WHY YOU NO PUBLISH MY STORY, PALOOKA JOURNAL?!?!?!
It all felt so real: his hands on my legs, caressing me from ankle to thigh; his whispers in my ear- soft, beautiful words; and kisses, delicate ones, all over me. But it was just another vivid dream jolting me awake. 3am again. Like clockwork.
It all felt like love, too, like the feeling one gets at the movies when the star-crossed lovers kiss and the butterflies flutter about and the music crescendos.
Everything, every spoken word, every gesture of kindness, it all felt like real love. Even after only a couple of weeks of knowing each other. And especially now that it was gone.
I fought myself for another couple of minutes before I opened my eyes to the moon that peeked in through the bedroom window sometimes.
I sat up, ignoring the mess of clothes, broken glass, empty beer cans and plates of rotting food that decorated my bedroom, definitely not something that Martha Stewart would ever feature in her magazine. Depression chic, I called it.
Now that it was just me in the California King that we’d picked out together, tossing about in my sleep every night, and fighting his ghost at every turn, I decided it would be my last night in the room.
I grabbed my pillow and blanket and headed to the couch. I pushed aside the cushions we had once used in a playful pillow fight, and arranged a cozy, makeshift bed. 4am; the light from my neighbor’s window across the alley shone in my face. She was up already, making breakfast and lunch for her husband. The curtains on my window were dangling from the bent curtain rod I had thrown a boot at last week. Each day they slipped further down off the rod, and I guessed it had maybe two days before it fell in a heap on the floor.
That curtain was me, two weeks ago, on the phone with him.
“Nicholas? I’ve been calling you all week! What’s going on?”
“I know, Carmen, I’m sorry, I meant to call you before.” I could tell from the tone in his voice. I already knew what was coming next.
“Are you avoiding me?” I asked.
“I just…I’ve been thinking. We’re moving so fast.”
There was no mistaking those deep brown eyes, even if the hairline was farther back than I remembered. He was once the love of my life and now there he was- a face in the crowd waiting in line for the free concert at the park. And he notices me right away.
Although we give each other genuine smiles, the hug is stiff and awkward. The memory of the last time we saw each other was evidently still fresh in both our minds. I steal a quick glance at his hand, making sure he sees mine holds no ring as well.
The “what ifs” come racing back after so many years apart but I don’t let on. I do, however, fill up on his familiar scent. How can he still smell like that after all these years?
“What are you doing these days? Are you still in Brooklyn?” he asks, and his use of the word still makes me feel stagnant.
“I jut moved back a few years ago,” I say a little too defensively. I want to say, I DID move on, you know! I hardly think of you ever! but clench my jaw instead. “I finally opened my event planning company. You?”
“I’m actually up in Soundview now; found a place close to work. I’m still teaching up on the Hill.” He uses still again, I notice, but this time he made it sound permanent and consistent and responsible. Typical of him.
I don’t miss my chance to chide him, though. “Just teaching? Not department head? Or dean?”
He doesn’t miss a beat, either. “I’m head coach on the tennis team. It doesn’t leave too much time for anything other than a few classes a day. We’ve been city champs since I’ve been there, you know.” Checkmate.
“Yes, I remember.” Just like that, just seconds after I had held his cologne in my nose hairs for later use, he reminds me why we weren’t together anymore. Why I gave him back his ring. “So I didn’t know you were a fan of reggae music. What brings you back to the ‘hood?”
“My girlfriend is Jamaican; she’s been waiting for this concert all summer.”
Girlfriend. Girlfriend. He uses the G word in my face and doesn’t even flinch. I hope he doesn’t notice my stifled grimace. There really isn’t a way to come back from that so I don’t attempt it. “Well I hear they put on a great show so you’re both in for a treat. Enjoy it,” I say, walking away and waving at the man that was almost my husband, almost the father of my children. The man who held my hand at my dad’s funeral and helped me bail my sister out of jail. The man who encouraged me to go into business for myself long before I had amassed the courage to do it. I wave at him as if he wasn’t the one who gave me some of the most deliciously orgasmic nights of my entire adult life, as if he was an old co-worker that I’d run into while waiting in line for a concert. It was the only bit of ammunition I had left in my arsenal: indifference.
Two weeks later, he is in my bed. Naked. Sweaty. Burying his face between my thighs as if we’d never been apart. Jamaican girlfriend? What girlfriend? She didn’t exist in these sheets. He is in my bed, in my folds, in my arms, in my mouth.
“You still have the Santa Barbara I got for you in Venezuela?” I followed his gaze towards the tiny statuette of the famed saint on the night stand. She had dust particles caught in the crevices of her eyes, nose and mouth and it occurred to me that I hadn’t given her an offering since Nicholas was last here.
“Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I?”
“I don’t know. Everything else of mine is gone, I guess I just figured she’d be gone, too.”
“It’s not Santa Barbara’s fault you’re an asshole. It wouldn’t have been fair to throw her away.”
We laid in silence for a few minutes long enough for me to construct a small poem to the rhythm of his heart:
“Why are you here?” I break the silence after my own heart-poem upsets me.
“What do you mean?” He answered my question with a question. Again. My number one pet peeve.
“I hate when you do that! You know what I mean. Why are you here?”
“I thought you wanted…”
“What? Your dick? Because that’s all you’ve offered me so far. In fact, that’s all you’ve ever offered me!” I find myself picking this fight for no other reason than me being upset about forgetting to offer tribute to Santa Barbara and that being Nicholas' fault somehow.
He lets go of me and slides over. I suppose it is rather stupid to continue spooning with someone who calls you emotionally unavailable.
“Are we really going to do this again?” His tone said it all. We were right back where we were three years ago when he left. Nothing had changed and I’d been too blind to see it.
“Get out!” I say, more angry at myself than at him. He was the same Nicholas he
always was and I was the same idiot I always was, who’d refused to see it.
“Carmen, you’re being…”
I put my hand up to interrupt him. “Nicholas I swear to god if you finish that sentence I’m going to smack the shit out of you. Just get out! Leave! Isn’t that what you do best anyway?”
His confused face angered me more than Santa Barbara’s dusty eyes. All I could think was, Why couldn’t he get it? “Yeah, you’re right,” he says, putting on his clothes, “but only because your specialty is pushing me away!” Nicholas stops to look me square in the face. “You think it was easy for me to walk away from us? You did that. You ended us. You threw my ring in my face.”
I slap him in that infuriatingly gorgeous face of his and waited for the sting of his retaliation to pulse through my own cheek. It didn’t.
“Fine,” he says, my hand print very visible across his jaw. “But this is the last time, Carmen. I mean it.” And I could tell by his tone…he meant it.
*smooches...headed back to the drawing board with this one*
I'm not sure why it keeps getting rejected *frowny face*
Fighting Insomnia; A Relationship in Snippets by Raquel I. Penzo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.