hate

“I hate you,” I said, before I could stop myself. “Do you, Lola?” he asked me. “Of course I do! I hate you so much I feel my pulse rise when I look at you and my stomach tightens and – ” I looked down at my arm “and the hairs on my arms stand up, and – ” I bit my lip. He came over to me and looked at my arm, turning it slightly in the light. I don’t have much arm hair and what I do have is thin and blonde and not really visible. But it felt like it stood up, visible or no. He sat down and smiled faintly, and I noticed for the first time that he’s beginning to get lines around his eyes, not smile creases or crinkles but fine little lines. Wrinkles.

And suddenly he looked old, and tired, and lonely.

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loving Lola

I think that the guys I know – and this isn’t so much a well-formed thought as a sort of hazy notion – really like me so long as they think they can save me. Or buy me. The latter is easier to tackle because it’s a transaction, something nearly everyone can understand. Can you get a human through a transaction? It would appear so. Lola? No. Not only ‘no’, but ‘of course and obviously no’, right? I mean, don’t all of you, my dearly beloved readers, feel the same way? Can’t I assume we’re like-minded to a certain extent? After all, you’re blogging, and last time I checked, it wasn’t on ‘swag’.

Maybe that’s too broad and simple. Everyone I know and have known laughs at the non-protaganists in stories like ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Look at those money-grubbing wenches. Ha. Then I find myself telling a story about clear-cut asshole-ness – when I say clear-cut I mean it: take, say, a lawyer, and say he was, well, doing work with your company but he preferred to do all his business with you, and you think innocuous, and then suddenly he’s asking you to bend over his desk so he can look down your shirt. And there’s a humming sound in your head, and probably the blood is rushing to it, and probably I looked red as a lobster because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. “Are you going to cry?” he asked me. No, I thought. I am deciding between using the stapler that is closer to me than to you or – no, I’ve been a pacifist all my life. Why did I even think that?

Then I tell this story, which I find simple, which the director found simple, to the girls, the women I know, and they’re horrified, outraged, until I get to the heir-to-vast-wealth part. And they make a little sound in the back of their throats that sounds like ‘oh,’ and they tell me that maybe he didn’t mean it. Maybe he didn’t know better? Maybe the progeny of the very wealthy grew up differently, see the world differently.

And how is that okay? How is it charming or cute in the least?

Or is this one of those things that somewhere along the line everyone else seems to have learned? Everyone else but me.

for sale

“I’m not for sale,” I said, feeling as if I were turned upside down, standing on my head, and maybe also blind. “Never met a woman that said she was,” he replied, matter of fact, no venom. “But everyone has a price.”

“I don’t.” He was watching me, sizing me up, as it were, and he was holding a very important file. If I don’t say what he wants me to, right this moment, he will close that manila file upon itself and the papers inside will be shut up as securely as if they were buried fathoms below ground. And what will become of me. He closed the file. “What will become of me?” I asked, not intentionally but unable to keep the question unspoken. “I don’t know,” he said, smiling. I thought he looked slightly smug.

In the time since then I’ve relived the moment, and whenever I find myself back there, standing in the shadow of my own skin, I tell myself I would have made a different decision. I should have tried to broker peace. I should have – I could have – in retrospect, it’s a little too facile to point out the flaws.

And besides I know – despite knowing the outcome, despite the carnage that followed – I would always do the same thing, no matter how many times I could theoretically click my heels and return to that decision. I would always turn on my heel and walk out of that office, head spinning and blood roaring in my ears. It was as assured a decision as walking into a freight train – and probably as fair of a fight.

My dignity will be scant comfort one day, I know, if I have no more home. What will I do – or as I asked him, what will become of me?

hospital

I touched the inside of his elbow. “Hey,” I whispered hopefully. “It isn’t all that bad, right?” He looked down. My attempt to cheer him was not truly working. “At least,” I continued in the whisper “you’ll come to see me, if I . . . ” my voice began to crack. “If I actually have to stay in the hospital awhile?” I looked down quickly. I knew the answer: I don’t want to drive that far. I don’t have time.

“Of course, Lolita.” he said, and my head jerked up because I hadn’t heard my name in so long, not in the diminutive, and because of the assuredness of the instantaneous yes.

blood

“You look like you’re bleeding,” he told me, suddenly stopping and tilting his head to look at me. “Are you bleeding?”
“No, I’m not bleeding. Now, as far as the non-competitive clause goes – ”
“Are you sure you’re not bleeding?” I shrugged, not in confusion, but defeat. Once he had a thought he would pursue it to its end – whether it was logical or completely fantastical. He had gotten hold of the idea I was bleeding and he was going to – well, he was going to shred the idea as thoroughly as the director’s French Bulldog shreds used tissues.

He looked at my feet. “Is it going to start falling out of you?” I rubbed my face with the back of my hand. “Dude, that doesn’t even make any sense.”
“Alright then, is it collecting somewhere in your internal cavities?”

relations

We’re already not talking again. I wish our relationship were either strictly business or personal – but then it wouldn’t be. There isn’t a shred of any of the things that make personal relationships function; no respect, or affection, or – well, what can exist without respect?

I already know that I’ll find myself in his office again. I’m tired of pretending these things won’t occur when I know they must.

But I am more tired of trying to believe that even the basic courtesies will be employed.

lawyer + mono

“It’s spaghetti – fresh. Hot. Prepared like you like.” I handed him the box. He eyed me. “Is it good?”
“Why else would I give it to you?”
“True . . . did you taste it?” I was tired of holding the box out to him at arm’s length so I let it plop onto his desk. “Of course I tasted it. You always want me to taste things before I give them to you.” He smiled. “I have to go,” I told him, sensing the golden moment for an exit. I jingled my keys at him, winked, and left as he started to open the box of noodles.

Four days later I sat in his office telling him what I thought was a rather complicated story when I noticed he was pale and silent. He is a lawyer: silent is not one of their operating modes unless it’s a prelude to entrapment. “What’s wrong with you?” I asked, slightly worried but trained not to show any sort of genuine human emotion around him. “You look like your own corpse.” He shrugged, non-combative. “I told you I didn’t feel well, Lola. I have a headache and I just . . . where did my time go today?” He looked at me vaguely, as if I might answer him, but also as if I might be a llama. How could I know where he’d been – or what he’d been doing?

I recounted our meeting to the director and handed her the files, untouched. “He just sat there looking pale and not saying anything useful,” I told her, deciding that I would refrain from either anger or frustration until I was entirely sure what had occurred. “Pale?” she asked, head snapping up. “Yes, pale. Weird, right? I didn’t think ‘pale’ was a colour he achieved, but evidently it is. He kept rubbing his head and he couldn’t focus on anything and -” she stood up, and I stopped talking. “What is it?”
“Lola, you said he was pale?” her voice had a strained, uncanny sound. I nodded. She crossed the room and looked at the calendar, then turned around and faced me. “Did you give your attorney mono?” she asked, in the same tone.

Oh no.

face

“I’m fine, really,” I assured him. He eyed me. “Look, I have all the papers you requested. We can get to work right away. At least on a plan of action. Do you have the list of questions I told you to work on for me?” He was still eyeing me. “What’s wrong with your face, Lola? Your mouth looks weird.”
I was horrified before I even knew why I was horrified. I guess what’s wrong with your face is just something it’s never good to hear – I mean, it’s rather indicative of disaster, isn’t it? My brain immediately rushed through several possibilities – dry skin? a pimple! hives? not hives – a mosquito bite? Havana scratched me? I turned to his assistant. “What do I – do I have something?”

She narrowed her eyes at me, tilted her head, pursed her lips. “You kind of look like you just had a stroke.”

I don’t think she likes me.

mono + legal

There was a stack of papers waiting for me: contracts that the parents had signed. The words ‘legally bound’ came to mind – but so did the word ‘mono.’

By the time I had read the contracts I had also finished the entire pot of coffee (no cream, no sugar) and, although my hands were shaking and I knew that the euphoria would last no longer than ten minutes I still felt that there was no legality beyond my grasp. I outlined a plan of action on a sticky note, sketching rapidly all possible outcomes into a flow chart.

When I woke up three hours later the sticky note was in my hand and the pen was semi-adhered to my face.

But really on the whole I think it’s almost over – the mono, that is.