I haven't written because I've only made quick trips to the library to check out more and more of Wes Anderson's movies. He is Anna's favorite director.
We met for lunch on Monday at Panera's and both got cheese and broccoli soup in the bread bowl. I didn't even know that's what she was going to order.
We've connected in a lot more ways than that though. For instance, growing up, and Lester can attest to this, I enjoyed a nice bowl of Corn Chex and I have never met anyone else so inclined to choose those mildly healthy thatched squares for breakfast. But Anna loved them, perhaps more than me. One time, at her apartment, I saw her pour herself a bowl on her kitchen counter as I walked into the room. She was singing under her breath, "They're mild-ly delic-ious!"
"What did you just say?" I shouted.
She turned, looking perplexed and frightened. "They're mildly delicious?"
"Yes! Yes! About the Chex?"
"Are you kidding? I do the exact same thing! That's incredible. How could that be? I do it EXACTLY like that. WIth the sing-song voice and those EXACT words. How could our minds have been so aligned. Everything in your history has brought you to this place to do that and everything in my past has also contributed somehow to make myself do the same. What does this mean? How is this supposed to fit into my worldview? What does this mean for us?"
At first, during lunch, Anna just asked me about what books I was reading and what movies I was watching, but then she got real silent and spooned several mouthfuls of soup through her lips quickly. So I decided to go for it. "When we were texting you said something about feeling something. What was that?" She looked at me for years, prolonging my teetering happiness-in-question.
A baby started to cry to the left and Anna turned to smile at the quieting mother before turning back to me. "Ray, I have felt things about you. Many conflicting things. Sometimes I do like you in ways beyond friendship, but not anymore. I started seeing this guy. I like him. You're a good guy, but I could never date you."
The soup-soaked bread stopped in my throat and stayed there. "Why not?"
"There'd be too many problems. It'd never last. We're too different in ways that wouldn't work."
"Yeah." I said. Her face looked pained in a sort of I-feel-sorry-for-you kind of way. I imagined mine just looked pained. "I'm not sure I'd want to date you either." She just looked at me, her eyes looking more wet and big and beautiful. "You think I would want to date you?"
"Ray, that's been obvious for a long time." She sounded like a mother. I hated it.
A couple weeks after I heard Anna sing the "Mild-ly delic-ious!" about Chex, I was still talking about what that could possibly mean with Lester. "I can't take it anymore, man," he told me. "I was singing that earlier was Anna was around. I didn't have the heart to tell you what with you going crazy over it, but she was just doing it because she heard me doing it earlier. I'm sorry."
And my face became everything I didn't want it to be.