“Well maybe he was looking for an excuse,” she sighed.
“To end the friendship.”
“Why would he want that?”
“You're intense Mark. Maybe he doesn't want all the stress.”
“So you think he wanted to get away from me because I'm too stressful?”
“Mark,” she whispered into the phone, “don’t you understand? You’re the first to go because you matter the most.”
“I don't get it.” He shifted on the bed and rested his head in his palm.
“Well,” Kaitlyn exhaled. “Getting away from you is like getting a huge responsibility off your back.”
“Okay let me think.” She inhaled; she exhaled. “It’s like wanting to play hide and seek with blind people. Why play with people who can easily find you if you only want to win?”
“So they don’t want me to find them?” he asked. He looked down at his feet at the foot of his bed. He closed his eyes and turned away. Too many beers made him damp with sweat.
“Right,” she replied. “They want to hide. But it’s a compliment too. You’re the first person they seek when they’re lost. Don’t you get that Mark?”
“No.” He flipped over on to his side and tried to see her side. "Hey I've finished the play. Do you want to read it?"
"Am I in it?"
"Yeah. I'll email it to you."
"I'll look for it."
He lowered his voice, “Hey, want to get together?”
“Mark it’s almost midnight. I have early rounds tomorrow,” Kaitlyn sighed.
“No.” He sat upright and went right into his proposition. “Tomorrow night let’s leave for the weekend. I’ve picked up some cash this week. Let’s just get in the car and go. We could head up north. We could find a place and just snuggle all weekend. Come on baby. What do you say?” He refused to take a breath and charged ahead. “Oh God woman! I’ve missed you. I’m so brokenhearted lately.” He took the palm of his hand and shook his scalp, lowered his hand and squeezed his forehead. “I don’t know what to do. I can’t get all this shit in my head. I’m so fucked. Baby, come on. Let’s have a weekend. Just us.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Oh.” His sadness swirled in his air like the smoke swirled near her. “You’ve got something going already?”
“Yeah,” she picked up her water and wet her throat, “but that’s not why I’m not going with you.”
“Why then?” Mark stood up and slipped his feet into his slippers.
“I don’t want to have to look at you all weekend,” she said aloud.
“Fuck!” He dropped his knees and his ass hit the sheet. “That’s a cruel thing to say!”
“No.” Her hand held her head as her words held his attention. “It’s just the truth.”
He rested his elbows on his nude knees. “Don’t you care anything about me anymore?”
“Of course I do,” she whispered. “That’s why I’m not going to see you. I don't want to feel all that again.”
“God woman! Jesus!” He hissed his words like helium escaping from a nearly hollowed balloon. “That killed me.”
“Mark,” she softened her voice. “You know how you felt when you heard that?”
“Yeah of course I do.” He wiped the sweat from his chest.
“That’s how people feel around you Mark,” she said. “Even though it’s just the truth, it doesn’t have to be said and you don’t always have to be the one who says it.”
“Yes it does or there’s no point.” He whisked the sweat from his scalp with his hand. "The truth is the truth."
“Well keep saying it and you’re going to end up alone.” She felt exhausted by the conversation.
“I've gotta go.”
“Don’t run away Mark,” Kaitlyn sighed. “We can still talk.”
“I’m not running away.” He pivoted, plopped, and laid his head on his pillowed palm. “You are. You’re the one who doesn’t want to look at me.”
“No Mark.” He had raised her ire; now she raised her voice. “You asked me why people distance themselves in your relationships. I answered you.”
“You've answered me.” He pulled his arm out from under him and put it over his eyes.
“Mark, don’t call me anymore.”
“Woman, I’ve called you three times in the last year. You’ve called me at least once a month since we broke up. I needed to talk to someone. I needed to talk to you.” He felt ashamed he had allowed the words outside his mouth.
“Okay. I think we’re done. We don’t have anything left to say tonight so I’m going to let you go.”
“I’m always the first to go.” His sarcasm was as thick as the sweat on his chest.
“It’s a compliment Mark. Take it.”
“Thanks for the compliment.” His tongue shaded his bottom lip. “I’ll leave you alone.”
“Exactly,” she said as she hung up the phone.
He flipped on his side and switched off his lamp.