My second week of the indieink.org writing challenge:
It doesn’t seem possible, but this man on top of her seems to have inadvertently synchronized his thrusts with the whomp-whomp-whomp of the misaligned, black lacquered ceiling fan blade currently raining dust onto their sticky bodies. She considers just for a second asking him if he’s done this on purpose. “By the by, sir”, she would whisper, whiskey perfume into his sweaty ear. “But is this a trick you perform by design, for all the whores?”
In the retelling she’ll have asked him for real, just like that. But in her version, he won’t be twice her age and dripping Jack Daniels sweat onto her carefully airbrushed face. She’ll edit him with broad strokes when she resurrects this scene for her writer’s group on Saturday, when she turns their meal into a bistro dinner with an excellent bottle of Chardonnay and this room into a bungalow at the edge of that village on the lake.
On Saturday that 80’s era muscle car with the pop up lights and faded blue racing stripes becomes something else. Lexus sedan maybe dark blue or silver, leather interior lit blue with digital instrument panel, thumping mp3s filling up the space while they rode instead of the scratchy skipping CDs that littered the floor earlier tonight. On Saturday, she won’t tell how she fumbled for her inhaler in the car, unsure whether it was the smoke or ammonia from old urine stains in the carpet that made her need it.
When she uncaps her tortoiseshell pen tomorrow she knows she can erase the weathered brick red face that now fills the sky when she opens her eyes. Pen to paper, she’ll begin her edits from the top of his head right where the first thinning hair begins to comb over the first pink spot of shiny skin.
Stubby fingers punctuated with worker’s nails ringed with black reach out to brush hair out of her eyes. He’d like her to look at him, but he is new at this she realizes with a start. The expression on his face is tentative, as is his touch-a question. He doesn’t yet know that he can command her to do so.
She harnesses the grateful heat that washes over her with the realization of that last, lets it flow from her eyes and mouth as, with one slow blink, she mentally arranges his features into those of her first lover.
Teresa was a sprightly, small breasted woman with the longest, reddest hair she’d ever seen. She’d aspired to look like Ariel, so much so that she carried a child’s lunchbox as a purse. In the best or the worst of times, the girl could conjure Teresa because she was quite possibly the most colorful person she’d ever known. Teresa was nearly covered in tattoos and wore her fuchsia hair in a different style every day. Conjuring her during sex is a delicious flashcard game: behind her eyelids is a different Teresa every time she blinks and she is never disappointed.
In the living room, “I’ll be gone 500 miles when the day is done” catches her ear and becomes the mantra for this scene. Hoarse, slurring raucous voices scream along with the music and she wonders how she stepped into this world where this happens and people sing these songs by heart; this place she, for crap’s sake, is lying on her side holding money while an old man, layering himself protectively in flannel and denim, looks everywhere in this matchbox room but her body.
When the words float across the room to her she is sure that she can see them: “Would you mind if I see you again?” Hanging in the air. Perhaps they are in a Trebuchet or maybe a serif font, is that a Georgia?
In the retelling, of which there will of course be several, she will have said lightly, with just the slightest wry lilt but not too mean, “Honey, did you ever even see me at all?”. It is true that only at this explosive moment of unadulterated awkwardness, stripped bare of pretense, money in hand, dead condom on the patched linoleum floor of a yellow diamond pattern she thinks, she only just this moment stops to consider what the man may have been looking at. Only right at this instant she considers, deflated, that she was quite possibly invisible to him, too.
“No” She says simply, and hopes that is enough, turning over in the bed to wrap herself up in the dingy red and white striped sheet. Whose house is this? Not his house. He’s leaving, and anyway he was wearing a wedding ring, embossed gold with a diamond if she remembers correctly but-no it was on his pinky. Maybe he’d gained some weight.
In the retelling, she has wrapped herself in white Egyptian cotton sheets and has posed herself gracefully against a padded headboard, smoking, while he dresses and makes his exit. Maybe she carries a glass of champagne. She will hold her pose until the click of a faded gold tinted door handle releases her.
Whomp-whomp-whomp. She synchronizes her hops to the fan as she steps into her jeans. Then she simply gathers her things, sweeps bills off a dingy floral bedspread, kicks the dead condom in the general direction of a wicker trashcan, and mentally recomposes her evening on her way out the door. Like that’s just that.
When she publishes her memoirs, the story goes like this: Once upon a time, a high priced call girl met attractive wealthy business men for just a very few brief, luxurious affairs that paid her way through a quite respectable college career.
In the retelling, over flights of red wine with the closest of friends one night, she admits tearfully that her book contains a few lies, some embellishments that were her editor’s idea. It’s that single admission that changes everything. She can see it in his face when she makes the reveal, the man who one day will become her husband. She knows right then, sitting at the table clinking glasses tearfully expressing gratitude to her friends for their unconditional acceptance of her fallibility, that she has made the perfect edits.