The Opposite of Nothing

I spent a lot of time alone, thinking. I forced myself to finally look at things with Jonas and get to the bottom of why it seemed to be hurting more than it should have. Why had I completely spazzed out and not dealt with him reasonably in the immediate aftermath of seeing him with Sarah. I debated whether I should in fact call him and hear his side. Had he been a horrible boyfriend up until the moment he'd lapsed? No...

A week later I told Candice that Nathaniel had used her cat story.

"He doesn't know the rest of it though," Candice said. "You see I did gradually have to change some. I stopped wearing black for one! But it was okay, I was glad to do those things because I love her. Wait, you are the cat in his story right?"

"Why did you tell him that story anyway?"

"I don't remember now, but obviously I tell everyone that story. You knew it too. Though, I do kinda remember him asking how my cat was once," She started laughing. "Aren't you glad I didn't go buy a kitten!"

"Back then I hadn't known what I had to offer. What does a pet give its owner- affection, love? It isn't a relationship of equals."

"You're deifying him!" Candice said, "He does see you as equal. You understand him, relate to him. You two and your dorky metaphors! He is a pretty amazing guy so no, that probably doesn't come along everyday. Hell, if I was into older men..."

"But you are such a cradle robber! How old was what's-his-face?"

"Shut-up. That was a mistake. But you aren't, not to him. You can see the difference."

"You know, I suppose what hurt the most about Jonas was being rejected by a guy I was kinda settling for anyway. And if he found me lacking... I mean ouch! But I'm ready to see it as his deficiency."

"With Nathaniel neither of you would be settling and you are not going to come up short, Liv."

I just didn't know if he was really the one for me.

I didn't want to do it at work but I didn't want him to come to my apartment either, so I had Jonas meet me at the coffee shop down the block. I had an old Amazon box duct taped shut so he wouldn't be inclined to rummage through it and argue. I went early and waited outside with a to-go cup. No chance for him to suggest sitting down. I didn't want excuses; I didn't want a postmortem. I had thought hard about it. I didn't need to compromise on "good enough" guys who couldn't treat me with respect.

I had bigger things to think about, like the Arcturus -our clipper had a name now- research, and heading back out to the site.

"Hey," he said as he strolled up.

"Here." I thrust the box at him.

"Liv, can't we talk about this?"

"No." I started walking away.

"Wait," he grabbed my arm. "I really screwed up. We really had something. I realize that now."

I shook his arm loose and continued walking. We were too old for that crap.

"It doesn't have to be black and white!" he called after me.

I turned around at that.

"I mean it doesn't have to be all or none, either we're together or not. I don't expect you to forgive me or go back the way it was right away but the opposite doesn't have to be nothing-"

"You are so right," I felt the huge smile growing on my face. Jonas looked hopeful. "Just not about you."

My flight landed in the late afternoon. A few days earlier Nathaniel had sent directions to the team housing site- a group of bungalows convenient to the pier and not too distant from where we were going to set up the research station. I reply-emailed for him to assign one of the suites to me.

I hadn't told him I was coming yet and I had to keep myself from running like an idiot through the airport to the rental desk. When I pulled the jeep up into his drive he was sitting out on a picnic table looking out at the ocean, drinking a craft beer from the bottle. He turned and shaded his eyes.


He got up and started toward me barefoot through the sand and firewheel flowers. I reached into my bag and got out the magenta ceramic bowl that had little paw prints on it. I could see he was hesitant, not sure how to greet me yet. I met him halfway.

I handed him the cat dish. "To set out on your porch, that is, if you're still willing to leave that door open for me awhile longer?"

He smiled broadly and I threw myself into his arms.  








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