This is the pertinent fact of the matter:
We were five and now we are three.
Put like that, it doesn’t sound too bad. The team used to be only three before. Now we’re back to original numbers, if not the original line-up.
Alvin and Brian and I–we were three, once.
Then came Joy, on an intermittent basis, then Leanne from decades in the future.
Five mismatching parts trying to make a whole.
Then goodbye to Leanne, gone as quickly as she came. Goodbye to Brian who always tried to reach beyond himself.
Three doesn’t seem enough anymore.
Outside the door to what’s-her-face’s room, I hesitate.
It’s not a sudden realization, or even a slow creeping one, but rather a reorientation of attitude.
There is no point in continuing the one-sided petulance. It’s more energy than it’s worth. And who does it help? Not what’s-her-face, and certainly not me.
I still don’t think I should be here. But I’m here and being an asshole isn’t going to change that.
Before I can get a hand on the doorknob, what’s-her-face opens the door.
She doesn’t look surprised to see me.
“Ah, good idea, Curtis. Just a second,” she says, gesturing with one hand, before shutting the door in my face.
I stare, stupidly, until she opens the door again, this time with a jacket and scarf on.
She locks the room behind her and walks to the end of the hallway.
“Well, come on!” she prompts, waving me over.
I follow, bewildered.
Outside the building, the weather is chilly. Weak winter sun filtering down through the clouds, but harsh winds more than making up for it. Our breaths puff out as quickly vanished steam.
“What are we doing?” I ask, confused. It seems like today is the day of confusion.
“Have you eaten, Curtis?” she asks, “I’m hungry.”
It’s three in the afternoon.
I say as much out loud.
“That is neither an answer or an argument. Come on, there’s a diner at the end of the block.”
“Is this allowed?” I ask, but follow her anyway. I could always go for pancakes.
“It’s your therapy,” she says with a shrug.
The diner is one of those old relics, clean but aged poorly–not one of those fashionably retro places. I’m not sure if it’s empty because of the time or because of unpopularity.
Regardless, I’m always up for some pancakes.
It’s a mostly quiet session, consisting of eating noises and the casually indifferent check ins from the waiter.
At the end, Simone pays for the check and leads us back before the hour is up.