“All weekend,” I say, by way of illumination.
“I see.” She puts the stethoscope in her ears and the thermometer under my tongue.
“Did you e-mail him?”
“Yesh.” I talk around the thermometer.
“Don’t talk, just nod.”
She rolls her eyes and we wait for the beep.
“Ninety-nine point eight,” I say, handing the thermometer back to her. “I basically told him not to write. Am I being ridiculous?”
She motions for me to turn around so she can listen to my lungs but doesn’t respond.
“How ridiculous?” I prompt. “On a scale of one to ten, one being perfectly rational and reasonable and ten being absurd and certifiable.”
“About an eight,” she says without hesitation.
I’d been expecting her to say twelve, so eight seems like a victory. I tell her so and she laughs at me.
“So you told him not to write to you and then he didn’t write to you. This is what you’re telling me?”
“Well, I didn’t say DON’T WRITE in big, bold letters or anything. I just said I was busy.” I think she’s going to make fun of me, but she doesn’t.
“Why didn’t you write to him?”
“Because of what we talked about. I like him, Carla. A lot. Too much.”
The look on her face says is that all? “Do you really want to lose the only friend you’ve ever had over a little bit of heartache?”
I’ve read many, many books involving heartache. Not one has ever described it as little. Soul-shattering and world-destroying, yes. Little, no.
She leans back against the couch. “You don’t know this yet, but this will pass. It’s just the newness and hormones.”
Maybe she’s right. I want her to be right so I can talk to him again.
She leans forward again now and winks at me. “That, and he’s cute.”
“He is pretty cute, right?” I giggle.
“Honey, I didn’t think they made them like that anymore!”
I’m laughing, too, and imagining a factory with little Ollys coming off an assembly line. How would they ever keep them still enough to package and mail?
“Go!” She slaps my knee. “You have enough things to be afraid of. Love can’t kill you.”
No Yes Maybe
Monday, 8:09 P.M.
Madeline: How are you? How was your weekend?
Olly: fine. good
Madeline: Good, but busy. I mostly did calculus homework.
Olly: ahh, calculus. the mathematics of change
Madeline: Wow. You really weren’t kidding about liking math?
Madeline: I’m sorry about my e-mail.
Olly: which part?
Madeline: All of it. Are you upset with me? No, yes, maybe?
Olly: no yes maybe
Madeline: I don’t think you’re supposed to use all the answers.
Olly: why’d you send it?
Madeline: I got scared.
Olly: of what?
Madeline: You didn’t write to me either.
Olly: you didn’t want me to
Olly: does the ellipsis mean we’re having an awkward silence or that you’re thinking?
Madeline: Why do you like math so much?
Olly: why do you like books so much?
Madeline: Those are not the same thing!
Olly: why not?
Madeline: You can find the meaning of life in a book.
Olly: life has meaning?
Madeline: You’re not serious.
Olly: it’s possible
Olly: what book can you find the meaning of life in?
Madeline: Ok, maybe not just a single book, but if you read enough you’ll get there.
Olly: is that your plan?
Madeline: Well, I’ve got the time.
Madeline: Yes. I have a solution to our problem.
Madeline: Let’s agree to just be friends, ok?
Olly: but no more checking out my muscles
Madeline: Friends, Olly!
Olly: and my eyes
Madeline: No more talking about my freckles.
Madeline: And my hair.
Olly: and your lips
Madeline: And your dimple.
Olly: you like my dimple?
Carla makes us wait a week before we can see each other again. She wants to be absolutely sure that being in the same room with Olly didn’t activate any of my triggers. Even though I agree with her that we should wait just to be safe, the week seems interminable. I’m sort of convinced that time has literally, and not just metaphorically, slowed down, but that’s the kind of thing that would make headlines.