I drove past you today. You were chatting with some friend of ours, waiting for the bus. I saw you briefly through the window of my car but, at that exact moment, I stepped harder on the gas. I saw your image, but it was just for a second. Then you vanished. You know what? Thank God I drove past you fast. I had to tell you this.
Today, I couldn’t be in your world. I’m dead tired. I’ve a deadline at work to meet in four days. Last minute problems as usual. Meetings in a row. The pressure from customers, my first manager, my second manager – that shit is full of managers – my co-workers. Not today. I’m not capable of hearing your endless complaints, your criticism about everything, your grievances. Not today. I don’t want to hear you talking about your drawing classes. You, complaining about the undisciplined and disobedient students. You, complaining about your fellow women who are a bunch of bitches, and about your fellow men who all want to bang you. Today I couldn’t stand your emotional instability. Not today. Your miserable salary, all the western governments, run by crooked dictators, the Americans who are guilty of everything bad in the world, the business people who are all, without exception, idiots. The televisions and the newspapers, which only flood us with crap, day in, day out. The high price of the so-precious cultural goods. The high price of basic goods, the essential ones. The living expenses, always getting higher. You, criticizing the aesthetics of everything that surrounds you. Buildings were horrible, or you hated the look of the storefronts. Anywhere we went, I knew in advance it was going to be complicated. The simplest things, like asking for a straightforward coffee, would be a huge task. Because the cup was not properly clean, or because the coffee was burnt, or the cup was too full, or it could be too empty, or it could be the sugar that was no good for some reason, or because you insisted on a cinnamon stick instead of a spoon to stir your coffee, or because you had ordered an Italian style served in a heated cup, or because you wanted to drink it from a porcelain cup. It was usual for all that to happen around a simple cup of coffee. Worse than that, you liked to treat the waiters badly. You always spoke to them using an authoritarian and superior tone. You had the idea that those people were there to lend you vassalage because, after all, you were paying for the services with your money. Not today. Today I had the feeling that I was going to explode, that I wouldn’t be able to avoid telling you what I really thought, despite our friendship. Today, I don’t want to see the world upside down because of you.
Sometimes we end up in bed, I know. We’ve already been together in bed too many times. Nothing special happens there. We are often fatigued, and somewhat wasted due to the alcohol. Some caresses and, sometimes, an ashamed and fast penetration. Sometimes we fall asleep holding each other, not as two lovers, which we are not, but like brother and sister, which we are not either. When I wake up by your side, I always wish you to vanish so that I can calmly return to my world, to my routine, to my ordinary life.
There was a time when I felt bad for sleeping with you. But then I found out that I take advantage of you as much as you take advantage of me. It’s mutual parasitism. There was a time when I was afraid to hurt you because you didn’t know about my feelings, or about my lack of feelings. But then I found out that you felt the same as me. You always did. That’s good. There are no misunderstandings. There are no expectations. It’s better this way. If we were a couple, a real one, it would be hell. We would hate each other for good, for life. We would be one of those couples. In a strange way, what happens is that we need each other; period.
I don’t know. I might give you a call one of these days. I’m going to a cousin’s wedding next month and maybe I’ll invite you. It’s always risky to take a person with your personality to a social gathering. But on the other hand, you’re alright. You’re not ugly, and you’ve a well-shaped body. To go alone would be much worse.
But not today. I couldn’t stand to see the world upside down. I think I might be sorry for saying this, but the truth is: Thank God I drove past you today.
Mário Santos lives in Lisbon, Portugal. He has a background in languages and the arts, and is passionate about new technologies. After many years working as a software engineer, he decided to quit his job and start writing his first novel, A Máquina não Gosta de Gatos, which was published in 2015 in Portugal by Guerra & Paz Editores. This is his first feature on the Fictional Café.