DRUM

They had a good enough time, dinner and a movie, and she could tell that Alex made a huge effort for the night to go off without a hitch, keep his cool. Things hadn’t been too good between them at all the last few weeks, at least that’s how she saw it. It was one scene after another with him, over and over, and when there was tension he retreated behind a wall of silence, totally withdrew. Or got rude with her, condescending.

She wasn’t aware of this at all back in January when they first met.

Nina wasn’t used to such a dynamic and it was starting to cramp her style. One day up, the next day down. One day there, the next day not. Alex explained after the first big blow out that it was his lack of self-esteem; although when they first met he was charming enough, engaging her in conversation and laughing and telling jokes and the like. He really made an impression. Tonight was the first time she’d seen him in a week. The last time it was just way too much hurt for her, too much pain.

Besides, arguing and fighting and bad words weren’t something she was used to.

They walked together down the steps into the parking lot of the Cineplex. Alex was quiet, and Nina had no idea at all if he was preoccupied with something, or mad. Hard to tell with people sometimes, right? She really was fond of him; somewhat crazy about him if you wanna know the truth. But this walking on eggshells thing was starting to get old.

This isn’t what she signed up for.

She tried to take Alex’s hand, but he didn’t let her. “So’d you enjoy the movie?” she asked.

“It was okay, I would’ve rather seen Captain of the Muse like I told you.”

“Well next time we can see Captain of the Muse if you want.”

No response.

“Do you want to go for ice cream?” she asked.

He looked at her but said nothing. She felt it was a dirty look, you know how not only could you see it but you could feel it?  But there wasn’t any reason for him to give her a dirty look.  She didn’t do anything, what the hell?. When they got to the car Alex stood by the driver’s side, fussing around in his pockets; then he looked over the car at her face.

“I don’t have my keys, do you have them?”

Nina shook her head no, walking around to his side of the car. “Are you sure? Aren’t they in your pocket?”

“No they’re not in my friggin pocket, I already looked there. Why would I ask if you had my keys without checking my pockets first?”

“I have no idea Alex, come on. They gotta be somewhere.”

“Like where? I don’t have them.”

Nina peered into the car window. “They’re not in the car.”

“Do you think I’d really lock my keys in the car Do you think I’m that stupid?”

“No Alex, I don’t know. Where could they be?”

Alex smashed his hand on the hood. “I knew something like this would happen.”

“What are you talking about, how could you know? We have to look for them, retrace our steps. Maybe they fell out of your pocket in the movie, let’s go back in and see.”

Alex wiped his face, muttering to himself, checking and rechecking his pockets, looking next to and under the car. “This isn’t my fault. This is just too depressing I can’t believe this.”

He started walking around in circles, feeling his pockets over and over, seemingly panicked. “Well what are we gonna do?”

“Let’s go back inside, they’ve got to be somewhere, I mean we drove the car here right?” She mustered a laugh, trying to break the tension somewhat. But she knew this was the end of the road. “Alex, please. Don’t let it ruin your night. You say it’s your fault, it’s nobody’s fault.”

He ignored her.  She could see he was stuck in a whirlwind of emotion. Or was he? To be honest she couldn’t even tell—he was a million miles away.

“Alex don’t let it ruin your night.”

“Will you shut the hell up already?”

Nina turned around in a huff and began the walk back to the Cineplex.

“Nina where are you going?”

She turned around to Alex. “Where do you think I’m going, to look for your keys.”

He followed behind her.  “Did you check your purse? Maybe I gave them to you.”

“Alex I don’t have your keys. You shut off the car and we got out and went to the movies. That’s it. Why in the world would I have your keys anyway? Why do you have to make such a big deal of everything?”

He ignored that as they walked side by side together in the cold night, Alex trying to keep up. “It’s just too depressing Nina I can’t believe this could happen to me.”

“Alex things happen and you’re gonna have to get used to it. I can’t take this anymore. It’s everytime we’re together.  You really gotta lighten up.” She quickened her pace, going back up the steps. “Everything’s such a big deal with you all the time. It’s too much drama for me. You’re too uptight, wound tighter than a drum. Find your own damn keys.”

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