As I lay there on my back with my hair all around the white pillow, I heard the dimmed chatter of Luna’s guests. I looked up at the mosquito-net adornment flowing over the sides of my bed with absurd grandeur, and suddenly I remembered, this was my time to relax and feel good. I jumped up and threw open my window and let the breeze come blowing in through my room. The waves sounded like they were crashing right there on the sand under my window and they probably were. I fell back on my bed again and picked up a pink princess pillow and hugged it. After yelling at “Grad Student” like a maniac I wondered if there were going to be any repercussions. I never yell at Chris. I certainly have never cussed at him, or anyone. This was the first time. What was going on with me? I wondered what this guy thought. He probably thought I was utterly crazy which wasn’t such a bad thing because it would be best to get rid of his attention now rather than later.
I wondered when this attention would all go away… just stop. How old would I be? It started when I was a kid, people would comment to my parents and then stare at me on the bus from the resort hotel to Disney World. In my car on the way to class in high school I would hate having my car windows open when my air-conditioning was broken for a couple of weeks, because of creepy guys making comments at stop lights. At dance clubs my sisters and I would literally be accosted at times, bouncers were a blessing. We took it all in stride. Perhaps we were lucky, but one day that will go away. I really need to hang on to Chris. He wouldn’t care if I looked like an elephant. He would still love me.
I sat up when I heard footsteps coming down the hallway and my heart started to thump when I heard knocking on my door. I actually was worried about getting in trouble…at 29 years old. I felt a flash of anger that my aunt would intimidate me so. I smoothed my dress and walked to the door and opened it slowly. Luna was standing there. I braced myself for her wrath but she just pulled me in and hugged me. “I’m sorry you had to deal with that trauma tonight” she said.
I felt guilty for lying about it being a worse accident than it was, but her hug felt really soothing and so I relaxed into it. “Thanks Luna.”
I pulled back and looked at her. “What is that grad student’s name?”
“Did he say anything to you?”
“No, what do you mean?”
I blushed, “Nothing”.
She looked at me suspiciously then she said, “Do you feel okay enough to come out and mingle for a while?”
“OK” she said, and walked sadly out and shut my door gently. Once again I felt guilty. I was a horrible house guest. I went to my mirror and looked in it. I was getting wrinkles around my eyes, like Meliah. I picked up some lipstick off the dresser and slid it over my lips. I was going to be brave and polite and I was going to go out there and apologize to Evan…even if he wouldn’t look at me after I yelled in his face. Why did that make me laugh? Why was I not more embarrassed about it?
When I walked back into the living room people were getting up to go onto the porch but Evan was still sitting on the couch. I stopped and looked at him and to my surprise he smiled warmly. My dress flapped around my legs in the breeze blowing through the open windows and I found myself looking around to see if he was smiling at someone else, but it was just me. He stayed siting on the couch as if he knew that I was going to come and talk to him. So I walked over. I didn’t sit down. I fidgeted feeling very uncomfortable and said, “That was totally out of character for me. I don’t usually yell. I was pretty shaken from that accident but I shouldn’t have taken it out on someone who was just trying to be nice.”
He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes then put them back on. “You were right though,” he said. “You don’t know me, you are not my friend. So I should have minded my own business. Don’t worry. I won’t bother you again, Odette.”
He raised his eyebrows and smiled. I couldn’t help but blush for some reason. I couldn’t tell if he was truly blowing me off or joking…or something. When I looked back up at him he was laughing.
“Good” I said, smiling back and nodding. Why was this funny? “Don’t bother me again.” Then it dawned on me. He could tell that I did want him to bother me again.
“Would it bother you if I got you a glass of wine?” he said, with that look. I know that look, staring right in my eyes, over-confidant but with a hint of wariness, almost bracing himself for the answer.
That is when my heart started to thud. I looked at my hands. My wedding ring was in my sock drawer. Yes, I did want him to get me a drink and I also wanted to talk to him all night. I wanted to sit on the beach with him again and find out what exactly he was studying and teaching. I wanted to know why he hung out with the professsours, what was so special about him. I wanted to forget my life in Athens and just create a new one here in St. Augustine. But I’m not stupid.
I looked back right in his eyes and said, “Actually, it would bother me,” I turned and hurried off to my room. This wouldn’t do. No more, no more, no more.
When I got back in and shut my door and leaned against it, my phone buzzed on my dresser. I went and picked it up, thinking that maybe Chris had finally texted me to let me know he was alive and getting ready to do the show in San Francisco. I wanted to hear all about it. We had never gone for this long without communicating. But when I saw Jake’s number I took in sharp breath. He had written, “One more day, 24 hours at the beach with you, then never again.”
Oh man. I took the phone with me to my bed and held it to my chest. Then I thew it at the chair in the corner of my room with all of Luna’s material piled up on it, and closed my eyes. I covered my face with my hands. I didn’t deserve this attention. I pulled the covers up over me and decided that things would be less complicated in the morning.