“It was previously a question of finding out whether or not life had to have a meaning to be lived. It now becomes clear, on the contrary, that it will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.” – Albert Camus
She walks into the diner over to the table where he sits pianoing away at the keyboard of his laptop. She sits down and slides the extra menu on the table over and begins to look over it. He glances up at her and smiles. She smiles back. He continues to type.
“Do you know what a frickle is?” she asks while thumbing through the menu. He types something, looks up and replies, “a bushel basket?”
“That’s an interesting guess. I was just curious if you knew.”
“Yeah. I know everything, actually, but sometimes I forget things temporarily. Including what a frickle is…”
“You so looked that up. Cheater. And that’s not even what I was talking about.”
“Well, like I said, I forgot.”
“It’s a lightly battered, deep-fried, Lower East Side pickle, served with a Dijon dipping sauce. It is — most astonishingly — quite good.”
“Those are not my words.”
“That is SICK. Fucking NASTY. Mustard in and of itself is vomit-inducing.”
“No, mayonnaise is but deep fried pickles just sound wrong”
“Both are. What sick fuck thought that up?”
“Someone who was drunk.”
“I guess. So, is that what you’re gonna order?”
“Yeah. And I’ll share with you.”
“Uhh. No.” he smiled. He closed the screen on his computer. “So, Andy…what are you going to get?” He starts pulling out the brown packets of sugar in the raw. Sets them to his side. Takes the lemon from his iced tea and puts it in his mouth. She watches him. “You want some?” he asks, “there’s some left.” He shows her a bit of lemon still attached to the peel in the corner. She smiles, “It’s okay, John. I’m not sure what I’ll get yet.” She continues to look over the menu until she decides and sets it down beside her. The waiter walks up and she orders the cheese tortellini and absolut raspberry in pineapple juice. He orders a barbeque pork sandwich and a lemon drop.
“John, would you be sad if I left forever?”
“Well then. You should say that then…’Andy I would be sad if you left forever and you should just stay here because I’d miss you’…” she laughed.
He sighs, “I thought that was already understood here.”
“Sometimes I need to hear this stuff.”
“Ah. Well, alright. I’ll play along. *Ahem* Andy, I would be sad if you left forever and you should just stay here because I’d miss you. Better?”
“Yes! Because if you don’t say anything I won’t know and I may just leave.”
“Well… I think it’s important that you get school done. Even if that means you have to move away. But, yes, I’d prefer if you did it somewhere nearby”
The lighting is ghastly in the bar, almost too bright. She sits at a table with friends, drinking. Behind the bar they have a Rolodex of drinks, they decide to take the Rolodex and spin to see what drink it will land on. That’s what they each order. By the time this game is decided she already had two Madori Sours. On the first spin she gets a drink called a Hurricane. On the next spin she orders a drink called an Earthquake. In the bathroom the lighting is so dim she finds herself repulsive in the mirror. She is drunk. She makes her way back to the table. Her cell phone rings, and it’s the Led Zeppelin song Dyer Maker, she knows that it’s John. Through an open door to the left of her she can see outside into the dark night. She answers the phone and makes her way towards that door, heading outside. It’s raining.
She stumbles a little as they move down the dark hall. She leads him through the doorway into her room. She pulls her shirt over her head and tosses it on the floor. The only light is the moonlight coming in through the open window. She takes off her jeans and panties, but leaves her bra on and stumbles towards the bed where John is sitting. He lays back into the bed and she fumbles with the button of his pants. “You need some help with that?” he asks. She giggles, “I’m sure I can manage.” She undresses him, puts his cock in her mouth and sucks until he’s completely hard. She moves up and puts him inside her. They kiss and kiss. “You like me…” she says teasing. “It’s just sex Andy,” he says. There’s more and then she moves down and sucks his cock more. “I want to make you come,” she says. “Then, do it,” he answers. She moves up and puts him back inside her. “No, it’s too close,” he whispers. “How close?” she asks. “Very close,” he answers. She moves back down and takes him into her mouth until he comes. She swallows.
After, they find their clothes in the dark and dress. “Are you okay?” she asks, “did you like it?”
“Yes.” he answers.
She’s alone in her room with the glow of her computer screen in front of her. She’s trying to put together a story. She wants to understand and to be understood. She’s piecing each artery together, each vein she is trying to fill with the blood it will need to exist. She taps her fingers on the desk. She listening to PJ Harvey and clicking continuously away at her story. There is so much desire to get it all out before it dissipates. Through all the weaving in and out of recollection, and all the terrible things she can’t forget, this is what she wants to remember. She’s moving towards that place where all the loose plots comes together and create clarity in the story. The main character is on the verge of some great epiphany and she hopes her lack of skill will not undercut the message. There is so much she needs to say here. In the dark of her room she hopes this will be understood.
She moves her hands away from the keyboard, wanting to be close to something. She lays back into her chair, moves them under her shirt and over her breasts. She pulls off her shirt and tosses it to the side so she is bare. She moves one hand between her legs and she is so warm and wet with desire. She rubs deep into herself with that hand, the other clutching at her breasts. Any moment it will be too much. She keeps with it regardless. She pulls her feet up close to her body. That’s where the trembling begins. It takes her over and she cannot stop coming. At some point she’s convulsing and her body can’t take it anymore. She’s breaths heavy and stops.
The room seems darker. She feels more alone now. The suffused light reminds her she still needs to understand. She still needs to finish this story.
He’s sitting on her bed, drinking strawberry kiwi Snapple. She’s drinking the mango kind. He’s leafing through her books. He makes a joke about her owning The Communist Manifesto. She leans against the pillows. Sighs.
“John, my mom doesn’t want me to move away.” she says.
“At some point, you have to do what’s best for you, regardless of what she thinks.”
“Yes. I know. For some reason I feel guilty. I know she hates that I’m so much more together than she was or is. And I don’t think she cares about what’s best for me. But I still feel guilty for not being worse, or something.”
“No, I understand. And it certainly doesn’t sound like she cares about what’s best for you. Which is, I think, all the more reason for YOU to do what’s best for you.”
“It’s making me feel trapped in a way and I feel guilty about feeling that way…and part of me is thinking that even if I stay here, I should move out after I graduate. They’re just so sick all the time. And it’s hard to take care of them and all my stuff. I donno if that makes me an incredibly bad person.”
“Not at all. It’s only natural. Especially if they’re not doing much to help themselves.”
“Yeah. It’s odd because mostly I don’t think there’s really anything that wrong with my mom but she always tells me she doesn’t feel good and she takes prescription painkillers like crazy. And she takes enough that she’ll be slurring her words and stuff.”
“Then she ought to get some kind of counseling.”
“She won’t. I’ve been trying to talk her into that for years.”
“Well… if she isn’t willing to help herself… I mean, it’s totally unfair of her to heap all of that onto your back.”
“Yeah, I don’t think she considers that, though.”
“Well, she needs to. Whether you tell her by sitting her down and talking to her, or just by doing what you have to.”
“Do you think I should just wait to see where I get accepted or should I talk to her soon.”
“Well, I dunno. It’s hard to say since I don’t know her. Do you think that, if you tried sitting her down and talking to her, that it would make any difference?”
“No. She. She’s already been acting different. Plus I think either way I’m gonna leave here.”
“Well, then I wouldn’t bother sitting her down. If it’s not going to accomplish anything, don’t bother. Wait until you get accepted somewhere and tell her “tough shit” when the time comes”
“I have such a hard time walking away from things.”
“I know, but it’s something you’re gonna have to do”
“Yeah. I do. I just wish she wouldn’t make me feel so entirely guilty. I haven’t even mentioned it to my dad.”
“What kind of relationship do you have with him?”
“My dad and I used to be really close, we talked all the time…until my brother told him he didn’t think they were good parents and should have been more supportive of me he’s been stand offish since that. And he thinks that it was stupid for me to go to college.” she laughs.
“Why is that stupid?”
“He’s one of those people who distrusts people who are too smart…or something lame like that. He thinks I’m a snob now.”
“Ah. And what do you think he’ll say about you going away?”
“He’ll act like he doesn’t care or he’ll ask me why I would want to do that and explain why it’s a bad idea. My parents are very cold. I’ve never touched or hugged either of them”
“Well, then I suggest you do the same as with your mom. Don’t tell him until you’re already sure it’s going to happen, and don’t let him think that you care about his opinion”
“Maybe I shouldn’t care. I’ve always been afraid of ending up as cold as them.”
“Well… you SHOULD care. But only to a certain extent. You don’t want to be cold to them, necessarily, but if all they care about is themselves, then you need to keep that in mind whenever they tell you anything, so that maybe it won’t affect you as much does that make sense? Dunno if I’m saying it right”
“Like realizing what their motivations are.”
“Yeah. And if you keep that in mind, maybe their indifference won’t bother you as much.”
“It’s still going to bother me because I can’t understand it. The best I can do is not let them know it bothers me. For some reason everything affects me too much.”
“Well, they’re your parents, so it’s definitely going to be hard. That’s normal. And if they’ve been beating things like guilt into you for a long time, it’s going to be even harder.”
“Yes, that’s how it seems. I get so pissed at myself that I have all these emotional blocks in my way.”
“And, sadly, there isn’t much you can do to “get over” this crap. Not easily. But I think that if you do end up moving away for school… that could help a lot.”
“I hope so. I need a more clear perspective than I can get here. I feel like I have a table and I’ve set all these heavy boxes on top and all I really want is room on top of this table, but I can’t lift the table to tip the stuff off it. That was kinda a lame metaphor, forgive me. See. I told you I’m afraid of everything.”
“You are not afraid of everything. And besides, it’s not your fault.”
“You’re sweet. I have an incredibly hard time not blaming myself for everything.”
“I know. But I mean it. It’s all in how a person is raised. Believe me. And if you’ve been taking that kind of shit your whole life, then it’s no wonder you’re “afraid of everything” and constantly blaming yourself.”
“This is what I worry about more than anything. Does 1 + 1=2. Yeah. And people that are raised the way that I was raised turn out to be really really fucked up people.”
“They do, mostly. But they don’t always stay that way”
“Then, if I’m honest with anyone about how I was raised then I feel like they either expect me to be fucked up. Or they start looking for those characteristic flaws”
“Well, that is your own paranoia, I assure you.”
She walks into the diner over to the table where he sits pianoing away at the keyboard of his laptop. She sat down and slid the extra menu on the table over and began to look over it. He glances up at her and smiles. She smiles back. He continues to type.
“I haven’t made you uncomfortable, have I?” she asks.
“Nope. Not at all. But you gave me an erection.”
“Yum.” She smiles, “Okay, I’ll take care of that later…”
“Too bad you can’t take care of that right now…”
“We’re in a restaurant. So I can’t right now”
“You ought to.”
“For you, I would. I’m such a bad girl. Tease.”
“How so??” he laughs.
“Cause you can’t right now.”
“Oh please. Not my fault.”
“Okay okay” she smiles.
“I know it’s okay”
“Did you tell your friends about your coup?”
“Coup? What is that?”
“A brilliantly executed stratagem; a triumph.”
She waits at a table where she is pianoing away at the keyboard of her laptop. She’s nearly done writing her story. She taps her fingers on the laminate of the table, she’s not sure if anyone will understand it, but she keeps writing. He sits down at the table across from her and slides the extra menu over the table and begins to look at it. She glances at him and smiles. He smiles back. She continues to type. She knows right now, as her story is nearing its close, that he has come to say good-bye. She didn’t know where anything would lead. She didn’t care. He always understood things better than she did. Today they’ll order sushi and maybe she’ll choke down some warm sake, even though normally she finds it distasteful. She wants to remember this moment. The strange way his eyes seem to be a lighter brown. She imagines this has everything to do with the lighting here. She imagines what it will be like when he leaves, when they’re both full and ready to part their separate ways. She imagines what it will feel like when he’s walking away, and she is standing there watching his back, the way his shirt will ripple as he walks, how he won’t look back at her and she won’t be able to stop watching him. She’ll pretend he’s going off to do important things and that maybe he’ll think about her from time to time. Although she knows this moment won’t weigh as heavily on him as it will on her. She’ll go over it in her head an infinite amount of times, attempting to make sense of it. Right now she won’t close the screen on her laptop until she has to. She wants to get it all out, until the very last line. She’s afraid that when she closes the screen that’s when the story will end.