Home > F*ck Love(8)

F*ck Love(8)
Tarryn Fisher

I put it back on the shelf.

“Where have you been?” Della growls. I flinch, but try to look supportive.

Kit makes a face. “Nowhere new. Why are you wearing sunglasses inside?”

Della rips them off her face to reveal two swollen eyes.

“You haven’t returned any of my calls. I’ve been a mess.”

I take a few steps back, trying to ease out of the smut aisle before they start fighting.

Kit rubs a hand across the back of his neck. “Oh. Sorry about that. When I’m writing, I get distracted.”

“Writing?” Her face is screwed up in confusion.

“Yeah,” he says. “I’ve been working on something new.”

“What do you write?” I blurt.

He notices me at the end of the aisle and gives me a funny smile.

“Nothing serious,” he says. “I just tinker.” He looks at Della. “But, this time I’m into it. I haven’t slept in forty-eight hours.” And then, with a side-glance to me, he says “I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee.”

Join the club, I want to tell him. On the sleep and the coffee.

“I … I didn’t know,” Della says. “It felt like you didn’t want to speak to me.”

Kit sighs. Deep.

“Sometimes I’m not good about keeping in touch. I disappear. I don’t mean to upset anyone, I swear. I just get involved with what I’m doing.”

“Oh,” she says. “Now I feel stupid.”

“Don’t.”

And then they kiss in the smut aisle. And my initial thought is that I’m watching him cheat on me. Or maybe not me—dream Helena. But it feels weird and gross.

I drive home, book-less. At least I’ll get my apartment back.

After finals, I sign up for an art class. I don’t even tell Neil. It’s stupid, I know. You have one lousy dream, and you think you’re destined for coloring book greatness. But my instructor is a kooky old guy named Neptune who walks around the classroom barefoot and smells like Vicks Vapor Rub. I’m totally into him. He tells us that when he was a young man, Joan Mitchell commissioned him to paint her nude. If I can’t be Neptune’s favorite at the end of this eight-week session, life isn’t even worth living. I want him to want to paint me naked. Is that creepy? Oh my God, I’m so creepy. I’m not particularly good at any of the assignments, but one time Neptune tells me that he likes my interpretation of a sea horse.

“It’s like a seahorse who was born in the sky,” he says. I smell vodka on his breath, but still. Weren’t all of the greatest artists junkies and alcoholics? I frame my airborne seahorse and hang it in my bedroom. It’s just the beginning. I’m going to be so super good at this one day.

Della invites us to dinner at her apartment a few weeks later. I haven’t seen either her or Kit since the smutty bookstore kiss. And I don’t want to. I’ve managed not to think of him at all. Even in art class when I draw a tree house that looks more like a minivan. Even when I scramble eggs. It’s easy to forget a guy who has melty smurf eyes and a melancholy face. I’m not about that life.

“I don’t want to go,” I tell Neil. “I have to look for a job. I’m a grown up.”

“Being a grown up can wait for a night,” he says. “Della’s been complaining that she never sees you anymore.”

Della hasn’t been complaining to me. I wonder why she’d talk to Neil about something like that.

“Okay,” I say. “But she can’t cook, so maybe we should eat dinner before we go.”

Neil agrees, and we make plans to eat at Le Tub before we head over to her house. Le Tub is a Miami oceanside restaurant that uses old bathtubs and toilets as decoration. If you’re really lucky, you get a table by the water where you can see the manatees as they swim by. Someone once told me that it was one of Oprah’s favorite restaurants, but seriously, Oprah has a lot of favorite things—it all sounds like lies at this point.

I make sure my hair is blow-dried this time, and put on my nice silk shorts and a peasant top. Neil whistles when he sees me, and I make a mental note to try to look nice more often.

“Legs for days,” he says.

“All the better to wrap around you,” I say, then immediately blush. I never say things like that. So embarrassing. Neil likes it. He makes me drink three glasses of wine, and when we hug in the parking lot after dinner, he slips his fingers under my shorts and kisses my ear.

I’m like a real life seductress. Who knew wine could unwind me?

Della announces that we smell like steak when we arrive. She leans in to sniff my hair, and I swat her away. We lie and say it’s the air freshener in Neil’s car, and I hand her a bottle of wine. It feels different in here. Like, not as Della. I eye the living room suspiciously. Everything is neat and orderly. No sign of a male live-in. But still…

She ushers us into her pink living room where a tray of appetizers is set up on the coffee table.

I blink. Fancy shit. I forget I just ate dinner and try it all. Salmon canapés, miniature meat pies, baked brie. I spill mango salsa on my shirt, and I don’t even care. The button of my shorts is digging into my stomach. Della pours me a glass of wine, and while I’m trying to wipe off the salsa, wine splashes onto my shirt.

“Where did you buy this?” I ask through a mouthful of cheese.

“I didn’t buy it,” she says. “Kit made it.”

The cheese gets stuck in my throat, and I cough. It’s awful, like my whole life flashes in front of my eyes, and it’s so boring. Lying little shit. Neil hits me on the back. I’m bent over and watery-eyed when Kit walks into the room, a tray of something perched on his steepled fingers.

“Don’t like it?” he asks.

I eye his ripped blue jeans, and shake my head. Filth. Chef scum.

“It’s delicious,” I say. “It’s the work of a talented chef. Someone who’s had a lot of practice in the kitchen.”

He smirks and sets down the tray. “Eh, it’s not that hard. Like scrambling eggs.”

I choke on my wine.

“What’s wrong with you tonight?” Neil says, handing me a napkin.

“Just doing everything too fast,” I say. “Choking and whatnot.”

“You have cheese in your hair,” Kit says. “Right there.” He motions to the spot. I don’t pull it out. Let the cheese have my hair.

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