This is a work of creative fiction.
This is not a problem. I live a full life. Everyday, I get healthy exercise, eat three healthy squares, and get the right amount of sleep. I am always on time for work and when I’m there, I do a fine job. Everything I do is average, normal, solid. I do not have a problem. I merely have a routine, and this is part of it.
This morning, I got into the car at 7:19, the exact time I leave for work every morning. I’m sure if I leave a minute later, another accident will happen. As I made my way down my block, I spent a full minute trying to find the perfect driving song. As I pulled up to the first stop sign, I secretly hoped Andrew called in sick. If there’s one new network page who looks better than me, it’s him, and he drives me up a wall. That’s good, they say. Competition in this industry is healthy. I’m healthy. I know I am.
“You’d play 60's pop music at your funeral,” a voice from the passenger seat chuckled warmly.
“Oh,” I said. “Hi, Bobby.”
“Didn’t notice me, did you?”
“Sorry, I was a little focused.”
“Story of your life.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. But that’s not the point. Didn’t I ask you to stay home today?”
“And you just chose not to listen to me?”
“No, before you went to bed, you told me you changed your mind. You said you needed me.”
I shrugged. That sounded like me.
“You don’t want me to leave, do you?” Bobby pressed, worried I might reject him.
“No,” I answered, a little less firm than I’d intended.
“I could always just jump outta the car. Tuck and roll."
“God, no. The last thing I want is for you to get hurt.”
"Whatever you say, boss."
We drove in silence for a minute, and I let the radio remind me of what big girls don’t do. That was advice I’d taken almost too seriously in the past year, but it was too late now. I hadn’t shed a tear in months, and at this point, I wasn’t sure I remembered how. But the more I thought about it, the more I was certain I don’t have to cry. I don’t have a problem. What I have is a Bobby, and if I didn’t have him, I most certainly would have a problem.
I turned my head to softly smile at the man I love, but he didn’t smile back. He probably just didn’t see me, either.
“So, what are you going to do while I’m fetching coffee all day?” I inquired of him as I sped through a yellow light. Might have been a mistake, I regretted silently.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Bobby mused, fiddling with the window switch like a little boy. “Thought I’d take the car for a spin. Maybe fetch myself some coffee. No doughnuts, though. I gotta keep up this figure in case anyone ever wants to hire me.”
“Honestly, babe, when are you going to get a job?"
“When a big movie company knocks on our front door and says they can’t make this three-film deal without me.”
“In other words, you won’t rest until Marvel asks you to play Deadpool.”
“In other words, I won’t rest until Marvel asks me to play Deadpool.”
I realized just how Bobby that really was. While I am a cynic, quietly evaluating everyone and assuming they want to destroy me, Bobby never loses his faith in humanity or in himself. He has such confidence and charisma that I’m surprised he never gets hired. With a wink and a nudge there and a compliment to a producer here, he seems a shoe-in for anything. Perhaps, in that way, Bobby is me, and I don’t realize it. Maybe he has some problem, too.
But I do not have a problem. Just because a truck on the highway hit our car and I got out like a miracle doesn’t mean I have a problem.
Another song filled the speakers. I didn’t remember turning it on, and then I remembered I’d let Bobby come along for the ride. When Pearl’s raspy voice began to sing, a slow smile crept across my face.
“You just love hearing your own name in songs, don’t you?” I asked.
“What can I say?” he joked. “I’m a megalomaniac. Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…”
I wondered why Bobby sang that line when we weren’t anywhere near it. Paranoia made my blood run cold. The two of us had been together for ten months, met him one month after the accident, and called him love three weeks after the funeral. As far as I knew, we were happy. Did he want to leave me? Did he want to go free? Tears began to form in my eyes and I tightened my grip on Bobby’s wrist. If he was thinking about jumping out of the car or driving off once I parked, he couldn’t now. I am not ready to let him leave.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day I met Bobby. It was thirteen hours into the worst day of my life, and I decided I needed to become a coffee drinker. Bobby was behind me in line. I couldn’t help but notice him -- apparently, he felt the same way about me. He tapped me on the shoulder and told me I looked lovely. I thanked him, and although my instincts would have told me on any other day to run far away, I latched onto Bobby. We talked all evening. By the end of the night, we were inseparable. That made me happy because it meant I didn’t have a problem. My family didn’t feel the same way.
“You haven’t dealt with it,” my mother said. “You lost something big, and you haven’t dealt with it.”
“I didn’t lose anyone,” I said. “Someone died.”
“But that wasn't just anyone,” my father reminded me. “I don’t think that’s something somebody just gets over as quickly as you did.”
“Well, then I guess I’m not most people. Besides, now I have…”
I stopped. My parents didn’t know about Bobby.
“You have what? You have who?”
“Look, we know you. Feeling sad, grieving… it’s not your thing. But these are extraordinary circumstances, sweetie, and you haven’t even addressed them.”
Maybe because the extraordinary circumstances were my fault. Maybe because if I hadn’t insisted on going back into the store because I wanted that hat, after all, the truck wouldn’t have hit us and this wouldn’t have happened and I wouldn’t be alone in the world. But I’m not really alone in the world because Bobby’s around.
But I couldn’t tell them any of that. They’d have thought I had a problem.
Back in the car, I turned into the parking lot and eventually stopped. I just sat there, no motivation to get out and start my day, unusual behavior for me. As I loosened my grip on Bobby’s wrist, waves of sadness and relief passed through me. When he sighed, I could tell he noticed.
“Say it,” I commanded.
“Say what?” he asked.
“Whatever it is you were going to. That’s the look you get in your eye when you need to be serious. I’m the one who painted that look; I know.”
“Fine. I don’t know what’s going on with you.”
“One second, you don’t want anything to do with me, and you don’t need me around. The next, you hang onto my wrist like some sort of rigor mortis. I mean, either way, I’m fine. I just… can you tell me which one you really feel?”
Now, I sighed. I did need Bobby, and I wanted him. He was perfect -- made music, made me laugh, didn’t mind curling up on the couch on Saturdays and watching reruns of dated TV shows, tall, handsome, and an angel’s smile. But somewhere, in the notorious back of my mind, I knew Bobby couldn’t stay. I do not have a problem. That’s not to say Bobby won’t create one.
“Bobby, I have to go to work,” I slurred, not wanting to face the decision I had to make, and quickly at that.
“I know,” he said. “Have a great day, babe.”
“Will you be here when I’m done?”
He looked me square in the eye, his eyes mirroring me.
“Well, now, that’s really up to you, isn’t it?”