General Fiction posted December 28, 2017

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
A breakup leads to a couple being more honest

Bowl of Rice

by tlray149

She dropped her chop sticks suddenly and went to grab a cardboard box. She returned to the kitchen and took the half-eaten bowl of rice and put it in her box.
"What are you doing?" PJ asked.
"I can't do this anymore," Ally responded.
"What are you talking about?
"We can't just keep talking about how good or bad the rice is. I can't be here anymore."
"You really have to go? Can't we just finish lunch?
"I've thought about this and I have to go.'
"Was it something I said?"
"No, it was the opposite. We don't talk anymore. We've been in this apartment for an hour and the only thing we've exchanged are pleasantries. We've dated for almost a year and we've barely said anything to each other for the past six months."
PJ followed Ally into the living room like a puppy.
"Can you hand me that picture frame over there?"
PJ grabbed the picture of him and Ally at a Thai restaurant and handed it to her. Ally took the picture out and put the frame in her box. She let the picture fall to the floor.
"We've had some good times though, right?"
"PJ, it's not my job anymore to make you feel good about yourself. Ever since I've known you you've had a confidence issue. At first it was cute but now you need to grow a pair."
"So it's over?"
"Yep, it's over."
"Over over?"
"Ugg. Yes."
He sat in silence as she went around the apartment getting her stuff. PJ's heart lurched. He racked his head for something else to say.
"Is there another guy?" he said sheepishly.
"No, although there's a cute guy I've seen at the gym... I'm sure you'll find someone else too. What about Mary? I've seen you eye her a couple of times. It made me jealous."
"Mary's nice but she's not very fun. She only wants to stay at home and watch movies, plus she complains all the time. I loved it when you and I would go hiking. Those were good times. Although you always made me carry the gear."
"You said you didn't mind!"
"Of course I did. You would have complained that you'd be too tired for work."
"I couldn't slack off in front of my clients."
"You teach yoga to children!"
Ally would have been angry if it wasn't for her surprise at PJ's attack. He'd never done that before. There was a long pause and Ally continued to gather her toiletries from the bathroom.
"I know you don't like surprises. Will you be alright for your presentation next week?" she said.
"I'll figure something out. After you leave I'll probably give Frank a call and we'll go drink and talk about how horrible you are."
Ally was again surprised with PJ's bluntness. She pretended as if the blow didn't affect her.
"Haha, I've always hated Frank. He always hated me for taking you away from him."
"Yeah, he's had it rough with relationships; I've been his only consistent friend since college."
"That's cool that you're always there for him but I hated it when you had to leave early."
"Really? You always seemed so encouraging."
"Of course I did. What girlfriend would tell her boyfriend not to console his best friend?"
"I wish you would have said something. There were some nights that he was just being selfish and I could have come back."
"You're too nice to have done that. You can't say 'no' to anyone."
"I can say no. I do it all the time."
"No you can't. You'd give someone your right nut if they asked for it."
"Well jokes on them since you think I need to grow a pair."
Ally gave a deep hearty laugh. It's the hardest she could remember laughing. She turned to PJ and stared at him with a daring look.
"If you think you can say no, then say no to this: give me a kiss." She puckered up and leaned close to him.
"No, you're horrible." He said and pushed her away.
"Oh, look at Mr. Bigman, trying to make a point."
Ally continued clearing her stuff, going into the living room to grab her pillows from the couch. PJ went into the guest bedroom to play on the computer. Only the noise of Ally opening cabinets, ruffling blankets, and throwing things on the floor filled the apartment.
"Before you leave, don't forget to take your cat," PJ said flatly.
"I got him for you."
"What made you think I wanted a cat?"
"You were always coming home from work stressed and I thought he'd help."
"Get me a stress ball then, not a cat!"
"Why not? Cats are cute, warm, and you can cuddle with them."
PJ stormed into the bedroom where Ally packed her clothes she left at his apartment.
"Why do you think I dated you. Besides, I'm allergic."
"You never told me that!"
"Then what did I mean when I said, 'Thanks for the cat Ally but I can't take him, I'm allergic.'?"
"You didn't say that!"
Ally contemplated this for a moment and started to doubt her memory.
"What did I say?" she said sheepishly.
"You just responded with, 'Oh, it's not that bad, besides the good outweighs the negative.'"
"If only you stood up for your...", Ally stopped. PJ had been a good boyfriend and she didn't want to end on a bad note. She started picking out her underwear from his drawer.
"I'm sorry PJ. I wish I would have listened better."
PJ nodded his head in acceptance and started looking for the cat. After finding it, and using rubber gloves, PJ carried it in his outstretched arms like it was Simba from the Lion King. He put it, all and its things, in Ally's, now overfilled, box.
"Well I better get going. Thanks for the times we had together," said Ally.
"What happened between us? Why are you leaving Ally?" PJ said with utter sternness.
She gave a deep sigh and thought for a moment. "We just became... comfortable. Not the happy, content, we've-done-a-lot-so-let's-just-rest comfortable. It was the I'm-not-going-to-go-anywhere-else- I-like-where-we're-at comfortable. I will say that you have always been kind and romantic to me and I like that about you."
"And you've always made things interesting," PJ responded.
Ally felt burdened and like a jerk. What could she say to make him feel a little better? "Can we be friends?" is what she came up with.
PJ paused and considered her words.
Ally was shocked. She didn't think he would be so blunt or mean. PJ took a deep breath.
"Ally, we've been more open and honest in the last 30 minutes than we've been in months. I remembered why I'm attracted to you: you're smart, impressive and brave. I don't know of anyone who would give up a spot at a law firm to become a yoga instructor. And I remember why I've been scared to stand up for myself, especially to you. It's because I think so highly of you, I value your opinion more than anyone else's, even my own. But now, now I think you're wrong. If you walk out that door we'll both regret it. You're too stubborn to come back and I'd be too scared to pursue you. You make my life more exciting and even though I'm 'comfortable' I know I've made your life more peaceful. I promise to not be a homebody so much but you need to listen to me more. No Ally, we can't be friends because the only thing we can be is together."
PJ's heart exploded in his chest, the veins in his neck started pulsating, and the sweat in his palms started to drip onto the floor. Ally gulped and starred with wide eyes at the floor. They stood frozen as if an artist was painting every detail. Ally then looked up at him, dropped the box on the floor and flung her arms around him. The cat finished eating the bowl of rice.

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