What I'd Give Up
Part Twelve

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I wake up in the morning, my head throbbing. I knew those six beers weren't a good idea. I work my way to the shower and try to go as quick as I can. Showers are tough for me. Fortunately, when I built the shower, I built a seat into it. I had some good mornings with Renee in here, and some other ones where I imagined good mornings with Mac, sometimes while I was with Renee. I get out of the shower and dress for work. I don't want to eat. The thought of food, even coffee turns my stomach. I hobble into the kitchen. I left the lasagna out; it's no good at all anymore. The large, half-full salad bowl is on the counter, the vegetables bad from a night out in the air. There are a few bottles on the counter, more on the table by my couch. Ugh. I don't feel like cleaning, I'll do it later.

I pick up the keys for my Lexus. I don't expect Mac to be coming by to give me a ride this morning. I'm getting ready to climb into the vehicle when Mac pulls up.

"What do you think you are doing?" she asks.

"Going to work," I say, wincing at the tone in her voice.

"Give me the keys."

"I can drive."

"I'm sure you can. But from the looks of it, you shouldn't be."

I sigh and hand her the keys. "I didn't think I'd be seeing you this morning."

Mac climbs in the driver's seat and I crutch around to the passenger's side. As soon as I'm in, Mac pulls out of the spot. "Why would you think that?"

"Well, last night didn't go very well."

"That was last night. I'm still your friend, Harm, regardless of what happens between Clay and me. I said I'd give you a ride, so I will."

"So there is something between the two of you?"

"I didn't say that," she smiles.

"So, there is nothing?"

She looks sadder. "I didn't say that, either."

"So, what is it, then?"

"Can we please not talk about this? Right now, anyway? I think that for now, we should just go to work like nothing happened. Anything that would come out of this conversation should not be brought into the office."

I sigh heavily. She has a point. We hurt each other enough last night and we didn't need to twist the knife this morning. We continue the commute into Falls Church and thirty-five minutes later, we arrive. Most mornings I haven't minded the congestion, just spending time with Mac was nice, even if we are trapped in a car, but this morning, I would have liked a shorter commute.

Mac gives me a ride to physical therapy that afternoon. She drives me home afterwards and we still don't approach the subject of the previous night. She walks me up to my place, knowing how tired I am after these sessions. She walks into the apartment and spies the beer bottles and the left-out salad and lasagna in the normally clean apartment. She starts to clean it up.

"Mac, you don't have to do that. I'll get it."

"Like you cleaned it up last night and this morning? I've got it. Go lay down and go to sleep like you usually do."

"Just leave it."

"Do you want me to leave, Harm? 'Cause I will if you want me to."


"And if you keep on behaving like this I will leave you anyway. I have other things to do then spend my evening with a grown man acting like a two-year old."

"In that case, maybe it is better if you go." She has scraped all of the lasagna into the trashcan and now has poured some soap and hot water into the pan to let it soak. She sets the pan down and turns to go.

"Let me know if you feel like growing up." Her hand is on the door, her back to me.

"Hey, Mac?"

She turns around, her eyes blazing. They are full of pain, regret, and something else. Her face says that she doesn't want to get into it. I don't feel like it either.

"Are you coming on Monday?"

"I'll be here, like I always am," she says, her voice touched with sadness, and perhaps, resentment, or regret.

"And will you be coming to the psychiatrist with me?"

She nods. "Who knows, maybe we could use the therapy," she smiles sadly. "Maybe it could help us." She's right. "I'll call you. Have a nice night."

"Yeah, you too." She turns and leaves and I'm alone. I return to the kitchen, rinse the beer bottles out and set them aside to be recycled. I dump the salad into the trash and wash the bowl. I return to the lasagna pan and finish what Mac started. After cleaning, I dig through the fridge and pull some things out to make a small dinner. This thing with Mac has left me with a sour taste in my mouth and butterflies in my stomach. I just may have thrown the best thing I've ever had away. After eating, I settle down to read. Mac's right, maybe I should get a TV. It'd make it a lot easier to zone out and forget things. A lot less annoying than dealing with a hangover, too.


The weekend passes slowly. Before this, Mac had been over every weekend, both days. I hear nothing from her on Saturday. I think about calling her that night, but halfway through dialing her familiar phone number, I freeze. What would I say? What would we do? This thing is between us and it is slowly killing us. If there ever was an us.

She calls Sunday evening. She seems down about something. I ask her if she's okay and she says she is, though she says it sadly. A few weeks ago, I am sure she would have told me. But now, I am met with silence. Our conversation is short and perhaps it is for the best. If we don't have a long conversation, we are less likely to hurt each other. When we hang up, I am more depressed than I was when she called. I almost wish she hadn't called. Almost.



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