A/N: Just a little bit of Pam introspection inspired by the prompt grid I snagged from the Jam_Prompts community on LJ. The quote I chose to work on for this one was: "Most people would rather be certain they're miserable, than risk being happy." –Robert Anthony
It was all just a little too much; the invitations, the P & R on the floral wreath, and the flowers! My flowers. My Jim. With her. And the really crappy part? I can't even hate her. I can't even sit here and wonder what he sees in her. I can see it too. Maybe Kelly was right. Maybe I should freak out, get really drunk and tell somebody that I'm pregnant. Except I'm not pregnant. Couldn't possibly be pregnant. And the only guy I could possibly dream about being pregnant with is dancing with her. Dancing close, so close. Her fingers were touching his hair. Touching those messy little curls at the nape of his neck. I've touched them too. Just not enough. Will I ever touch them again?
I can't watch. I have to get out of here. Alone in the hallway cradling my glass of champagne, things are so much better. I have a little cover here, which is good because I can't stop looking at him. It's too easy to pick him out in the crowd. He's so tall, so long, and so lean. But so strong. Surprisingly strong. I could feel it in the way he wrapped his arms around me, holding me to him, kissing me so softly, so sweetly that I turned my whole world upside-down for him, only to find him gone. I tasted it there in his lips. The love he professed, the longing that fueled the need to say something, anything before it was too late. I wish I was that strong. Why can't I just say something before it's too late?
I look down at my pretty chocolate brown dress and try not to think about how well it looked next to Phyllis' wedding flowers. My wedding flowers. He looks up and our eyes meet. It's not unusual; we always seem to seek each other out, no matter how hard we try not to. Green. His eyes are green with little tiny flecks of gold and brown in them. Does she notice them? They're warm, I can feel them heating my skin from across the banquet hall. A deep pink flush floods my cheeks as she threads her fingers through his hair, tugging on his neck to recapture his attention. He smiles. At her. That smile. Affectionate and pleased. Of course he's pleased, she's beautiful. Poised, sexy and confident, all of the things that I'm not. He couldn't possibly still love me. Not when he has her.
But there they are again, those green eyes drifting in my direction. Is he looking for me? Does he want me? Or does he just want me to see? See him dancing with her, his hand splayed over her narrow waist, her body pressed to his. Does he want it to hurt? Because it does. It burns inside of me, but not hot. It's cold. Ice cold. A shiver runs down my spine as Scrantonicity begins to play 'You Were Meant for Me'. Oh God, he was meant for me. Me, not her. I was meant for him. Not her.
I run my hand over my arm, trying to soothe the goose bumps that have risen there, but my hand is cold from holding my glass. I look down into the golden depths of it, looking for the answer, asking it for the courage to do what I yearn to do. Please? I silently ask the bubbles that rise and pop on the surface. Please help me. Help me tell him. Help me ask him. Help me find out once and for all if he feels even the tiniest bit of what he felt last spring.
Without looking up, I know someone is there. I also know that it isn't him. I know that if I look up he'll be right there, where I last saw him. On the dance floor with his arms around Karen. There's a shuffle of feet and I look up at last to see Roy standing nearby. He smiles shyly and says, "Hey, they're playing our song."
And for a moment there's a piercing pain in my heart. Was it our song? I suppose it was. Funny how I didn't even think about Roy when I heard it. Not funny that all I can think about is Jim. I force my lips into a small smile. "Yeah, that's weird. I thought they only played the Police."
Roy shifts a little and glances out at the crowded dance floor. "I know. Uh, I gave them twenty bucks. You want to dance?"
And the pain is back, this time joined by an ache for this man that I had loved for so long. How is it possible to love someone for so long, and then realize that he isn't the one for you? I look up at him, taking in the neatly trimmed beard and his carefully knotted tie. I know that he's here for me. Roy hates weddings. He never would have come here if he didn't want to see me. Oddly enough, the thought doesn't make me feel any better. I'm not fooled by his attentiveness. I know how fleeting it is. I do believe he's sincere, but I also know he won't, he can't sustain it. But a part of me wants to believe it. A part of me wants to give in, say okay, and go back to the way things were. They may not have been great, but they weren't that bad. Not really.
I set my glass down on the gift table and place my hand in his, smiling a little at the familiar feel of his fingers on mine. And for a moment I am stunned that I had forgotten what Roy's touch feels like. How is that possible? How is it possible for me to have missed it, even while I was dreaming of someone else? It's comfortable, I realize as he leads my out onto the patio. Easy. Warm. I've been feeling so cold. It's good to feel warm.
He's big and bulky. His arms are strong, but that's no surprise, he looks strong. He smells good. I think it's that cologne I gave to him last Christmas. Roy never wears cologne. Jim does. Or aftershave or something like that. I used to catch a whiff of it when he'd lean on the counter in front of me. He doesn't do that anymore. I never smell him anymore. I can't let myself get that close. I want to be so much closer. I close my eyes and try not to think about the hour spent at the men's fragrance counter trying to figure out which one it was. I breathe deeply and realize once again that I chose wrong. This cologne smells nothing like Jim. My hand tightens on Roy's shoulder, and I press my cheek to his lapel, wishing he was taller, thinner, and not wearing cologne that I gave to him while trying to make him into someone else.
I wish I had never met Jim. I wouldn't know any different. I could just be here, in Roy's arms, letting him turn me in the same slow circle we have danced since I wore a retainer. It would be so much easier. No second guessing, no sleepless nights, no ache burning in my stomach. I want to be able to see Jell-O again without thinking about Jim. I want to be able to do my laundry without taking an extra sniff of my fabric softener. I want to look up and not hope to see him looking at me. I never want to feel that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see that he isn't.
The song is ending, and I feel Roy's arm pulling me a little closer. I want, so much, to be sure again. About something, anything, anyone. Especially me. His breath is warm, stirring my hair and tickling my shoulders. His chest is solid, cushioning me in his embrace. His body is responding to mine, and it feels good. Familiar, easy, safe, warm, so warm.
"Hey, you want to get out of here?" he asked in a low, soft voice.
I nod, because in that moment, I just wanted to be anywhere but where I was. I step back and look up and there he is, standing in the doorway, his face carefully averted, but I know he has been watching me. Suddenly, I feel angry. He doesn't get to do that; dance with her and look at me. He doesn't get to make me feel like I'm doing something wrong. I'm not doing anything wrong. Maybe, for once, I'm doing something right.
"I'll get my purse," I tell Roy as I make my way slowly toward the door, my head held high in defiance.
Karen pops up out of the crowd, her fingers curling into Jim's sleeve. I think she sees me, but she gives no indication of it. Instead, she pulls on his arm, dragging him back onto the dance floor as the band plays 'Every Breath You Take.' I hurry to my table and grab the small handbag I have filled with an evening's essentials. I murmured a quick goodbye to the stragglers at our table and rush from the room before I can look back at the dance floor. Before I can turn around and watch him dancing with her again. Before I forgot what it's like to have even a little scrap of happiness and drown myself in watching him watch every breath I struggle to take while he's holding her.
Roy is holding my coat; waiting for me in the hallway. Jim is on the dance floor with is arms around Karen. Karen, the girl I can't hate quite enough to throw myself at her boyfriend who once said that he loved me. That he was in love with me. He may not be anymore. Or he may be. I can feel his eyes burning into my back as I walk from the room and Roy holds my coat open for me to slip into.
I feel the heavy wool settle on my shoulders, and gather the material tightly around my body, wishing it could warm me faster. It feels good. Not great, but good. The nylon lining will warm up eventually, and things will be okay. Roy's hand feels heavy on my back, but it's a familiar kind of heavy, one I know well. Safe. No surprises. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but that's okay. Right now, I just want to recover what I can of what I've lost.