Okay. Everything's been edited, and I think it's better. Also, I've split the three parts up. See the other parts Lust and Clarity.
Part One- Inevitable
She is fiercely angry with me, I can tell. She takes off her shoes, her scarf, her belt, her socks, her sweatshirt, her t-shirt, until she is just in a flowery tank top and jeans that are too big for her and slipping off her hips. She climbs into bed next to me and pulls the covers up to her hairline, until I can only see her roots which are now greasy and a little damp from the rain, curling around her smooth, white forehead. Her back is toward me, and I can barely make out her shape from under the covers.
I want to move in closer to her, and my better judgment is impaired by all the joints I have smoked, and so I do. She pushes away from me and gives me a full force slap in the face. I can hardly feel it, but I know that she has done it, and I am angry, and so I push her off the bed. She falls hard and hits her head on the dresser, and holds onto the sheets and coverlet and pulls them half way off of the bed.
She screams in annoyance and rage and runs into the bathroom. I don’t know what she is doing in there, maybe throwing up because she has a habit of doing so when she is so angry. I let my mind wander, hoping that she is taking off her clothes and getting into the shower, running my spiced soap over her body, but I do not hear the water running. No, instead the toilet flushes and she comes out, wiping her mouth and passing up the sink.
“Wash your hands,” I say, and she looks like she may slap me again. She doesn’t.
“I’m calling my dad,” she says and reaches into her purse for her cell phone.
“Don’t, baby, c’mon,” I say, reaching for her. She sidesteps my advances, and I try to play it cool by leaning against my bookshelf.
“I’m going home, Damon, and I am not getting in the car with you like this.”
“I don’t want you to. But not your dad. He’ll be furious. He’ll kill me.”
Her eyes are cold and dark and shaped like almonds. “I hope he does.” She doesn’t. She just says that because she is so pissed off at me. I don’t blame her. We were just going to watch a movie, maybe watch a movie with my cat, have a glass of wine, but Buddy came over and he brought some stuff. She looked at him, and then looked at me, and I seriously thought she was going to kill me. I seriously did. You should have seen the look in her eyes. It was like everything kind and soft I knew about her died, and the only thing left in her was a sort of blind hatred, and it was aimed at me. I shook my head at him, but when she went into the bathroom, possibly to throw up, I took a few hits, and when she came back I was calm and relaxed and she still looked like she was going to kill me, but I didn’t care as much and so I blew a smoke ring for her.
She told Buddy to take all of his junk and get out of her sight before she called the police, and I said, “Man, do it, she’s serious.”
He was angry because Buddy just doesn’t like to be told what to do and he definitely doesn’t like cops, and so he bowed up at her. “Man,” he said, looking straight at her. She didn’t flinch, though, and I don’t know why he didn’t burst into flames, given how hard she was staring back at him. “I don’t know why you put up with this bitch. You’re not getting anything from her.” But he picked up his coat and high tailed it out of the house, and she ripped the joint from my hand and threw it into the sink and washed it down the drain.
We haven’t had sex, and she hates drugs, even though I do them anyway. I love her. I love the way she looks when we meet for breakfast and all she has done to herself is put on Chapstick, and I love her chaste kisses and when she cooks for me, and the way she can’t hold a glass of wine, and tells me she loves me until she leaves when I let her drink one.
She has an aunt in Lockdown up north, and an uncle addicted to Loratab, he’s fading from them, she says, and another uncle who abandoned his life and wife and two daughters for drugs and alcohol and a way without light or truth or hope. She tells me this all of the time, and then she gets upset and wonders how she ended up with me, taking care of her own drug addict boyfriend, fighting with him, unable to get home, watching him throw up and even bailing him out of jail once. She’s tried to talk me into going into rehab, but I’m not dangerous. I don’t do dangerous things. I don’t do crystal meth, I don’t do crack cocaine. I smoke marijuana and occasionally I take a few prescription drugs, Loratabs, mainly, sometimes Xanax, sometime Percoset. I was arrested for Driving Impaired, once, and she had to come get me, and she wrote a check for me, and then left without seeing me.
“You can’t do that,” I told her, and I felt like our roles were reversed. “You can’t let me get into trouble, and then bail me out, without me having to suffer the consequences. I won’t learn.” She just kind of ignored me, and we had a fight without yelling, and I realized that her silence was worse than her fits of screaming and that death stare she gets when she sees me with a joint in my hand or watches me pop a pill she knows wasn’t prescribed to me.
The effects of the drugs are fading now, and I realize how angry she really is, and it hurts me. I didn’t do that much, and I could drive her home, but she won’t get in the car with me. She will call her dad and he will come get her and she will spend the night at her parent’s house tonight instead of her dorm. When she wakes up she will cry a lot to her mother, who will fix her a cup of coffee with two teaspoons of sugar and milk, just like she likes it, and her father will be furious with me. She’ll call me back tomorrow night, or maybe the night after, and I’ll apologize and she’ll accept the apology.
I am a little comforted by this thought, and I so say, “Lily, baby, I’m going to take a shower, I feel better, I swear. I’ll take you home.”
Her lip pokes out and I think she is going to cry but she doesn’t. “I’m not getting in the car with you.”
I shut my eyes for a split second, completely exasperated with her, because all of the sudden my head is starting to hurt and I wish I had another joint to smoke, but I don’t, and there are a lot of things in my room that could become dangerous weapons in her hands, and so I turn my back on her and go and get into the shower.
I wash away a lot of things in there: my high, my embarrassment, and my anger with her for being angry with me for the way that I am. The water is hot, hot, hot, but I barely feel it, and I turn it hotter. The steam comes up from the shower, and the window is completely fogged up because it is so cold outside, and before I know it I am dressed in my pajama bottoms and a white cotton t-shirt and I am just so tired. The clock flashes midnight at me, and I realize that she knocked it off when she hit the dresser, and I really don’t know what time it is. She is asleep now, though. On her back, under the covers, her fingers lightly brushing her brow, all the anger and inhibition wiped off her face in sleep.
I have never seen her asleep, and I am suddenly overcome with both a tenderness and sadness that I can hardly stand. I am sad that this is the way I first get to see her asleep, because she was so angry with me, because I was too high to take her home.
I crawl into bed beside her, being as still as I can, but I can’t stay there for long, because I watch the way her chest rises and falls in the dark and listen to her long, slow exhalations. I have to get up and walk around in the small kitchen and living room, and I don’t trust myself there with her sound asleep, and so I fall asleep on the couch with the television on to keep my mind off of her.
I wake up when I hear her pad softly in the kitchen, opening cabinet doors, and I know she is making coffee. I walk in, and she has her socks and sweatshirt on again because it is so damned cold in my house. She is embarrassed and ashamed that she slept in my bed and smells like me. I can tell by the way she absolutely won’t meet my gaze.
Once the coffee begins to drip, she gets down two coffee cups and stares out at the gray winter morning. “Thanks for not waking me up,” she says, and I am caught a little off guard by the statement. She is still not looking at me, and I will be lucky if I get her to look at me before she sits down to drink her coffee. I start thinking about coffee, and that I would like to have a shot of rum to go in mine, but I am not going to push my luck with her. There in her jeans, and staring out the window at the bird feeder she helped me hang, empty and lonely without the birds, I can only see her profile and she just looks so young to me. She is only in her second year of college, on the cusp of being twenty, and I have been out of college for four years now, and I am twenty-five, still looking for a decent paying job that has anything to do with retail management.
She feels my gaze and she blushes, and I let my eyes fall to the coffee pot.
“I think it’s ready,” I say, and I have never known such an awkward moment with anyone. I have woken up with several girls by my side, sometimes I don’t even know their names, but they are older and they have done this before, and they either just leave because they have their own car, or they help themselves to the rum in my pantry. But here I am, feeling so uncomfortable and embarrassed when I didn’t even kiss her last night.
Her hand is on her hip and she takes the coffee cups and pours them and hands me mine, and I am again tempted to run for the rum. I don’t have any sugar and so she just pours milk into hers and sits down at the breakfast table with me. She has dark circles under her eyes, and I look at the clock on the microwave and am surprised that it reads as early as 6:34. No wonder I am so tired and she looks so tired. I have no idea what time we went to sleep last night. I drink mine straight down and stand to get up for another cup, intensely aware that I am only in my pajama bottoms and a thin t-shirt. It is so odd how I am embarrassed in front of her, when I am so proud of my body in front of others. I go running and drink grainy protein smoothies, but when I stand up in front of her all of that seems to melt into a sort of unimportance, and I feel nearly naked.
She is not looking at me, though. She is staring into her coffee cup, taking small, timid sips from it. The time is inching by, the sun is not going to come up, it is not moving from behind those gray clouds.
“I just want spring to come,” I find myself saying in an almost half-whisper, but it is so dead quiet in here that she hears me and her head jerks up and I look behind me and our eyes meet for the first time this morning. Everything around me starts to fall when I look into those dark eyes behind those long eyelashes, and I just see so much sadness in them. This is going to tear her apart, I know it is. She is young and smart and lively and virginal. She has friends and a job and school, and someone is going to find out that she spent the night at my house, and they’ll ask her about it, but even if they don’t it will still tear her apart.
She searches all the time for light and hope, and her morals are strong and steer her, and I am both annoyed by this and inspired by this, and now the fact that she has spent the night at my house, in my bed, makes me feel guilty, and I don’t deserve that. Or maybe I do. Still looking into those eyes, I do deserve it.
“You have to go to work,” she says, standing up next to me and setting the cup softly into the sink. “And so do I.”
It is Saturday morning, and I have the slightest tinge of a headache, though the caffeine in my two cups of coffee has made me feel better. I have to go to my job at the local AllTell store, and she has to go to her job at the bookstore downtown. She is much better at hers than I am at mine, and I think it’s because she likes books more than I like cell phones.
It is barely 7:00 now, and I can hear the greetings of the Weekend Today Show hosts, though I don’t know their names. We both have to be at work at 9:00, and we both know that I don’t have time to take her back to the dorms, at least forty-five minutes away from town.
She doesn’t mention this, but it hangs hard and heavy in the air, and she eventually goes into my room and shuts the door and I can hear her turn the lock. The water in the bathroom runs, and she has to wear the same underwear and clothes that she had on yesterday, because there is nothing at my house she can wear. She steps outside for a second, where I am smoking a cigarette and asks me if I have a blow dryer. I don’t, I say, and I am a little worried about her catching cold with her hair soaking wet like that. She just shuts the door. My cat begins to saunter up the sidewalk. He is small and gray and I call my house our bachelor pad. He meows at me, and I know he is hungry and so I take him inside and drop him next to his bowl of food.
She comes out of my bedroom again, her purse is hanging down past her waist, her knitted scarf is hanging in the crook of her arm.
“It’s only 7:30,” I tell her, and she nods.
“I know. I was just getting my stuff.” I pass her in the tiny hallway and she smells strong, spicy, like a man, and it is all I can do not to grab her and kiss her and take her up against the wall. She is not looking at me.
As I shave and brush my teeth and dress I think a little less about her, a little more about work and everyone that will come into the store. There will be pretty girls that come into the store, some with boyfriends, some without. There will be older men dressed in suits, and there will be older women who flirt with me. My aftershave stings a little bit, and I dress in my khakis and black work shirt. I dread the drive to her bookstore, because I cannot get over how embarrassed and ashamed she looks, even though she pretends not to be. It is going to be quiet except for the sound of my heater and the low rumble of Def Leppard, noisemakers, anything to break the silence.
When I walk out of my room she is sitting on the couch, laughing a little at something on the Weekend Today Show, and I am relaxed by the sight of her smile and the way she is leaning on her elbow and running her fingers through her wet hair, which is starting to dry and consequently curl. I can’t help it, I walk over to her and kiss her on the top of her head and then pour myself a third cup of coffee.
Finally we are in the car and the heater is on, and I ask her if she is cold and she says yes, and so I turn it up. The music is a low vibration under my feet, and listening to the lyrics is comforting to me and it is easier not to think and to just drive. She is staring out her window, her breath fogging up a little circle. I almost expect her to draw a smiley face in it, but she doesn’t even wipe it away with her sleeve. She doesn’t even notice. She just keeps breathing.
I light a cigarette, and I can see her nose wrinkle in disapproval out of the corner of my eye, but she doesn’t say anything. She sinks a little lower into her seat. As I let out a slow stream of smoke through my nose, I wonder why she hasn’t started to cry, or why she doesn’t ever cry in front of me. I know she wants to. Her eyes are just so sad and the way she holds herself is like someone marching out to battle already defeated. I can’t decide if I want to tell her to perk up, she has to go to work, or to just go ahead and cry and I’ll hold her, I promise. Then I decide that anything I say will make her angry, and I just can’t take any more of her being angry at me right now.
I pull into the small parking lot of the bookstore: Downtown Books, the wooden building reads, and I contemplate going inside for a bagel, but she would not like that, I know she wouldn’t.
“Do you need me to pick you up?” I ask as she grabs her purse and begins to climb out the door.
“No,” she says. “I will call someone. Thank you, though.” There is a polite unfamiliarity in her voice, and not even a ghost of a smile, and this breaks my heart into pieces.
“Bye,” I say, and as I watch her wave behind her without even looking at me, I know that these are the last words we will say to each other for a very, very long time.
Not a lot of change in this one. Just took some things out, switched up some words. Still, though, critiques are always, always appreciated.