She pulled in front of the fire hydrant, put on her hazards, and threw the car into park. That was something.
And he didn’t get out immediately. That was something.
They just sat, listening to the song on the radio and the CLICK click CLICK click CLICKing of the hazards disagreeing about the speed at which the world should run. It was an unpleasant little cacophony, and still, he didn’t get out. That was something.
The evening had been full of “something’s,” weighty intimations of concepts she couldn’t bring herself to express. At least, she thought so. She hoped so. Hints of a romantic sort are best dropped delicately, like the pedal of a rose lilting gently to the ground.
(Or maybe don’t compare your love life to a dying flower, huh?)
But that sort of social finesse had never been her strong suit; she tended to drop those hints with all the subtlety of a goat falling off a cliff. Which was why, as of late, she’d taken to forgoing the drop entirely. She was a twenty-first century woman, but perhaps there was something to be said for letting the guy make the first move. Perhaps that would save her the familiar humiliations of a bleating descent and a halting splat.
Assuming this guy was going to make the first move. Assuming he wanted to make the first move. Assuming that was a move he had any intention of making, first or otherwise.
She had thrown the car into park and he hadn’t gotten out immediately. That was something.
On the ride home, he’d cranked the AC without asking, when she’d already mentioned she was cold earlier in the evening. That was something else.
He’d offered her his jacket when she had mentioned she was cold. That was something.
But. But. But. She could keep going on forever, and get no closer to sussing out what he felt. Her feelings were abundantly clear to her. Well, sort of. Maybe not. But she had a lot of feelings, and that was a cast-iron certainty. Basically. For the most part.
Either way, she was getting fed up with waiting. They were both intelligent, mature individuals. It’d be the easiest thing in the world, to sit down over a lovely cup of coffee and have an intelligent, mature conversation about their feelings. It’d be the easiest thing in the world to figure it out from there, once all the intelligent, mature cards were on the table.
It’s also the easiest thing in the world for a goat to fall off a cliff, isn’t it? Gravity does all the work; the only hard part is the landing. The easiest things in the world are usually the ones from which you can’t come back.
So she sat with him in the car, some song or other playing quietly from a neighboring galaxy, hazards CLICK click CLICK click CLICKing out their own relentless rhythm, marking the inexorable passage of time. And for an eternity and a half they were silent, listening to the curious discord of the song and the hazards, each banging out their own beats, heedless of the other.
The two of them sat in the car until, for just a second or two, the dueling rhythms converged. For just a second or two, there was perfect concord, and everything made sense. And after a second or two, the tempos reclaimed their independence and fell back out of step. But.
In that second or two, he looked at her, and she looked at him. And if there wasn’t perfect concord, and if not everything made sense…well, they could figure it out.
That was something.
Jud Widing is a Brooklyn-based author whose most recent novel, Westmore and More!, was released on October 13, 2017 to near-universal indifference. You can find out more about it and his other work at www.judwiding.com