Posts Tagged love
They were up all night, further defiling Emmanuel’s house. Each time they moved to another room, Ala looked for the self that watching herself do so much wrong. She did not want to stop. She knew she was plunging deeper into reparable damage, but could not pull herself from the tingling embrace to surface for air. Danno was so highly effective at reading her needs that she felt part of the grand plan for the first time in her life.
She wondered if she was dead, drowned in her parent’s master bath. She kept correcting her thoughts because she knew she was still alive, but the ease of the idea was so tempting. At one point he stopped and looked up at her face.
“You’re not happy,” he said.
“I am,” she said.
He locked his fingers between hers. She gave him a weak smile.
“Then show me,” he said and continued.
She leaned back into the goose down pillow and took a breath, pushing and flushing the worry out. She pictured they anxiety all flooding from her ears and around her neck, dripping down her back. She quivered and squirmed, her fingers gripping his hand and pressing it down into the sheets.
She could not change any of her choices or any of his. She loved Danno and had to believe that what he promised was so. Everything would be returned in the morning. Emmanuel would return from the business trip, not suspecting a thing about the art being removed from the house.
Abigail lying in a hospital occurred to her. She would call tomorrow and see how she was feeling. Ala would not allow Jase to be involved in the relationship between herself and his mother. She would also not allow herself to let him make her feel guilty about his mother never seeing him have children.
Danno glanced up again.
“Show me,” he said.
She laughed and threw her head back.
Later on she wrapped herself in one of the sheets and opened the window, letting the smell of charred beef over charcoal seep in. They began to salivate and tiptoed to the kitchen, like teenagers, to raid the refrigerator. There was nothing except a few eggs and fine mustards, but in the freezer, Ala found a two-pound rib eye wrapped in plastic. Peeling off the film, she examined the thin layer of miniature icicles, and ran her finger over them, revealing the purple meat. She began to rewrap it. Danno took hold of her wrist very gently.
“That looks great,” he said.
“It’s frozen through and I don’t want to wait for it to thaw.”
“We don’t need to do that. I’ll start the grill. Want to fry some eggs?”
“Sure,” she said, shrugging and turning on the broiler. The maniac was going to grill a frozen steak. They’d be up for hours, waiting for it to cook.
She found a cookie sheet and buttered it, then cracked the five eggs on top, making sure to space them out. She heavily peppered each one.
Danno came in from the yard and took the steak. Ala opened the oven door to slip the pan inside.
“What are you doing?” He said.
“Making eggs. You like sunny side up, right?”
“In the oven?”
“Yes. Under the broiler.”
He laughed. “Are you serious?”
“Yes. This is how my father and I always make them.”
“Okay,” he said, going back outside.
Ala instantly smelled the meat when it hit the hot grate. She poured some red wine and took a long sip. When the whites of each egg were translucent and she removed the pan and transferred them to awaiting plates. She turned on the porch light and arranged a tray to carry out. The house phone rang and she almost dropped all that she was carrying. She had forgotten there was a landline and couldn’t imagine who would be calling at three fifteen in the morning.
Danno came inside.
“Steak’s done. Are you going to answer that?”
“No,” she said and carried the tray out. She arranged the table and he, carrying the steak on a salad fork, set it down on her plate and leaned in to kiss her. She tasted charcoal on his mouth and smelled the juicy smoke in his hair. She wanted to evaporate and float up to the sky, leaving all of her happiness to people who would never experience how she felt in that moment.
They began to eat with their knees touching under the table. The sun began to lift, revealing how exquisite the food looked.
“This is the best steak I’ve ever had,” Ala said amazed by the char and amount of juice oozing out of it.
“I was going to say the same about the eggs,” Danno said, dipping the meat into the yolk, leaving a red trail in the center of the bright yellow sticky, delicious mess.
After they finished the wine, Ala cleared the plates as Danno skinny-dipped.
“Hurry up,” he said.
“I will. I don’t want to leave a mess, ” she said, before realizing how ridiculous the statement was based on the condition of the house.
While rinsing the plates, there was a knock at the front door. Wearing only the sheet, she turned off the faucet and slowly went into the drafty bedroom to pull on a robe. She walked back to the yard.
“Danno, someone’s here,” she said, trying to whisper, and noticing her was under water. The gate opened, and a very built man in a black suit walked through.
Danno surfaced and looking at him, begin to climb out of the side of the pool.
“Go inside,” he said.
Weary from the disruptive bus ride, Ala walked from the train station. She had called Danno again when she arrived, but could not reach him. She was too tired, and aching for a shower, to think about where he might be and why he was not taking her calls.
A pebble bounced around in her shoe and she didn’t bother to stop and fish it out. Instead, she let it get wedged in between two toes and then fall over and over, scraping the skin in the crevice between them. She was going directly to Emmanuel’s house, but then decided she should stop in by her parents. She hadn’t seen them in what seemed like months, and she thought they should know about Jase’s mother.
Approaching the house, she saw a figure sitting on the porch. She sped up, the pebble now stuck in the front of her foot and digging into her flesh, as she prepared to fly into Danno’s arms. The man stood and she could tell, from his droopy posture, that is wasn’t Danno, but Gene.
His eyebrows rose upon seeing her, but he did not smile. She smiled and dropped her bag on the lawn while removing her shoe. Dried splotches of blood surrounded her toes and she could not tell which were actually injured. Gene came over and picked up her bag, moving it to the porch.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes,” she said, walking to the other side of the lawn to find the garden hose. She turned it on and the water sprayed, wetting her dress, before letting out an even gush. She rinsed her toes and the coldness made her entire foot numb. “Hi.”
“Hi. I thought I’d come by since I didn’t hear back from you.”
“I’m sorry. I just got back from Boston.”
“You went for one day? Why didn’t you stay for the weekend?”
“Something came up with Jase, and I thought I should go. I was very wrong.”
Gene sat on the last porch step, letting his long legs stretch out in front of him. Ala turned off the hose and sat in the grass.
“It was disturbing. Basically he’s mad at things he can’t control and he’s taking it out on me.”
“Oh?” Gene said this as if she was leaving something out, which she was. She didn’t feel it was her place to discuss Jase’s family, or how he felt about her, with anyone.
“Yes. So I thought it would be best to leave.”
“That doesn’t explain why you haven’t gotten back to me.” He picked the tiny blades from a bush, crinkling them into green dust and letting it fly from his palm.
“There’s been a lot going on. I met someone.”
“I did.” It was too much to contain her smile, so she showed her teeth freely.
“The race track.” His eyes widened.
“At Dora’s party?”
“No. The next day. It’s sort of a long story.”
“The day we had a drink?”
Ala had forgotten about the drunken advance after Flynn’s. She looked down at her red foot.
“Yes. I think you’ll like him.”
“I’m meeting him?” Gene said with thick disgust on his lips.
“I think you should. Things are moving quickly.”
“It’s hard to explain.”
“I thought you’ve been holed up finishing that paper.”
Ala had forgotten entirely about her term paper. She had signed up for the summer class to take her mind off of Jase and now most likely would not pass.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call you back. I took a job too.”
Gene shook his head.
“I’m worried. You look exhausted. And this whole thing with the guy sounds crazy.”
“I can’t explain it. I feel different.”
“What do you even know about him?”
She hadn’t thought of that either.
“Gene, please don’t worry. Do you think this is upsetting because maybe, you might have feelings for me?”
He scoffed. Ala nodded empathetically.
“Why would you think that?”
“Well, because you kissed me, for one.”
“Ala, I was very drunk. And you were flirting back all night.”
She felt her face getting warm.
“It’s what we do, Ala. Come on, we’ve always been that way. Stolen glances, laughing, touching. This time, I drank too much.”
She was embarrassed.
“Why would you ever do that?”
“Why would you ever let me hold your hand? Even when you were with Jase?”
She stood up and crossed her arms. She had nothing to say in that moment, but when coming up with something, raised her voice.
“This is ridiculous. I met someone. I want to be with him.”
“Fine. But I have a right to say if I think something is off.”
“Since when?” She said, pulling her shoe back on.
“Look, don’t call me crying and bitching when this guy fucks up, okay? Think about what you’re doing for once!”
She turned, picked up her bag, and stomped off toward Emmanuel’s house. Her entire relationship with Gene had been built on superficial feelings. She was infuriated that he would kiss her without feeling anything for her. And if that were the case, why did he seem put off when she revealed that she met Danno the same day they had drinks?
She wanted to call Danno again, and secretly hoped she had missed his call while arguing with Gene in front of her parent’s house. Why hadn’t they come outside to see what was happening?
As soon as she made it to Emmanuel’s front door, she let the tears drip loosely down her face. She heard snipping shears coming from the yard and typed in the code for entry. As soon as she crossed the first arch inside, her stomach jumped up high before hitting the ground. The air smelled different or felt different, or both. She struggled for equilibrium.
In the main living area, across from the bay window, was a piercing white square, surrounded by the slightly dim white of the wall. A massive painting was removed, leaving only the two brittle nails sticking out.
She knew why already, but knew he wanted her to ask him.
“My mother only has one grandchild, and it’s that crazy pill popper’s. She probably won’t even stay with my brother. He’s such an ass to her. And then he’ll have to battle with her to even see the kid.”
“I think you’re jumping ahead a little bit,” Ala said, touching his arm. She felt him tense up slightly.
“I don’t. I screwed up. My mother won’t be able to see me get married. She’ll never meet my kids. And all of that could have been done by now. She put her life into this family and won’t even see it grow. My father worked to make life comfortable for this family and they won’t even enjoy it. Neither of them.”
He was always irrational when he couldn’t control a situation.
“Jase, you can’t get married and have a family for anyone but yourself.”
He parallel parked on his street and they got out of the car. She let him walk ahead because he had the keys.
“I could’ve by now. We could’ve. There was no reason to not get married.” He opened the heavy front door and stomped up the stairs. She didn’t know if she should even follow him. She had to though because all of her things were in the apartment. And he would never forgive her if she didn’t.
“There was a reason, Jase.”
“Yeah,” he said, slamming the apartment door behind her, “What?”
She leaned against the card table in the dining room.
“To begin with, getting married is a big deal. It’s not just a next step because you’ve been dating someone for awhile.”
“Says who? Some feminist online publication?” He hit the top of one of the windows and opened it.
“No. I do.”
“Why did you even move here then?”
“Because I wanted to be with you. I moved here with love for you. But I realized that we weren’t working very well together.”
“You didn’t even try. You fled.”
“I didn’t try?” She put both of her hands on the table to steady herself. “I know you’re upset. This isn’t something we should talk about now.”
He paced the room, kicking off his shoes.
“I brought you into my whole life. Into my family. I consulted with you before I made decisions about my future. I thought we were building something.”
“I did too.”
This was a scene she had replayed many times since moving out of the apartment. He wanted her back. He wanted to make this work. He loved her as much as she had loved him. It was a dream come true. She could kiss him right now. He could lift her up and carry her into the bedroom and they wouldn’t have to ever look back. They could feel how they felt when they had first met. They could go back to their first time.
And she didn’t want any of it. It wasn’t that she was over him, but that she felt how she had dreamt of feeling when being in love. She couldn’t go back to what she had with Jase, because it didn’t feel as right as everything felt with Danno. She had known Jase for years and already knew Danno better.
Jase saw her looking out the window and slowly approached. He took her arms with both of his hands and turned her toward him so they were face to face, eye to eye. Her phone rang and her eyes darted to her purse. He held onto her.
“I know you’ve been with someone else,” he said, almost smiling. Ala wasn’t afraid of him or what he might do. She realized he was so upset about his mother and so upset about her not wanting be with him, that he could kill her. It was possible. But she was happy that she was telling the truth very plainly, no matter what the outcome. She had come here out of concern for Abigail and to show support to his family. Now he had turned the visit into their issues. Her phone rang again and he snickered. “Come on, tell me you haven’t been. Lie.”