Another fantastic fucking Ohio winter, I thought, as I trudged through the sleet and ice and snow towards the corner of Washington and Long St., where I was to meet my bus.

Great time for my car to break down, I cursed over and over.

In good weather, it was only a ten-minute walk from my job to the bus stop. This, as earlier stated, was not good weather.

After twenty-five minutes of plodding a trail across unplowed sidewalks and parking lots, I reached the corner, only to see the number sixteen bus, my bus, fly by.

Fuck.

I raced around the bend, furiously trying to grab the driver’s attention, but it was no use. It was already long past.

I wanted nothing now but to stand and wait for the next bus, alone and angry, cursing the fates, but the fates never did like me.

Sitting at my bus stop was a cute caramel-colored girl — cute in a way that all girls are cute when all you can see are their eyes and just the bridge of their nose — bundled up in more clothes than I even own.

After a not-quite-bad-but-not-quite-good day at work, the horrific slushy dirty weather, and the fact that I would have to stand out in the cold for at least another half hour waiting for the next bus, only one thought crossed my mind.

Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me. I’m not a good person to talk to right now. I will hurt you feelings. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me.

Again, with the fates thing.

After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, the girl, whose name I later learned to be Amber, unwrapped herself from the scarves and woolen hat like a present on Christmas morning. Then, she pointed, with ungloved hands, at her wrist, and asked, “Do you know the time?” and then quickly replaced her hands in her pockets.

I told her it was about a quarter after one, and then resumed my silent waiting.

Amber stood up abruptly, walked through the ten or so feet between us, and sat down again, right next to me.

“Did you say a quarter past one?”

Yeah.

“Wow. The number six is really late. Which bus are you waiting for?”

The sixteen.

“You just missed it.”

I know.

“Fucking weather, huh?”

Well, that’s Ohio for ya.

“Yeah, I know. It gets worse in northern Ohio.”

Yeah, I said. I’m from Cleveland.

“Medina,” she said.

A few minutes of silence passed.

“My boyfriend, well, my ex-boyfriend, was supposed to pick me up from class today, but I guess he just didn’t feel like it. What about you?”

No, I don’t think your ex-boyfriend is going to pick me up, either, I replied.

That earned a little giggle.

“No no no. I meant do you have someone to do stuff like that for you? Pick you up from school? Or work?”

An ex-boyfriend? No. No, I don’t.

Another giggle.

“Ex-boyfriend. Ex-girlfriend. Current boyfriend. Current girlfriend. Whatever.”

No. No ex- or current girlfriend to do that picking up stuff. And no ex- or current boyfriend at all to do those things.

“Aw, buck up. I sure the right guy is out there somewhere for you,” she smiled. Her giggles were becoming addictive.

“So, when was the last time you had one of those ‘significant other’ thingies? Mine broke just before Thanksgiving.”

It’s been almost two years since my last real ‘significant other’ thingy broke.

“Your last real girl? What does that mean? The last real?”

It was a little over a year and a half ago that my last girlfriend and I split. Our schedules didn’t quite fit; there was a slight age difference, and there were kids involved. It was just for the best to split when we did. Wanted to end it before anyone got hurt.

“And…”

And then, a few months later, I met this girl. We became good friends. And I feel in love with her. At least, I think I did. I’ve never been in the ‘L’ word with anyone before, so I couldn’t tell you if it was the real deal or not.

It just felt… complete.

“And how long did you two last?”

We didn’t.

“Why not?”

I never asked her out. We were just friends. I don’t think she even knew that I was in the “L” word with her.

“Why didn’t you ever tell her? You chickenshit!”

No, it’s not that I was scared to tell her… okay, I was terrified to tell her, but it was something more that that.

“What?”

When I looked at her, I saw the whole package: dating, marriage, the house on the hill with the white picket fence. A couple of kids, a couple of dogs. Growing old together. Grandkids.

“And it scared you?”

No, actually it felt great. I knew she was the girl for me. The only girl for me.

“But…”

I knew she was the girl for me, but I knew I wasn’t the guy for her. She deserved better. So I never told her that I loved her.

“That is so… heartbreaking.

It hurt like hell.

“How did you ever get over it?”

I don’t know if I ever did. I just gently pushed it to the side and tried to quietly sneak around it.

“Man, I’m sorry.” After a pause, she shivered, “Well, here comes your bus. It was nice having someone to talk to.”

It’s no problem, I said, waving the bus on.

“That was your bus, the sixteen,” she said.

I know, I said, handing her my gloves. Another one will be by in a while.

Besides, it’s such a beautiful day.

Advertisements