Jack’s small words that morning were incredibly attentive and kind. He wished me good morning—such a small thing—more than once with so much energy and attention, with such a kind look, if you saw it I think you would forgive me for feeling it to be significant. There is a way couples talk to each other, and Jack had started talking to me, looking at me, that particular way. To be so far at the end of myself and to be met with this warmth of affection made me feel warm and loved.
But I knew (and felt rather spitefully) the insecurity of all the looks and all the good-mornings-es. There was still the girl in Georgia. We were still officially just hanging out, whatever the hell that meant. I knew there was nothing solid to back up all of these small goodnesses and so I did not always reply in kind. I’m afraid at times I gave him little meannesses in return. I was generally guarded, attempting to be stalwart Eleanor and not betray the depth of my feelings. At one point, he looked at me with warmth, and all I could say in my exhausted stupor was how bad my allergies were. We sat drinking tea at a patisserie on our way downtown to meet Simon for lunch, and I told him he and my roommate would probably have a lot in common, in a teasing way that could have implied that I’d like to set them up. I was almost daring him to say something, to tell me with words what his actions and looks had been saying all week. He was not entirely functional that day either, but he didn’t slip. He said nothing substantial, nothing to give me false hope.
When we were alone close to St. Mary’s, he looked at me and said, “Well, it’s been great hanging out with you this week.” And I thought, so that’s it. And then said, with far less warmth than I felt, and with a chilled heart, “Yeah, it’s been great.”