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I know how to handle great amounts of stress and even greater amounts of pain. I can compartmentalize when necessary and do almost anything to get the job done. However, pretending to be okay within this life that’s erected itself around me is impossible to handle.
“You know Reggie owns an original die cast Optimus Prime? Mint,” Frost enthuses.
“Reggie is on the board for the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Isn’t that great, Jane? Korsak asks.
They all ask me about Reggie, but no one has asked me how I feel about her. No one has cared if I’m comfortable with this. Four weeks, two days, and nine hours have gone by since Maura started dating Reggie exclusively and no one has cared to ask me how I feel about any of this.
Actually that’s a lie. Of all people, Crowe, in his utterly tactless manner was insightful enough to note, “The docs seeing a chick? Hm, I thought you were dating her, Janie. Must suck for you, huh?”
Yes, it does suck for me.
“I’m going to grab some coffee downstairs. Anyone want anything?”
I think they said no, I didn’t really wait for an answer. It’s strange that at a time like this, when my thoughts are going a mile a minute about my unrequited love, that I have a sudden urge to see my mother. I suppose it would have been Maura’s face I need to see had everything not changed.
“Janie! What are you doing down here in the middle of the day?”
“I can’t stop by for some coffee, Ma?”
“I didn’t say that,” she frowns as she goes about her preparations. “I’m just surprised to see you.”
“Hey stranger,” Maura smiles as she rounds the corner.
I don’t want to see her right now…she looks amazing.
“I feel like I never see you anymore.”
“That’s hardly my fault,” slips passed my lips before I have time to edit the words cropping up in my brain. Coming down here was a bad idea.
I immediately regret my words as hurt crosses Maura’s lovely face.
“Here you go,” my mother gratefully interrupts. “You just missed Reggie,” she informs.
“Did I? That’s too bad.”
“Yeah, she’s great,” my mother continues either oblivious or immune to my sarcasm. “You know its strange how much you two favor?”
I stare at my mother blankly.
“Yeah, you’re both tall with dark hair and eyes. Even your builds are similar. In fact when she walked in before I thought she was you for a second. Have you noticed that Maura?”
Maura’s eyes lock with mine for a moment and she looks decidedly uncomfortable.
“I um…” She pauses, heaving a deep sigh before continuing. “I may have noticed some similarities in their coloring and bone structure. I think that’s as far as it goes though.”
“I think they’re like twins,” my mother laughs.
“She wishes.” There goes my mouth again. “I have to get back to work, see you guys later.”
I only make it to the door before Maura’s stopping me.
“Jane…is there…is there something wrong?”
I know a lot about communication and I didn’t learn it from any text book. No, I know words can be used as either a weapon or a shield. I know that no matter what someone’s body language belies, the unwritten rules of decorum usually allow words to trump them. I also know that just because someone’s asking for the truth doesn’t mean they actually want to hear it and, even more importantly, most people don’t like offering the truth even when its requested.
“No. Why would there be anything wrong?”
Maura’s an excellent reader of body language, but I know she’s going to focus on what I’m saying as we stand in the doorway to the coffee shop in the lobby of the police station.
“No reason. You just seem…perturbed lately.”
“I just have this case…” I turn to the elevator as if files will spill out and rescue me from lying to my best friend’s face. “Other than that everything’s good.”
“Oh, well…good then. So we’re okay?” Maura pauses and rolls her eyes. “Jane, you know I’m no good at this.”
Her eyes plead for me to rescue her from her insecurities and like the softy I am, I jump to do so.
“Hey, we’re good, Maura. Really,” I smile. This smile makes my face ache because these words are a lie.
I place a reassuring hand on her shoulder that has nothing to do with comforting her and everything to do with me wanting to touch her.
Her smile makes my lies acceptable though and suddenly my smile isn’t so fake. It’ll be enough to help me sleep tonight.
“Good. Well I’d better get back to those bodies so I can have a report for you today.”
I watch Maura walk away from me for a few moments too long and it makes me glance toward the counter. Sure enough, my mother’s standing there looking back at me. Her typically oblivious, care free, comportment is far too knowing.
I turn away as to not to not reveal that I know that she knows. She and I being on the same page has never been a good idea.
This day can’t end soon enough.
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