Chapter 64 The Prom

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The first few weeks after the break up went by easier than I imagined. I can cope with this, I told myself. I thought I was doing okay, but the worst of it came when Flora called me and told me she got in NYU.

I was happy for her, but there was also a sense of loss, telling me that everything was pointless now. We used to talk about a future together before that future came crashing down on me. In the end it really didn't matter where she went to school. She would go to Central Park and MOMA with some other guy, and I had no one to build a mechanical dog for anymore.

Flora damaged me like a blast of hurricane. She came on fast and strong, left rapidly with messy trails, and I was abandoned to deal with the aftermath alone. I didn't know how much longer it'd take to get over her, but I did know I was nowhere near ready.

After hanging up the phone, I went to the café Nicholas worked at. The place was overpriced and snooty, but I went sometimes so I could leave him a tip and help him out a little. When I sat down he was busy behind counters, so I cracked open my German textbook.

I finally had a motivation to study. Jake and Dylan were counting on me to lure in European girls for them, after all.

"Hey, what can I get you?" Nicholas appeared, pleasant as usual. He once told me jokingly that they were supposed to intimidate the customers by acting overbearing, so that they would subconsciously feel that buying a cup of coffee here made them cooler. He could never be anything but nice though.

"I want something dark." To match my thoughts.

"I'll get you a French Roast." A while later he set it down on my table, the end of his thin purple tie touching the table. As if sensing my mood, he added, "I'm not busy now if you want company."

"That'd be nice."

He pulled up a chair and sat down across from me. I wanted to talk to someone who wouldn't judge me, like him, but I didn't know where to start.

"She comes here sometimes," he said after a brief silence.

I nodded. Flora already told me, just like everything else about her life that she was eager to share.

"She's always asking about you."

It was what I expected, and I knew Flora still cared about me and wanted me in her life, albeit under a different title. I couldn't give her that, however, just like I didn't know how to be a good boyfriend for her. I told her I'd make it worth it and that falling in love with me would be the best crazy thing she ever did, but it really wasn't.

"I've been thinking a lot about what I did wrong," I said, watching the smoke rise from the mug, stretching out across the air.

"What's the conclusion?"

"I think she changed a lot for me, but I wasn't able to do the same for her. There were things I was willing to do, but I also had to draw the line somewhere. Flora's like...she can give up everything for me."

"You think she tried harder for the relationship?"

"Yes, but in my defense, I tried too. There are just some core values that I can't change, no matter how much I love her. Giving up MIT for New York, for example. And Janet thinks I should let her hang out with other guys, but she's too close with them. It's not just grabbing a bite together after class. It's hanging out in a house alone or partying after midnight, and even though I know where she's coming from, it's hard for me to approve of it."

He gave me a non-committal nod, to show that he heard rather than he agreed. "And you think it's your fault that you can't change for her?"

"Yeah. I was too stubborn about a lot of things. She wanted to have a break instead of a breakup, and I couldn't agree to that either."

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