My Night at Tom's
Tom Sloane began lighting the candles around his room, humming quietly to himself. He didn't want this to be just any old night. He wanted it to be special. On his bed lay a bouquet of red roses. It would prove he cared. He hoped.
He did care for Daria, deeply. Fine, things hadn't always gone smoothly, but it was a damn sight better than the way things had been going with Jane, toward the end.
The gummy bear episode had been particularly not fun.
But that was all behind him now. Jane, while fun and impulsive, wasn't quite the kind of impulsive he'd been secretly hoping she'd be. And there was no intellectual link to make up for that. And he'd been drawn to Daria. And, even though he'd been perfectly prepared to accept Daria's decision about not being ready for sex, he was a lot more prepared to accept her sudden change of heart.
Okay, so she'd seemed tense.
All right, downright reluctant.
-shouldn't that be telling you something, casanova?-
Great, he sighed. Here comes my conscience. Look, she said she was ready...
-and you believed her? every single time she put things off?-
She didn't the last time.
-why aren't you thinking about her mot...-
He choked the voice off and kept lighting the candles. After a moment, he started humming again. He wanted everything to be perfect.
* * *
The room was full of the smell of burning wax and roses. Eight o'clock had come and gone five minutes before. And still no Daria.
She's probably just late, he told himself, undaunted. Her parents probably kept her in, or she was in the middle of writing something and couldn't leave it there...
-or she's sitting in her room, reading, looking at the clock every five seconds and praying you don't call so she doesn't have to explain anything to you.-
He told himself it could be worse. He could actually be seeing Jiminy Cricket sitting on his shoulder, telling him to let his conscience be his guide.
-you screwed it up, tom. you screwed it up when you mentioned the condom in your wallet...-
Neon? Where'd she get the idea it was neon, anyway?
-you screwed it up when you didn't let her pick the time and place... you screwed it up when you didn't actually mention it again until just tonight. you let her stew over it, and not only are you not going to get any tonight, you're probably never going to see her again.-
No way. Daria stands by her opinions, holds to her promises. She said she'll be here and she'll be here. Then it occurred to him what that aggravating voice at the back of his head was saying. And I don't just care about 'getting any'!
-is that true? really? what about your breakup with jane? you got bored with her. and she never put out. is that what's going to happen with daria too? if she doesn't show tonight and the relationship does continue, will you get 'bored' with her too?-
No. It isn't like that. I care about her a lot. I'm doing this because she said she was ready and it might make her happy. It's not like I want to make her do...
-anything she doesn't want to do? isn't that kind of what you're doing? you pushed her for an answer down in that living room a few days ago. you know how she gets when you push her. was she being honest about being ready? ask yourself.-
Tom asked himself. And time ticked onward.
* * *
8:30 PM. The candles burned on - the room was warming up. The flowers were starting to look a little bit wilted, and he wondered if he should get some water for them.
Daria hadn't even called.
Tom sat on his bed, still waiting. Daria was a busy girl, for all she wasn't as activity-conscious as Jodie Landon. Between homework and her own writing, she might have clear forgotten the time. He remembered Jane - and the gummy bear incident. She'd been like a tiger when he'd accidentally messed up her art project plans by eating the finishing touch. If he called Daria now, and she was in the middle of an important essay (or worse, a short story), he'd meet the same fate. It wasn't something he wanted to repeat.
Oh, will you go away?
-you're afraid to call her because she might be there. because she might tell you 'no' and hang up. or you'll get jake or helen or worse, quinn. they're not going to be very happy with you after last week.-
-so you're going to sit there hoping that she'll show and fearing that she won't and what will you say if she shows up right now?-
I'll invite her in, make her comfortable...
-you think she's going to be comfortable here? with this agenda? you're fooling yourself.-
She said she was ready. I'm going to take her at her word!
There was silence. People who meditate say that the hardest thing to do is think of absolutely nothing, and Tom wasn't, but there was nothing verbal about his thoughts for a second. He was seeing Daria peeling off her jacket, her shirt, revealling a plain white bra that he'd only felt, never seen...
And then he saw her eyes. Without the glasses, in his mind he was looking deep into her eyes. And the sight he saw there gave him his answer.
Because I trust her. And if she can't ... doesn't feel she's ready ... I'll accept it and deal with it tomorrow.
-no disappointment? none?-
* * *
At around nine o'clock, Tom hung up the phone.
-no disappointment at all?-
I never said that.
And the flowers, a little more wilted now, landed in his wastepaper basket with a crackling thump.
This was just for fun. MTV, don't sue me please.
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