He tries not to think. When he thinks, he remembers, and he doesn’t want to remember. He wonders if she does the same thing. He knows she doesn’t. He thinks that things are getting better now. He has always wished for her absence, and now he has it and things are just fine. He’s fine. He wishes she could see just how fine he is, how relieved at the fact that she’s gone. He wonders, though, why he has to keep telling himself that every day. Maybe, but no. Everything is all right. He’s okay.
“Are you okay?” she asked, looking at him curiously. There was a strange intense expression on her face as she studied him. It made him uncomfortable.
“I’m always okay,” he replied lightly.
“Really?” she raised an eyebrow at him skeptically. “Then how come I get this feeling like you’re pissed off or something? You look like, I don’t know, like you’re upset with me, I think.”
“I don’t have any reason to be upset with you,” he told her.
She still looked doubtful, but she nodded. “Okay. So we’re fine?”
“Of course.” He wouldn’t meet her eyes, though.
Finally, she looked away from him. “Okay.”
He likes to pretend that he never knew her, that she never existed at all. So he turns a deaf ear when other people talk about her. He feels glad when he hears them say things about her that aren’t exactly flattering. He wants to tell them that he completely agrees, that she’s an insane bitch and they’re all better off without her in their lives. But he has noticed to his annoyance that whenever someone talks about her, no matter how hard he tries to ignore it, he listens anyway. He wants to know how she’s doing, wherever she’s gone. He wants her to be okay.
“What the hell did I ever do to you?” She was so furious that he could see she was practically shaking with the effort to keep some semblance of calm. “Why does it seem like you’re trying to deliberately piss me off?”
He knew it would push her over the edge, but he chose to say the words anyway. “So, it’s working?”
For the first time that he could remember, she was rendered speechless. He walked away knowing that he had won their battle. It served her right for thinking that she could manipulate him into doing what she wanted.
After that encounter, she was the one who tried to reach out to him, the one who tried to act like they were friends. It always gave him a perverse sense of pleasure whenever he could show her that he didn’t want her to be his friend. She pretended that it wasn’t a big deal to her, but he knew that it hurt her every time he ignored her. He was glad that he could hurt her.
He doesn’t ever want to see her again. He wants her to be completely gone. So he’s not exactly sure why he keeps looking into the faces of people he passes by on the street, half expecting that maybe it would be her. But, of course, it’s never her. And of course he’s glad. Now he just has to keep repeating that to himself until he begins to believe that it’s true. It has to be true. He doesn’t want to think about what it could possibly mean if it isn’t true.
“You ever think about parallel universes?” she asked him once.
He was a bit taken aback by the question. Just a few seconds ago, they were talking about cartoons, and then this abrupt change in their conversation happened. He found it amusing. She was so unpredictable sometimes. “What about parallel universes?” he replied to humor her. He wanted to hear what she was going to say next.
“Well, people say that there are many universes that exist at the same time in the same space, but like on different wavelengths or different dimensions. So, for example,” she suddenly took his hand and placed it palm to palm against hers. He was startled by the unexpected contact, but he allowed it. In fact, he had this curious feeling that he wanted their hands to stay linked like that for a long time, maybe forever. She looked into his eyes then. “So, we could actually live in different universes and hold out our hands like this, and we would never even know that we were together because of the distance between our worlds.”
“That would be weird,” he said, “that we would be so close together without even knowing it.”
She smiled. “You know what’s even weirder?” Her voice had dropped to a whisper, like she was telling him a secret.
“What?” All he could see were her eyes.
“Though we live in different worlds, our worlds exist in the same space. So the distance between worlds,” her hand closed around his hand, “is really no distance, at all.”
He sees her one day across the street. For a moment, they just stare at each other. Then she turns away and disappears into the crowd. She never once looks back at him. He turns away, too. They never see each other again.