It was Friday morning. I tossed my phone into the desk drawer at work, annoyed. Still no response. He was even too cool to have frequent updates to his social media; one of those hipsters trying too hard to be disconnected, all the while silently stalking people online all day. I had to remember that he was stalker, a murderer, and completely delusional to think that I could ever be interested in him.
But did he really have the nerve to beg to go out and then ghost me? Worse, why was I upset? I couldn’t help but wonder if this was another one of his stupid tests. The idea of him constantly making me squirm was infuriating and inspiring. Maybe I was giving him too much credit. I glanced at the time on my computer screen, clicking absently through a never ending list of incoming email. I was counting the minutes until I could clock out and stop worrying about being productive. Just another facade I stood behind. I hated this job, but I was so good at it because all I had to do was pretend that I was. It’s how corporate America worked, and it was gloriously, repetitively, dull.
Dee walked by my door with a stupid look on her face. I wished I’d never told her about the mistake I made while scrolling Eli’s Instagram. She’d spent the entire week agonizing about a date that never materialized. Of course, I didn’t tell her the truth about him, which made everything worse. As I worked to forget about the strange encounter, she only egged the memory on, not knowing the dangerous game I was playing. I got up to meet her in the break room.
“Took you long enough,” she snarled sarcastically. “So?”
I shook my head and bit my nail.
“Nothing. Oh well, it’s better this way. I don’t need anyone digging through my personal space. We both know I’m not girlfriend material anymore.”
She rolled her eyes.
“You know what, you’re right, Kate. You, as you are now, sucks. I miss the old you. The adventurous, daring, creative journalist who aspired to travel the world, guided by her pen. This bulldog, office bitch version may be climbing the ladder of success, and your tits may be on point in a button up, but you’re boring as hell.”
“Um, thanks for the pep talk.” We knew she was right. I stared at the bowl of granola I had packed for the end of the day.
“Girl you know that shit ain’t you,” Dee laughed looking at the brown mass I tried to digest. “That shit ain’t even basic, it’s cardboard. Just like you. Cardboard Kate. A tasteless imitation of true pleasures.”
When I didn’t respond, she softened. She always did.
“Look, I’m just saying, the other day, when he was there, I caught a glimpse of the old you. If he can bring that back out, then I’m fully Team Eli. Aren’t you?”
“It’s complicated,” I whined, tossing my food in the trash. She had no idea how complicated.
We walked to the front desk to clock out before leaving.
“All I’m saying is don’t shut it down just because it scares you. Eventually you’ve got to crawl out of your hole, and it wouldn’t be so awful if he was the one who helped you.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. She was right about that.
“I’ll see you Sunday morning, if anything happens, text me immediately,” she said, before leaving.
I forgot my phone in the desk. Shit. I hurried back down the hall. This was the perfect movie moment, where I’d finally stopped obsessing and I’d turn on my home screen to see him finally respond to my stupid comment. I ripped open my desk drawer, but waited until I left the office to check just in case I got an idiotic look of excitement on my face. The last thing I needed was ammunition for teasing from anyone other than Dee. I rushed beyond the doors of our office and started my walk home, waiting a block before pulling my phone out of my purse. My heart was racing.
Was I relieved or disappointed? Well, I knew what I should be, but I couldn’t shake the truth. I was actually disappointed that I wasn’t going to see him again. I ran my fingers through my end of the day, half curled hair. I guess I would have to log back into my dating profile and see who was going to take me to dinner tonight. I decided it would have to be a low key, poor, down on his luck loser, because I wanted to drown myself in pizza. I wasn’t going to wear heels tonight either, my feet were killing me from the long work week.
When I got home I dumped my stuff on the floor and plopped down on the couch, trying to decide which dating app I’d be swiping through today.
“Well this one has the most messages,” I muttered, tapping the blue box.
“Russian immigrant, Russian immigrant, military, military, oh my god.”
There he was in the inbox of a freaking dating site. Freaking Eli.
“I know I said I wouldn’t bother you again. But then I saw your profile on this site and I couldn’t let it go so easily, Kate. It’s so sad that this is your life,” I read aloud, getting angry.
Why did I want to go out with him again? Oh yeah, because he’s hot as hell and the best sex I’ve ever had. Damn it. My fingers punched the keyboard before I could rethink my response.
“I may be sad, but how sad are you for stalking me yet again, and on a dating app, just to beg me to go out with you again? You have no right to be so smug. If you know so much about having a great time, and a fulfilling life, then I dare you to show me. I bet you can’t even get it up for a second time, the thrill of hunting me down and lying to me is gone, you sicko.”
Sent. Sorry not sorry, prick. Before I could put my phone down and go to the bathroom, it buzzed. Didn’t waste time. I smirked, feeling like I finally had the upper hand.
See you soon.
“That’s it? See you soon?”
I couldn’t believe him and his stupid games. When was soon? Should I get ready now? Was soon today or this weekend? I stared at the phone waiting for an elaboration to buzz in. Nothing. Were we going back to the first night, secret agent status? Did I need to wear a killer agent dress? Did I even have a killer agent dress? I stood up. Stared at the phone. Nothing. I needed a shower. Did I have time? Phone, still silent. This crazy person was going to be the death of me, maybe even literally.