22 Feb 2009

“Are you avoiding me?”

The question was so sudden, so unexpected and abrupt, that you stopped dead in your tracks. You stared at him, dumbfounded, wondering if he really asked the question.

Okay, so it wasn’t really unexpected. You kind of hoped he would notice your avoidance, but from what you know of him, you stopped hoping he would. He never saw you that way anyway, so why would it matter to him if you avoided him?

But why would he ask now, in the midst of all the things that the two of you have to do? Couldn’t this question have waited? Like, a couple more days, months? Years? Maybe until you’re finally done feeling what you’re feeling and he doesn’t really have to ask the question anymore?

He repeated the question, this time saying your name, confirming that he was indeed, talking to you. He watched you warily, waiting for your answer.

“Avoiding you?” You finally spoke. Slowly, as if it would make him forget he asked it. He nodded. You sighed. “Why are you asking me this?” There was exasperation in your tone.

His face actually reddened. “Because…well, we haven’t been speaking for a while and…”

“Look, I’m just busy,” you said, interrupting him. “Like you are. And seeing as I’m talking to you right now, that means I’m not avoiding you, right?” You didn’t try hiding the sarcastic tone from your voice.

You start walking away from him but he wasn’t done yet. He started to walk beside you. Somehow this move made your heart flutter, but you did your best to ignore it.

“So you’re not mad?” He asked. The hopeful tone in his voice struck you straight, and you felt yourself softening, just like you always had when you get to these kinds of conversations. He’d do something that would make you angry, then you’d hide it, wait for it to go away and then when you’re okay, everything was back to normal. Weirdly enough, he’d always seem to be there again whenever you’re almost back to normal.

But this time it’s different. You won’t fall for it anymore.

He said your name again, waiting for an answer. You sighed and shook your head. Well, you’re almost okay, anyway. So I guess you’re really not mad at him anymore.

He sighed with relief. “Great. So…maybe we can catch up. Do you want to hang out later or something?”

You stopped walking again, and this time he was caught off-guard that he had to retrace his steps so he was standing next to you again. He looked at you with an expectant smile, and you could feel the edges of your mouth turning as you moved to smile back, but then his phone rang.

You watched as he pulled his phone out of his pocket to look at who was calling, and felt your heart sink when his eyes lit up. He pressed a button and answered the phone immediately, signaling to you as he excused himself to take the call.

You should continue walking, leave him there. You don’t have to wait for him. But somehow you stayed, watching him as he talked on the phone in hushed tones, with a laugh coming every now and then. The feeling was back, that ugly gnawing feeling that made you avoid him in the first place. You should turn away now, before he could return to you and continue your conversation. You knew he would return to you — he was far too chivalrous to leave you there. You knew he’d ask how you are again, you knew he’d do all the nice things he does that somehow makes you think, even if you shouldn’t. You should go, turn around, leave him.

But you didn’t. And then his phone call was over and he walked back to you, with a smile on his face.

“Hey, I’m sorry, but can we take a rain check on that hanging out thing? I have somewhere I have to go to later.” He smiled at you apologetically, but still his eyes were excited. If you look close enough, you know you’d see lovesickness written all over his eyes.

“Is it okay?” he asked, still excited. “I know you would understand why, right?”

Oh, you understood all right.

“Sure whatever,” you said. Again, he failed to notice your sullen tone, and instead, he leaned over, gave you a hug and then walked away.

You turned around the other direction and started walking. Far, far away.

[753 words]

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