Initially, Scott loved Chloe’s best friend. Upon meeting Chloe, however, he mimed mock lust. His eyes widened, transfixed, and his jaw slackened whenever she appeared.
“Turn it down,” Chloe said.
“Yeah, sure. Sorry for drooling.”
Chloe’s roommate graduated and Scott acquired his father’s car. They saw movies and concerts; drove to the mountains and hiked for hours.
In public they shared secret signals, a repertoire involving countless expressions. They cooed and kissed for all to see. But Scott’s mock lust changed to wariness. He swung her hand. “No expectations.”
Yet they gravitated together constantly. When not cooing and kissing, they indulged in running taunts, vying for dominance. Until impatient Chloe seduced him. She sat in his lap and kissed him in earnest. She broke into phony accents and clichés. “Our fate is sealed.” “Birds cry.” “Say when.”
Even once, that was too much. But without words, they lost perspective until Scott lifted her away. “I’m tired, Chloe. Good night.”
She flipped imaginary coins before knocking on his door, which he swung open immediately.
After an ecstatic week, Scott suggested they get engaged. “For fun.”
“As a prank.”
She chose a ring from a pawn shop and swanned around campus, showing off the “fabulous gem.” But Chloe’s amateur burlesque annoyed people.
Scott fixed that. “When someone says, ‘Congratulations,’ you say, ‘Thank you.’”
Obviously. But while accumulating many congratulations and blushing her thanks, Chloe gradually forgot it was just a joke. The dean threw them an engagement party. Spinning in a pretty new dress, she felt very engaged.
They continued spending all their time together. During classes, Chloe wrote him love letters.
Months later, Scott’s phone rang with urgent messages, which he refused to answer until alone. He would depart at midnight, return at dawn, and hurry unshaven and whistling from the parking lot.
“We have such great sex,” Chloe said. “It never occurred to me you’d cheat.”
“It’s intense,” Scott agreed. “But sometimes I like tranquility.”
“Tranquility” meant he loved someone else. Nothing she could do. But anytime he approached her (as often as ever), she agreed eagerly. Heartbroken or not, she loved Scott and nobody else.
During the summer he stayed away. Her friends said, “Just wait. He’ll be back.” Chloe intended to be gone by then. She saved money but it wasn’t enough.
He phoned in August. Something had happened. He needed to marry his summer secretary. Jocelyn wasn’t pregnant but he couldn’t escape—family issues. For real or not, Scott wept; he wanted them both.
That startled Chloe. It released a torrent of anger: no more fake tears or false feelings.
Even after he was married, Scott called her. Chloe had nothing to say.
He called before her own wedding night. “I’m not like you, Scott. Don’t call again. Ever.”