Seth lay back on his bed and stared up at his ceiling, trying not to think about how Karen hadn’t shown up tonight.
It’s not like she said she was coming, he tried to tell himself, looking miserably at the chipping paint on the ceiling. Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.
And though he had been telling himself that for what seemed to be like hours, he couldn’t convince himself that it was nothing. To him, it was a date. No, he hadn’t said it was a date to her, but that was how he had been looking at the situation. The fact that she hadn’t shown up at some point during the six or seven hours that the group was at the bar and grill surely meant that she had no interest in dating him. As much as Seth hated it, he just felt so let down. He just felt like he was waiting for something that was never going to happen.
You are such a pessimist, he told himself bitterly. Why do you always have to take a situation that didn’t go exactly as planned and turn it in to such a fucking disaster? Do you seriously have to turn everything into the worst case scenario? Sometimes, things just happen. They are out of your control. And when that happens, you need to learn to let it go. Just breathe and let it go.
But he couldn’t. He never had been very good at doing exactly that. Look at the situation with the ordeal of his brother. It still pissed him off. It had laid dormant for a while, because he was able to forget about him for a couple of years, but oh boy, when he thought about Logan the other day, the floodgates flew open. Seth wouldn’t have guessed that was what was going to happen if a person had asked him about his brother, but when he thought about him on his own, it did surprise him. At least a little.
He knew that he had never been able to forgive his brother for not showing up to their mom’s wake and funeral, but he hadn’t realized that he still felt so incredibly angry. Why couldn’t he forget about his brother? Why did he always have to be capable of remembering that he had a brother and that his brother had joined up with the Bloods gang? Why was it impossible to forget that? Logan had forgotten about not only him, but apparently, he had forgotten about their mom, too. A person would have to, right? If they were capable of ignoring the funeral? Did he ever go to their mom’s grave? Did he even know where it was located? Seth tried to remember if they had told him where to go or not, but for the life of him, he couldn’t remember that detail. It was too long ago, too painful of a memory to stay in his mind.
That phone call - the one that woke him in the middle of the night, to let him know that his mom had been killed in a car accident, one with a drunk driver (who was in perfect health after the car crash . . . he didn’t even have a fucking cut or bruise to show for it), and they needed him to come identify her remains. Seth hated seeing his mom on the coroner’s table. He had been to a coroner’s office before, during college, when they went for his Anatomy and Physiology class, but this was nothing like that had been. When he had gone to the corner’s office for class, it had been cool, interesting, and informative. But when he was standing there, staring at his mom, who was covered in bruises and looked like she had been beaten to a bloody pulp, he felt none of that elation.
“That’s her,” Seth had concluded, shocked at seeing his mom, who didn’t look like his mom, yet it was still impossible to not recognize her. She just looked so completely different from the way that she normally looked. She was always smiling (or trying to, at least) when she was alive, but right then, her mouth was drawn in a tight line and her eyes were closed. It took a minute, but he could still confirm that it was his mom.
The coroner had pulled the sheet back over the top of her body and that was the last time that he had ever seen his mom. Sure, he saw pictures of her, at her wake, but it had been a closed casket, and Seth just couldn’t shake the image of his mom’s bloodied, bruised, and broken body from his mind. Every time he saw his mom now, whenever he closed his eyes and thought of her, the first image that always appeared was the same as that day in the coroner’s office. He was capable of shoving that image from his mind and remembering her smiling face from when she was alive, but he always had to force that image to appear; it never came on its own.
Feeling chilled from the memories of his mom’s dead face, Seth tried to refocus on what he had been thinking about before the emory of the identification of his mom, but that didn’t really help today, like it usually did. Probably because he had been thinking that Karen was never going to go on a date with him, and he really hated thinking that negative thought.
No! He screamed at himself in the silence of his head. Damn it! I am not going to continue thinking these negative thoughts! I have to at least ask Karen out. On a real date. I have to walk up to her and say, “Karen, you are coming on a date with me.” She’ll say yes. She will. She wouldn’t have been friends with me for this long if she didn’t think that we had a chance at being more than friends, right?
Of course, thinking that positive thought woke up his inner pessimist . . . the one that Seth tended to call “Diego” (the more positive part of his conscience was called “Charlie” . . . he didn’t really know why he chose those two names for his inner conscience, but there it was. Anyway, Charlie’s positive thinking quickly awakened Diego, who chuckled mirthlessly on Seth’s shoulder (proverbially speaking, of course).
Don’t kid yourself, Seth. If she wanted to go on a date with you, kiss you, fondle you, or fuck you, she would have done it by now. Karen doesn’t wait for anything; men included.
Seth knew that though this argument was true, he just couldn’t lay down and let Diego win that easily. Neither could Charlie, who seemed to appear on his other shoulder and stated, Look, Seth, the woman obviously cares about you. Maybe she just doesn’t want to risk asking you out because she doesn’t know how you feel about her. You should tell her how you feel about her. Once you lay it out for her, I’m sure she will be more willing to date you.
Diego scoffed at that point. Oh please, give me a break, would you. If Karen actually had feelings for Seth, don’t you think that she would have acted on them by now? The girl is anything but shy. You can’t deny that. If you do, you are even dumber than you look, and I didn’t think that was even possible.
Holding up his hands to stop the feuding spirits (which probably looked really bizarre to anyone that may have passed him, since there weren’t actually two figures on his shoulders at that point in time), Seth said, “Look, you guys need to take a time out or something, you’re starting to get hot and bothered and to be perfectly honest, neither one of you is helping me make any decisions right now. How about you guys go cool down and I’ll try to figure things out on my own for right now. I can always call you when I need you, later.”
Charlie left with a good faith nod, but Diego lingered for a minute. Giving Seth a lingering look, he said carefully, Seriously, Seth - you need to weigh your options very carefully when it comes to this girl that you are infatuated with. You have had your eye on her for way too long. Figure things out - do what you have to do, but then act on it. No matter what the decision is; it’s time to act on impulse. Think about it.
And just like that, Seth was alone. As he thought about what Diego had said (or what he himself thought but preferred to present to himself via a made up conscience), Seth realized that for once, the spirit actually had the situation pretty well figured out. And not only was Diego telling him those things, but he had actually heard the same thing from Pete. And Pete, though blunt and obnoxious, was a very good person to tell it straight, no matter how hard the message might be to voice.
So what am I going to do? Seth thought glumly, looking despairingly at his reflection in the mirror on the wall to his left. I know I need to man up and just tell Karen how I feel about her, but how am I supposed to do that? I tried being subtle today and that plan totally didn’t work - she didn’t even bother to show up. If I want her to show up, preferably by herself, where can I invite her? Where would she go, that wouldn’t be extremely awkward if we were alone, but still have enough going on so that if the date plans bust we could till manage to act civilly toward each other? Where? Where could we go?
It took Seth an extra half hour of puzzling in his head as he lay there in the dark of his bedroom, but then it finally hit him − the zoo! Karen loved the zoo, and Seth was very sure that even if she didn’t want to go out with him that him asking her wouldn’t ruin the place for her.
The zoo, he mused idly. That’s the plan. Now . . . just have to choose the right day to hatch this plan.