It takes Cassie five minutes to get inside her apartment. She seems to lack the mental ability to find the key on her key chain that will open her door. When she is finally able to get inside, she throws her purse on the floor and slumps on the couch. What am I doing with my life, she thinks. Loud chirping sounds interrupt her thoughts, and she stares at the direction they are coming from. Looking through her window she sees a large flock of birds, probably migrating away from the cold winds, flying over the nearby buildings. She knows it’s silly, but she can’t help but feel jealous. The only time these birds lose their mates is when their mates are eaten by cats or hit by airplanes. They never have to worry about these mates coming back into their life.
Cassie’s mind goes to the horrible experience she just had at Starbucks. Just as she was experiencing warm and fuzzy feelings for Max, Joe had shown up. “Hey Cass, what a small world,” Joe had said to her.
“I know right,” Cassie said, trying to keep her voice, and her hands, from shaking.
“Hi, I’m Joe,” her former lover told Max as he gave him his hand to shake.
“I’m Max,” her coffee date replied. “How do the two of you know each other?”
“Oh Cass and I go way back,” Joe replied. “We’ve known each other since college.”
“Do you want to join us,” Max suggested, his naive innocent eyes stared at a nearby chair.
“No, I really have to get going,” Joe replied, and with a smirk he added, “See you later Cass.”
“Are the two of you close,” Max asked as soon as Joe left, his voice void of suspicion.
“We were once, but you know how time and distance effects relationships. Now we are barely acquaintances.”
They finished their coffee date, and Max had kissed her before they went their separate ways.
Although Cassie feels relief that her lies to her current boyfriend had not been revealed, she also has another feeling, an unpleasant feeling. The way Max had acted, so trusting and innocent, had reminded her of this book she read in high school. It was about a mentally challenged man, who was constantly picked on by his coworkers. However, the man was not smart enough to realize this, and he thought his tormenters were also his friends. Although Cassie had felt bad for this man, she also felt contempt, and this fictional character, who she did not respect, seemed very similar to Max. It was as if he was too dumb to realize that he had just seen his competition. She could practically hear Joe’s thoughts, “Cassie boyfriend sure is a dunce, why would she date such an idiot.”
Cassie gets up and she goes to the bathroom to throw up. She is hoping that by expelling her insides, she is able to get rid of her feelings. She feels ashamed that Max’s trusting nature, a character trait that had attracted her to him, also makes her think of him as a moron. She tries to remember how kind he was when she asked for a break, and how horribly Joe sometimes treated her, but the only thing she can think of is how he had complied to Joe’s request to shake his hand. Cassie begins to cry. She knows she can never be with a man she cannot respect.