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					“Allison”      Todd Lewandowski          May 2011       1207 words

       Allison looked straight ahead, both hands on the wheel while I clenched
the side of my seat in an invisible disapproval of her driving.
       “Do you like Rihanna?” The first words out of her mouth in five minutes.
       “Uhhh… yeah sure. Of course I do. I like her new song. It sounds like
‘Umbrella’.”
       “Yeah, me too. But I don’t like Lady Gaga. Her fashion is horrible.”
       That was how she was. She would open and close conversations without
any apparent rhyme, rule or reason. Allison spoke exactly the same way in
person as she did online. No hellos and no goodbyes. I forced politeness from
her, which she gave grudgingly.
       …
       …
       …
       “Did you see her dress at the VMAs?”
       “Uhhh, what? Who?”
       “Lady Gaga’s dress”
       Why would you resurrect a ten minute old conversation? Don’t you know
when things die? Or when I need to get some sleep?
       “Uh, yeah, sure. Huh?”
       “The meat dress”
       “Oh, yeah. That was ugly. I wonder how many cows she killed for that one.
She should’ve gone to a yakiniku restaurant afterwards, haha.”
       Now it was her turn to be confused. But she shouldn’t have been. She
knew what that word meant. We both studied abroad in Japan for six months at
the same time.
       “What?”
       “You know yakiniku, it's like barbecue”
       “???”
       “Like Korean BBQ. The kind you grill yourself. You remember?”
       “Oh yes yes, sorry”
“Allison”      Todd Lewandowski           May 2011        1207 words

       How could she forget the definition? Or the countless times we had gone
together with all of our friends to that restaurant? I remembered. But she didn’t.
Then I realized that Allison and I had indeed drifted into two separate worlds.
       Ours was a complex relationship between two complex people. How do I
explain it? At least I’ll try. When we first met there was heavy flirting. A smile, a
wink, a change in her voice and tone, and ever ready conversation. Yet when we
had reached that certain point when I asked her out for coffee the next day, she
replied, “Aren’t you going to the engineering mixer tomorrow? Everyone’s going
to be there. My boyfriend, my roommate, my best friend, my professor…” Allison
had replied so confidently, so coolly, so oblivious to my true meaning. I should
have known about that event. Love had lapsed my normally excellent memory.
But I had received my “answer.” My radar was wrong! No, it wasn’t. The signals
were clear, I knew that much. Her signals must be different. Somehow.
       So I extricated myself from Allison as much as possible. Though our
worlds then were much too small. Same major, adjacent dorm, similar exercise
routine. And without fail she always approached me with a goddamn smile and
chat as if rubbing it in. No matter who I was with, where I was, my mood or the
circumstance, always chatty. At some point I accepted her cheerful persistence
as one of her many strange eccentricities. For example, every time she –
       “Turn here at exit 45?”
       “Yup, that’s it.” Damn woman. Always interrupting me. Even my narration.
       We were driving to an interview. My interview. I had flown in from out of
town and stayed in her spare bedroom.
       “Now keep going straight five miles.”
       Somewhere our relationship took a wrong turn. Hah, sorry I couldn’t resist
that one. But it was true. Allison only had a bachelors yet was happily employed.
I was still slogging through my graduate program for a PhD. I didn’t understand
her work. With all her eccentricities and awkwardness and introvertness how
could she stand up and give presentations to fifteen, fifty, four hundred people?
In my frustration I reasoned there can be only one reason – She’s a woman and
“Allison”        Todd Lewandowski         May 2011        1207 words

sex sells no matter what the venue and no matter what the product. The
unwelcome misogyny sickened but there was little evidence otherwise. I truly did
not know her anymore.
         Allison was neither sexy nor ugly. She had short black hair, short stature
and of normal weight. Perhaps an extra pound or two here or there. But not fat.
Far from it. Like the potential to be fat years from now after having kids. But fat in
a good way. No wait, she wouldn’t like that either. What I’m trying to say is that I
accepted her and liked her body just the way it is. Unfortunately she didn’t always
feel the same way about herself.
         Once she broke her arm, her entire arm, and her cast extended in a large
L shape from her shoulder all the way to her palm. Because of our overlapping
classes, I often carried Allison’s books. I laughed when I realized it was her right
arm. Writing was difficult enough – forget typing. “Why do you want a copy of my
notes? It’s not like you took notes before the accident, haha.” Her glare made me
smile and laugh even more. But it also disarmed me, as my emotions around her
always did. As I bent down to take the lock off my bicycle, a hard cast when
straight to the back of my head.
         “We’re here.” The car stopped. “Well?”
         …
         “Well, aren’t you going to get out?”
         “The interview is not for another hour and a half.”
         “Oh.”
         Silence.
         “What do you–“ “Allison, what happened to us? What happened to our
relationship?”
         “Well, you see we moved away.. and we haven’t seen each other in a long
time.”
         “No, I mean before that. Did I say or do something to hurt you?”
         “No, nothing of the sort.”
         “Then how come we grew distant? Even before graduation?”
“Allison”      Todd Lewandowski          May 2011       1207 words

       “Listen, you shouldn’t think about those kinds of things right now. Think
about your interview. If you get the job and move here then we can hang out
together more often!”
       “Really? We’re still friends?”
       “Sure, we’re still friends.”
       “Ah, good. Nothing more?”
       “Nothing – Oh. Ohh….. *sigh* I see.” The female intuition took some time
to kick in. “Well, you see,” she restarted somberly, “it was my fault. I wasn’t ready
for a mature relationship the way you wanted. I had so many problems and
worries and faults, and I still do.” I could handle them but she couldn’t. “You see,
you were so good and so kind to me. And I couldn’t pay it back. I, I – *pause* I
didn’t deserve a man like you. So that’s why our friendship grew apart and as
time and distance accumulated, my feelings cooled and I don’t feel that way
towards you anymore. But we’re still friends! Good friends! Definitely.”
       “Oh, alright. I understand. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you Allison.”
       “No, I should be the one saying sorry.”
       “It’s okay. I forgive you. I should really get going. Thank you for taking me
to the interview Allison.”
       “Sure, no problem. Good luck in there! Call me when you’re done.”
       “Alright, thanks again!”
       I was unfocused after that. The job was lost and so was the girl.

				
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