Home > F*ck Love(10)

F*ck Love(10)
Tarryn Fisher

“Draw anything you like!” Neptune announces, punching the air. I feel inspired today. I draw George, Denver, and Stephanie Brown. All holding hands, standing by the fishing boat they restored together. Except they don’t look like regular people. Instead of arms, I give George guns, and Denver has a giant computer as a head. Stephanie Brown, I draw drab, with soppy, weak shoulders. Neptune gets really excited when he stops by my work area. He claps his hands.

“All this time you draw trees and submarines, and here is your real talent,” he says. “Pop art impressionism.”

I beam. I take my work home that night with the intent of showing Kit. But, when I get home, Neil is waiting on my doorstep. He looks so angry I almost turn around and go back to my car.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, as I pull out my key. Neil has a key, right on his key chain. I’m not sure why he’s waiting out here.

“You forgot the dinner,” he snaps. And when I just look at him, he repeats it, only with more emphasis. “The dinner.”

The dinner, the dinner, the dinner…?

The whoosh of failure hits me hard. I feel pitiful, and sorry, and sick to my stomach. Neil’s dinner. That his boss threw for him. To welcome him to the firm. It was important and exciting. We bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate, and I planned out my outfit—not too sexy, not too serious. How could I forget Neil’s dinner? I don’t know how to verbally express my sorrow with words. This results in my mouth opening and closing in a speak failure. Neil is waiting for me to say something, his hair sticking up and his tie pulled loose.

“Neil,” I say. “Why didn’t you text me? I—”

“I did. All night.”

I reach for my phone. It’s dead. How long has it been dead? I forgot to charge my phone.

“I’m so, so sorry,” I manage.

“Where were you?”

I guess now would be the right time. I open the door, looking over my shoulder at him. He’s hesitant to follow me inside, and I wonder if he came here with the intention of breaking up with me.

“I’ll explain.” I say. “Just come in. You can break up with me after.”

He sloths inside and sits on the couch. His head is all droopy, and his shoulders are sad. I feel the knot inside my stomach coil tighter. I am such a selfish cunt.

“I have been secretly taking art classes,” I blurt. “For six weeks. And I lie about looking for a job. I don’t want a job—I mean, I do—not a boring accounting job. And that’s where I was tonight. I forgot about your dinner because I’m selfish and stupid, and I was screwing around with charcoal and paper.”

He’s quiet for a long time. Just looking at me like he’s never seen me before.


I nod.

“That’s why you’ve been drawing on everything lately?”

I nod again.

“This is weird.”

I face palm. “I know. For me, too. I guess I’m trying to find myself and doing a shitty job if it.”

Neil looks perplexed. “I’ve known you for years, Helena. One of the things I’ve always loved about you is the fact that you have always been the girl who knows herself. While all the other girls fumbled around with life, you were the one who did your own thing.”

“People change, Neil. You can’t expect me to be one thing my whole life. Shit, I’ve only been alive for twenty-three years, and you’re already making a big deal about me changing something.”

Neil holds up his hands to ward off my anger. “I’m not saying that. I’m just surprised is all. People rely on you. You can’t just go down a different path and not warn anyone. Even Della—”

“Even Della, what?” I yell. “And how long have you and Della been talking behind my back?”

“It’s not like that, and you know it. We are worried about you. Your parents, too. No one has heard from you in weeks.”

He is right. My parents had gone into debt, taken out a second mortgage on their home to pay my way through college. All so that I could have a good life. I was a numbers girl, accounting seemed like a given. All through my kid years I had never shown any kind of artistic talent. Even when I had taken piano lessons, my fingers had seemed fat and clumsy. I took them for two years and could barely play “Chopsticks.” I sink down onto my couch and cover my face with my hands. God, what would my mother say? This is a nightmare. No! This was a dream!

“You’re right,” I tell him. “I’m sorry. I feel so stupid.”

He’s next to me in an instant, rubbing my back, reassuring me. I lean into him and feel so tired. What have I been doing?

“I’ll get it together,” I say. “I don’t know what happened.”

We don’t talk about the dinner I missed anymore, or art class, which I stop going to. I find a job; I go back to being me. I don’t remember my dreams anymore.

I have an unhealthy addiction to Kit Kats and Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s not something I talk about. I don’t burden people with the ugly things about me. Sometimes my hair will smell like grease and perfectly crispy chicken breast, and sometimes you’ll find a log of chocolate on my bedroom floor. Let’s not talk about those things. I keep them in the shade.

I have different, less realistic dreams about Kit, but horrifying nonetheless. As a consequence, my tongue is stained red from the wine, and my thighs fill with lard. I start my new job with new pants from Express that I had to buy, because … KFC. Luckily everyone sort of started their new jobs at the same time, and social gatherings take a backseat to job acclamation. Kit did not go to college with Neil, Della, and me. He went to community college and graduated a year earlier than us. According to Della, he’s studying for his master’s, while working nights. So when I get a flat one morning on the way to work, and I have to call Triple A, I am surprised when Kit pulls over in his white pickup. He has on silver Ray Bans, and he’s chewing on a toothpick.

“Yo,” he says, walking toward me. “I came to rescue you.”

“Nice flannels. And Triple A is already on their way. Thanks for the chivalry though.”

He grins as he crouches next to my car, inspecting the tire. “Nail,” he says. Traffic whizzes by his back, blowing his shirt up and revealing his tanned skin. I want to tell him to be careful, but it’s such an obvious statement. So I stand off to the side, my arms crossed over my chest, and gripe. When Kit finally stands up and walks around to where I am waiting, I wipe my palms on my plump thighs and try not to make eye contact.

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