It was still warm outside at night. We were at a poetry reading and in her poem she spoke of an event that in the past would have held a secret shared moment between us. In the past we would have surreptitiously caught each other’s eye and oh so discreetly smiled. A knowing moment of times gone by would have passed between us in a room filled with people, and only we would be aware. But not tonight, not this time. I look at you and I see you purposely avoiding my eye. I see how stiff you hold your neck, how rigidly you stare above my head, how purposeful you are in your ignorance of me. YOU WILL NOT LOOK AT ME NO MATTER WHAT . . . and then I know. All my suspicions of the past several weeks are confirmed in that moment. Before then I could pretend that I was just imagining things, but not now . . . now I know. Soon I will dream of you and I will be wearing exactly what I am wearing tonight, but I don’t know that now. All I know now is everything has changed, and you didn’t even bother to tell me.
Fall sets in, the air gets cool. I wait for you to tell me the truth, but you won’t, you don’t. A few weeks later, it is no longer warm outside at night, you invite me to spend your birthday with you and I wonder “was I wrong”? But I call you the morning of your birthday and you do not answer, I know I’m not wrong. She is there and you will call me when she leaves. You call me later, I come over and see the evidence that you have not hidden well enough. I say “I’m going to have a cigarette”, I step outside on the front porch . . . and cry quietly. It’s your birthday, I can’t say anything on your birthday and it’s really not my business anymore . . . but I did think we were closer than this. You ask me to send a card to your mother and I’m sad for the girl who was here just a few hours before. She is not spending your birthday with you or sending a card to your mother. She doesn’t know what’s in store for her, but I do, and I hurt for her.
Many weeks later I am at your house for dinner. It has not been warm outside at night for a long time. I see the evidence again and I think “It must be hard to tell me, I will help him”. I ask you about it, giving you an opportunity to get it out so we can have openness and honesty. You pretend not to hear me. I have a moment to renege on my question. I can drop it right here and not hear the truth, and in my nanosecond of hesitation I have unwittingly given you time to dream up your lie. And lie you do. I ask again, I will not be daunted, and you look at me . . . . and lie to me. You look your friend in the eye and spew a river of bile. You tell me more than I had asked, always a sign of lying, and your lie is so outrageous it’s insulting. If I hadn’t been so stunned and hurt I would have laughed at the sheer audacity and stupidity of it. I let you have your lie, what else can I do? I lost my friend weeks ago. It is snowing and cold outside now, but I lost my friend when it was still warm outside at night. I have clawed on to my friendship with you, looking away, ignoring what I see and hoping it will all go away . . . and it does. It goes away, but not in the way I had hoped.It will take several more weeks for what remains of our friendship it to die its slow painful death but it began in summer, when it was still warm outside at night.
And now, many years later I watch your duplicitous nature with someone else. I watch you lie to her. It has been summer, fall, winter, spring, and then summer again many times since that first time . . . when it was summer, when it was still warm outside at night.