Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Spring Reading

The musty smell was a constant in the bedroom.  He had tried various cleaning solutions to no avail.  There was something in the wooden floors and walls of the old house that just smelled like age and decay.  On warm days he would open the stubborn window and place a fan in the opening which only swirled the scent of the room as opposed to bringing in a new odor.  When the fan was on he would turn up the music to try and override the fan, so as a result most of the residents of the house had become quite familiar with the band Superchunk that Spring.

He had immersed himself in American writers of the early 20th century after his latest girlfriend had left him.  He complained to his friends about the sheer amount of reading he needed to accomplish, but honestly he was thankful for the opportunity to lose himself within the pages.  He spent lazy afternoons reading Fitzgerald.  When he closed the book he was always slightly surprised to find himself in the modest room instead of a sprawling house in the Hamptons in 1926.  He always read on the left side, which had been ‘his side” of the bed.  In the afternoon when the sun shone directly into the room it became warm and would make him sleepy.  He would place the book carefully on the nightstand and roll over to the right side of the bed.  The pillow still smelled like her.  He closed his eyes and breathed her in.  Sometimes she would enter into his dreams, confusing scenarios of 1920s parties where he could never find the door to exit.

He checked his messages constantly hoping she would initiate contact again.  He had called her once since she had left, immediately regretting it.  She had not answered the phone but he knew she would see his missed call and look at it like weakness.  In his mind she had somehow merged with the characters in his books, spending her nights being clever at fabulous parties while he sat in his self-imposed exile.   He was sure she was awash in suitors, each one more handsome and accomplished than he.  Superchunk gave way to Pavement.  The fan whirled.  He thought about how her long hair would move while she slept next to him.

It was a shock when he ran into her.  He was in the shabby grocery store near the city center.  As he always refused to get a cart or basket, he was perilously balancing cans of tuna, a loaf of bread, soup and a six pack of Bass Ale.  He was performing a cheap circus stunt with no audience.  He almost collided with her when he turned from the cooler, the beer precariously balanced on the tip of his index finger.  “Hi…”  He felt embarrassed.  He wasn’t sure why.  She stared at him with a look of light annoyance.  She had cut her hair from the long wild mane into a proper bob cut.  She looked great.  He instantly knew she didn’t love him anymore.  He stammered out some small talk.  She was composed.  He felt his face grow hot.   He felt like a fool.  He went home and washed the sheets and pillowcases.  


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