eyeballs. Hearing a noise akin to a squirrel opening an acorn, I zero in on the woman in front of me and try to focus on the task at hand. The noise, now a fuse, lit and gaining ground at a rapid pace toward a bomb of a headache, was her—clacking her teeth on her black, chipped, and artificial looking fingernail. When she pulls her finger away from her mouth, a sliver of the black is caught on her eye tooth, but I don’t have the heart to tell her. Besides, it serves as a form of entertainment. It mesmerizes me. I’ve never tasted nail polish per se, but I can’t imagine how she isn’t hacking and gagging on that taste in her mouth. Sitting back in my chair, I inhale, trying to take in all the senses of this girl who I’d asked out in the Starbucks line. She doesn’t smell like—wait—I’m not supposed to compare—she smells like fermented rain. Like someone left a piece of bread in the rain to get soggy and then it molded and got rained on again. Speaking of bread, she’s eaten all the bread. Who does that? It’s a whole basket of bread. Would it kill her to share? She—she—she. I really should know her name at least. “So where do you work?” I always squirm at this question. Girls like this with perfected bodies and less than perfected manners don’t get what I do. I work for a paycheck. I’m not, nor have I ever been, interested in status, socially or financially. The factory pays me for eight hours and I leave my work at the time clock. I don’t have to pull long hours and come home with a briefcase and there’s no client dinners to take me away from anything or anyone. “At a motorcycle parts factory.” I shrug, pre-excusing myself from whatever criticism she’s sure to offer. “Oh. That sounds interesting.” The waitress appears and though I’m not supposed to, I mentally compare her to the one on the pedestal. The devil woman said I couldn’t compare my date, not the waitress, or the lady sitting at the table next to me, or the hostess or anyone else within a breath. “Hi Patty!” The waitress apparently recognizes the woman across from me and now I know her name—Patty. Patty is not really a boy turned girl name, but it’s close to Pat, so I let myself slide. When Patty answers the waitress’ question about what she’s been up to, she rolls her eyes toward me while she responds. She must be having as much fun as I am. A girl with strawberry blonde hair passes outside. Her hair is straighter than—and her hips aren’t quite as rounded as—and she’s not hiding like… I push back a thought, vowing not to allow her name to fill my throat and try to escape. It escapes too often—it doesn’t escape often enough. I hate not talking about
her. It feels like she died instead of killing me. Like she drowned instead of filling me with emptiness. Like she tipped over the edge of a cliff and took me with her. “Evan, what will you be getting?” Patty is poking the hell out of the laminated menu in front of me as her recently reacquainted friend tapped her pen on her notebook, needing to move on to her next table. “It’s Ezra. And the chicken marsala.” This was an Italian place. I hoped they had chicken marsala. Then again, nothing about the whole scenario was right. Nothing in my life is quite right anymore.
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