When You Asked Me a Question And I Didn’t Know the Answer

You were not over her and I was not over him, so somehow us sitting there together made perfect sense. Especially after he texted me to tell me he wasn’t coming after all. He was heading straight to Australia, no pitstops. I know what he meant. He wasn’t talking about Ghent, he was talking about me. I was a pitstop. Metaphorically.

When I texted you my rant about how I felt like shit, you understood. Because a couple of days before that, you were the one crying in my room.

We bought Ben&Jerry’s. Not because we were craving for ice cream, but because this situation called for it. Eventually, I ate the whole pint by myself. The cinnamon flavor was my favorite.

We sat down by the river and you opened your rucksack. In it was a bottle of Amaretto because you knew I loved it, and a bottle of vodka because you’re Polish and I’m Russian. Enforcing stereotypes.

I’m not a drinker, but that night I needed to feel something other than sadness and this deeply rooted disappointment. Both in him and in me. Because I still hadn’t figured out what I had done wrong.

“He’s an asshole. You deserve better,” you said. I laughed because I knew you were only saying that to cheer me up. You didn’t even know the guy.

“He’s nice, he really is. Better than the other boys I have ever had a crush on. Different.” I was taking small sips of Amaretto and staring at the boats rowing past us. Some people saw us and waved. We ignored them. Rich bastards. I wish I had a boat.

“In what way?” you asked. I noticed the heartache in your eyes but chose not to dwell on it. Tonight was my turn.

“I was comfortable around him. I wasn’t even afraid of eating in front of him and you know that’s an issue for me. He made me laugh. I felt reckless and spontaneous. Unafraid.” I took the bottle of Amaretto and generously poured the liqueur over the ice cream.

“Hey, you’ll meet other people that will make you feel the same way. After all, you’ve only known this guy for a week. For all you know, he might be a completely different person.”

“I know, you’re right. But there was something about him. I could imagine a life with him. I think I would actually move to Australia if he asked me to.”

“Erika, if he is that great…” you paused.

“Yeah?”

“Then why did he leave?”

And I didn’t know what to say, so I just started crying.

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