Margie drifted into a deep sleep. Gentle tingles drifted over her appendages, softly warming her skin. She breathed smoky jasmine. Beep…beep. Was that the alarm again? Who tripped the alarm?
Her eyes blazed open. Her head was murky. Her body was touching another, entwined. She turned her head. A beautiful black-haired woman was curled up next to her. Flashes of color bounded through her mind. Beep…beep…beep…
Her phone. Her eyes darted around the room. Where was her phone? Her purse? Her clothes? She stood, her head spun. She reached up to grab it, stop it from swimming away. Beep…beep…She clacked toward the corner, picked up her phone, pushed answer.
“Hello?” She asked.
“Hi,” the familiar voice breathed, “I…I just. I was wondering if I could see you tonight.”
Margie could see him. Alone in his apartment, ruddy face, eyes glimmering with almost-tears. She could almost feel his fingers, individually touching the small of her back, caressing each twist and turn his breath, heavy and sweet. She could use the money for her shopping trip on Saturday, buy herself a little something extra special.
Her thoughts and eyes drifted towards the black-haired woman on the floor, and over, settling on Jeane, now curled up with the shy boy.
“Hello?” spoke the airy voice, “are you there?”
“Yes,” Margie replied, “I’m not coming over tonight. I…I’m not coming over again. I don’t want it anymore. Sorry.”
She hung up the phone.
The sun was starting to rise over Coney Island, Thor walked along the boardwalk thinking about his Brother. He had never really been able to let him go. He held him there with drugs and booze and isolation, it kept everything and everybody away. There was a crisp bite in the air but he took his shoes off and walked out on the sand. He thought for a moment “Gosh, this is a metaphor and I’m not even trying”. Looking out at the brilliant orange hue of the Ocean he pouted about the poor health of the sea and of the Planet in general. He remembered how he and his two sisters swam his brother’s ashes out into the water on the beach they played and grew up on, Merritt’s voice pulled into Thor as if he had just put it next to a shell “Dude let me go” Thor put his head between his knees and began to weep, he knew from deep within the sea of his soul that this was the beginning.
Micah and Sam sat on a bench on the boardwalk, his arm around her shoulder. She had her feet pulled up under her to keep warm. It was just sunrise, too early for anyone to be around. She felt peaceful. Dew settling on her eyelashes was one of her favorite feelings in the world.
She stared out at the water. What now? She suddenly realized that she didn’t want to go home now, not yet. There were so many places that she hadn’t been yet. She loved Portland, but she could paint almost anywhere, really. And she could afford to do what she wanted to for a while. Maybe she would stay here for a while…no, she hated New York. She couldn’t breathe here, let alone work. Meeting Sam and the last few hours at Madame Chi’s had been an anomaly and she knew it. Maybe Italy? Russia? She wondered where Madame Chi was from—maybe she should go there.
“Micah.” She looked up to see Sam staring at her, amused.
“Sorry, spacing out.”
He kissed her, and sighed. “So, you’re leaving tomorrow?”
“No, the day after…wait, I guess it is tomorrow now.” She sighed.
“What do we do now?”
“I was just thinking about that. Would you, maybe, want to go somewhere with me?”
“Oh, are you hungry? We could get breakfast.”
“I was thinking more along the lines of say, Spain, or the Caribbean.”
Sam looked at her to see if she was serious. She stared back at him, waiting for his answer.
“That’s ok. Just thought I’d ask.”
“No, I would love to. I would really love to. But I can’t. I have finals this week, and then I’m moving, and…”
“It’s ok, I really just wanted to ask just, well, just to have asked.” She smiled at him. “Well, if you’re ever in Portland…”
“Wait, what are you doing today? I still want you to meet my favorite squirrel.”
“Maybe we should just leave it at this. You know? This was good.”
“Yeah. It was.”
They sat silently on the bench, looking out at the ocean.
“Maybe in a few years, I’ll see one of your paintings in a gallery here.”
She smiled. It suddenly seemed possible. Jody was right, the bastard. She laughed to herself.
“Maybe you will.”
As he walked towards the train, Jody must have caught an iridescent span of sunlight reflecting off a tin roof, or, as he walked farther, a bright smile from a child anticipating her last dripping Nathan's dog of the season. His imagination started to work. If he could find her, if he could somehow find the woman who had lavished so much love on him, he could do something for her: he could make her a mix. He would start today. The first song could be Love Is a Sign, by the Go-Betweens, to capture the shimmer of the morning sun and his feelings for this nurturing woman. TV Movie, by Pulp, could express the comfort he felt when she touched him, but it might put her off, he thought--the main character, after all, was an absent father who had left home, spending nights in a bathrobe in front of the tube. He'd be careful with that one. In its place, he might include a song from Growing Up in Public, by Lou Reed, Love is Here, or, even better, So Alone. Something about the unadorned, confessional tone of that album always unwrapped all his pretensions, made him feel better about who he was. As the train rattled down the elevated track into central Brooklyn, he thought about how it had always been a closet favorite.
Jeane passed the van, still parked in the lot, searching for a yellow cab. She’d rent a car for the trip home, something smaller and more…her.
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