I see now that it was a mistake. I saw it the moment she stepped through, that I was somehow both over and underprepared, and badly. Tala’s off duty look was unchanged from her service call uniform. Jeans, boots, vest, a blue and grey checked flannel, hair a dark halo around her shoulders. I chose a maroon skort for the occasion, thinking it would be ironic, but as she stood in the doorway, the corduroy chafed at my thighs. When I moved to take her vest, she shrugged it off and hung it on the coat rack herself.
Tala was the kind of girl I used to follow around at school, silently willing her to let me carry anything, literally anything, like a backup stick of gum – the girl who gave a half smile like she knew I was there but didn’t actually mind, nor would she strike up a conversation.
“Hey,” she said. She put her hands in her pockets, and grinned, and I saw that I had been staring.
“Please,” I mumbled, and gestured behind me. “Sit anywhere.”
She paused long enough for me to see what she saw, that the coffee table was a tiny island of sanity in this house, and the fact that I hadn’t been able to see that clearly for myself was only the beginning of what I missed. The books stacked high along the edges of the living room wall, the unopened mail, the layer of dust – these were all things that might have passed as eccentric, and that was fine, but the wine and candles seemed ridiculous, no, presumptuous, which was just –
“How’s the piano?” She stood at the piano, one hand on the lid, peering up at the gash in the ceiling. “Seems like you dodged a bullet.”
I flinched. “It’s fine.” Crossed my arms, fixed my eyes on the wall.
Read the third episode of my fiction series at Corporeal Clamor here.
S1:E2 “The Introvert’s Guide to Impeachment,” Corporeal Clamor
S1: E1 “Lock Her Up, Corporeal Clamor
These Days, Corporeal Clamor.
You are the Rest of Us, Corporeal Clamor.
Over Everything, Corporeal Clamor.
Test Tank, Corporeal Clamor.
You say, write something hopeful, Corporeal Clamor.
Make a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul, Corporeal Clamor.
You Can Do Anything, Corporeal Clamor.
The Right to Bare Arms, ENTROPY Magazine.
Still Gonna Do (#ShePersisted), The Manifest-Station.
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