Whenever Jess has a pen in her hand, which doesn’t happen often in her digital existence, her first instinct is to scribble a capital “A” anywhere she finds a surface. She’s been known to absentmindedly scrawl these little tee-pees on her work desk, on the pad of her thumb, and on the pages of books while making margin notes.
Whenever one appears under her nose it’s a shock through her system, because Jess never remembers making them. Sometimes she rubs them out, sometimes she leaves them with a controlled sigh. It’s become a well-known quirk of hers, and it’s not uncommon for her co-workers to happen upon one of her little signatures and wonder why she’s written four A’s on the white space of her expense reports. These A’s are like pebbles scattered behind Jess in the woods, reminding her of where she has been, leading her back.
If you asked her now, Jess would tell you how exciting he was. That first impression probably stemmed from their whirlwind first meeting, where he serendipitously scattered her belongings to the wind on that New York City street, apologized quickly, and then randomly asked her to stop walking away.
She’ll never forget the passion in his voice when he spoke those words—as if there was too much hope being held in his chest that some of it was bound to spill over. He was romantic in his faded suit, spontaneous and willing to sacrifice his nearly nonexistent career for a small girl on a street corner.
No, she’ll never forget a word Alex said, but it always seemed like Alex was too preoccupied to pay attention to the small moments. He never remembered the movie they watched when she first stayed over. In fact, he asked her twice if she had ever seen that movie, and each time Jess got a little sadder, knowing that that movie was now her favorite because of him. Alex didn’t remember what she told him about loving softball when she was a girl, didn’t bother remembering her funny college anecdotes, and sometimes totally ignored the myriad worries and cares that dominated Jess’s existence perhaps too strongly.
Instead, he’d tell her what a beauty she was with her bright green eyes, adored her when she looked up at the New York skyline, but didn’t look past what may have made a good photograph.
Most of the time, when Jess finds a random “A” somewhere in her empty apartment, she wonders if she’d have been better off walking that same brisk pace right past Alex on that New York day.