A WRITER’S FANTASY: PART 2. Read Part 1 here.
As he held open the door, the New York City cold pushed me over. He chuckled. He took in a deep sigh for both of us. I held my breath, apologized to the Uber driver, and gathered thin books of poetry from the floorboard. He rubbed his hands together, stomped his feet to keep warm, and stared into the city. I wondered if she had followed him —flown all the way from Seattle to catch him reading poems with me in a suite bathtub. Maybe he could see her headlights pointing at me like a scope. Maybe he could see the final crash of a digital romance spread too thin across the miles.
Why are you even attracted to him? I heard Sara’s voice over and over in my head until the door man finished his greeting. I stood at the check-in desk trying to find those reasons, trying to listen for a room number, and trying to smell his cologne. His orange jacket slid across the counter and I imagined his skin underneath the down: the spindles of muscle attached to bone, to hands, to fingertips. I looked out the door, searching for a Seattle plate, for the red line of a scope.
Give me some of this, he argued. I struggled to unweave the book bag from my arm and he laughed, again, and the desk clerk, too. I left pieces of myself in the lobby, like breadcrumbs, as I followed him to the elevator. He pressed the buttons and we both glanced at the white square above us.
Do you think Mother Mary is up there? I whispered.
I bet she would tell us to stick to the poetry. He grinned and I followed, hoping the cold sting of my face had worn off and he could hear me behind a soft board of keys, telling him he was my favorite. I inched closer to him at the pull of gravity and he cradled my back like a husband.
The elevator was done and the door to 313 was unlocked and locked. His bag was loose yet orderly and mine were sloppy, strewn across the bed in haste. I imagined us wiggling between the leather and the canvas, sliding on book covers, ripping pages and seams. I watched him pour vodka, listened to the bottle hit the trash can, and I imagined licking his spine, telling him he was my favorite book.
He handed me the glass and I pulled away from the scene in my mind. I took long, hard gulps, screaming at my gut to push the alcohol to my veins, to let me want him now, despite the fear of him running his hands down my hips and wishing he’d never left Seattle. I wanted him to lunge, to gulp me up and swallow me whole, to crack me open like a chunk of ice, exposing that tiny center not yet frozen.
I breathed him in as he mumbled about the vodka, the cold, the linings of streets. My neck was loose and my hands tingled. His back was tight; his mustache moved with each replay of history. He sipped. I sat on the bed, defeated by my fear. I thought about his poems, about all of the stories about his grandmother and her cooking. I tried to think about what I knew about him, but the vodka made my head spin. I heard Sara’s voice, again, asking me over and over, Why are you attracted to him?
He paced the room, fumbled with the drapes, took in the view.
Because he’s mysterious. He’s dark. He’s interesting. I heard myself repeating everything and I could hear Sara giggle in my mind. He tapped on the window, as if she was waiting on the other side. I looked at the window: my reflection with a stretching city scape in the background. He went on about the city, about the cold air. Sara giggled in my head.
He’s mysterious…He turned from the city to face my confession. I’m mysterious… he trailed. The accident was too far gone to explain; and he knew me enough to know I was sitting on top of everything at once. He put the vodka on the windowsill and stared into my eyes, past the woman and the widow. He pulled me up from the bed, told me to forget about Seattle, and cracked me open, right down my spine.
C. Cimmone is an author, editor, and comic from Texas. She’s alive and well on Twitter at @diefunnier.