This Is Not A Fanfic: This Is A Nightmare
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

And five questions at the bottom that really need answering.



Had Zelda been around, we never would have dared to plop our feet up on the reception desk. Since she was nowhere to be seen, Doc and I were reclining side-by-side on the sofa, feet up, chomping on matching bags of Doritos and wrapped up in the Sunday comics when out of the blue he said:

“What IS that song, by the way? It sounds so familiar.”

“Song? What song?”

He looked over at me sideways – I reckon that’s what they would call a “sidelong glance” – and said, “When you’re happy, El, you always hum that same little tune. You kind of whisper it, under your breath.”

“I do?” This was news to me. “Does this song have words?”

He shrugged. “If it does, I haven’t heard them. Maybe you’re not happy enough yet?”

“Well whaddya know. I’ll try to catch myself doing it sometime.” I sighed, and looked down at my ragged fingernails. “Yet another habit I need to learn to kick.”

“Don’t do that.” Doc sat up. “It’s.... pretty. If you stopped doing it, that would be a shame.” His face reddened and he turned away.

I threw a Dorito at him. It hit him square in the jaw and landed on his lap, where he promptly picked it up and popped it in his mouth. “Thanks.”

Pa once told me that when you find the one you’re meant for, you’ll see them smile a secret smile – one that’s yours and yours alone, one that only you can unloose from them. Until they find you, they will never smile that way. And if they lose you, they will never smile that way again.

Does he smile that way for her?

I’ve gotta stop remembering things like that. It’s dangerous. And stupid.

It’s over. It’s already over. All done but the shoutin’, as Pa would say.

And I was so sure....

I wear my hair down when I’m not working because once, once, he said I look “nice” that way.

I see something funny on TV and I hear his laugh, even when he’s not around.

I can’t bear to order food at the movies because of some stupid joke he made about what happens to theatre popcorn (don’t ask).

Half the music on my iPod is stuff he recommended to me. !!!why why why WHY didn’t I see this before??

Even the BDM is mocking me. You see, I had to watch the series all the way through before discovering who was who in this place – T and Boss I recognized right away, and Zelda, and Martin – but for the most part, it took all the episodes to figure out who was who. (Kay was especially tough. I still have trouble reconciling in my head that Jayne, who I love to watch onscreen, is Kay, who I sometimes want to strangle.) But the very second Simon appeared, with his posture and his accent and his fancy words, I knew EXACTLY who it was. Not a doubt in my mind. In the BDM, our “twins” get together. But happy endings don’t happen for girls like me. Guys want girls like her.

I met her.

Apparently, they had known each other since junior high, and Boss just didn’t recognize her without her cheerleading uniform. It’s fate, really, that the two of them would meet years later in a foreign country. And she’s really nice. Sweet, and thoughtful. She brings him dinner sometimes.

You’d never catch her in overalls.

I gotta go cry now. I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

That’s not even the worst part.

I’ve been grouchy and snappy with everyone – Lil Bit finally just sat me down, stared at me with her big brown eyes, and said, “You’re acting all weird.”

Hah! Coming from HER that’s sayin’ somethin’!

I stared right back at her. “Storm’s comin’, that means lightning, that means new repairs on the transmitter. I can’t find my favorite safety goggles. The patch just broke down on the outside ventilator, again, we’re out of Super Glue and I gotta hold it together somehow and I DON’T. KNOW. HOW!”

“Yes you do.” She held out a tiny soft hand and rubbed a smear of grease off my cheek, then stood up. “Five and counting,” she said, then left without another word.

What the Sam Hell does THAT mean? I wondered.

That night, snug in my pajamas, I finally figured it out: it’s been five days since Doc last took a shift. He’s been passing off his nights on T.

Has he been ignoring me?

I can’t do this.

I shouldn’t.

I know better.

I’m not a lady by anyone’s standards. I take what I’m given and I deal with it the best way I know how.

I’ve always avoided serious complications. I broke someone’s heart, long ago, and ever since I’ve been very careful not to step too deep into “feelings” and “emotions” and crap like that. Who needs it? You have fun, they have fun, nobody expects anything, nobody gets hurt. What’s wrong with that? Except that I haven’t really had more than two dates since I started working here.

Except that, every now and then, I wonder.....

Should I tell him? What do I say; would it even matter?

Does he see something in her that he doesn’t see in me?

And if I lose him, will I ever smile again?


Thursday, September 11, 2008 12:06 PM


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