"Apparently he's not gay," I said offhandedly, continuing the construction of my niece's Barbie Dream House. "He's dating an old high school friend of mine. A girl. Crazy."
I didn't look up, but could feel her looking at me, studying my face, searching for a sign of the emotion I wasn't showing. "So are we going out to lunch, then?" I glanced up at her as I changed the subject, regretting my decision to ever bring him up in the first place.
It'd been months — no, years — since him. The dates and photographs, meals and movies, then the awkward and halted goodbyes and a secret hope that some time would make him see. But I only openly admitted the hope for his happiness and that the space was good.
The gay theory was silly, but an extraordinarily effective way to mask my ever-present desires and crushed hopes with humor. That some how it wasn't anything wrong with me. It was him that had the problem. He had no choice but to reject me, and I, well, I let him go. To chase men. Well, it was humorous to me.
No one really bought that, though. That it was my decision to end it. Not even me.
"When's the last time you spoke to him?" she asked, knowing full-well that my lips were on lunch but my mind was still — and seemingly always — on him.
"Last August, I guess..."
It was August 28th. I remember the day. The weather. His blue button-up shirt.
Finishing the Barbie Dream House, I set down the screwdriver.
We went for Chinese.