I sit down on the end of the bed and look at you. I wouldn’t say you’re attractive, but you’re defiantly not the worst I’ve had. But in this line of work, that’s really not saying much.
You’re making sure the door is locked, and closing the curtains. If I weren’t being paid for this I might be offended, but I understand. I’m sure you don’t want your wife to know what you’re doing.
The motel is cheap, but not bad. The fact that you didn’t get the cheapest motel in the city tells me that you probably have a nice job, one that allows you to live comfortably. I’ve learned to read people so well, I could probably guess exactly what your job is. And I can certainly tell you what neighborhood you live in, how many kids you have, and what brand of vodka you buy. I know your life, inside and out.
You walk over to the bed, nervously, and sit down next to me. I can tell how uncomfortable you are, but I really feel like making it worse.
“Now listen up,” I say, placing my hand on your inner thigh, “We’re here to fuck – if you want to make love that’s going to be 50 dollars extra. And I don’t do anal, kissing constitutes making love, and if you have any kinks I need to know about them right now. And I swear to god, if you cry afterwards I’ll fucking slap you – I’m so sick of that shit.”
I’m exaggerating, to make myself seem stronger. Really, on the inside, I’m a little nervous too – I’ve just gotten so good at my job that I can hide it. Really, I kind of feel sorry for you. And honestly, I’m not disgusted in you for seeking my services.
I see you swallow, like you’re taking a huge gulp of water but there is no water. You’re trying to get the words out. “I don’t mind…I don’t mind paying the extra 50 dollars. I don’t really ha…have any kinks.”
I stop rubbing your thigh and move my hand to your face, gently caressing your cheek. “My name is Stacy, and that’s my real name. Not some fake hooker bullshit name. I’d like to know your name, and I mean your real name.”
You swallow again and open your mouth. A few seconds pass before anything comes out. You say your name is Seth and that your wife hasn’t spoken to you in 3 weeks, kissed you in 4 months, or had sex with you in a year.
I kiss your soft lips and pull your head to my chest. I say that it’s okay to cry, and that maybe you should just go home and tell your wife that you would really like to make things work. Or maybe we should leave this motel and go get coffee and just talk, maybe I can help you figure out what it will take to make your marriage work. You say that she married you for the wrong reasons, and at a bad time in her life. You love her more than you ever thought you could love, but you feel bad for taking advantage of her at such a bad time.
I say you were just trying to help.
You tell me that she blames you for not enjoying coming into adulthood more. That 12 years ago when you got married she was just out of high school, both of her parents had recently died, and she had no money for college. Now she was turning 30, still had no parents, and was working a dead end job. She didn’t have to work, you could support her – but she refused.
You tell me how much it hurts you when she talks about how upset she is to be turning 30, how her life might as well be over and how every chance she had to do something excited has now passed. Especially since you were 30 when you married her. But you say you’d prefer to hear her say this than for her to not talk at all.
I tell you all that I know to say. If you really want it to work you should try and get her to fall in love with you again. Cook her dinner. Prove that her life isn’t over, take her sky diving. Take her to Europe. You say that you might do that.
We both stand up and you hug me tightly. I take the money out of my pocket that you gave me before we got here and put it back into your hand.
“No, you keep that – you have helped me so much.”
“I’m a prostitute, not a therapist. Just consider me your friend – you don’t pay friends for advice.”
But you refuse to listen, and you put the money back into my hand. You look into my eyes and tell me that you picked me up tonight because you wanted to have sex one last time before you died, and you had decided to kill yourself tonight. But now you have hope, and you don’t think you’ll do that.
I sit across from you, staring deeply into the cup of coffee in front of me.
“You know I love you.” you say, looking at me with your beautiful green eyes.
“I love you too, and you don’t see me leaving.”
Automatically I regret the words that left my mouth. I know it hurt you – and I hate when you are hurt.
A tear falls into your tea, and my heart breaks a little bit more.
“I’ve tried. I’ve tried so hard to make this work. I’ve made mistakes – and I can’t deny that. I’ll never stop loving you Dear. But maybe we’re just not meant to be together.”
I look up at you – you’re so exposed. So honest. So raw.
“I can’t accept that. I’ve never felt about anyone the way I do for you. You are my missing half. You know every thought I think, and complete every sentence I ever speak.”
You’re shaking now, because you know it’s true. You lean across the table and place your mouth onto mine. I’m sure we’ve kissed like this one million times, but it’s still new.
You pull away and press your forehead to mine.
“If there’s a god,” you whisper, “I pray he’ll repair your heart. Send you an angel. Someone that is everything I am, and more. Someone who will make you forget about me.”
And then you kiss my forehead, ruffle my hair, and stand to leave. And my heart has stopped beating. You’ve set me free, and I’ve never been more afraid.
Note: Written early summer, 2009.
I put my key into the ignition and turned it forward. The engine roared and I released my hold.
It was over. I was done with this town. This life. Everything associated with it. It was time to start over, find a blank slate on which to draw.
Sure, suicide had crossed my mind. I was just too scared. It was probably a much better plan: Easier. Less chance of failure. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I backed out of my parking spot and turned out of the parking lot. Reflected in the rear view mirror was my apartment. My home, still filled with my possessions. It held so many amazing memories. And many painful ones. But through it all, this had been my home. I had become attached. But now I couldn’t allow myself to feel anything. No attachment. No scene of home. Nothing. I could no longer feel any sort of emotion.
As I drove eventually the apartment faded from my view. And slowly everything I held familiar did the same.
And I allowed myself to feel nothing.
I stepped onto the stage and faced the audience. The spotlight shined in my face and my heart beat loudly in my ears. My head began to spin. I opened my mouth and forced words to come out, knowing that once they arrived they’d begin to flow naturally.
“Thank you for coming to my poetry reading.”
The audience did not respond, but I did not expect them to. Though I always listened for coughs or whispers during pauses. I heard nothing.
I adjusted the microphone and put at level with my mouth. I removed my shoes, and then adjusted the mic again. Still no whispers. Maybe a cough or two.
I looked down at the page and began to read the words from the page, reminding myself to annunciate and speak clearly.
As I read the poem I began to feel more and more exposed. As if I were slowly removing clothes in a seductive strip tease. Layers slowly being peeled off an onion. More and more until eventually I was reading about the lowest moments of my life. Until I was at my most vulnerable. Until I was the onion’s core. Strongly smelling and worthless. Until I was the naked stripper. Scared and useless.
And then the poem was over. And the audience roared with applause.
Carrie lays across the couch watching Philip as he checks his email as she hold open a book that she is not reading. Tonight is different, much different from last night. Last night at this point they were cuddling, him smelling her hair, discussing everything and nothing at all. Tonight there is a strange tension in the air, and they both know it’s there. They both know that the other knows, too, but neither dare to mention it.
Philip stands up and grabs his keys from the desk. “Okay, well, I guess I’m going to go.” Carrie frowns and looks back into her book “Okay, well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.” He opens the door and walks out, and as soon as Carrie hears the door shut tears begin to flow from her eyes.
For the past month she had felt so happy, in such bliss. But tonight, it seems like everything may be over, and for no reason. And Carrie is overwhelmed, because she can’t picture her life without him. She can’t picture what it is she’ll think about if he’s no longer part of her life, or what it was that she thought about before. She had never been as happy as she had been recently, but now she feels sadder than she’s ever felt.
Carrie knows sad. Her entire life before Philip she was sad, but this is different. Back then it was okay to be sad, because she knew nothing different. Now she knew what it was like to be happy, and feeling sad again was just not an option.
She sits her book on the coffee table and stands up. As she begins to rise she remembers to breathe. To try and control her tears. She finds her way into the bathroom and splashes cold water into her face. It helps, but not enough. It doesn’t make her happy. It’s not a kiss or even a look from Philip.
She returns the living room and lights a cigarette. The tears are flowing steadily, and her life feels like it’s over. Like a building has fallen on top of her. How could something so magical be gone? Having nothing to talk about had never stopped them from talking for hours on end before. Their conversations about nothing were always the most magical. She picks the book back up, and attempts to read, to distract her. But her hands are shaking too much to hold the book steady. Carrie takes a deep drag from her cigarette, so that she will remember to breathe.
She’s never been so sad, and her world has never felt so destroyed. And then her phone vibrates. It’s a message from Philip. “This is it,” she says out loud, “the breakup message. The end of the most amazing relationship that never was.”
Sorry, tonight was strange. I’ve just got a lot on my mind, so much going on. I didn’t want to bring you down. I didn’t want my negativity to affect you. I wish I hadn’t left, I should have just vented to you. Let’s get breakfast around six, if you want. I forgot to kiss you goodnight.
And suddenly Carrie is completely happy again. And her tears have stopped, and she feels stupid that they ever started. She glances at the clock, it’s almost one oclock. She only has five hours to get ready, to look better than she’s ever looked. So she finishes her cigarette and goes to the bathroom to shower.
Note: Written June 25, 2009
“I got this shirt at that store I told you about, the one that used to be across the street,” you say as you gracefully roll out of my bed and pull your shirt on. “Isn’t it strange? That I grew up here, in the same house that you live in.”
I smile and twist my long brown hair around my finger. You’re jumping into your underwear now now, and suddenly I feel the need to be modest, or at least pretend to be. So I cover my chest with the sheets.
I look at your perfectly sculpted face. You smile and fall back into bed, stroking my jaw and gently kissing my lips. I lay my head back on your chest and listen for your heart beat. You run your fingers through my hair.
“You know, love,” I say. I hear you raise your eyebrows, but you’re nearly asleep. “My life was such a mess when we met. I wanted out so bad. And then I found you. And I’m perfectly content. You saved me.”
You swing your arm around me and hold me tight.
“I know babe. I know.”
And I know that you’re being honest. You know.
Note: Written sometime in the early summer of 2009.
Note: This is a very rough draft. I know the ending needs work, and I’ll post updates to it as I make them. Any suggestions and criticisms are more than welcomed!
The green beans were done. I figured my mother would appreciate the addition of almonds, even though she’d never mention it and probably be jealous that she never thought of it herself. the turkey was in the oven, staying warm until everyone arrived. The stuffing was complete, and I knew my dad would appreciate that I didn’t do anything fancy other than open the box. He liked the kind from the box much more, and so did I. And same thing for the cranberry sauce. All I had to do was open the can and slide a knife around the circumference to loosen the suction.
I left the stove and walked over to the kitchen table. My kitchen was so tiny that there was no actual walking required. Cleaning this table off the night before had been quite a task. So many things had piled on top of it that it would have only required a few more weeks for a concern to start to build that the pile would soon reach the ceiling. Oddly enough most of the things on the table had gone into the trash without second thought.
I lit the candle that I had placed in the middle of the table and now all I had to do was wait. This was my second thanksgiving away from home. Last year I sat in my apartment crying, none of my family had even called. Last year I had McDonalads for Thanksgiving dinner. This year would be better.
I picked up a pile of cds and sorted through them. I selected three, all very relaxing and unobtrusive albums that could play nicely in the background without much notice. I put them into the cd player and pressed play. I glanced at the watch, 45 minutes late. “I’m sure traffic is bad, and dad may have overslept.” I thought to myself. I looked over to the bright orange telephone that hung on the wall near the oven. A phone call saying they were running late would be nice – but exiting the highway to find a pay phone would only make them later.
I sat down on the couch and picked up the book I had been trying to finish for the past few weeks. I opened it to the marked page and stared at the pages, trying to focus on the words. But my mind wasn’t having it. I sat the book down and waited patiently on the couch. Minutes began to pass, but slowly.
I thought about my parents, and how they were probably bickering. And I thought about my little sister, Claire, and how she was probably asking how much longer until they arrived every few minutes. Or maybe even seconds at this point. And I hoped that my parents were excited about this visit. I was very excited. It didn’t make since, the relationship I had with them left very much to be desired. My mother and I hated each other – and my father had yet to forgive me for moving so far away. But I was excited. I couldn’t wait to see them. I couldn’t wait to see how much Claire had grown in the two years since I had seen here. It’d been almost a year since I’d even seen a recent picture.
I sat there, on the couch, waiting patiently. Resisting the extreme urge to pace and rearrange and glance at the clock constantly. Eventually it hurt to sit anymore, and I walked to the kitchen and looked at the clock. Over two hours late. I picked up the telephone and dialed the number of my parent’s house – expecting nothing but ringing.
The phone rang. And it range again. And then it stopped ringing, and I heard my father’s voice.
Tears began to build in my eyes. I sat the phone back on the cradle and slid down the wall onto the floor. They weren’t coming. I pulled myself back up and walked over to the oven. I slammed the door the ground and, like an idiot I pulled the turkey
out without potholder. I threw it towards the trash can, but hit the wall instead. I picked up the pot of green beans, and the stuffing. I threw them into the trash and kicked the turkey.
I took several deep breaths. I picked the green beans and stuffing out from the trash can, there was no need to throw away the only two pots I had. I inhaled again and then blew out the candle that had nearly burnt to the bottom. I never imagined my second thanksgiving away from home would make the first one look so nice.