oh it’s such a perfect day.

Monday is the slowest day in the history of Mondays. There’s no work to do. Half the staff is out, because Thanksgiving is on Thursday. And starting tomorrow, we will be closed for the rest of the week.

Minutes pass like hours. I trek up and down the hallway to drink yet another unnecessary cup of coffee.
Boredom inspires a sense of charity on my part, so I clean the refrigerator, making a game out of tossing cartons of expired yogurt into the trash can.
After I fix the copier for the fifth time, I duck under my desk and pull the last Oxy-Contin from the secret inner compartment in my makeup bag. Yeah, for some reason I felt compelled to bring it to work. Be prepared!

I spend the rest of the day downloading music and staring out the window. If I focus my eyes hard enough, I can see Lake Michigan off in the distance. All of the Jamba Juices and ugly grey condos blocking my view of the beach just disappear.

At 4:45 I flash the receptionist a dreamy smile as I drift out the front door.

I decide to go to Earwax for dinner. I’m not hungry, but I know that normal upstanding people eat a meal around 6 or 7 pm every night. I order some kind of orange-y soup, which I stir and stir and stir. I add pepper and stir again. Two tablespoons might actually find their way into my mouth, down my throat, and into my stomach. I’m too busy smoking, working my way through the better part of a pack of cigarettes I drink so much coffee, that I can hear my heart beating.

The combination of caffeine, pharmaceuticals, and nicotine makes me woozy. I should probably go to bed. I throw a ten on the table before wandering out on to the street.

I’m struggling to unlock my bike when I hear a familiar voice. Against my better judgment, I look up.

Ryan is walking toward me with a girl. Oh fuck. I’m sure I smell like an ashtray and there is probably bike grease on my face.

I could pretend that I don’t see him.
We could assume the blank facial expressions of pretend strangers, staring through one another.
I could jump on my bike and pedal away at a never-before-achieved velocity.
I could just smile and say “hi” with a breezy wave of the hand.
Or I could throw myself under the next passing car.

I’m evaluating all of the options (and I’m definitely leaning toward the car idea), when I realize he is now standing next to me.

I swallow hard. “Oh, hi, Ryan…what a lovely evening, right?”
It’s drizzling and probably–at most–40 degrees. The air smells like a skunk.

He says “Oh, yeah…for sure,” while shaking his head.

The girl stands five feet away, watching us. I guess I’m not going to be introduced. I try to size her up while pretending to look at Ryan. No easy feat. I’m probably coming across as shifty and sneaky.

I stand up as straight as possible. “Well, it was great to see you! I have to go…I have this thing and I’m late for it…” I trail off as I jump on my bike and dart out into the street, narrowly avoiding an enormous white van.

Instead of heading home, I turn left on Damen and move in the direction of the Rainbo. Maybe I should have a drink to settle my nerves.

She wasn’t that cute. Actually, her face was kind of weird-looking. I mean, yeah, my face is also kind of funky, but she was definitely less attractive than me. On the other hand, she was super skinny. Her outfit seemed very futuristic. LIke, space age fibers and superfluous zippers. Is Ryan into that? He does like a lot of dance music, so maybe?

Is this why we broke up this time? Her? I bet her name is Emily. I just can’t trust girls with that name.

Maybe this whole thing has been going on for a while. All those times he was too busy “painting,” he was probably hanging out with her. Sleeping with her on Tuesday, spending Wednesday night with me. He probably ENJOYED lying to me. Does he think I’m that stupid? He can just trick me?

My head is spinning. The taste of misery fills my mouth. I jump off my bike and lean it against a bus shelter. I take a deep breath, trying to slow down my mind. But it’s racing off into the horizon, picturing Ryan unzipping all of the unnecessary zippers on her pants, making a game out of it. Oh fuck. I really hate him. And her. She’s probably known about it all along. I can see them giving one another conspiratorial high five every time he hangs up the phone, ending another conversation with me.

I can’t tell if I’m drowning or reeling, but suddenly my stomach is aware of the earth’s rotation. Funny how that sneaks up us at the most inopportune moments.

I lurch forward, spewing coffee and swallowed tears on to the sidewalk.

I grab my bike and walk away, while wiping my mouth with the back of my mitten.

I need an escape plan. An instant exit from this pain.
I
’m going to go to Adam’s apartment. He will be caught off guard by my visit, but I know that he is the only person that can help me right now.

“Oh, hey…yeah, I was just wondering if you could give me the number for that guy that delivers. Yeah, THAT guy. I had his info written down somewhere, but I misplaced it.”

Followed by, “And it goes without saying that you should not mention this to Ryan.”

The guy will probably be able to drop something off at my house in about an hour. Plenty of time to stop at the ATM for cash and then bike home. Nate won’t be home until at least nine. And Cheryl is in Detroit for the holiday. Right now is a perfect time to make this happen.

I deserve a vacation. I have been trying so hard to be good.

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