I slept for eight minutes shy of ten hours and was late for work for the first time in my life. I still had four days until Lester returned and besides working, sleeping, and eating I read J.D. Salinger's complete collection of works. Sometimes it is easier to be concerned over Zooey or Holden than real life.
As soon as I knew Lester would be home, I pedaled my Schwinn right on over. He graciously let me enter and talk about what happened with Anna instead of what he did on his work trip. After, I told him he poured me a bowl of Lucky Charms with milk.
"Do you like her?" he asked.
"I don't know. I think I may have started liking her." I started digging through the bowl for the grain bits, eating them separately. "It kinda just hit me and I wondered why I hadn't ever thought about her like that before. I don't know what happened to me."
"You didn't have me around. You think you were just lonely?"
"Maybe. So feelings or attraction are contingent on environment?"
"So how do you know if they're real?"
"I don't know if they're any less real because they were influenced by . . . eh . . . stages of life?"
"But I will stop liking Anna now that you're back?"
"I don't know. Maybe not."
"I hope so. This is terrible." The grain part of the cereal was gone, and I started spooning what was left: all the marshmallows.
"Is it?" I eyed him suspiciously.
"I mean, she's a cool girl."
"But she's Anna."
"She certainly is."
"Maybe I've missed other cool girls simply because I wasn't lonely enough to need them, to pursue them."
"You make it seem like that's the only reason to date someone."
"Isn't it? Isn't that why people get married? To be comforted by the fact that at least one person is supposed to be with them through the rest of their life?"
He fidgeted a little. "I don't know."
"Why did you want to date Emma?"
"Cuz she . . . she was a cool girl, I guess. I thought she would make me happy and that I could make her happy."
He didn't say anything for awhile, and poured himself a bowl of Lucky Charms. I was tilting the bowl, slurping the remains of green milk. "Sometimes."
"I don't think I'm ready to date anyone."
"Me neither," he said.
"We never will be."
"No, we won't. But then, neither will they."