From the sofa, Jimmy opened the fridge and floated the Pepsi through the kitchen, down the hallway and into the living room. He reached up as it approached and pulled the soda down, the cap twisting off as he brought it toward his mouth. He took the lid with his free hand and drank. Closing the
bottle, he sent it to the table. He tried to find something to watch, but it was all the same old shit. Movies he'd seen a hundred times, reruns of shows that were barely worth watching. Everything was just a remake or a reboot or a slight spin on an old idea which played out the same in the end. No one knew how to create anymore, or if they did no one appreciated it enough to take a chance on. People
were so locked into the things they liked they were apprehensive about or unwilling to or even outright
against checking something different out.
He thought about floating a meal together, but remembered what Amelia had said, was always saying, about getting fat and out of shape. What was the point of a gift if it hurt you in the end? His argument was that he had to do something with it, and if he couldn't use it to get rich and powerful, why not use it to make the rest of his life easier. Her compromise was to balance it out, for every time
he floated something, use his hands to do the next thing. And he just had to float that damn Pepsi.
His phone rang on the way there. He answered and put it on speaker, setting the phone down as he got to the counter. “October here, we should be talkin Halloween but somehow it's Christmas time already, can I get you a tree?”
Amelia laughed and told him he was ridiculous. “What're you doing, weirdo?”
“Nothin much, stranger, makin dinner. You?”
“Hey, I come around when I can. I got a lot going on right now.”
“Like, say, a new boyfriend?”
“Like, say, my job. I haven't seen anyone since Jake. I'm good with men for the moment.”
“No, I'll never be done with you. You're my forever man, the rest are just my
for-now guys. You know that. And what about you, is Cassie still around?”
“Almost every day.” He sighed. “But it's so frustrating not being able to tell her.”
“Maybe you should tell her, Jimmy. I'm not the only person in the world you can trust.”
“You're the only one I believe I can trust. What if I tell her and she inadvertently says something
in front of someone who's like, a murderer or something?”
"Then you float a vase at their head and call the police."
“It's not that easy, Amelia, and you know that.”
“You can't live with this forever, Jimmy, and you know that. This kind of thing will eat a person
“Oh, speaking from experience, are you?”
“You know I'm right, Jimmy. Do you really expect to spend your life with someone and never tell her one of the most important things about yourself? What if you move in together? You think you can control yourself enough not to float something in front of her? Let me guess, you'll just blame it on
“Worked on you.”
“Oh you're such a fucking comedian. That worked for like two years. I might never have figured it out on my own, but if you would have kept lying it would have destroyed our friendship. How many relationships have you lost because of this? How many will you lose? How many are you willing to just
give up because you think you can't trust anyone?”
“All of them, if I have to. I have you to lean on. That's enough for me.”
“And if I get married? I can't be your whole support system and someone else's wife at the same time, Jimmy.”
“Then be my wife.”
Amelia sighed. “One day you might say that and mean it, but right now you don't, and I can't imagine a time in the near future when you will. I love you, Jimmy, in all the ways a person can be
loved, but you aren't ready to be a husband, and I'm not sure you ever will be.”
He sat down at the table. He really hadn't meant it, and had never given the idea any serious consideration, but damn did the truth hurt.
“Jimmy, are you there?”
He floated the phone over and set it in front of himself.
“I'm sorry, Jimmy. I wasn't trying to hurt you.”
“I know,” he said. “I know. I love you, Amelia, call me later.” He hung up, floated it across the table, and decided he wasn't hungry after all. There was no way they could be together, and for more reasons than floating, but faced with the reality that she knew it as well made the whole thing somehow...
“You're not even in love with her, you asshole.” Which was actually true, he had never actually felt that deep attraction, that longing when she was gone, that inexplicable desire just to be near her. He'd had more than enough fantasies, but none of them were emotional. She was gorgeous, and she was kind. She was sexier than most of his exes, and she was more thoughtful too. She would probably be great in bed, and she was definitely great outside of it. Yet all she had ever been to him was Amelia. An awesomely amazing friend, yes, but a friend nonetheless. He never should have said something like that to her, especially when he didn't mean it.
The message notification sounded but he ignored it. He knew it was Annie, likely apologizing again, and he just couldn't deal with that. She hadn't done anything wrong. Yet he felt her words deep inside him, burning like a slow fire. He dialed Cassie and she picked up after a few rings.
“Hi babe, what're you doing?”
“I was going to eat, but all of sudden I'm not hungry. Wanna come over?”
“Babe, I can't really hear you.”
He floated the phone back across the table. “That better?”
“Absolutely. Did you ask me to come over?”
“Now, if you want. I'm kinda down right now.”
“Aww, babe, what happened?”
“Nothing, really, just a bad day. So you comin over?”
“Yeah, I'll be over in a few minutes, just let me take a shower.”
“Could you wait, and we'll take a bath together?”
“Babe, are you sure nothing happened?”
He thought about the first time Amelia had caught him floating something, and he had had to make up a convincing lie on the spot. He was never very good at it, but he couldn't tell his girlfriend that his feelings had just been hurt by his female friend's rejection, even if the proposal had been insincere. “Nothing happened, Doll Face, I just need a quiet night with you.”
“Put a pot on for me?”
“Of course.” He hung up and went to making the tea by hand. He had broken the balance rule far too many times in the last twenty minutes, for the next twenty he was going to have to make up for it. Of course, once Cassie got there he couldn't float anything at all, but whatever.
He made some mini-bagels, too, because she usually liked them with her tea. The pot was whistling when she got there. He floated the lid up as he passed on his way to greet her. A smile pulled across his face when he saw her, and he wrapped her up so tight she said she couldn't breathe. He put her down and apologized.
“Miss me much?” She was smiling, and kissed him, taking her time with it, her hands running up to his shoulder blades. “I missed you, too.”
“Come on, I've got bagels waiting too.”
“You made me bagels?”
“With cream cheese?”
He nodded again. “There's some blackberry preserves, too.”
“What? When did you get those?”
“Last week. I just forgot to tell you.”
“Well what a pleasant surprise.” She kissed him again.
They went together to the kitchen and he poured her a cup, then one for himself. He spread the cream cheese on a couple of bagels and put the plate in front of her, got the preserves out and set them down with a teaspoon.
“Thank you, now you ready to tell me what upset you?”
“Not really. Is that okay?”
“Are you admitting that something happened?”
“I'm willing to. If we don't have to talk about it.”
“We don't. I'm just glad you called me.”
“Who else would I call?”
“Amelia, Jimmy. I'm kind of insulted you even asked that. It's okay that you're close to her, I don't know why you think you have to downplay her role in your life. I'm not friends with anyone from my childhood, but I know that if you've kept so close for this long, she's important. Do you think I'd be jealous or something?”
She sipped her tea and took a bite of bagel. She wiped her mouth with a napkin from the holder in the center of the table. “Not of your relationship, but I do wish you would turn to me more often. I want to know more about you, Jimmy, I want to be close to you like she is, but I don't want to be where she is in your life. I hope to be more than that. A lot more.”
“You ready for that bath?”
“I'm serious, Jimmy. We're really good together. We could be so much better.”
He knew that she was right, and that Amelia was too. If he told Cassie, they could be something beautiful and lasting. He could also lose her altogether, though, and maybe worse.
They finished their tea, she ate both the bagels he'd made for her, and went to draw the bath. She tossed some crystals in, and some bubble bath as well. He watched her as she got undressed, admiring each bit as it was revealed. She held insecurities about more than a few parts of her body, but he thought she was probably the most attractive woman he'd ever met.
As she sank down into the frothing water, she looked up and asked if he was going to take his clothes off. “Or you just gonna stand there like you just saw your first boob?”
“Boob. I pick boob.”
She smiled. “Yeah?” rising just enough to reveal one breast, mostly covered in suds. “Now get those clothes off and get in here,” lowering herself again.
He did, sinking into the hot water behind her. She laid back and he put his arms around her waist. “I think I'm gonna quit my job.”
“What?!” She sat up and turned. “Is that what's bothering you?”
“Then why would you quit? I thought you were about to move up.”
“I don't think I want to. I've been thinking about it, and I'm just not really satisfied with my career path. I mean, what am I going to do, become a factory manager? And that's only if I get the right opportunities to fall my way. Otherwise I just work myself to the bone hoping. That place is so fucking depressing. I can't spend a third of my days there for the next fifty years. I'll drive my car into a bridge abutment on the way home one night.”
“You're not serious, are you? Tell me you haven't considered that.”
“No, but I will if I work in that place another ten years. I need something more. Something...exciting. I need to see some things. I need to experience shit.”
“Like what, Jimmy? It's not like we're exactly in a position to travel the world.”
No, they weren't, but they could be. They could have anything they wanted. That would mean doing things he'd told himself he never would,of course, but he hadn't been given his ability to work his life away in a factory, shut off from the world and the life to be lived there. Could he really just go on pretending he wasn't different?
“What if I told you that we could? What if I told you that money wouldn't matter? Would you go with me?”
“Jimmy, money does matter. It always will.”
“But what if it didn't? What if I hit the lottery?”
“Do you play the lottery?”
“Will you please just be irrational for a minute?”
“Okay, fine, I can't say I would, not without knowing what I was agreeing to. It sounds like you're talkin about robbing a bank or something.”
Was he? If he really wanted to leave his life, he would pretty much have to.
“Jimmy, tell me you're not.”
“No, Cassie, no, I'm not.”
She sighed. “Good, cause I was two seconds from slappin the piss out of you. What are you talking about, Jimmy? What's goin on?”
He looked at the sink. The toothbrush holder, with his toothbrush and hers for when she spent the night. The hand soap dispenser. The toothpaste standing on end. Annie had been right, he couldn't live forever hiding who he was, and the biggest part of him was something even his own parents never knew. If he was ever going to have any kind of meaningful life he had to let people in, even if that meant taking a risk. Even one as big as that.
He floated the toothpaste. His heart began to thud against the walls of his chest, like it was ten times too big, and the toothpaste froze just over her shoulder. Amelia had a suspicion before he told her, and she'd still freaked at first, and Cassie had no clue, no idea at all what he really was. Their relationship might as well have been sitting right there on that tube, except there would be no floor to
catch it. He brought his hand up and set the toothpaste down in his palm.
Cassie gasped. “How the f – Where'd that come from?” She looked back, toward the sink.
“Where did that come from?” She looked at him. “Jimmy, where did that come from?”
He took a breath. “I love you, Cassie.”
Her eyes widened. The smile made her face a brightening star. “I love you too, Jimmy.” She slung her soapy arms around his neck and squeezed.
Jimmy dropped the toothpaste and hugged her back. Maybe he would tell her. One day. When she needed to know why he was who he was, why he did the things he did, why he had no family and never spoke of them. But maybe understanding what made a person was less important than knowing the person it had made.