Well, that might have been the stupid, ugly end of it, but no. The crush sucked even harder on the foot that was stuck in it. I had more to go on now … mainly her voice. She must have been a great singer, I thought. I didn’t even have to hear her sing – I knew. It would be deep, and it would linger in your mind for days. I’d even enjoy the business management books I’d been grinding through if I had a recording of her reading them. My life would be poorer if I didn’t get to hear that voice saying sweet things to me.
I wore a nice shirt to What Might Have Bean the next day. I’d apologize and tell her about you, and maybe we could at least be friends. She didn’t come in at all, though. I spent that morning kicking myself. She was there the day after that, but I was feeling embarrassed and angry then, and she didn’t seem to be in any mood to talk, either.
I would have felt stupid apologizing after that. By the next week, I was smiling at her sometimes, but she never said much. She wasn’t avoiding me, but she wasn’t talking to me either. Most of the time, she looked busy, typing on her computer or organizing papers. Without any clear signals from her, I was left with only my imaginary version of her to hang on to, which was totally confusing. There was no way to tell if I was making any progress or not.
Maybe she wanted to see how I’d handle things from here so she could learn more about who I was. When I looked at it that way, I felt no pressure. Everything was cool, and some day she’d be mine. A couple of days, when I was feeling friendly, I said hi and asked how she was doing when I saw her. She answered, “Quite well, thank you for asking.” The second time she said that, I realized it was her highly refined way of blowing me off.
Some days, though, I didn’t want to let her make the rules, especially if I might get nothing in the end either way. I wondered exactly what she was waiting for me to do and if she’d even notice if I just gave up. Those mornings, when I was dwelling on my frustration, I didn’t want anything to do with anybody. I’d sit reading at What Might Have Bean just to stake my place there and show Francesca that her mind games weren’t affecting me at all. If you remember how moody I was around that time, that’s what was going on.
Thinking about her all the time wore out my brain. Some days I’d wake up on the infatuation train and some days I’d wake up on the annoyance train, but it was always one or the other. I’d feel normal for a few minutes, like I’d gone to sleep drunk and woken up without a hangover. Then some thought about her would catch up to me before long – before I was dressed – and I’d pass the rest of the day behind a thin film of dizziness. Even when I wanted to be thinking about something else, I was thinking about her. It was ridiculous! The crush had started as a cute, fuzzy little thing, but now it had grown claws, and it liked me to watch it sharpening them.
I was permanently disoriented. Direct sunlight felt too bright. I wore sunglasses if I went out during the day and kept the shades drawn the rest of the time. I started getting monster headaches every few days that kept me pacing around and growling for most of an afternoon. When I’d pound on my temples in desperation, the headache pounded back from the inside. I was drinking twice as much coffee every morning, but it didn’t help. I knew I had to do something to start feeling like myself again. I just couldn’t decide what it should be. Francesca did something instead.