Gavin was sitting on the bench at the museum, looking towards the painting on the wall. He wasn't really seeing it, he was reliving the worst moment in his emotional history.
It had been a simple start. They arranged to go to the Museum to do research for an essay. Actually, he didn't care about the essay, about the painting, he went to be with his beloved Debbie.
She and Cammie would be there at nine. He'd come early and waited. He saw them walking up the road.
His beloved dream woman, Debbie. Cammie was just environment.
As they neared they greeted him and continued their discussion on particular artists as they entered.
They went through a few rooms, glancing at some of the paintings, then into a main room where they stopped before the painting.
He had moved back, getting a wider image. Playing the committed student, he began making a quick sketch. That is when Billy walked in.
For a moment he was terrified. Billy was bigger than he was, a football player whose tackling ability was legend.
But Billy didn't even look at him.
Billy walked to Debbie. When she saw him, he got down on a knee and held a blue velvet ring box.
Everyone in that large room was now dead silent, watching as he opened the box, displayed the ring and said; "Marry me!" to Debbie.
It was Thursday gone Debbie had told Gavin she had broken up with Billy. They sat at a table at the lunch counter.
They spoke and she virtually invited him to the movies with her on Friday.
They had gone to the Museum of Natural History on Saturday.
Today was Sunday.
Today they were at the Art Museum to get a personal 'taste' of the work they would write their essays on.
And Billy suddenly appeared, asking Debbie to marry him.
Gavin didn't breathe. He loved Debbie with every atom of his being. He thought she would look at him. She would say no, and look at him.
But she didn't.
Debbie smiled at Billy and said; "Yes."
Debbie said "Yes", and everyone in the museum, except him clapped and cheered.
Gavin held a few seconds, then walked backwards, his eyes not leaving Debbie until he couldn't see her. Then, he was on the road. On the road, lost and confused, eyes blinded with tears.
How he got home he can not remember. He remembered being in the shower, crying his heart out.
And that night, knowing he would see them at school tomorrow, decided to be sick. And was sick. His heart was in fragments, he couldn't breathe.
Gavin didn't got to school on Monday.
No one cared.
Gavin never dated, never allowed emotional connection to anyone. If a female even tried to get near him, he rejected her. The whisper was that he was Gay. Good enough.
He graduated High School, went to college in a distant city. He focused on his courses. He did well and was accepted in a Master's Program, subsequently, a Ph.D.
He was then was given a position.
And all he thought about was work.
Work would never break his heart
Gavin sat in the museum where it happened. His face turned to the painting.
Suddenly and finally he realized Debbie never cared about him. He was just a tool. A disposable male creature to be used to make Billy know what he was losing.
Gavin always felt Debbie used him. That the movie date was a pretense, the visits to the museums, publicity.
He meant nothing to her. Never did.
He, in his innocence, in his desire to be desired, festooned this meaningless acquaintanceship with emotion.
He did that. Not Debbie.
For the past twenty years Gavin had locked himself off from human interaction. He had blamed Debbie. But it was him.
He decorated and fabricated what to another would be simple human interaction into some kind of passion.
Just as Debbie could talk with Cammie, she could talk to him. There was no passion. Never was. He had invented passion, added it to simply courtesy and minor friendship.
Perhaps now was the time to crawl out of his shell. Now was the time to expose himself to human interaction.
He wasn't dreaming of the perfect love, he was thinking about companionship. Simple, undefined companionship, with no promises, no plans, just someone in his orbit he could be with. Just be with.
Gavin rose from the bench and looked around. He actually looked at the people who were sharing the room with him.
Seeing them as people.