“Hey, what’s going on??”
Becka’s face was splotchy and she shook her head, maintaining her stare into the distance.
“Beck…” Coll said firmly, “Did something happen with Howie?”
“Talk to me.” Coll said calmly as she sat next to her and placed her hand on her hip.
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Just … say everything.”
Becka sniffled and closed her eyes again, pressing some more tears out.
“What else did Coll tell you about me?”
“Not much actually.”
“Well, she told you I speak Spanish when I get emotional.”
“Actually Nick told me that she told him that,” Howie admitted, running his thumb across the back of her hand he was holding in his.
“Sorry, that’s kind of how things are around here … you get your info from various sources by way of other sources.”
“I’m kind of glad I didn’t know a lot.”
She smiled. “Why?”
“So I can find out for myself.”
She smirked at him and tilted her head slightly, “I’ll admit I only read a little bit of the book.”
He laughed, “So you don’t know that much about me either…”
“Not like I would even if I had read the whole thing. Not the really good stuff. The worthwhile stuff.”
“So tell me something the book wouldn’t publish.”
“I already told you about the plane!”
“Something about you, silly.” She laughed and slid ever so slightly in his direction on her lounger.
His eyes shifted, “What do you want to know?”
“Anything.” She shrugged.
“Something you can analyze?” He laughed.
“Just something… jeez, is this how you are on first dates?”
“Alright alright. When I was younger I was a little… chunkier. People called me doughboy.” He pouted.
“Yeah because of my last name…” He laughed.
“No, I get it, I just… wow.” She smiled, trying not to giggle, “I’m sorry. Kids are terrible.”
“Yeah.” He sighed, “Brutal.”
“There is one thing I keep thinking about.”
“You said you weren’t patient or sensitive.”
“On the curb the other night. You said you weren’t like Coll.”
“Complete opposites in most ways, yeah.” She smirked.
“But doesn’t your job demand a lot of patience?”
“Let’s be clear, it’s not technically a job til you get paid actual dollars for it.” She laughed.
“Even more so then.”
“I guess I meant like, patience as a quality people might find attractive. Nick is lucky Coll is so sensitive and patient and … she’s not blinded by emotion. I am sometimes.” Becka said, “I get triggered.” She took a deep breath, “We are all lucky she’s like that, actually.”
“He scares me.” Becka finally stated.
“He scares you?”
“Yes.” Becka squeaked.
Becka looked at her, sadness in her eyes and tears on her cheeks. “Because when I’m with him I feel like I could win which also makes me feel like the pain of losing is so significant. That’s part of why I didn’t sleep with him. It felt like it could be something real and I didn’t want to fuck it up or get attached.”
Coll considered the idea momentarily.
“Like, he could be something real and that’s never happened before.” She cried, thinking back to her conversation with Nick the day before, knowing for sure now that she understood him perfectly.
“But isn’t that good?”
“No it’s jarring and weird and it makes me feel vulnerable.” She wiped some tears off her cheek.
Coll sighed, she had heard it all before. Becka had been saying it for years about how she felt like she had the upper hand with men - like she was untouchable emotionally. “I’ve already been hurt as deeply as a person can be hurt… I’ve already been as sad as I could be so no one can do anything to me that’s any worse than that.” And they had spoken about it at length before. Coll always mused that it would be so wonderful when Becka discovered that she is capable of being hurt by someone else because that would mean something magical.
And she smiled at her sister again now. “Becka,”
“I know what you’re going to say and I guess you’re right in some ways. I guess right now I’m just dealing with the fact I felt anything at all. It’s like I said about the doors, and walking through them even if they are open. I could tell... ”
Coll pouted at her playfully, reached for Becka’s hand and held it tightly and they sat there together in silence for a while.
“I can tell there is something. You told me there was. But I’m not asking because I want to know you better first.”
“I know.” She smiled and splashed some water at him.
“But eventually... you’ll tell me?”
He smiled at her.
“It’s okay for you to like the mystery. It’s normal.”
“I think I just like you.”
She felt her stomach tighten up inside. “That’s fine too.”
“You can enjoy the mystery but… you might think I’m more mysterious than I actually am. It makes me a bit nervous.” She dipped her shoulder back under the water as he swam around her.
“You’re less mysterious than I think?”
“I guess I’m just afraid it’s not all that interesting.”
“I doubt that.”
She narrowed her eyes at him.
“Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire.” Howie said.
Treading the water in front of him, Becka smiled at him sadly. “And where there is fire you’re likely to get burned.”
“Maybe I like the heat.”
Her heart was thumping in her ears as she looked at him. She tried to check in with her own feelings and define them but she didn’t recognize them.
Becka let out a loud sigh and Coll looked at her again, “You and Howie?!” She smiled.
“Trust me no one is more upset about this than I am.”
Coll twirled a piece of hair around her finger as Becka sat up a bit straighter against the headboard. “Anyway… how was your night?”
“Well… Nick told me he’s in love with me.” She blurted out.
Becka’s face brightened significantly and she brought her hand to her mouth.
“Oh my god! You’ve been here for at least six minutes and didn’t mention it?”
Coll smiled and pushed the piece of hair behind her ear. “Becka…”
“Oh my god Colleen, tell me everything.”
“It was just like… perfect and sweet and … I don’t know I just feel so relieved.”
“And you finally told him then too right?”
“So, so good.” Becka pressed her hand to her chest. “I love it.”
They looked at each other for a moment and Becka felt a pang of anxiety in her chest.
“Now what?” Becka asked.
“I was just about to ask you the same thing.”
“Well, I’m scared shitless and you are beaming like a supernova, so…”
“Actually, Becka…” Coll bit her lip, “I think he does make you happy, you just have to let yourself be open to it.”
Becka shook her head, “I get it. I really do get it… but what can I even do? I’m leaving tomorrow and he’s staying here and we have completely different lives and this whole thing was probably just a fun little weekend fling.” She felt it deep in her belly that that wasn’t true but it sounded like it should be.
“So what happened?”
“It was just different. I don’t know. I didn’t feel like I wanted to prove anything or like I had to be someone or like I wanted to push him just to see how far I could get. I just wanted to be there. It was nice to just... be there.”
“Did you talk about any of this with him?”
“He said he liked me.”
Coll’s eyes widened, “And?”
“I said, that’s fine.”
Coll laughed, “That’s almost as bad as when John told me he was in love with me and I said ‘no you aren’t’...”
A small smile appeared on her face. “It’s not anywhere near as bad as that.”
“Alright, well… fine?”
“I know,” Becka cringed.
“What about thirty seconds of insane courage?”
“Who said I didn’t use my thirty seconds or less of insane courage?”
“Just tell me what’s going on in your head.”
“I know enough to know that if someone wants to be in my life nothing will stop them. And I know that it works both ways.”