“Jason! I asked what you were doing!”
Lilith’s voice ripped its way through his chest, adrenalin following in its wake.
Jason surfaced from the trash can and dusted off his hands. How could she just stand there all self-righteous? He’d waited and waited and she’d never called or come home and she’d been so weird lately and he didn’t want to do this, he didn’t. It was fascist. But then fascism made trains run on time, and she certainly wasn’t on time was she? So maybe a little fascism was needed.
“I can’t believe you, Jason! Just this morning you said that you didn’t like doing this, and now what? Are you going to write a little report about me? Tell your boss about how I’m going to bring down the government with old soda cans and pizza boxes?”
“I don’t know, Lilith. Maybe I will tell them that. What were you doing today, anyway? Because I kind of remember you saying you’d call me after work, that we’d go out and do something. I know when you get off work, and that was hours ago. Where were you, Lilith? Huh?”
The back door of her mind finally gave in to the pressure and burst open, realizations flooding out. She’d been so excited about her new assignment that she hadn’t noticed the time. She hadn’t even noticed her co-workers leaving. She’d been absorbed in the Observer’s archives, surrounded by the world of fifty years ago. She had totally forgotten about Jason.
“Going through your trash is the only way I can find out anything about you! You don’t talk anymore, Lilith! You don’t talk, you don’t listen, you don’t even look at me. It’s like I’m not even there. Like your world is for Lilith’s eyes only, and I’m not allowed inside.”
“Apparently you don’t talk either. You could have said something, you know. Instead of keeping it all bottled up until it exploded in my garbage.”
“There wasn’t any point trying to talk. You wouldn’t have heard.”
Suddenly Lilith felt very very tired. And angry. But mostly tired.
She glared at Jason, wishing he would just go away and leave her alone. Alone was nice. Alone was quiet and peace. And ice cream. Definitely ice cream. She deserved ice cream.
She pulled a worn moth-eaten fake smile from her wardrobe of fake happiness and shoved the tears all the way to the back.
“Look, it’s getting a bit late and my big meeting at work, the one I noticed you did not ask about, was about a story that I really need to work on. So it’s not like I don’t care desperately about your insecurity and deep emotional issues, but I think we can talk about that later.”
Did she really just say that? Did she really just stand there and say that? She did not just say that.
He didn’t have to take this. He shouldn’t have to take this. He should just leave and go find someone who would appreciate him. She didn’t want him around anyway. She didn’t want him. He was stupid and useless and just got in the way and she didn’t want him.
Fine. Whatever. It’s not like he even really cared.
He had to get away from her and her silence and disdain and non-wantingness. He had to get away now.
Jason turned and ran, leaving Lilith to ponder on many things. Like ice cream and cute hats and mysterious men from fifty years ago and the huge bottomless pit of pain that had suddenly opened in her soul.
Lilith headed inside. Ice cream. Ice cream was nice. Ice cream was real. Nothing else seemed quite real at the moment. Was she real? She wasn’t sure. But she was sure about the cold creamy smoothness of chocolate ice cream.
Ice cream. Not waffles. Waffles were bad. Waffles contained the abyss within themselves. You could stare into a waffle and suddenly find yourself confronted with all the secret little ugly truths about yourself that you didn’t want to admit.
Ice cream, though – ice cream was your friend.
Even through the fog of waffles and ice cream and yawning voids of doom, she felt relief as she exchanged her work clothes for pajamas.
She would indulge herself with ice cream, and then she’d get to work and google Seth Morrigan. And she’d pull out her Sunday best smiles from the wardrobe of fake happiness and no one would ever know about the empty hole in her heart.
Not even herself.