Now Liza was staring and not saying anything. It didn’t make sense. Why would she end it? She couldn’t think with his with his big dark eyes boring into her, so she went back to staring at the ceiling.
Once he was out of the hospital and feeling better, she would have pressed him for an explanation about what had happened at the underpass. He was afraid that she wouldn’t want to see him if he told her that he was homeless. That made sense, though it wouldn’t have been the case if he had just told her.
There was something else. What he really didn’t want to tell her was why he was homeless. She ran through the possibilities: drugs, alcohol, gambling problem, mental disorder, criminal record. Bruce wasn’t exactly straight-laced, but none of these seemed right. Plus, any one of them would probably preclude him from being able to land or keep his job. Maybe it had something to do with the woman and the little girl from the picture in his office. Hmm…a bad divorce settlement? Child support? Liza used to do payroll. The garnishments could be ridiculously high, but a university dean should still make more than enough money to afford some place to live. Besides, if that was the case, he wouldn’t have a picture of both of them.
What then? Did it matter? If any of those were the real reason, did she still want to be his friend? Would she go out with him again if she had the chance? Maybe. Liza realized that although she wanted to understand how he came to be in this situation, that wasn’t what was really bothering her. “Why did you just disappear on me after you left the hospital?” she asked the ceiling.
“I told you,” he said.
“You couldn’t have said something to me?”
“I thought it would be better that way.”
“You mean easier. For you,” said Liza.
Bruce flipped on his back and stared up at the ceiling with Liza. “Better and easier, for both of us.” Bruce rubbed his neck and sighed. “I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you that I’m currently homeless. I didn’t set out to hide it from you. I guess…It’s one of those things that you don’t want to tell someone when you first meet them, but after a while it feels like you’ve waited too long.”
Liza mulled this over. It was hard to decide when to break out your dirty laundry in a new relationship. You didn’t want to scare people away before they got to know you, or wait too long and be seen as deceitful. Liza had experienced the same thing; not with any issues as major as Bruce’s, but she could understand. “Okay,” she said. “But I wish you’d given me a chance.”