I’m having a hard time coming up with angsty things to write around here. I’m in a cabin with horses out my window and Aspens twinkling. I guess even if I don’t have speckle trees, I have the twinkles here that no other tree has figured out.
I find myself thinking about everything I should be doing. Running, tanning, riding, training, something outside and productive and strong. I haven’t been bad or lazy, but it’s true that there’s something in my gut that keeps trying to catapult me into more action. But right now I will fight it, for maybe 15 minutes, and write a little something. I heard a podcast by someone who said that the best writers aren’t always tortured or always happy or always comfortable; they’re the ones that keep writing through all of those stages. So my stage right now is one of uncomfortable beauty. Let’s see where it puts me. I’m turning the music up.
Emily doesn’t know why she came here tonight. Sitting on a couch alone in a world of friendly foreigness. Cheese and sausages and sorbet and tastes of things she’s only tasting. Jokes and fun and banter and he’s not sitting next to her why not. They know all about How I Met Your Mother and make wisecracks about the stars. It’s a bear, you know. Not a dipper. It’s a bear but you can’t see it why isn’t he even looking at her. They’ve never met someone from Harvard before. Sure we’ll send you back t-shirts lookatherlookatherlookather. He’s gone through glass doors.
He’s complicated, says a friend. It’s not just the girlfriend. He’s been complicated, she says. Emily understands. She’s complicated too. She didn’t need the heart or anything. She doesn’t know why she wants that touch but thinks that it’s probably only because he’s not giving it to her. She doesn’t even know him even hardly. It’s the girlfriend and it’s not her and she repeats it in her head until she’s numb and playing Candy Crush and losing all of her lives because her eyes are searching the moonlit pool reflection for his footsteps coming back please come back.
He’s been complicated, you know. He moves things. He relights his cigarettes. He. What word… I don’t know if it translates. It’s complicated. Maniac? No, that’s not it.
He’s back. Emily searches for complication.
As her eyes follow his movements, she can’t tell that a part of her mind is stirring.That chunk she drugged to sleep last winter. Simplicity had been ideal. There was a man in Chicago and she just wanted some radio buzz to fill in her blanks. She had nicely numbed and compartmentalized what she wanted and was afraid of blurring lines. But something in the back of her brain was blinking awake, warming more than her pride.
He holds a glass of rosé in his right hand, but his head turns left and away. He closes his eyes. He’s saying something under his breath. No one’s noticing. He’s suspended—unmovable and submerged in an omnipotent nothing.
The glass comes to his lips and his face turns back toward the candle light. His eyes open and he throws himself into conversation. What just happened? Where did that come from? Why hasn’t she noticed this before? Is it just the girlfriend? Is he thinking about her?
She finds an excuse to move closer. To let her knee touch his. To let him know that she casually and apathetically wants to be near him tonight. They sit like that for a while.
He jumps out of his seat and walks toward the water. His fingers go to his tear ducks and he’s closing his eyes and checking his phone. He’s putting his phone in the pocket of his ripped jeans. He’s closing his eyes and checking his phone. He’s putting his phone in pocket of his ripped jeans. He’s closing his eyes and putting his fingers in his tear ducks and he’s checking his phone and checking his phone and checking and putting his phone in the pocket of his checking his phone and putting his phone in the pocket of his ripped jeans.
He’s back. She hooks her foot under his ankle once more to feel his warmth or maybe share hers. Lost in French, she keeps him in the corner of her eye and realizes the humanity of a man she thought was the simplicity she wanted. He smiles at her, runs his thumb along her cheek. Electric.
He’s gone. His fingers jolt, puppets trying to bring a cigarette to his mouth. His eyes are closed and he waits for something in his mind to settle. Cigarette delivered, he sparks the lighter and lets the fire die. Cigarette delivered, lighter sparks and dies. Sparks and dies and sparks and cigarette and dies and dies and lights and sparks and dies and lights and cigarette and the cigarette begins to burn. And the lighter dies. And he breathes in smoke and waits.
She’s never been an Eye Girl before. Never remembered the color, never got hooked by the brightness or the blueness or the brownness or the darkness. Never could pull off the line, “He’s not that hot, but his eyes…” She always thought it was bullshit. But tonight eyes were all she wanted. She could touch his elbow or brush a shoulder, but his eyes. They were gifts he wouldn’t give her.
Cigarette pack on the table. Cigarette pack near the corner of the table. Cigarette pack near the center of the table. Cigarette pack in the air. Cigarette pack on the table. Cigarette pack between the sausage and the sorbet. Cigarette pack near the corner of the table. Cigarette pack near. Cigarette.
She aches to feel present in his life. Just for the night. Or maybe longer or maybe she’s alright with just a conversation and a something that makes her feel like something and she can show him she’s not just an Americaine like everyone else and that she didn’t mean it she really didn’t she wants the electricity and to hell with simplicity and dear God please tell me I’m worth you because you’re just fantastic. Please.
He opens his eyes.
Fucking Jesus, what eyes.
She’s grinning in the simplest way. Suspended. He is exactly what she didn’t want. She’s addicted to the nicotine on his breath and his smile and his horrible jokes. She drinks it in and holds on for dear life.