His eyes were still heavy with sleep as he watched her move from the bed, readying the matrimony of steps and sunrise into a day’s plan. He fetched glimpses as if frames of a moving picture. The sexy provocation of her saunter, the patterned ease, the lithe flow. Encapsulated gestures, invisible to the world, but for his. He trespassed the frames in boyish delight. The innocence that warmed his insides was running busy with song, stealing time back to a place where such feelings once ransomed his heart to skips and flutters borne of a beautiful fright.
He plundered the lonely span of silence with magnificent ideas, matching a sin to each of her movements. His knowledge was a consecrated plan of action whose place inside his soul seemed capable of outliving the most stubborn constellation. Watching her, dressed in a natural ivory with freckle blossoms conniving their way into random spots of belonging. The only cover came in the form of those caramel ribbons of hair that scattered a rebellious plunge across her shoulders and back.
He pretended sleep so as to study her pace and rhythm, unencumbered from the channels of waking moments and their demands. He studied her as a painter would observe the undulating notes of nature’s timeless sweep before deciding on a palette’s answer to the question.
The question he had in mind could no longer be muted by the budding promise their moments engendered. His curiosity was throwing caution to the winds of someplace else. Tonight, he would ask for her hand in marriage. It was madness, to believe the universe was revolving inside their whisper, seeing as how they had first met in an airport coffee shop exactly one month prior. But he was lost inside her spell.
And then she turned and caught his eyes as they came into focus. And then the room went black as night as if a page usurped from Milton’s pen.
“Sorry, I really wanted you to sleep a little bit longer . . but I’ve never been good at keeping surprises.” She said.
“You’re not Katie!” He cried, attempting to steady his voice but failing miserably.
“Oh Edward, stop whining . . . I never was Katie. You saw her because that’s the way it’s always been for you. Seeing what you want to see and then charming the pants off of it. But I really had you this time, I mean . . we shagged like, three, four times and you were ready for the altar? You never minded the fact we lived in different cities . . you were cool with strange towns and red eye quickies . . you had it bad!”
“What the fuck is going on? What the hell did you do to Katie?!”
“I told you there is no Katie! Take a minute, take a pill . . but stop pissing me off. You’re smarter than that.” She laughed.
“This isn’t happening. You’re not happening!” He screamed.
“It’s funny, two minutes ago you thought you had forever in your back pocket.” She said, moving to the night table on his side of the bed and extricating the diamond ring Edward had bought for the occasion.
“Oh, you shouldn’t have.” She laughed, placing the ring on her finger in a mocking ceremony.
He tried stopping her but he couldn’t move. He was trapped inside an undertow whose power seemed absurdly disproportionate to all manner of logic. Her eyes bore into him as if white hot needles and her smile turned vapid. The sound she emitted was no longer foreign to his senses, but a lexicon whose trespass signaled days of a new and horrible cause.
“I don’t understand.” He said feebly.
“Of course you don’t.” She replied. “But think . . . you’re the writer. How does a plot thicken?”
“What are you talking about?”
“For fuck’s sake Edward! Unpredictability!” She shouted.
His face could not mask his confusion.
“When you met . . the girl you thought you met in the coffee shop that night. What happened?”
“I fell in love. With her!”
“Try again.” She said.
“Fuck you.” He replied weakly.
“You met the girl of your dreams in a coffee shop while running. From me.”
He could feel the crystalline properties of his memory banks transform to Jade as she introduced the truth of things.
“You saw me walking in your direction and you ducked into that coffee shop. And then . . thanks to Katie, you missed your flight. I’m a sucker for romance, even when I’m well aware it’s bullshit.” She laughed.
“You don’t remember, I mean . . why would you? It meant nothing to you, our time together.” She said.
“Yes! Yes I remember! Six years ago . . . Reading, and that fucking apartment out of a movie set! You gave me nothing!”
“Oh honey, don’t make me rip your jugular out just when this relationship was getting good. I gave YOU nothing?! You? . . of the traveling circus in your pants? I gave YOU nothing?!”
He cowered inside the depths of her growl.
“No, Edward, I gave you everything and it got me killed.”
“So there’s no Katie . . .” He said.
“Sorry. And no Rachel from Reading either . .”
“Have you . . .”
“Been wasting the last six years of my eternity impersonating every girl you’ve gotten your rocks off with? Uh . . no. I was touring Europe for most of that time. And I took up lesbianism in my spare time. What . . a trip! To be able to scream like that and mean it?”
She jumped onto the bed and mounted him, her mouth drawing close to his neck and her nose breathing in his scent.
“What . . . are you going to do?” He said.
“I’m going to own your tomorrows.” She said, licking the salt from his neck as she purred a response. “You don’t remember, do you?”
“Eight years ago, we dated. You were on your way to divorce court and I was running from my latest failed romantic project. I knew you were rebounding and you understood I was fragile, at least, you pretended to understand.”
She removed herself from him, placing the diamond engagement ring on the night table and wiping her finger clean for effect.
“We had an arrangement, no strings. And then you told me you were in love with me. You changed the rules and I followed because I had nothing left to lose. Or at least, that’s what I thought.”
“What. . . what was your name?” Edward asked.
“Was . . . yeah.”
“No, you’re sorry about this night . . but you weren’t sorry, not on that one.” She corrected. “My name was Karyn.”
“I remember,” He said.
“You’ll forgive me if I withhold your prize. So one week you’re telling me it’s time to think about you and me and the next week you were done. I was a mess when I left your place, so I decided to put you in the rear view with the assistance of a heavy handed bartender. And that’s when I met tall, dark and disastrous, after which I ceased to be a morning person.”
“I didn’t turn you . . .”
“Ya didn’t help. For what it’s worth my . . sponsor was a real asshole, too. Which is why I introduced him to solar panels and went solo.”
“What do you want from me?”
“Did you not hear me? Your tomorrows.”
“I want your writing.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Here’s the thing, you’ve always treated love as if it were a rugby ball, while writing on it as if you knew what the fuck you were talking about. That . . is dirty pool. So what to do? Turning you isn’t an option since that would only serve to strengthen your destructive lust, and shit, there’d be no living with you then!”
“Fuck, Karyn . . . I’m never gonna trust another woman again, because I’ll never be certain it’s not you! Isn’t that enough?!”
“It’s ironic, yes, but it’s not enough. So you’ll write on love, as you were. Only you’ll mean it now, because it’s in your best interest. To mean it now. Writing is the only love you’ve ever known, so that’s what I want. That’s what I take.”
“And what happens next?”
“Well, your first order of business is to fetch the receipt for that diamond. After which you can get to writing.”
She lit a smoke as she opened the door to leave.
“Yanno . . as if your life depended on it.”