Truth be told, though it was Eric’s doing, it was hardly his fault.
It was she, after all, who was late for her ‘August 22 @ 11:00am’ interview, retreating with a watery glare when the receptionist ignored her wheedling. Stomping dejectedly into the street, she slammed into Eric in a silky-smooth blur. When he straightened up, she apologized unconvincingly (for her carelessness, his coffee), indolently warding off his once-over.
Months later, he’d recall his lengthy wait on that foamy decaf latte, the copper runoff coursing along concrete, irretrievable. Eyeing her with absorbed attention, he insisted on lunch, at least, to help work out her next move.
Lower East Side Anne, who spent the hour pouting and preening, whose upbringing steeled such beliefs as Adolf Hitler — both a villain and victim — qualifying for forgiveness.
Anne, who arrived abruptly on Thanksgiving night, blinking stupidly in his doorway, armed with a wry rationale and a week’s worth of belongings.
Anne, who would have listed ‘Stepford’ as her blood type on the application, had she managed to cajole that clerk, or cared to show up by 11:00am on August 22.
“You keep biting your lip..” A question in the form of a statement, her words found Eric far away, jolted him back into the pale blue Pizza Beach dining room.
“Just work shit,” came the lie, as she smiled theatrically.
She resumed her chatter, undaunted and again, his mind wandered. Slowly, he chewed over the trajectory, swallowing flavorless bites.
Clearing his throat, he turned his gaze towards the diamond-paned view. High grey clouds crept over the East River, the dull December sky threatening rain.
Thanksgiving had only been the beginning.
During her stay, she buffed, bleached and shined every inch, spot, surface — as though searching for something lost inside those walls.
feeding, tasting, chasing —
cat and mouse;
making room while playing house.
When at last he’d come to grips, tried to get a handle on it, he grabbed everything, of course, except the horns. Dived instead into moonlit Merlot swells, charging again and again at the cherry-red flurry of her mouth, kneaded and nicked by firecracker nails.
Maxed out from all the charging, here he sat, spent.
facing the bull.
settling the bill.
paying in full.
He and Anne. Anne and he. Anne, who’d encountered his scraggy, grizzled eyebrows on an older face at a farmer’s market, introduced herself to his brother, Mark. Showed him photos, shared the good news.
Anne, named ‘next of kin’ in a New York minute, curbing his days of chasing pavements.
And while it weighed on his mind, surely in a few months’ time, he’d call this a blessing, count it as such.
Anne, who seldom rushed, propped up and flushed, counting ounces, fingers, toes.
Nikki Williams is a multi-faceted Jamaican creative who wishes she was fluent in Spanish. Her past experience includes editorial, blogging and digital news media. She’s been published in The Citron Review and accepts commissioned projects. She is an active shutterbug and trail mix enthusiast when not busy writing. See more: linktr.ee/writenowrong