…the rough, rough first draft of the short story I was talking about. It’s a rough, and I do mean rough, draft. I know I’ve got lots of work to do, but I just wanted to post it here to feel more productive. And I do. So now, I’m going to bed.
UPDATE: I didn’t say last night that this is only the first part of the story! 😳 The second part is to come by the end of the weekend.
On the first day of summer, I stood in the fiction section of my hometown’s major bookstore wating for him. I’d moved back less than three weeks before, and he found me — although I didn’t doubt he would.
In Charleston, he met one of my friends through one of his friends, and he eventually heard that I had gone through a rough ending to the relationship I’d talked myself into after leaving him behind and that I had moved back to my parents’s house and found a job.
Actually, the first phone call came during my first week back in town. Then on this night he called and asked if I wanted to meet him at the bookstore to see what was going on. A little more than a year ago, I was the one asking if I could meet him in the parking lot after he got off from work. Sometimes, I’d drive by, and when I recognized his car, I parked next to it and wait for him. I pulled the same stunt the last time I saw him. I took his birthday present — a nice pen, not a pen and pencil set, just the pen.
“I shouldn’t take this,” he had said, sitting in his car with his legs stretched out.
“Take it,” I told him, sitting in my car with my legs out as well. “You can write your stories and poems with it.”
He smiled. “So there will always be a piece of you in it.”
Browsing through fiction titles at the bookstore, I wondered if he had written anything since I gave him the pen or if he still had it.
“See anything interesting?” he asked. I turned to see the same smile from the night in the parking lot. I greeted him, but neither of us reached for eachother. I did that once, but he didn’t take my hand. I decided not to make the same mistake again.
He looked the same. Perhaps his curls were longer and thicker, and he wore a bit more stubble than the last time. We walked around the store, winding our way through the fiction section and then across the main aisle to the self-help books.
“You seem so different,” he said stopping. “I can’t believe how much you’ve changed.”
It’s amazing how having your heart broken will do, I thought but didn’t say, although he wasn’t the culprit. I had cried over him, but he wasn’t the reason I cried all night just four months ago.
I had stopped walking now and looked over the shelves at all the other customers who weren’t paying any attention to us. Somehow we always seemed to exist in our own little world. He circled around me, holding my gaze as he crossed from my left to my right, “Do I seem different?” he asked. “Do you notice any new problems, any psychosis?”
I rolled my eyes at his familiar attempt to make me acknowledge his faults, but when I looked at him again, I felt his eyes reaching into me. Their blueness soaked me to the point where I lost my breath and struggled to stand. I had forgotten about that sensation.
“No,” was all I said.
I strolled by him, and he followed. He stopped again in the relationship section and pulled a version of the Kama Sutra off the shelf. I rolled my eyes again and tried to walk past.
“What’s the matter?” he asked. “Don’t you want to look at this dirty book with me?”
I laughed and moved on, remembering our previous talks about sex, when I was still a virgin. He informed me — almost warned me — that sex in the movies was completely romanticized.
“Your feet are up in the air, and your arms are flailing around,” he said chuckling. “And there are noises…”
A few months later, he explained that there was this certain way a woman could move that he found incredible. I wanted to be the woman capable of moving that way. I wanted him to be the first. I sent him a poem I wrote about how I would give up my innocence if I thought it would calm what I thought was his tortured soul. He refused to take it from me, saying to do that would be selfish. He continuously pushed me away, always with the explanation that he wanted to avoid hurting me, but eventually, I realized that he also managed to avoid exposing his vulnerabilities.
In the biography section, we sat down on the floor, and I listened to him read parts of Jim Morrison’s story. His voice had always held me captive, especially when reading poetry. When he began reading Morrison’s words, I fought the temptation to move closer, to sit close enough to him that my leg might brush up against his.
My distraction must have seemed more like boredom. He stood up and, closing the book, said “I guess I should let you go home.”
During the walk to my car, I tried to find a way to say that I wanted to hang around without sounding too eager, but the words failed me.
“I’m glad you came tonight,” he said. “You don’t know how much I needed it.” He paused. “I saw my father today.”
I had never heard a lot about his father. He had told me more about his mother, but I did know that both had a part in his loveless upbringing. I reached out and touched his forearm, letting the hair brush against my fingertips as I slid them down over the top of his hand. He grasped my fingers, laced his fingers through them, and examined our joined hands.
“You want to get out of here?” he asked, and I nodded. He didn’t let go of my hand until we arrived at his car.
UPDATE: Part two is now here.