change

I wonder if it’s possible to change so much that you awake one day, or evening, sometime, as an entirely different person. 

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‘always’

“Isolde, what the hell is that?” I pointed at the white bag on my bed. “What’s what?” She answered cheerfully, coming in to look at whatever it was. She was wearing one of my hats and pulling on a pair of my gloves. She followed my gaze. “What? Afraid I’ll stretch them?”
“I am and you will. Please take them off before it takes and remove your parcel from my bed.” She snorted. “You’re so uptight. You could buy more gloves.” Not really, I thought.

“Anyway it’s not my ‘parcel’, it’s your bag. Your present,” she said with a smile. This will either be terribly good or terribly bad. Wait, what’s the etymology on terrible again? Ran briefly through my mind. I opened the bag. “What did you fit in an iPad box, Isolde?” I secretly felt a little bitter. I don’t even go to that store – what would the point be? “An iPad . . . ” she twisted her head sideways, widened her eyes. There’s a catch, there’s some horrible catch –

There it lay, brand new and shiny. “This looks like yours,” I said at length, and she turned away slightly. “And that’s because it is yours, isn’t it? Isolde, why would you do that? Are you giving it to me, is it beyond repair, what are you doing?” She rolled her eyes, walked up to me, and flipped it over. “Read it,” she said flatly.

‘RJ, Isolde, Always’

“Oh shit,” I groaned.

consumption

“How are you feeling, Lola?” Mary asked me, smiling. “Getting better!” I chirped. Which is, you know, true and also not true. I am sure on some cellular level the frightening antibiotic I’ve been given is working; after all I have to keep it in a ‘cool dark place’ and there’s a plentitude of yellow warning labels plastered to the container so obviously it’s the good stuff.

However, on a not cellular level I feel just as crappy as before. Mostly because I have a sort of extreme shortness of breath and the sort of dry, hacking cough actors employ to portray a grim death-by-consumption.

john + wig

“Now, that is a beautiful woman,” the director nodded towards a woman sitting outside Starbucks. “But she’s probably too ‘pale’ for your tastes, isn’t she Lola?” I squinted at the woman. She was pale – but that wasn’t what I noticed. “She looks like John if he were a woman!” I gasped. “Like, stick a wig on John and voilĂ  – this lady.” She shrugged. “So? She’s pretty. I happen to think – ”

“What, that John looks like a girl?!” Because I assure you, he doesn’t.

“No. But I guess he is pretty. Or handsome. Anyway what is the chocolatey-est drink here? Mocha-mochas?”

I sighed. Again, I wanted to tell him, wanted very much to tell him, but ended up just rubbing my nose and exhaling a lot.

aviva

She comes at me, teeth bared in a wide smile, white and gleaming, eyes sparkling and lips always flushed, and I shrink a little inside. She’s going to stand too close, the smile will widen a little too far, and I’ll find myself wondering how to break eye contact, how to move backwards slightly without just fleeing in abject terror.

She is a client, after all – it isn’t as if I can just scream and run.

I want to, though. I really do.

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.

marilyn

“I didn’t mean to,” I told her, sitting down at the table and slumping forward, head under arms. “He pushed me and I pushed back – and he shattered.” I sighed. “I can’t say I’m sorry because I had no other recourse at the time, but I can’t say I’m happy with the outcome, either.”

“He was out of control.”

“I know.” I closed my eyes underneath my arms. The world felt muffled. “It was like tit-for-tat but suddenly it was tit-for-armageddon. He said he didn’t care if I left. He said he’d be better off without me anyways. How was I to know he’d . . .” It isn’t like it’s easy to leave when you’re not wanted, either. I kept my spine straight and my chin up but being told how quickly and easily I was going to be replaced – it reduced me to a commodity, an object, a thing.

“That he’d what?” she asked.
“Oh, I was thinking.” I pulled my arms off and stretched.

“You had no way of knowing that he was going to lose his shit over you to the extent he did. God, Lola,” she looked me up and down, “What is it that you do to these men, anyway? It’s like they can’t function if you’re not in their life.” I shrugged slightly. I should feel flattered, right? Look at you, Lola, driving men so very literally mad out of love. Only I feel a hole in my solar plexus because, well –

“And I told her ‘Why the hell would you want that,’ because why would she, right?”
“What? I’m lost – told her what?”
She sighed. “I told her that it isn’t a good goal, to emulate Marilyn Monroe. Why would anyone want that? To be greatly desired is horrible and actually lonely because everyone wants you so much they don’t even see you as a person – I mean, look at you. And you’re no Marilyn.”

I smiled, for the first time that night. “No, I am definitely, definitely not at all a ‘Marilyn’. She was the best at being Marilyn.”