ask

Ask me.

Ask you what? he was startled.

What you want, she explained. Ask me for what you want. Let's not dance around the subject today.

What I want, he repeated.

You must want something, she said. You are stammering and you can't put together four words to save your life.

I don't, he said, know what you mean. And that's six words. Beautifully formed. Subject. Verb. Predicate Phrase. I came here -

You came here, just as you always do, she cried, your heart in your hat in your hands, with that face - closed and shiny - without words. And like last time you sit there twisting your hat and your words ...

You gave me this hat!

As a present. For your birthday. and let me remind you that it was an unexpected delight, something neither expected - nor required. That, she added, is where the joy began, and that is where things were right.

That, he said, has A B S O L U T E L Y nothing to do with

Don't yell at me.

A B S O L U T E L Y nothing to do with THIS. In fact, he narrowed his eyes, it is a clear attempt at distraction and avoidance. Your attack on me is unfair and unwarrented and insulting to me and to you.

Where do you come up with this stuff? she said after a moment. Do you just say the first thing that pops into your head, or do you actually strain to come up with these bon mots?

Why am I here?

Why are you here?

Well I thought -

There was your first mistake

You can be such a bitch.

This is your party, babe. Let's cut down to brass tacks. Car, cash, or cooking?

You thought I wanted a favor? He laughed.

Don't you always?

She smiled sourly. Always. You cruise in, make smalltalk and ask me for Lilia's phone number, or to lend you thirty to send flowers to someone who'll never see you again, or to set up the perfect date at your apartment for a woman who treats you like shit. Sometimes you want me to hook you up with someone who can get show tickets, or to find out if the current lust thing likes the Stones or would prefer to go to the ballet. And you know what? I'm tired of it all. I'm just so tired.

AND, you know it is the only basis for our so-called friendship, because you slink in and can't look me in the eye and can't sit still and you sure as hell can't be bothered to drop by and talk about the day's events or the latest movie, or anything like that.

No-

Yes. Don't shake your head.

It's true. Tell me this. Who am I dating? What did I do last Wednesday? What do I do when I'm not at work? Why didn't I come to the Christmas party? She raised her eyebrow and waited.

You are a ..., he searched for the words, an incrediable person. I am always so glad to see you, and I am constantly amused or amazed by you. I love our sarcastic sparring, and I would never ever want to hurt you.

You don't know.

You don't know why I wasn't at that party, or who I am dating. You never wanted to know, because it wasn't important, just as I am not important unless you want to pass the time or need a favor.

This Vignette was inspired by an exchange overheard on the street