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On Monday nights she goes grocery shopping, because it’s pretty quiet and there’s little chance of running into Roy’s mom like on Saturdays. She walks the aisles, smiling at the thought of being able to splurge on the carrots with the green fringe on top and the low fat microwave pizza she always preferred.
After much internal debate she adds a pint of ice cream, the deep dark Belgian chocolate kind. It looks decadently out of place as it mingles in the basket with her containers of low-fat yogurt.
She gets a far off look in her eyes as she stands at the deli counter, waiting for a half a pound of ham and a quarter of a pound of cheese.
She doesn’t remember exactly when she decided that bringing sandwiches for lunch could be a subtle way to keep him at the office with her.
She wonders if anyone else has noticed.
On Monday nights she goes home and watches the Food Network, and in just a half hour makes a single dinner that provides enough leftovers to last her for most of the week.
She likes living alone more than she ever thought she would.
On Tuesday nights she does her laundry. She used to do laundry on Sundays but she recently decided she wanted to keep her weekends free for other things.
She carefully separates the whites and darks and all the in-betweens. She’s surprised at how much she enjoys sitting in the laundromat, she always brings her sketchbook to pass the time.
The time always goes much more quickly now, with only half the amount of clothes to clean.
She listens for the buzz of the washer and stands, a smile filling her face as she pours a capful of fabric softener.
She used to use a different brand. She doesn’t pretend she doesn’t know exactly why she’s made the switch.
On Tuesday nights she gets to see the full inventory of her wardrobe. She folds her work shirts and collection of pajamas and realizes she’s got next to nothing that doesn’t fall into either one of those categories.
She decides that tomorrow she’ll casually mention something to Kelly about where she should go shopping.
It’ll be a start – at least.
On Wednesday nights she has her art class. She remembers the first day - how excited and scared she’d been. She’d been scared about so many things for so long it was always surprising to her when she was able to overcome her fears, bit by bit.
She’s thrilled to realize she hasn’t forgotten everything she’d learned when she’d taken classes before.
The time flies by so quickly she’s always disappointed to realize another class is over. She starts to save a little each week so she can take another one.
She begins to build a portfolio – nothing much but it's more than she’s done in quite some time. As she carefully slips her sketches and drawings into the plastic sleeves she pictures what his reaction would be, if he was still around to see what she’d done.
“Wow, Pam.” She imagines he would say. He’d smile at her and it would fill his whole face. “I always knew you were talented…but…wow.”
And she knows though she would doubt herself that he would mean every word. Because he would never, ever lie to her – unless – of course - it was to tell her he was over her.
She knows why he’d done that now, so that he could give her what he thought she wanted.
On Wednesday nights, her sketches seem to more and more become manifestations of moments they'd shared together. She often wonders how she could possibly ever find a way to let him know that she’d finally figured it out.
She’s sure now all she’s ever wanted is him.
Occasionally, on Thursday nights she runs a bath in the claw foot tub. It was part of what made her realize that only this apartment could be the place she would call home.
She uses the bubble bath sparingly, it costs more than she could really afford. As she sinks down into the steamy water she lets her hair dangle over the side.
She closes her eyes and begins to daydream.
The first few times she’d done this her dreams were fairly innocent. She had simply replayed certain scenes in her mind and made up new endings. She’d see his face as they stood on the deck of the boat and she’d move closer to him, rather than walking away. She’d see his face as he told her he loved her and her answer would be better, sweeter, much more eloquent than her stammering, “I can’t.”
Lately the dreams had progressed to the point where she’d imagine herself waiting for him. Sometimes on the roof of the office, sometimes near his desk, and one particularly distracting image of herself waiting in a similar state as she is in now, with frothy bubbles slowly disintegrating around her. The image makes her dizzy and she tells herself it’s just because she’s run the water too hot again. As she climbs from the tub her knees are weak.
On Thursday nights like those as she slips into bed alone she wonders if she’ll ever know what it would really be like. She wonders if she’ll ever have the courage to make her dreams a reality.
Most people spend Friday nights out at bars or out to dinner or at the movies. Recently she’s been spending hers preparing for a date she’s not sure she’ll ever get to go on.
She attempts to set her hair using an ancient set of hot rollers and winds up completely dissatisfied. The next week she smoothes on something that promises miracles as she endeavors to iron it flat. She can’t decide now which she likes better both looks seem so foreign to her. Each Friday night she regards her face as a blank canvas, shading and painting it with the subtlest of colors, all the while trying to balance a how-to book precariously across the sink.
She tries on new skirts and new shirts and new shoes. She twirls in the mirror and blinks at her reflection, wondering if he’ll like the new version of her.
When she’s feeling her most sentimental she pulls her hair off her face and dons one dress in particular. She stands perfectly still and runs her hands over the cornflower silk, her fingers not quite spanning her waist, remembering the way his hands had felt as they took the same journey.
And in spite of herself she wonders who he’s holding now. She knows for all her planning it might just be too little too late.
On Saturdays she gives herself a bit of a break. She usually has no errands to run, no place to really be. Sometimes she drives to visit her parents. Even now, months later, there are still wedding gifts to return.
Sometimes she brings up a search she’s saved on MapQuest. One Saturday she finally feels brave enough to print out the page. A week later she carefully places it on the passenger seat beside her.
She knows it’s stupid. He won’t be at the office on a Saturday but it’s the only address she has for him. It doesn’t make sense, because even through all this she still thinks of him as her best friend. What kind of person has no idea where her best friend lives? Five months worth of Google searches have her coming up empty.
She knows it’s irrational – but she wonders if she goes there and finds a place to sit, and stays in the same spot that he might walk by and see her.
She’s getting more courageous as each week passes. One Saturday she makes it all the way to the New York State line before she chickens out and turns her car back around.
As fate would have it, in the end it seems she doesn’t ever need to drive to Connecticut after all.
One Sunday night she finds she’s too nervous to eat, too nervous to sleep, too jittery to concentrate on the movie droning in the background. She tries desperately to fall asleep. She doesn’t want her eyes to have dark circles or her skin to be sallow the first time she sees him again.
When she realizes it's hopeless she first busies herself with making her lunch for the next day, with laying out the perfect outfit, one that will say she’s changed her look a bit but doesn’t make her look like she’s trying too hard.
She wills her heart to stop pounding, wills the thoughts to stop swirling in her head. She spends the rest of the night watching the hours tick by, painstakingly slowly.
She’s up and out of bed before dawn.
That Monday morning, she thinks she’s almost ready to begin again. She takes a deep breath and settles at her desk, trying to keep her hands from shaking.
She knows things will be different, she knows it will be awkward. She knows no matter what it’s not going to miraculously be like it used to be.
For all the changes she’s made in herself, for all the changes she suspects he’s made too she hopes that there’s one thing that hasn’t changed at all.
She hears the door open and fights the urge to look up. When she finally does, and her eyes meet his, she finds out.