Bruce plowed on. “I’m sure you’ve guessed that I didn’t always live this way. I know you want to know what happened,” Bruce said. His voice was soft. Deliberate. He’d given this a lot of thought. Liza looked over. He was still looking at the ceiling. There was a weird expression on his face. He was somewhere else.
“No one… I never… I, I don’t like to talk about it.” Bruce was getting flustered. He reminded Liza of a malfunctioning electronic, like an error message was about to pop up on his face. “I’m not even sure how it happened. Like how you’re a seventh semester freshman… You make too many mistakes that you don’t know how to fix. Suddenly you find yourself in a situation that would shock your old self.” Liza was motionless. “But…maybe we… maybe I can talk about it some day – if there is one. I mean, if we stay friends, but, I’m not… Please don’t worry about me. I’m not an addict or anything…”
She’d never seen him this way before and she didn’t like it. Liza wanted this conversation to end. She wanted the old Bruce from the summer to come back, even if he didn’t want anything to do with her anymore. It seemed like a simple question, but clearly it didn’t have a simple answer. If the explanation taxed him this much, then she could wait to hear it. He’d acknowledged that there was something that he wasn’t telling her. That and the guardian angel thing were enough. She decided right then to let it go. He didn’t have to tell her, or he could tell her when he was ready. She wasn’t going to ask again. It would be hard. She usually gave up when something got hard, but she wasn’t going to do that with Bruce.
“I know,” said Liza. “It’s okay.” She reached out her hand. Bruce looked at it for a second before reaching out and enveloping her hand in his long fingers. He looked at her and smiled. She smiled back and wondered if he remembered their date at the bookstore. He must have, because just then he tugged her toward him by her hand, slowly, like he expected her to protest. She didn’t think, just kissed him back. They pulled the blankets and pillows on the floor and lay there holding hands. Michael found them asleep like that a couple of hours later when he got up to make breakfast.