“So that’s what Dominique meant about the trashy women, huh?” Ian had just finished telling me about Jen, and about every relationship he’d had back through high school to explain how he met Jen. There were a lot of them. I took a deep breath and sipped my now-cold coffee. It tasted terrible, but I needed to do something to stop my emotions from exploding into a million pieces. I couldn’t believe Ian had such a past and I never knew.
He looked at me with an apology in his eyes. “I’m just not very good at relationships ever since. That’s all.”
“It’s understandable,” I said. Poor Ian. Poor Boss. I thought getting in a car accident was a bad fate. I couldn’t imagine having my mom die when I was a teenager. ”That’s alright. I’m not exactly great at them either,” I said.
“I don’t know. You seemed to do well with us.” Was he insane? I was always closed off. I tried to wait for a laugh or a smile to see if he was joking, but his face remained serious.
I shook my head and looked up at him. “I didn’t tell you about my driving, and you didn’t tell me about what happened to your mom, and about all your…er, female friends. Why is that?”
“I just don’t like talking about it. With anyone.” He turned his head to look out the window and started nervously drumming his fingers against the table. I knew this wasn’t true. I knew he talked about it with Jen, and that’s why they were friends. That’s why she looked like a mother bear protecting her cub when she left me with Ian at the cafe. She wasn’t trying to make me jealous. She didn’t care what I thought; she was worried about Ian.
I was lost in thought thinking about teenage Ian and teenage Boss sitting in a hospital waiting room and I didn’t realize I was quiet. I saw Ian staring at me nervously. “So…are you going to tell me about driving?” he whispered.
I stared at my fingers and said, “Sure.” Then I went into the details of the accident, of Eliot almost dying when he was four, of my parents totally and completely shattered faces when they realized I was the only one to blame, and how I couldn’t possibly drive after that.
“Oh,” he said. He reached over the table again to grab my hand. “You know that wasn’t your fault, right?” It was ridiculous that he was comforting me when he had been through something ten times worse.
I nodded to him. “I know.” I was used to acquiescing to this feeling of helplessness when I talked about the car accident. My hand lifted up to his face and the back of my hand felt his stubble on his cheek, but I couldn’t meet his eyes. “We need to be friends again, alright? I don’t think I can not be friends with you now that I understand so much more.”
“I feel the same way,” I said, suddenly feeling hopeful. I risked looking at his face and he was smiling at me with sad eyes, his eyebrows pulled together, and I knew then that everything would be alright with us, one day soon.