit of tension sounded in it when I reminded myself how fast he had "gotten over" me. Apparently, it wasn't as slight as I thought.

"Don't be like that."

"Be like what?"

"You and her… You're completely different things. Like oranges and apples. Yeah, you guys both broke up with me for the same reasons, but that doesn't mean that it's the same thing."

"Meaning, it's not gonna be so easy to forget about her."

"That's not what I meant."

"Than what did you mean?"

"Why are we even talking about this? I mean, this was two years ago. It's over. It's done."

"Maybe for you, but not for me." Why am I doing this? I'm supposed to be his friend right now, not fighting with him. He doesn't need this.

"What do you mean?"

"Every day of my life I'm haunted by what happened two years ago. You were the focus of three years of my life, I can't just forget about you. The past doesn't just disappear. And when you left, I didn't just lose you. I lost myself too."

"What the hell are you talking about? You are the one who wanted to break up with me. And what's all this 'losing myself' crap. You didn't have to lose yourself. It was your choice. It's your own fault not mine."

"I didn't want to break up with you. I thought that maybe it would be a wake up call."

"A wakeup call? That's one hell of a wakeup call. Putting me through complete misery for a month because I'd lost you."

"I thought that if I ran away, you'd run after me…But you didn't. You weren't the only one going through complete misery."

"Oh, yes, you are so pitiful because you lost me, when it was your fault in the first place."

" I didn't want to lose you! Don't you see, I had to. I didn't have any other choice. And the same thing is probably true for Natalie. I'm sure she still loves you and still wants to be with you and is feeling depressingly guilty right now. But she had to do it, she didn't know what else she could do because she's tried everything else. Even misery seems inviting when you're helpless."

I took a deep breath. I need to put others before myself. I walked over to the wall and removed the portable phone from its' perch. I handed it to Jonathon.

"Call her. Talk to her. Ask her if what I said is true." Jonathon stared at me blankly, not even glancing at the phone. His eyes were fixed on mine.

"It isn't."


"It isn't true. She told me. She…She doesn't love me anymore."


"And I don't love her anymore."

Jonathon walked up to me, placed his hands on my face, and his lips on mine.

My mind reeled by my logic stopped it in its tracks.



"Please…Think about what you're doing. You're girlfriend just broke up with you. Are you sure you're not just…rebounding? "

"Maybe. But at this moment I can't understand why I never ran after you." And he kissed me again. I tried to pull back but he drew me closer for a longer kiss and I couldn't resist. While our tongues intertwined, we clumsily backed up until I was pushed up against the wall, like a high school fantasy come true. The phone fell from my hand to the floor with a clatter, and we kicked it as we felt our way along the wall to the bedroom door. I found the door handle with the hand that wasn't mussing his hair, and I let us in, as my pajamas were unbuttoned.

The next morning I awoke to an empty bed. I didn't remember the significance of this right away. The blankets had nearly all fallen off and I shivered as I bunched them around me. I lay on my side, looking at my half of the empty room, as the sleep was slowly filtered out of my brain. I turned on to my other side. And there it was.

Sitting on the imprint of a second human being's sleeping location was a note. I don't know whether it was the note or the imprint that caused me to remember the previous day. The impact was the same either way.

I picked up the note and read it with my head on my pillow.

"Sorry, gotta head out. Dunno when I'll be back. Hopefully soon Jon."

Maybe he would be back soon. And maybe he was hoping for it. Maybe he had changed. Maybe our fight didn't mean anything and his disappearance was meaningless too. But it was more likely that this note was like all the things he had said to me the night before- how he loved me, how he was sorry he ever was with anyone else, how now he'd never leave me. I couldn't believe them. I don't know why I ever did. They were just words.