Friday, June 17, 2005

10:22 AM

mood: drained. Utterly drained.

Of course. I got what I wanted, didn't I?

After rounds, the kids scattered to their various tasks, and I headed back to my desk. It's been raining all morning, dark and dismal; I switched on more lights and put on a record.

Delia's poor mother
Took a trip out West...

I was looking at the back of the album cover when Stacey walked in. I did what she asked me to do, so what did she want now? I leaned over and switched off the turntable.

"You fixed him," she said.

"De nada," I replied. It's what I do.

"Thank you. You were right --"

I was calm, I was appropriate, I was... accepting. I could do this. "He's going to be fine." We're done.

"-- no," Stacey interrupted, "about me. I'm not over you."

No. My stomach went into free fall. Was I dreaming? This couldn't be real. Could it?

"You were... you were the one, and you always will be."

And oh, God, she was smiling... I stared, barely breathing, my heart pounding. She loves me. She loves me still. Hope... it's been so long, it went straight to my head...

But then her smile faded and her face hardened. "But I can't be with you."

And my moment of joy was over. The only sound was the splatter of the rain outside.

She seemed to be waiting for me to say something; I swallowed and looked away, embarrassed at having looked so desperate. "So I'm the guy... but you want the other guy... who, by definition, can never be the guy."

She smirked. "What’s so great about you is you always think you’re right. What’s so frustrating about you is you are right so much of the time. You are brilliant... funny... surprising... sexy. But with you I was lonely and with Mark... there's room for me."

But I wasn't lonely!.... So even being The One isn't good enough. I will never be enough for Stacey. She is never coming back. I nodded a little to myself as it sunk in.

"Okay," I whispered.

She stepped forward and, as I stooped a little, lightly kissed me on the cheek. I caught one last whiff of her hair, of her perfume... And then she turned and walked out of the office without another word, leaving me leaning on the desk.

I stood there, staring, for a while, before I finally turned around and put the record back on.

I solved the puzzle. My job is done. And now Stacy and Mark are going back to their wedded bliss in Short Hills.

Delia, Delia sitting all around

Some of your old rounders gonna pay my way back home
Sitting on the housetop, high as I can see
You love that old rounder, but you don't love me

I should be working on touching up that article, but I'm just sitting here staring at the computer screen.

The thunder booms. The rain is still pouring down.

My eyes are burning. I rub them, blinking a couple of times, until my vision clears and I'm able to start back to work.


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