For ten minutes, I walked in silence beside Seattle.
"Do you always insist on being a gentleman?" she asked after a while. I almost never heard her, she was so quiet.
A light, misty wet snow began to sift down from the clouded sky above, and I shuffled my feet a little.
"I try to be, whenever I can. There's so little chivalry in the world these days, I like to know it's not entirely dead."
Seattle said nothing.
"I'm sorry if you think I'm just a stranger trying to be overprotective for no reason. But, back in California, I had a girlfriend, and she didn't let me take her home... She was only two blocks away from her house, and told me she'd be okay. But the next day, I learned she'd never made it. She went missing, and was found in a ditch two weeks later, clinging to life by a string.
"I don't want to see that happen again."
She stopped cold in her tracks. I felt guilty, knowing it was my story that chilled her into a disturbed silence; but I had to let her know why I was doing this.
"I'm sorry about your girlfriend, but this isn't Cali. It's Coldwater, and it's much quieter, more safe. I appreciate your concern, and I don't want to sound rude, but this isn't necessary." She looked as if she wanted to say more, but she kept her thoughts to herself.
She looked bitterly at the ground, kicking at a chunk of ice.
"I should probably apologize," Seattle said a long time after. We'd begun walking already, maintaining an uneasy but peaceful silence.
"For what?" I asked her, stunned. Never would I have thought Seattle was capable of apologizing to me, especially after today's events.
"I don't know. I just feel guilty. I'm not sure why, or even how, but I feel like I need to apologize for something. So, for whatever it is I need to apologize for, I'm sorry."
"Hm... That's weird." she said, beginning to walk faster.
"What's weird? Your apology?" I joked. She shook her head.
"No. I feel better."
I laughed, and I thought I saw a glimpse of a smile on her pale features. Her tousled hair covered her face, whipping around her neck as the wind picked up.
"Okay, this is it. For real," Seattle announced, pointing to a slanting, white house with teal and magenta trim. I didn't see a mailbox, but I figured there must be one else where on the property. I didn't look into it enough to care though.
She produced a simple gold key from her pocket and unlocked the door. Once across the threshold, she looked back and gave me a strange look. I could tell she wanted to say something, but what was there to say?
Bye? See you tomorrow? I turned away from the house, shaking my head. Those are things you say to a friend. Seattle isn't my friend, she made it clear she didn't want to be my friend.
Tomorrow, I vowed, would be different. No awkward lunch table scene, no constant persistence to get a response from her. She wanted me to leave her alone, and so I would.