Three Sides (Part 3)

This is the third part of a three-part story with a twist. You should read Parts One and Two first if you haven’t yet. After you finish this part, you should read the afterword.

She wasn’t his type. A little too wiry, and a face that—to be honest—looked like it had fought a long war with acne. Not to mention the light hair.

So that first time, when they started having a discussion near the end of class, only to look up half an hour later—well, he really, honestly hadn’t been thinking of her as a potential girlfriend, or indeed particularly as a girl at all.

(But he did add her on Facebook when he got home that night.)

His usual venues were bars and parties, places where he could drink and have a good time, enjoy a flirt with someone (and sometimes a bit more than a flirt), and stay friendly if they met on the street later on. There had been a few longer relationships here and there, but they were all fairly casual, and they’d ended on good terms each time.

Eventually, he supposed, he did want to settle down, get married, the whole shebang. But that was later, in the future. Right now he liked his life.

The second time their discussion ran past the end of class, he suggested that they go to a cafe somewhere to keep talking. That was when he found out she had a boyfriend—

(He had been surprised, since he really didn’t find her attractive.)

—whose profile had been hidden on Facebook, which was why he hadn’t known. And he had been completely understanding and said goodbye, and took the bus home as always.

The next time she took him up on the offer. Actually, she suggested it, lightly shaking her phone as she explained that she had already told her boyfriend she’d be a little late. And since they still talked until the cafe closed, he suggested that next time they just save it for the afternoon of the day after.

They met around once every other week after that, sometimes bringing homework, sometimes only staying for a short while, when nothing had happened in class or during the rest of the week…and sometimes talking for an hour or more.

He had even met her boyfriend, running into the two of them at a mutual friend’s party. “You’re lucky to have her,” he said, then mentally winced as he realized how that could sound if taken the wrong way.

But the other man only laughed, and she had leaned in and kissed him, so it had all been okay.

That had been a month ago. And today, she told him the two of them had broken up. He wouldn’t have predicted it, but then it’s hard to tell how a serious relationship is going from the outside, right?

What made him uncomfortable is that when she told him they had broken up, something inside him gave a little leap. He really had thought they were just friends, and that he wasn’t looking for a relationship here.

Apparently his subconscious had decided otherwise.

He had to admit they had some kind of connection now—they could talk about almost anything without feeling awkward, and more often than not they seemed to be on the same wavelength. That was a welcome change from home, where he couldn’t have a conversation with his parents for more than an hour without wanting to scream into a pillow.

Come to think of it, his last few relationships hadn’t had this sort of mental connection either. Maybe that’s why they had stayed casual—there was nothing really to gain from investing more in it.

She sat down across the tale and gave him a smile—a wan smile, as if she hadn’t been sleeping well the past few nights—and he couldn’t help but smile back, putting on what felt like an encouraging expression as he took a sip of his coffee.

She still wasn’t his type. (He gave her a quick once-over from behind his coffee cup. Nope.) But maybe it was time to give that whole “type” thing a rest.

Whoa. Dangerous thoughts.

He was glad to have her as a friend. If it never developed further, that would be fine.

And besides that, she had just broken up with her ex.

(he realized that that thought meant that he had to admit he was at least a little interested.)

He hadn’t done anything. But maybe—not yet, but in a few weeks—maybe he should.

(Read the afterword)