News: new edition of King Dork (with fancy-ized cover and “sneak peek” of King Dork Approximately) has a 7/8 pub date.
Amazon pushed back my pre-order delivery date to December…
I’m not even going anywhere tonight but I just designed a fab new eye look with five different colors from five different palettes from swatches I made just to go with a new blouse. Because I have a fucking addiction.
A lock of her hair had come loose from her braid and now swung freely near her face, retaining its perfect curl from being tucked behind her ear. The same ear he would whisper his secrets into late at night as they were falling asleep, curled up after a little too much to drink.
He used to be so close to her, but now he found the last six months of silence had left the space between them impassible. He wanted to walk over and fall immediately into old patterns – nights spent drinking, talking, and smoking on her back porch that summer; making love and collapsing into alcohol-fueled cuddles, staring into her wine-warmed eyes – but he knew he would have to explain his sudden disappearance.
Every email from her reminded him. Cut into him a little deeper, through the scar tissue that formed. Creating a larger, uglier mark each time. She reached out less and less often now. As if she were giving up. He wanted her to keep trying; he wanted to let himself believe that so long as she wanted him, he could have her. Not that he gave her any indication of such; he never replied.
How could he put into words the pain he felt, abandoning her the way he did? How could he explain how horrible and miserable he felt, facing the prospect of losing everything they had shared? How could he tell her he could not stand back and watch her with anyone else when he wanted her all to himself?
The biggest surprise on their first date was that he had not felt uncomfortable. They had exchanged only a handful of emails and he had anticipated their meeting would at least initially be awkward. He remembered her silhouette as she slipped a cigarette out of a metal case then held it like a 50s movie star as he held his hand out to light it; she leaned back and exhaled straight up, like a nicotine-infused smokestack.
She decided he had to try the martinis at a different bar and he knew she would love the house drink at another one. He paid for their drinks and they left. She stopped on the sidewalk, it was her sister’s birthday, and she wanted to call at midnight. She took out her phone and dialed.
The orange glow of the streetlight haloed her head, creating a saint out of her cigarette smoke. She stood with her left hand on her hip, the other holding the phone to her face, evoking poses of models of the past.
That is when he kissed her. He put one hand on the back of her head and other on the small of her back and held her against the wall. They kissed deeply until her sister answered the call. The party was much too loud to make anything out. She hung up and they kept walking.
As he left her apartment the next morning, he saw others also leaving behind their nights and his representation of her within his mind was complete. She was beautiful and broken. A gorgeous girl, who long ago had buckled under the weight of her insecurities, and had turned to using men like emotional duct tape. She was scared of losing herself to anyone, and so gave herself willingly to everyone. Only during acts of passion did she feel truly valued, and when those encounters came to their inevitable and unsatisfying end, she would immediately grow suspect of her lovers’ motives and interest. There was no boy who could save her; and no man wanted to.
Once, while she was planning the menu for a dinner party aloud, he commented that she would make a perfect wife. That she was everything he wanted in a woman. She had laughed it off as she tapped the end of her cigarette on the edge of the ashtray, but he meant it.
He used to pretend, late at night, heart still pounding, his breathing still heavy, and she had fallen asleep with her head on his chest, that she did love him exactly as he loved her. He wanted so much for this fantasy to continue in the light of day, but of course, it never did. She would mention a date she had that evening over breakfast, or how one of the men she was seeing was toying with her feelings in a way he told himself he never would.
So what was he doing here now? After six months of silence – never speaking, never returning her pleading emails or text messages, begging him to come back to her – wasn’t everything about their relationship now his toying with her feelings? Was he not breaking her heart? Breaking it the same way everyone else ever had? They had known her passionately, for one night; he wanted her forever.
He never explained his sudden disappearance, just told her he was busy with law school, and never wrote back.
He was on a date with a new woman at an art gallery. She had planned it and he had approved. He’d skimmed the headlines in the local papers and it seemed interesting enough – the first solo show of a ” promising new artist.”
They met at the gallery; a glorified warehouse cleaned up and better lit. It was the sort of place where patrons filled two-piece plastic wine glasses out of cardboard boxes. Cardboard boxes on folding tables covered in cheap plastic tablecloths. Julia was blonde, sporting jeans with rhinestone accents, a white blouse, and a little too much makeup. Not within the spectrum of his taste, but it was a blind date.
The place was pleasantly packed and canvases were arranged on the walls, with some larger pieces on the floor leaning at acute angles for viewing. They were arranged chronologically, as the artist finished them, dated over this last year. He and his date followed this timeline of the artist’s life at a polite pace.
They made a few remarks concerning the pieces, he got the feeling she was trying to impress him – liberally using words like “edgy” and “impressionalism” – but was not doing a very good job, occasionally stopping to sip their box wine out of their plastic wine glasses and let their eyes wander.
A small man dragged a folding chair from the corner and stood on the seat, calling the patrons’ attention to him. He and Julia paused opposite the door they had entered and made their way nearer the center of the space in order to better hear. The man introduced himself as the gallery director and attempted to introduce the artist but was interrupted by an asthmatic coughing fit. He motioned at a spot in the crowd and lumbered down the chair, using a resentful-looking employee’s shoulder to steady himself, to allow the artist to take his place. A young woman leapt up adroitly in two steps, not letting go of her wine glass.
Her shoulder to him, he studied her. It always interested him to hear an artist speak. He had majored in Classic Antiquities as an undergraduate and enjoyed it when an artist wasn’t dead by the time he was introduced to their work.
Her back mostly to him, he could see she dressed well, wearing faded red skinny slacks, navy flats, and a navy blazer. The quality of the outfit’s materials were evident to anyone who cared to notice and the absence of logos and flashy patterns gave the ensemble an understated look that screamed upper-middle class. She spoke well, and it seemed the cheap red wine she held in her right hand served its purpose, providing her with a bit of liquid courage. With her hand on her cocked hip, her gestures – the wine was close to escaping the confines of her glass as she swept her arm toward the walls – and bearing seemed to him a bit put on, but then this was her first real show. She was charming and friendly, almost flirting with those closer to her, male and female alike.
She turned slightly to address a different part of the crowd, and he noticed that she had a plain white t-shirt beneath her blazer. His t-shirt, he realized with a start. The woman whose work he had been admiring, who was now addressing the room, was none other than the woman he had been avoiding for months.
He recalled he had accidentally left behind his white undershirt one of the last times he stayed over at her apartment and had not bothered to get it back – she had evidently worked it into her wardrobe. He liked that. He hoped she still thought of him each time she wore it.
Now that it was more personal, he paid closer attention to the art on the walls and the pieces arranged on the floor. Chronological was the only order that made sense in light of who she was. He noted dates on each piece and found that if he made his way around the room, he could follow her over the last year. He still had half the room left. The last six months. Six months without him.
Julia sighed, crossing and uncrossing her arms, clearly irritated at his sudden intense interest. He didn’t care anymore. He stopped caring about their evening together the moment he noticed the artist’s shirt. His shirt, he reminded himself. Though, he wasn’t sure he could call it that any longer.
He hadn’t expected to run into her like this. He had moved to a different city shortly before he cut off ties with her. He wasn’t so very far away, but he knew there was no reason for her to be there and felt secure he would not have to avoid anything in his new town.
He kept stealing glances at her as the evening wore on, carefully avoiding her gaze. He ended his circuit around the room, Julia trailing his steps with distinct disinterest. As he prepared to begin another circle around the warehouse, she took note, feigned a phone call, and left in a bit of a huff. He still didn’t care. He wasn’t going to call her again.
The artist – his artist – was still in the middle of the room; chatting lightly with people she seemed to already know when he finished with that first half of the room for the second time. He had lost track of time and found the room mostly cleared as he turned toward the door. He could see her clearly now; she was more at ease, the wine and compliments from gallery-goers had noticeably relaxed her.
She still wore her pearls, that hadn’t changed, but she seemed different. Older, he decided, defeated almost. She was still personable and outgoing, but when she looked at the latter half of the room, there was a wistful look in her face she was attempting to conceal with a smile that seemed forced. That cut him; he had done that to her.
Her back slightly to him as he faced her, his stomach dropped at the realization of what he found himself doing. Slowly making his way toward her, he hovered near the tables bearing the last of the box wine, waiting for her to finish her conversation.
His hands shook as he drained his glass to calm himself, wishing for any number of the drinks he’d had the first time they met. He contemplated leaving, but found himself rooted to the floor.
Her friends gathered their coats and left as she stood facing the door draining her glass of its contents and taking a deep breath. She looked around the room with her work on the walls with a contented expression on her face, and turned toward the tables hand already outstretched for a refill.
That’s when she saw him. He couldn’t hide anymore, the crowd had found the wine gone and had moved toward the door. Her hand dropped and so did his heart.