It wasn’t that I hated Jeff. Except it was that I just felt absolute apathy towards him. I’ve tried explaining this to everyone, that the opposite of love isn’t hate it’s apathy. But people always say I’m in denial and too into Rent. But then when I try to tell them that isn’t the Rent quote (it’s actually “The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation!”) whoever is lecturing me only gets more frustrated and leaves.
Which is fine really. I prefer when people leave me alone. Gives me more time to think about what I really need to do next. The next problem I had is that what needed to be done next was complicated. And annoying. It required meeting up with people I genuinely dislike.
“Amber! How are you.” I really dislike Annamarie. She puts unnecessary accentuation on every word. But alas I needed to see her in order to get what I need.
“Annamarie, always a delight.” Her eyes really lit up when I said that, she loves it when people say nice things about her.
“Oh however do I live without you? Do tell me how you’ve been!” It took a lot of self control to keep myself from cringing. Or punching her in the mouth.
Pasting a fake smile on my face I replied, “I’ve been wonderful. So Annamarie your father still owns that gas station by 43rd street right?”
Annamarie leaned back against the bar counter and blew her bangs out of her face. Despite how awful she is on the inside she was really beautiful. Big eyes and full lips, no wonder everyone in town wants to kiss the whore.
“Of course. Why do you ask?” I picked up my glass from the counter and took a sip before carefully dangling the glass between my two fingers, holding it up to my face.
“No reason. Just wanted to stop by and say hello to Jeff and didn’t know if your Pop fired him already.” Annamarie’s face went through a stricken face of shock, she did a terrible job at trying to cover it up.
“Oh! Oh- well no Jeff- Jeff is still working there yeah!” I nodded and drained my glass, the alcohol burning my throat in such a way that it was pleasant. Turning to Annamarie I flashed her a smile that was all teeth and cupped her chin with my hand. Then I kissed her whore lips and said, “Don’t go spreading rumors with that big mouth of yours okay?”
Annamarie’s cornfield blue eyes widened with terror. That gave me a thrill and I let her go and walked out of the diner, my heels clicking obnoxiously behind me. Pulling the door open to my Camaro I swing myself into the seat and turn on the car filling the air with gasoline and the suffocating sun.
As I drove through town, I kept the windows open letting the dry air speckled with earth pin prick my face and tie my hair into knots. Pushing the Camaro to go faster, tightening my hand around the wheel while my other dangled precariously outside the window I began desensitizing myself. Becoming separate from my mortal soul, trying to become God-like in nature. To not let my conscious allow me to stray from my quest.
Pulling up to the gas station the Camaro still hummed even as the engine was shut down. I dangled the keys on one finger as I entered the gas station’s 7-Eleven. The bright lights purred loudly in competition with the dying air conditioning. The bags of chips and other garbage were too bright and seemed to glare at me as if daring me to question their falsitude.
Everything in here would normally make me sick if I was myself. But I was not myself.
I turned my attention towards the cash register and the man behind it. Tan from the unforgivable sun but pale in the eyes. Emotionless I approached the counter, mindlessly grabbing the closest thing to me, a bag of hot fries, and placing it on the counter all while not taking my eyes off Jeff.
He looked up from his phone startled at the sound, and it took him a moment to recognize who I was. His pale green eyes widened in the same terror Annamarie had in her eyes earlier. Except this time that gave me no thrill.
Jeff ran his tongue over his lips anxiously and stood up slowly from his stool, sliding his phone into his back pocket. “Amber… What a surprise.”
What a response. It’s obvious he didn’t know what to say and pulled some crappy shit from the movies.
“How you doing Jeff?” I smiled and leaned forward, palms flat on the counter. Jeff stepped back afraid and ran a hand through his hair.
“Um I’m okay. Just okay. How- how are you?” Jeff was trying very hard to avoid any eye contact. But from the way he was staring at my hands on the counter and looking away from them quickly I knew what he was thinking about. All the times we’d spend together here during his work hours, his hands coiling around my waist to carry me onto the counter as his lips slowly found his way to mine…
“To be honest, life has been Hell.” Jeff finally met my eyes then, intrigued and concern flickered across his features.
“Really? What’s wrong? Is there anything I can do?” His concern made me want to be angry, but I was no longer myself. I was filled with apathy.
“No. No. I don’t want you to do anything.” The tension in the air was as palpable as the heat outside.
“Oh, well I’m sorry.”
It sounded too much like an “I still love you” and so I did what needed to be done.
I reached a hand across the counter and grabbed a fistful of his 7-Eleven polo shirt, pulling him towards me, and kissed him the way I did when I was myself. Jeff seemed to dissolve at the contact and I was aware of his hands trying to pull me closer, but my other hand was reaching for the knife in my pocket.
The next few seconds were a mess of lust and heat and then there was blood. Thick, sticky, and scalding.
It took me a few seconds to realize it was my own.
The last words I heard were, “I’m sorry…”