CONCESSION

Three evenings later, I found myself back at the sidewalk in front of his building. This time, I didn't bother with heels or push-up bras. I hadn't planned on being there at two on a Sunday morning, but I hadn't been able to sleep and I ran out of sappy movies. I didn't' linger by the door meekly either; I angrily yelled toward his window until he answered it.

"Fuckin' Mary, Kate, what?" I could hear him opening the window, revealing his sleep-ridden, hideous self.

"You came to me first!" Man, it was pretty cold out at night; pajama pants were not sufficient enough.

He leaned forward in the window sill, "Kate-"

"Why now?"

"I just saw you there; I didn't' know what I was doing."

"You just faded away for eight years. Fuck you!"

"You were the one who left!"

"You called me a shitty fuck!"

A few lights surrounding his window turned on as curious faces rushed to see who was yelling.

I whispered forcefully, "A shitty fuck!"

He collapsed onto his arms in the window, resting his head while he thought.

"Yeah, that's what I thought!" I was yelling again, caught up in the adrenaline of the moment.

"Hey lady, go the fuck to sleep!" An obese man, perhaps an opera singer, from the second floor flipped me off and slammed his window shut.

Taylor lifted his head again and wearily asked, "Do you want to come upstairs?"

I quieted down, "Maybe." Suddenly, I cared that my hair was stuck tangled on one side of my head.

Inside of his apartment again for the second time that week, I was more aware of how much it hadn't changed. After almost a decade, he still had the same rejected sheet music scattered on his floors, he still left the same dents and scratches in the red paint on the walls. "I see you finally got a real kitchen table," I gestured around him.

"Yeah," He was unimpressed.

Clearly, small talk was not our forte; of course it never had been, may as well just get down to business. "Why don't you want me?"

His eyes grew larger at the question and he stepped closer to me. "Ask me how old I am."

"How-"

"I'm thirty-one." I winced at the number, realizing he was in a different decade as me now. "I'm fucking thirty-one. Do you think I have the time to sit around and wait for you to reevaluate your life just to make sure you don't want to fuck around for another month? You already questioned that, you already left once."

"But I-"

"God damnit, I've moved on Kate; why can't you?"

I bit my lip trying to look as insecure as possible. "I think I may have loved you, Taylor."

"I'm sorry, you what?'

Not a typical reaction to such a confession, but it would suffice. "I loved you."

"Why?"

"'Why?'" Are you kidding me?

"Yeah, why?" He turned into the kitchen, fixing himself a glass of water. "And for that matter, why the hell did it take you eight years to figure that out? And why are you telling me now?"

"Taylor, I'm completely useless since I left you."

Furiously, he slammed the glass on the counter, sending water everywhere. "Why the fuck is everything about how you feel?"

I jumped, forgetting how angry he could become. "I'm sorry," I whispered, backing away.

He pushed the emptied glass around in its spilled contents, waiting for me to say something more satisfying. When I didn't speak, he broke the silence. "Look, it's late and I'm exhausted. Maybe you should go home and get some sleep."

"Maybe," I didn't move from my spot in the middle of the room. I watched him put the empty glass into the sink, even though it didn't need to be washed. He was patiently waiting for me to exit. "Are you married?"

"Am I m-" he ran his hand down the front of his face in disbelief. "Am I married?" He almost laughed when he repeated it to himself.

"Are you married, Taylor?"

"Leave."

"It's just a question."

"Kate, go home."

I slipped a small corner of notebook paper onto his coffee table with my address and left his apartment, defeated, once more. "Goodnight."

"Night."

I passed out on the couch when I returned to the apartment, too tired to make it all the way to my bed. When I awoke the next morning, Molly was munching on my bread, comfortably seated on the other end of the couch waiting for me to open my eyes.

"Hey slugger, you were out late last night!"

I held my hand over my eyes to block the blinding eight AM sun. "Is that my bread?"

"Probably," she kept munching and brushing crumbs on her bare legs. "So what's his name?"

"He doesn't have a name."

Her eyes widened. "Oh, oh my God, Bea! Bea, she fucked him and she didn't know his name!"

"I didn't fuck anybody, Molly."

"I told you that bra would work, oh my God! It never fails."

"Molly-"

"I'll make you breakfast. French toast is the best morning-after food," she pushed herself up using my leg.

"That's my fucking bread, Molly, I can make it myself."

"Don't be silly." She skipped into the kitchen, "You can't cook anyway."

I pulled myself up and snuck into Molly's room. French toast was not going to solve this situation. Inside her room, I rummaged through pounds of lace and satin and cheap thongs until I found her stash of cigarettes. I stuffed a pack in the waistline of my pajamas and went out the front door.

Perched on the steps, I could see early morning joggers and coffee drinkers lining the coastline of the bay between Brooklyn and Long Island. I lit the first cigarette and savored its first poisonous gases in eight years. Immediately, my muscles relaxed and I leaned back on the stone stairs. In the smog of carbon monoxide, I cleared my head completely.

Maybe I should just let it all go.