Chapter Fifteen

“I think I’m in love.”

“What!?” Powdered sugar flew out of June’s mouth as she leaned forward across the Formica table. “With who? I just talked to you yesterday and you weren’t even ready to go out for coffee with Jesse.”

“Who’s Jesse?” Illy rolled a chocolate donut hole in her fingers. She was too nauseous to actually eat anything. Love was a powerful force.

“The Peace Corps guy, but apparently he’s already out of the picture. Who in the world are you in love with?”

“His name is Jay—”

“Like Blue Jay or the letter?” The spelling of names was very important to June. She was always afraid people might imagine her name with two O’s, and in doing so, misjudge her character completely.

“Blue Jay, probably. Well, I don’t know for sure, but who has a name that’s just a letter? Anyway, that’s not the important part. The important part is that I think he loves me too. Or at least is interested.” Illy tapped the donut hole. She hadn’t been in a relationship in a long time and the thought of it was invigorating. It gave her the pain in her fingertips that she got in glass elevators.

“Okay, you’d better start at the beginning. And if you’re not going to eat that donut hole could you please not squish it?”

“Well, yesterday was the Writers Club, as you know, which really is a whole other story, but is this story too. So I was sitting there on a bean bag chair—”

“You should never sit on a beanbag chair with strangers.”

“Thank you, June. I know that now. Could you not have shared that little tidbit of advice earlier in our friendship? Anyway, there I was, trying to figure out what to do with all my limbs, when in walks none other than Mocha Man.” Illy paused for June’s squeal of amazement, but June only furrowed her eyebrows.

“You know, that guy that brought the mochas to my building the other day? The most romantic boyfriend in the world?” How could June have forgotten that monumental event? She was usually so good about those things. June nodded and mumbled something through her donut. She waved for Illy to go on.

“So he walks in and there’s just this electricity. I can feel it immediately. But of course we’re both really casual about it all and he goes to sit across the room and virtually ignores me, which I think shows a lot of maturity and restraint, considering. And then he reads his poem and it’s about a woman that he loves and right in the middle, when he’s describing her body, I think, or maybe her kisses, he looks at me. And I just get it. I can totally feel what he’s trying to say.” June’s face wasn’t moving. “And that’s what happened.” Illy popped the chocolate donut hole in her mouth for effect.

June’s eyebrows were furrowed again. “Um, Illy? I think maybe you need to fill in a few gaps for me here. Like the you loving him part and the him loving you part. I missed those. Also the part where you met.”

“Oh June, I don’t really love him, of course, and it’s all just in the beginning stage, but there’s something about this guy. It’s different. He’s passionate and artsy and smart and casually handsome and I can’t stop thinking about him.”

“Was his poem any good?”

Illy paused. She’d been hoping June wouldn’t ask about the poem. “Well, truthfully, no, it wasn’t all that good. It was a little…” She searched for a word that wouldn’t be a betrayal of Jay. She smiled when she thought of his name. Maybe she could call him Blue Jay as a cute nickname sometimes.

“Cheesy? Cliche? Idiotic?”

“No…okay, yes, a little, but he just obviously hasn’t written a lot yet and it had a lot of potential. He used a number of poetic devices and he clearly was working at capturing an overwhelming emotion.”

“My dear Ilia, let me get this straight.” June set down her coffee mug and spoke with careful enunciation, studying Illy’s face for signs of comprehension. “There is a man who has a girlfriend in your building and who writes bad poetry and who looked at you once and whom you think you’re in love with.“ She reached for the new donut hole that Illy was tapping. “Forgive me for my pessimism.”

“June, I know it sounds ridiculous but if you’d been there, you’d understand. Please, I need your help. I don’t know what to do next. If he really is my destiny I can’t let him slip by.”

“I thought you were perfectly content without a man.” June was fulfilling her obligation to be responsible and realistic, but Illy wanted her to skip straight to the supportive and wildly optimistic stage.

“I know, I know. Mr. Peace Corps sounds way better on a theoretical level, but sometimes reality is different— better— than theory, you know? Mocha Man Jay may be my soulmate. Please help?” She put on her best pleading pout and nudged the box of donut holes closer to June.

June sighed. “Okay, I will help you formulate a plan, but do not mistake my kindness for enthusiastic support. I’m withholding judgment on this guy until I’ve met him and observed the way he laughs at your jokes. And heard him talk about his grandmother and the ethics of sushi-grade tuna.” June was continually perfecting her Character Indication Topics. She loved to throw her newest C.I.T.s at unsuspecting acquaintances and watch as their true character was supposedly revealed. Illy hadn’t heard the tuna one yet. She wondered if there was a way to warn Jay. But first she’d have to meet him.


Continue Reading: Chapter Sixteen