I walked three blocks to the bus stop in the chill Washington air, wavering all over the sidewalk because I was finishing up a book from my high school’s library. When my bus arrived -number 105- I climbed into the humid interior and plopped down on a green seat, pulling Animorph books out of my backpack.
“Gimme Gimme Gimme!”
Diana, a Croatian exchange student, eagerly took the books from my hands and returned the ones she’d read last night.
I turned around to my friend Christine, who had printed off an epic fan fiction she’d been telling me about.
“I left it on the printer last night and my dad almost found it,” she said, handing over the unbound pages.
I laughed in horror. “Omg that would have been awful!”
“I know! I’d be grounded for weeks! Again!”
My best friend and her guy friend wriggled on the bed in front of me.
“See, if you do it like this, the non-dominant arms get in the way.”
“I see what you mean. Do it with you on top.”
“Is that comfortable?”
“Well, she’s making my belt dig into my skin. There’s a very narrow margin where this can be comfortable… too low and she’s on the goods, too high and she’s on the bladder.”
I studied them critically. “Can you try it against the wall? I had my characters do that once.”
They got up, and assumed the position by the nearest wall. They froze, as if for a photo-op. “Like this?”
“Yeah… is that doable for long periods of time?”
He started to lose his grip, and they crashed to the floor.
“I guess not,” I said dryly, and we all burst out laughing.
I put the cap on the black Sharpie and picked up the blue one. He sighed, and snuggled further into the pillow. I thought for a moment, then wrote a line from one of my poems on the skin of his back.
“Hold still,” I said, and held up my laptop to take a picture of my artwork.
“How does it look?” he asked, voice muffled.
I re-read every line I had drawn on him, my words smiling up at me, dark in contrast to his pale skin. I smiled. “You’re the most beautiful man in the world.”
I sat in the boardroom by myself, nervous that the phone from my desk would ring, or someone would knock on the door, or my cell phone would buzz. I didn’t want to be disturbed, but felt guilty for being unavailable, even for an hour.
I sat in the chair at the head of the conference table, then moved to the side, trying to pick the one spot in the room where I was most comfortable. I checked the time on my laptop. Two minutes. My work email had been closed down, and my manuscript was pulled up. The document included the agent’s name in it.
The phone rang.
I stared at my journal on the front porch. I hadn’t used it in two years, and didn’t really feel like using it now, but my counselor thought it would be therapeutic.
It was 5:30 but he wouldn’t be coming home to me anymore. I’d promised a rewrite to my agent, but I hadn’t worked on it in months. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep without crying. I stared at the paper with nothing to say. I set the journal down and put my head in my hands.
I drove home, singing along with the CD, happy because he would be there when I arrived, and my world had been put back together. My mind began wandering, and suddenly new characters popped into my head for the first time in three years.
“Yes!” I yelled, shaking my steering wheel. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”