Category Archives: Travis

What no one knows.

And here is the deepest secret nobody knows: The root of the root, bud of the bud, she would murmur unconsciously when she stopped to think about it, which she rarely did.

Becca had decided to take Travis back.

Second chances were not in her nature, so why the change? It was probably something that sounded like love. Probably, but if you asked her, the animal, self-preservationist part of her brain would stare you down with eyes full of steel and reply matter-of-factly that she was a woman of her word and vow. Unlike some people we could name.

And so, with her mind made up and the dry, unsatisfying taste of second chance rolling over her tongue, Becca drove to the buddy’s house where she knew Travis had been sleeping these days.

A bottle of wine sat in the passenger seat (to new beginnings!), wedged under her purse to keep it from rolling as she took every sharp turn.

The buddy’s windows were dark, but she knocked anyway, predictably to no answer.

She could have called him. For the rest of her life, she would wonder how things might have been different if she’d picked up her phone and just shot off a text telling him, if not exactly where her head was at, that she needed to talk to him about something important. The rest of their lives could have been entirely different with the few taps of a screen.

But Becca, a closet Luddite who was reluctant to let go of paper maps, handwritten thank-you notes, and face-to-face conversation, felt this wasn’t something she could tell first to a machine.

So she waited, lights off, engine off, thinking only of what she would say when she saw him and how long she could keep the radio humming quietly before she killed her battery.

And when the taxi rolled up eight minutes to three in the morning, Just when she was finally letting her shoulders slump an thinking maybe she would come back that afternoon, she still didn’t let herself think anything judgmental about Travis.

Because when Becca forgave, she forgave entirely, and she locked away her resentment and passive aggression to a place inside her that she would never open. And she had forgiven Travis.

Until he lurched from the car, drunkenly extending a hand to Lucy, who rose out of the can after him and stumbled into his chest, clinging to the green wool coat Becca had given him last winter. Becca watched Travis pull away only to pay the driver, and then the two of them fell into each other again in a sloppy, obscene embrace. She watched them slouch up to the apartment building and go inside, but she didn’t wait to see the lights flick on.

As she made her way carefully home through the now icy streets, Becca opened the part of her where she locked away the things she forgave and locked something else in in its place Because now there could be no forgiveness, no amnesia of Travis’s transgressions.

Because as completely as Becca could forgive, she could just a easily never, ever forget.

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What they had been.

Becca listened to him breathing, a wet, choking sound she had learned years ago meant he was at least six beers in. Not quite blackout, but not a state to be trusted with anything of importance.

“I was thinking, maybe, I mean maybe you, if you want, I mean, maybe, we could get a drink or somefin.”

If she had been uncertain of his level of intoxication prior to the request, Becca certainly wasn’t now. The sigh escaped her lungs before she could stop it.

“Travis. No.”

Beeeeec.”

The first syllable of Becca’s name was a hard one to whine. In regular conversation, it lent itself to an easy shortening. But a drunken whine followed with a hard consonant sounded too contrived.

“Travis,” Becca replied blandly. She didn’t care for his game anymore.

“You can’t just pretend I stopped existing, Becca,” Travis snapped, a rare moment of clarity shattering the fog of his drunken call. “We were so good together! ‘Member?”

The problem was, Becca couldn’t stop remembering. She tasted Travis with very cappuccino, to foamy drinks she had detested the thought of until he finally made her try one. She felt him whenever she slipped on her favorite worn leather boots, and unexpected anniversary gift after she was certain he’d forgotten. She smelled him in every dive-y bar, heard him in every strum of a bass guitar.

Travis haunted her. She would give anything to forget how good they had been together. So she said the only things she still believed to be true.

“You cheated on me, Travis. Whether or not we were good together ceased to be relevant from that moment on.”

“You don’t mean that,” he sniffed.

And maybe because he had always known her so well (better, in most cases, than she knew herself or admitted to herself), Becca allowed Travis’s comment to plant a singular seed of doubt in her resolve.

“You can’t tell me you don’t miss me. You can’t tell me you don’t wonder what would have happened if you’d just forgiven me and given us a second chance. Maybe not every day, but you think about it, Bec.”

And damn him to hell, because Beca couldn’t tell him any of those things. So she said the only thing she could truthfully say.

“I don’t want anything to do with you anymore, Travis.”

And then she held her breath and listened to Travis cry, willing herself not to join in the mourning of what they had been.

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Winsome Wins Some

“She’s sort of…winsome. Very lovely.”

Lucy turned her head sharply to eye Travis carefully.

“Winsome and lovely?” she repeated, an edge of disgust creeping into her voice. Who was this man? Her friend Travis didn’t use words like “winsome.” And he wouldn’t be caught dead near anything lovely.

Something of the edge in her tone must have caught on Travis’s consciousness because he snuck a guilty glance at her.

“You know, she’s…pretty. She has…prescence.”

More like himself, but there was still something amiss. Before she could help herself, Lucy felt a pang of envy through her sternum.

“Yeah, everyone loves Becca,” she heard herself say flippantly. As if loving Becca were something common. Base.

“Yeah?” he responded halfheartedly. He hadn’t torn his eyes off of her yet, which was tearing Lucy apart.

“Oh, for sure. She’s had a zillion guys after her.” She wasn’t entirely sure what she meant to accomplish by telling him that. Make him think the competition was too stiff? Make him think he’d never stand out, so why bother trying? Either way, it made him finally turn to her.

“Yeah?” God, did he know any other words? Oh yes, “winsome.” And “lovely.”

“Oh, ga-zillions,” she emphasized. She had his attention, so she felt the impulse to keep talking. “Remember Matt?” She watched Travis’s eyes roll slightly to the upper left as he struggled to recall this name.

“The band guy?” he said finally.

“Yes!” she pounced. “He was ga-ga over her. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure at least three of his new songs are about her. And she didn’t even date him!”

It dawned on Lucy that she might not be helping herself. She’d managed to paint Becca as some sort of etheareal goddess with men throwing themselves at her feet and writing songs in her honor. Hell, she would date that. Shouldn’t she be mentioning the fact that Becca never covered her mouth when she coughed or that she had this weird wart on her left foot or that she always mixed up “they’re” and “their”?

“But I mean, it’s not like she’s perfect,” she finished lamely. A warmth grew in Travis’s eyes.

“Well, not everyone can be perfect like Lucy,” he said with a grin, putting his arm around her shoulders.

There was no romance in the arm. Lucy knew that. But she let herself drift for a moment, reveling the touch as she settled back into the crook of his arm.

“Well, it is very difficult,” she said softly.

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Breakups and telepathy

Lucy watched him scuff his toe nervously on the hard concrete.

Coward, she thought. Tell me you’re sorry it turned out this way.

“So, I know it probably doesn’t mean anything, but…I’m sorry. I’m sorry it turned out the way it did.”

It took every ounce of self-control for Lucy not to raise an eyebrow in surprise of her apparently telepathic capabilities. She didn’t say anything, but she had to test the effect.

Tell me it never would have worked out anyway; we both know that.

“It’s my fault. I should have known it wouldn’t work out, with the way it started.” He looked at her with a mix of shame and solidarity. “Well, I guess we both probably knew that, huh?”

Lucy’s feelings of anger and hurt and rejection vanished in the sudden thrill of feeling like she could control something in her life.

Pause, then ask me if maybe we’re not rushing this whole decision. Tell me you want to try, if I’m willing. She knew her eyes must be shining, her heart raced, but she tried to be calm.

Travis looked at her uncertainly.

“Luce, say something.”

She waited another beat.

“Lucy, this isn’t all my fault, you know.” He was getting annoyed. Travis could take the blame only as far as he thought someone would disagree with him. Let him off the hook. “Fine, you know what? Forget it. I just came over to tell you that you won’t be hearing from me for a while. I’m…getting out of here. Away from everything.”

Lucy still said nothing, and finally he threw up his hands in resignation.

“Forget it,” he said again, hurrying out of her apartment and letting the door slam behind him.

Without really knowing why, Lucy felt herself crumple onto the couch. She didn’t know what to think anymore.

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Death and paperwork

Probably dead.

That was what Travis thought whenever he saw a lost pet sign. Probably eaten by a coyote. Or eaten by a homeless person. Or run over. Or starved. Or euthanized at a shelter.

Most like, nine-times-out-of-ten, probably dead.

He’d stare cynically at the weathered papers, stapled or masking-taped to telephone poles, as he waited for the light to turn green. He’d wonder how the hell the poster thought someone driving passed would have time to not only notice the pale flyer, bleached by the sun, let alone read the information and study the washed out, photocopied image of a black and white blob that was theoretically a missing cat. A probably dead missing cat.

He’d imagine the eager seven-year-old pain-stakingly scrawling out his address, writing “REWARD!!!” in his biggest print, wondering if three or four exclamation points would motivate a kind Samaritan to return his beloved Fluffy or Sam or Snuggles.

Hopefully he’d patrol the neighborhood with the stack of flyers his parents had good-naturedly copied at the neighborhood office supply store. Travis resented them for encouraging this empty hope. Resented the hope in the poster, in the too-big print. In the too blurry picture.

He’s probably dead. Get a new cat. Idiot.

Then the light would change, and Travis would take one more look at the poster before pulling away. Trying to memorize whether the white patch was on the left or right side of Fluffy’s face. In case he saw a stray cat. That he could help find it’s way home.

Because while he might be a cynic, Travis also had a secret desire to be a hero.

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A fine, fine line

Travis Walker knew there was a fine line between cocky and confident. For one, there was a certain desperation to cockiness.

When you were cocky, you had an underlying fear that people wouldn’t notice the things you thought were so great about yourself. You were worried they wouldn’t see how attractive you were, so you carried yourself with bravado. You were worried they wouldn’t observe your brilliance, so you pontificated. And used larger words than necessary. You worried they wouldn’t notice what a nice person you were, so you bragged about the time you gave your leftovers to that homeless guy. In general, you told people how awesome you were because of a deep-seated panic that they wouldn’t notice.

In general, cocky people were actually terribly insecure.

Though he would have liked to believe otherwise, Travis knew he was much cockier than confident. He didn’t like this about himself, but the trouble with confidence is that it wasn’t really something you could gain instantaneously. On purpose.

So he faked it with confidence’s awkward little brother, Arrogance.

It wasn’t like a person couldn’t get by with this. In fact, a lot of people (Read: Women) are inexplicably attracted to arrogance. Probably because they mistake it for confidence. Or don’t like themselves very much, and think that if this person who clearly thinks he is great likes them, it must mean they’re okay.

So Travis did okay in that department, even though he wasn’t actually confident. The problem? He still didn’t really think he was all that great.

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Travis Has a Heart-to-Heart. With himself.

Travis had left Lucy’s apartment embarrassed and angry. Incidentally, these are the worst emotions to experience when you want to make a rational decision.

And to sum up, he thought as he roamed the street toward his apartment, >i>your ex-wife is remarried and you can’t even score a freebie with the chick you used to ruin your marriage. Brilliant.

He’d reached his building, but the thought of sitting on his uncomfortable couch in his claustrophobic living room eating a stale bread and peanut butter sandwich while watching court TV was a little too much to take. He sat on the stoop and put his head in his hands.

He wasn’t thinking before acting; that was the problem. That had always been the problem. When he and Becca fought (though, in hindsight, they did so rarely), it had always been about some reckless action he had taken. And she always said the same thing.

“Did you even think before you just went ahead and did it?”

The answer was usually no. He’d like to blame being raised in a generation of irresponsible youths bred to believe that planning was for squares and suck-ups, but even that didn’t ring entirely true. The truth was that Travis was lazy. And unfocused. And probably at least a little bit stupid.

Ok, so what are you going to do about it?

He could be that guy. The guy who always made plans and showed up on time — nay, showed up early. He could make lists. He could keep a calendar. He could be the guy he’d promised Becca he would be. Some day. Really, he could.

Right?

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