Well. Peter loved her. What an idiot she was!
For some strange reason, she'd always thought of Peter as just a fun date. A fun date who could kiss.
No, that wasn't true. She'd never really thought of him as a fun date, she just acted like she did. Well, she didn't do that either. She told herself she thought of him as a fun date, but she knew she didn't.
She was afraid. It was as simple as that. She'd never told anyone that she loved them except for her sister. She had said, "I loved you." Well, she that's what said she thought. The present tense eluded her.
My parents didn't love each other. Maybe they did. Who knows? They never said it. I'm pretty sure they love me, but they never said that either. The only reason I think that is because I know it was a given. Parents love their children unconditionally. But in my family, you don't say it.
I thought people would just . . . know when you love them. I know my parents love me. I know Jeanie and Brad love me, and Phillip, too. I even know Peter loves me. But tell them?
This is craziness. Peter was just worked up—now, you know that's not true, she scolded herself. He meant every word of it, and you just walked away to leave him hanging. How could you do such a thing? Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why didn't you say you love him?
I'll tell you why. You're frightened. Remember that part?
Autumn had made her way up to her room. She found herself standing in front of the mirror. Autumn surveyed herself as objectively as possible.
I don't know what he sees in me. I'm not really all that pretty. I'm not unattractive, but not particularly pretty. I caught Peter in a restaurant with a very pretty girl once—model pretty. What was her name? Janet? Janie? Janice? Not that it matters.
Do you love Peter or not? she asked herself silently. "I don't know—I don't want to think about this!"
You're not going to stop. It's a lie anyway—you do too want to think about this.
Why must you always lie to yourself? You do it a lot. But can you trust me—you?
"Oh, shut up!" Autumn yelled. "I will just . . . stop thinking and go to sleep!"
My, the ceiling is interesting, she thought. Her plan was not working. Sleep refused to come.
Finally, Autumn gave in. She drummed her fingers on her knee, waiting to get tired.
You can't get tired if you're not doing anything.
"Do you want me to do something?" she asked herself. Luckily, she didn't answer.
"It is impossible to have a serious conversation with myself with you two around!" Autumn yelled in what she thought was the general direction of the author and narrator.
Is she talking to us?
"I don't know what she thinks she'll do if we desert her."
We don't have any choice but to stay here and watch.
"We could cut to morning."
The next morning dawned on Autumn still drumming her fingers.
"Hey! It's only five in the morning! Put the sun back down."
"Well, that failed."
To say the least.
"Can't you ever avoid understating the obvious?!"
"Too bad. Tell 'em the sun set."
The sun set again. In fact, just pretend like that never happened—the sun's been down all night.
Autumn was back in her usual night time surroundings, and thankful for it.
Autumn was still in her room, drumming her fingers. Nothing ever happened. The sun never came up. And the author just rolled her eyes at me.
"Can we be serious here? I'm having a life struggle over here! Back to me. Thanks."
"Yeah, just shut up already."
"I can't go on like this! Look, I've got my motivation down pat, I had my lines until you two started goofing off, and now you've ruined the whole thing . . . I think I'm gonna cry."
For heaven's sake! Don't do that!
"What else am I supposed to do?" she sobbed. "I'm already distraught and I have you two picking on me now!"
Aw, hey. Do you want us to call Peter in?
"No, I do not need him now. While this may just be a story to you, and we may just be fictional characters to you, these are our lives you're playing with here, fictional though they may be!"
I'll be right back.
It looks as though our actions may have some serious implacations.
"Yes, I noticed."
"Excuse me? You may be ruining my life, but I'd like the power back on." The lights and other electric devices restarted, and Autumn was finally alone with her thoughts.
Back to the problem at hand. Autumn bit her lip. Even after that interlude, she wasn't ready to answer the real question.
Fine, then, we'll weigh the facts. I met Peter on August seventh, sixty-five. I went out with him for the first time on August thirteenth. The next time was February thirteenth, Peter's birthday. Then a couple more times in February, then there was the Jan-whatever incident in March. And there was Micky's birthday party, and my birthday, and the mugging . . . this isn't efficient.
Perhaps adventures would be better . . . mugging, cruise, the fire, Rachel & Gia, today, the Monkeemobile gift . . . perhaps that's not the best method.
It has nothing to do with facts or logical reasoning, Socrates. Your boyfriend—yes, I said boyfriend—said that he loves you, and you just walked away. What were you thinking?
Read the story, idiot. My, but don't I beat up on myself? This is all beside the point! Do you love Peter or don't you?
Why wouldn't you? Would you have dated him if you didn't? Then again, there's Jon . . . aw, he doesn't count. We're talking voluntary.
Can you honestly say you love him?
I'd be lying if I said I didn't. Does that mean I love Peter?
WHY IS THIS A SOURCE OF SUCH VEXATION?! Why doesn't this just come naturally? Peter says, "I love you," I say, "I love you." ANYBODY HOME?!
Hello, youre a girl, it means something to you!
It doesn't mean any less coming from Peter. Would it mean less from you?
Autumn stopped short. That was it. No. It won't mean any less when I tell him today. After a little sleep.
Autumn lay down on the bed again just before her alarm went off. With a frustrated scream, she picked up her alarm clock and hurled it against the far wall, sending it to its speedy demise in an explosion of gears and springs.
Nevertheless, half an hour later, she was up and showered. Autumn had things to do on this red letter day. She dug out her best dress—which Peter happened to love—and put her hair up, which she hardly ever did.
Just as she got to the door, there was a knock at the door. Autumn answered it, of course.
"Good morning," said the unfamiliar man on her front porch. "Autumn, I presume?"
"Yes. Do I know you? I'm afraid I'm in a hurry this morning."
"I don't think so. You'll probably want to pack a bag and come with me."
"Oh really? Well, I'm afraid that I have to burst your bubble. If my mother sent you to get me tell her I'm a big girl. Can you remember the whole message or should I write it down for you? No? Then run on."
"I don't know how your mother is, girl, but neither one of us is going anywhere."
"And why is that?" This is not a day to mess with me, buddy.
"I've got one good reason." The man looked down at his hand. Autumn followed his gaze to the gun in his hands.
She laughed nervously. "Won't you come in?"