Kristi doesn't cry. Not for movies, not for sad songs by Elton John or Billy Joel or whoever. She simply does not cry. Which isn't to say she never feels bad, quite the contrary. She feels like shit every god damn day. She hates her job, her lascivious boss and the dolts she calls co-workers. They constantly look at her boobs (lucky or unlucky, they're quite perky) and every time she turns around, some graying forty-something in the midst of a mortality crisis darts his eyes from her ass to her face and tells her she smells nice today.Her cuticles peel in little strips and they bleed like teardrops from her envelope-stuffing fingertips and sometimes she thinks she should cry, but she doesn't. Not over her job. The office gods will never get that sort of satisfaction, no sir. That honor was left to the doctor who smacked her ass upon popping out of her mother's fifteen-year-old womb. According to Mom, that was the first and last time little Kristi shed a tear and no matter how hard life got for the two of them, Kristi realized someone had to be Man of the House and that someone would be her.
So Kristi does not cry. She watched her mother do it for years over money, boyfriends and, sometimes, Kristi. Not that she was trouble or anything. Kristi did well in school (straight A's, extra-curricular activities, et cetera, et cetera), went to college and even met a nice boy with whom she thought she could spend the rest of her life. That is, until he went crazy and started crying all the time.
He had issues; she was having a hard enough time dealing with her own life and that of her crazy mother. Throwing another log onto that particular bonfire was not on Kristi's top-ten list of fun things to do. So she gave him the boot and of course he cried some more which almost made her cry too, but she didn't do it. It took a few cold breaths through her nose and a lot of floor- and wall-looking as well as some of that fingering-the-hair business. But guess what? She didn't shed a single tear. Not one. Even when he left the apartment without a word, head down, tears gone, shaking his head as if to say, "You're making a gigantic mistake" and she felt like the biggest asshole on the planet, still nothing.
And now, two years later, walking home from her shitty job and sucking on her bleeding fingers, she sees Him.
And he's not alone.
He's holding hands with someone. A girl. A beautiful girl who looks nothing like Kristi. And they're laughing. He's laughing. Laughing so hard, he doesn't notice Kristi walk right by the two of them. But Kristi notices. And she watches. Watches them continue their merry little way down the sidewalk; watches as he slips his hand under that girl's jacket, squeezes her hip and pulls her close.
Then it happens.
He glances back over his shoulder and there's just enough light from street lamps and neon signs for Kristi to see the smile fade from his scruffy face as their eyes meet.
And she feels it, pushing up from her chest and into her throat. A hiccup, puke maybe, she doesn't know, but the pressure forces her to turn and run. She runs all the way back to her apartment building, past the old grubby security guard and into the elevator. Her nose leaks and she sniffles as she presses the button for the fourth floor hundreds of thousands of times over and over and over again but the doors just won't close fast enough. She turns her back on the doors as they slide shut and the elevator begins to make its slow rickety ascent up to the fourth floor. She drops her head against the icy orange wall, forcing it back with deeper and deeper breaths.
She won't do it. She can't do it. She's physically unable to do it. Kristi knows it. He knows it. He's not worried, he's happy now. Kristi missed out on the whole thing, the crying, the laughing and the hand on the hip.
The elevator comes to a jolting stop and Kristi bumps her head. The pressure builds. The doors slide open. The bleach white fluorescents hurt her eyes. She steps out into the hallway fumbling for her keys. She can't hold onto them; they keep slipping out of her sweaty, bleeding fingers. Which one's her apartment? All the doors, they all look the same! She looks up at the ceiling, into the excruciating white lights, mouth open, gasping for air. She can feel the pressure building in the back of her eyes and in her sinuses, that sniffling itch at the thought of being without him.
She doesn't want to do it. Oh, God how she doesn't want to do it!
Back against the wall, Kristi slides to the floor