Fuck this. And fuck the world. She violently pulled the brush through her long wild hair in one last attempt to tame it. Fuck it all to hell. But isn’t this what you do?
You make yourself presentable. Put on matching clothes that say, ‘I’m not a slob but I’m also not so vain as to only care about the label.’ Don’t wear heels so high you can’t walk but heaven forbid you wear sensible shoes either. Apply enough makeup so as to accentuate but not so much to appear shallow. Rules, rules, rules.
Laugh, but not too loud. Drink, but not too much. Flirt, but not too overtly. Speak your mind but don’t really have an opinion. Rules. It was all a game, really. And one she didn’t want to play, but understood the playbook better than she should.
Get out there. You wouldn’t be alone if you just put yourself out there. Fine. So here she was, playing the game. Knowing it won’t be what she wants. Fuck this hair. Tossing the brush in the sink in disgust, she turned and walked out. Fuck it. Either he will mind or he won’t.
Fifteen minutes in and he seemed wrapped up in the conversation. His eyes crinkled and he smiled a lot. He had a nice smile. She tried not to stare at his lips. Probably failed. She liked the way he made sure none of his food touched any other on the plate. It wasn’t her thing, but she empathized with where that came from. She purposefully took bites mixed together.
Their music tastes overlapped but varied. He was a writer just like she was but his inspiration came from a different place. Their childhoods were completely disparate and exactly the same. They ordered the same beer.
Forty-five minutes in and she discovered she was falling right into his eyes. His voice mesmerized her. She felt a pull. The clank and clatter of silverware on ceramic faded, voices muted. She found herself in a tunnel. Her arms floated above her head as if to break a fall that would never come.
Something was wrong. Her heart wasn’t beating properly. Her vision swam. Sharpened. Focused. She splashed back into reality suddenly when she came to the realization that she was falling for him. Her. Sarcastic and guarded. Vulnerable but protected.
Carefully she set her fork down. Rearranged the setting to equal spaces and pleasing symmetry. His voice paused. A sound of concern. Her eyes met his. There was a question in his eyes.
An hour and fifteen minutes in and she looked at his lips as he spoke her name. Not HER name. No, some other her. Her face froze in a half-smile. He tried to mask his mistake as words tumbled out and tripped themselves up but it was already done. Without removing her own mask, she gently lifted her purse and pulled out two twenties. Carefully laid them on the table, stood up, and walked to her car without another word.
Her body was cardboard. Her face clay. Eight texts and one missed call. It wasn’t until later (she refused to look at the clock) as she sat on her couch, the lights never flipped on, with the sliver of a moon beam crawling across the floor and then the wall, that she allowed three tears to drop from her eye.
He had been with someone else the entire time, she had only been filler. A placeholder. Fuck it all to hell. This is why you don’t brush your hair.
tara caribou | ©️2019
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