Sunday, May 28, 2006


I was confused with her narrative of obsession. The disappointment in her face made her usually bright face look ashen and forgotten. “Clara,” I hesitated, and carefully chose my words, “why him? You two barely dated. I know you felt strongly about him, but you were together for two months… You weren’t this upset when you broke up Frank and you were together three years…”

She looked at me silently, I knew there was a lot going on in her head but she wasn’t letting me in to her secrets. My own relationship with Clara was complicated and had changed with time. We had met at a party through my ex-girlfriend Joan. When my relationship ended with Joan, I foolishly thought we could be friends. However, I was still in love with Joan and not ready to watch her flirt with other men. Seeing men touch her was infuriating, but she wasn’t with me anymore, and “friends” don’t care about these things. It was midsummer and I ended up at one of those dull Hollywood parties where people blather on about their last trip to Paris or how they ‘just discovered a delightful petit syrah.’ Joan was across the room looking beautiful in a summer dress. I sidled up to her while she was talking to a couple of her friends. When Joan introduced me to Clara, I spitefully and unabashedly flirted with her. Pretty, with dark brown eyes and a tender frame she responded with a coy smile hidden by the wine glass in her hand. Joan gave me a piercing look, but I smiled casually back. They had been friends in college, though they rarely saw each other now. Clara had no idea that we had been lovers, and she looked at me with fresh eyes. As the night wore on, I kept coming back to Clara. When I saw Joan flirting with host’s brother, I was determined to have Clara leave with me.

After a few more glasses of wine, I told Clara I was tired and I was heading home. “Do you need a ride?” She smiled lightly, and said she was tired too, but she had come with her friends. “Oh, right…” She told me to wait minute. A few minutes later, she was back with her coat and purse: she’d love a ride home. I extended my hand and said, “Perfect, let’s go,” loud enough so Joan would hear. Joan stiffened but didn’t quite look in my direction. Clara gingerly slid her hand into mine as we made our way through house to my car. As we drove through the hills, she rolled down her window and I could hear the crickets chirping. She put her arm out to feel the wind slither through her hand. “You know,” she said “driving in the warm night air like this reminds me of hot summer nights when I was a kid and I couldn’t sleep. I would sneak outside into the garden and lie on the picnic table and look up at the stars. Underneath those pinpricks of light I would always fall asleep.”

When we arrived at her apartment building, she laughed and said “we’re here and I didn’t fall asleep.” I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I put my hand on top of hers and said “I am really glad I met you tonight.” She tossed her brown hair back and with shining eyes said sweetly, “I think I’m the glad one.” We leaned into a kiss and I could feel her tremble beneath me. When she asked me if I wanted to come in I knew I should go home alone but I found a parking space instead. I was running away from demons but I closed my eyes and enjoyed the temporary fix.

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