As I sat on the brick steps smoking my third cigarette, I carefully went over all of my possible options in my head. I could knock. He might answer. He might not. If he didn’t, I would think he was at home and just avoiding me. His dog would bark if I knocked a second time. If he was asleep, the bark would wake him. I could text or call him to let him know I was outside his place. That might make me look desperate. I was beginning to think that I was. What if he had another woman over? Or worse, what if he didn’t – what if he was alone and just didn’t want to see me? I could hear footsteps inside. For a moment I decided that this meant he was definitely home. It didn’t though. It could just be his large dog, Chuck. My stomach was suddenly in knots. I really loved Chuck.
I had always let Nick get away with much more than he deserved to, simply because I couldn’t bear the possibility of tainting our relationship to the point where I could no longer see Chuck. Chuck liked me, too. More than all of the other girls who stayed over at Nick’s place on a regular basis, I was sure. He didn’t bark whenever he saw me approaching through the permanently foggy front windows. He never failed to lick my face. It was kind of disgusting. I didn’t care. Nick loved Chuck as much as I did. He respected Chuck’s opinion. Maybe if he saw how much his beloved dog adored me, he would begin to adore me too. I knew that wasn’t true. But it was a lovely thought.
On my fourth cigarette, I walked around the back to where Nick usually parked his black BMW 3 series to see if it was there. Even if it was, that didn’t necessarily mean that he was home. But there it was. That shiny black car which I tried so hard not to be attracted to. It was an inanimate object. But it was pretty. It didn’t have feelings. It was incapable of hating me or thinking I was nuts. I knew I probably would never sit in its leather passenger seat again. I stroked it. Oh my god. It was after midnight, I had sweat dripping in between my breasts, and I was stroking a car that didn’t even belong to me.
I was on the side of his house now. I could hear that the TV in his bedroom was on. He was home. I wondered for a moment how things had gotten to that point. Instead of lying beside him in his California King, I had been behaving like a stalker outside of his place for forty-five minutes. I began pacing. I needed to get out of there before he heard me. If I had only left then, he’d never have known I had been there at all. He would never truly know the level of crazy I was capable of. The sensible thing for me to do was to leave right then.
But true to my character, I didn’t do the sensible thing. I never did. I lit a fifth cigarette and sat back down on the brick front steps. They were so fucking clean. He must have gotten them cleaned professionally. He would, I thought. Old brick should never be quite so red and scuff-free. It didn’t look right. Fake, almost. The bricks of his front steps looked fake. Fake brick. Who would choose to have fake brick? Real brick is cheap, it’s sturdy. What were they, plastic? Jesus. It was 12:33 am.
I knew Nick’s routine well. He typically came outside sometime between 12:15 and 12:45 to have one last cigarette and let Chuck out before heading to bed. I knew he would be coming out soon. He would find me sitting there like a desperate and crazy ex-girlfriend. Except I wasn’t an ex-girlfriend. I was just a slightly buzzed ex-something who was beginning to lose her senses. He would nearly trip over me, probably. Fuck. My heart started racing. It was my last chance to leave, to run away. To not be found out. I could go on and pretend like this had never happened. But I stayed. I consciously chose to stay on those plastic-looking brick front steps for a little bit longer. I knew then that I was out of my god damned mind. At least I knew it.