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Old 2008-07-21, 23:06   Link #56
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 42N 71W or so
Hm, only my second post. I'm exceptionally secretive and insecure about my writing, so I'm surprised I'm even going to share. This was a part of a short story assignment for some class, and it seemed to totally polarize my classmates; some were offended, others loved it. I've edited it slightly for this post--replacing a couple of f-bombs with ****. I think I caught them all, so...I swear like no one's business...if anything needs redacting, let me know. I'd rather not rock the boat so soon after joining.

Between Pathetic and Charming

You look at me from across the table, your hesitant, smoky grin flashing along the rim of a glass filled with a wine whose name you mispronounced only minutes earlier. Your face flushes with the same burgundy wash that falls in drops onto the white linen tablecloth, and I can't help but smile.

You are at once wide-eyed and self-conscious, but stare at your surroundings with an assuredness that comes from apathy; you say you'll never meet any of these people again, so, you muse, what does it matter what they think? Yours isn't a blatant kind of rudeness, simply a naivete you could never let go of. I warn that that makes you vulnerable, but you shrug it off, saying vulnerability is nothing shameful.

Admittedly, I am bored. Any attempt to elicit an opinion or conviction from you is met with the same blase relativism, the kind no one can effectively argue against without becoming infuriated. At some point you melt away into the art nouveau ambiance, into the rest of the bistro, your voice simply a note in the greater movement of the scene.

But you tap my leg with your foot, and make silly, out of place faces, and it's then I realize that you're not wearing Abercrombie and Fitch; that your hair isn't cropped up into that ubiquitous faux-hawk, bleached at the tips, hair shining like the goddamned lighthouse of Alexandria. Your relativistic attitude makes sense to you, because what meaning or sense the world has belongs to you.

We're surrounded by so many people, but I feel a kind of isolation; all around us is black, the only light reflected in the dinnerware and glasses. In time with your foot against my leg, I realize how ridiculous it all is; that we've tried to follow a meaningless route to each other, that we play a game of no rules by some arbitrary, irrelevant standards. The bill is coldly plopped onto the table, and I notice we both roll our eyes.

We're thinking the same thing, apparently, because I can feel my lips move in the same devilish direction as yours. I offer a strategy, and you augment it with whatever strategems you've devised throughout your own travels. We agree silently, a yes replaced with a knowing wink, and a "ready-steady-go" with the adagio movements of our arms.

You say that the food wasn't so good, and I concur, adding that our bill shouldn't put too big of a dent in the waiter's pay. Satisfied, justified, we exit arm-in-arm, and like Lot, fight the urge to look backwards.

The street is bathed in the orange light of the city coated in fog, the brick sidewalks shining in the chance silence of 11pm. I ask you where we're walking. You ask why I need a plan. I don't reply, opting simply to follow you. You playfully try to match your footsteps with mine, knowing how that irks me; and for that you get a slap on the arm and a string of epithets ending in "bastard." You laugh inaudibly, your breath's evaporating wisps the only indication of your voice.

The air is calm. Nothing seems appropriate to say. Your coat seems heavy, and I want you to take it off. I don't say this, because I don't like to share my desires, but you reach out and place your cold hand on the back of my neck, and I forget what I had only seconds earlier wanted.

That moment arrives, where I'm stuck between not wanting to feel lonely for the night, but not wanting the attachment that people wake up with in my bed, next to me, the next morning. You say you'd kiss me goodnight, but you'd rather spend the night. I feel sick to my stomach at this, fearing that four letter word that's seemingly been at the crest of your lips all night.

Love. Ridiculous. Love is what people call the resolution between the primal instinct to reproduce, and the socially enforced notion of shame attached to that instinct. I invite him in nonetheless, because anything's better than loneliness.

He seats himself on the couch, trying to conceal his laughter at my attempts to be a good host. The cup of coffee I offered, shakes with my hand as I extend it to the table in front of him. Turning away, I don't notice his arm whip out with cobra-like precision and grasp my wrist. I pivot back to face him, a slight scowl already taking shape across my face.

He says simply that he wants to f***. I sigh in relief. He says he doesn't believe in love, and I smile in agreement. We f***.

When I wake up, I catch myself thinking, trying to make a choice. My neighbors upstairs are playing a sonata on their piano while the pre-dawn shades of violet and grey pour in through my window. He's asleep next to me.

I want him to leave and never come back. I want all of that for myself. The dinner, the pretentious bistro, the fog and light, the cold hand on my neck, the sound of the ceramic coffee mug against the glass table, the light through the window and the distant music--I want it all for myself.

He smiles gently as he gets dressed, and without a word, slips out the front door. I watch from my window as he fades into those ephemeral frames of morning. Closing the blinds, I can still smell him, and I smile.
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