"I'm a gardener," he said, when I asked him what he did.
"Oh! That's interesting. For whom?" I cradled my coffee in my hands and sipped. It was too hot. I put it down on the table. I did that thing I do when I'm nervous, hunching my shoulders and tilting my head and raising my left eyebrow and grinning like a fucking fool. He grinned back, thin lips spreading between two bookends of a wiry brown beard, wiry fingers grasping at each other over folded napkins.
"For whoever will pay me." He laughed a bit, and his pretty colorless eyes danced around in their sockets. "What do you do?"
I told him.
He laughed and repeated back what I had said to him, word for word for word.
"Wait, what?" I sipped. Ow. Hot.
He repeated it again.
"Wait, what?" Heat still rose off my burned tongue. "We have the same job? Who do you work for?" Naivete swirled in with milk and sugar.
He laughed. "No, we don't. And I'm not a gardener; it's the middle of winter in Manhattan. There's nowhere to garden." He paused. "I work in medicine."
"Oh!" My brow furrowed. I dislike being lied to. "Are you a doctor?" Sip. Smirk. Raised eyebrow.
"I don't want to talk about work."
He asked me my name. I told him. He asked me my middle name. I told him. He asked me where I was from. He asked me to teach him something. I did. He didn't believe me. He made me laugh. I leaned against the crumpled pile of my red coat and told him I didn't like being lied to. He said he would be honest from now on. A blender buzzed in the kitchen whenever someone ordered a milkshake, and he told me to say something explicit underneath the cloak of white noise. The white noise ended before I got anything out. He asked me if I was submissive. I told him. He asked me what that meant to me. I told him. He took my hand in his hand and told me he was never satisfied by long-term relationships because he never got what he wanted out of them. I asked him why. He said he didn't know. He ordered an ice cream sundae, ate some, but then pushed it away and declared it was too sweet. I said well that's what ice cream sundaes are. I asked him if he had ever had his heart broken. He said no. I told him he was lucky. He said that's why he couldn't write poetry. I told him I thought his writing was poetic in a way. He said (laughing) that he kept Neruda open beside him while he wrote messages to strange women on the Internet. I told him my ex used to read me Neruda in bed, in Spanish. He said he was saving that for the right girl. He asked me what if she never showed up. I told him he couldn't live his life wondering that. He said he couldn't live his life hoping for it. I agreed.
He asked me my name. Meghan, should we go home together tonight? I shrugged. I don't know. I smiled. Shrug. Smile. Eyebrow. Sip. I don't know. Let's go. OK. I went to the bathroom. I swayed my hips a bit more than usual as I walked away from him in my heels. I peed. As I was buttoning my ripped jeans, I looked at the ceiling and stamped my feet and said out loud, "This is fucking stupid. What the fuck? Stupid, Meghan." Then I laughed and flushed and washed my hands and looked at myself in the mirror. I clicked the light off and pushed the door open.
We walked outside. We walked uptown. He asked me where we were going. I told him I don't know. I asked him the most public place he had ever had sex. He answered. I told him mine. They were the same. He slid his card into the door of a bank. We went inside. I wondered why he needed cash right now, right this very moment. He sat down on a ledge and said we needed to talk about this. I said we just talked for an hour and a half what do you want to talk about? He asked me what I wanted. I shrugged. I smiled. I don't know. Shrug. Smile. I asked him what he wanted. He told me. I was not surprised. I told him I was not surprised. He was surprised. A man came inside and got some cash out of the ATM, and then left. My eyes stayed on him, though I could feel David's on me, burning question marks into my cheeks, my neck, my hair. He stood up. He instructed me to stand up. He touched my arm, pulled me toward the table where people write deposit slips. Deposits, withdrawals, inquiries. He pushed me against the table gently. He asked me if I was nervous. I told him yes. He took my face in his hands. Music jumped around somewhere behind his eyes, but barely registered. He stroked my cheeks and my chin with his long, soft fingers. I liked it. He bent my head up and kissed me. I sucked air into my lungs and kissed him back. His beard tickled my face. I bit his lip. He sucked air into his lungs. I pulled away from him to make our breath mingle some more. He pursued. I pulled. He pursued. I finally turned and laughed. He kissed the corner of my mouth. Comisura.
He demanded that I look at him. I did. My eyes felt uncomfortable inside his. I had my glasses on and I felt awkward, wrongfully wanted. He kissed me again, his hands never leaving my face. I giggled like a child and he pulled away, walking toward the door. Do you want to be who you were a year ago? I told him I was a completely different person a year ago. He said he knew. I asked him what he was thinking about. He said curiosity. I said about what. He said about himself. I said not about me? He said he felt like he knew something about me. I asked him what. He told me. I told him he was wrong. I told him I had no reason to trust him. He walked to the window and pressed his thumb against it. I watched as he lifted his thumb away. He told me that was his thumbprint, as proof that he was not some crazy weirdo without a thumbprint. I'm still not sure because I didn't get a close look. It evaporated. He had his hand on the door now. I'm going to go home now. You are welcome to follow me. If not, we can say good night.
I said no. I invited him to my place. He said it was too cold and he didn't have his heavy coat on so he didn't want to walk in the cold. He walked out. I followed him for two blocks. I suggested a cab to my place. He said he would have been enticed earlier, but now he was just trying to make a point. I told him that was bullshit. Do you think this is some sort of power play? Yes. It's not. It's just me putting the cards on the table. That is a power play. Good night. He walked away from me, hands in his pockets. I watched him walk for half a block. He never turned back.
I kicked myself for not going with him. Then I kicked myself for wanting to be in his bed. He asked me if I had ever been in love. I told him yes. He asked me if I was currently in love. I told him no. Then I told him yes. I'm in love with New York. He rolled his eyes.
I dislike being lied to.
This is part one of a two-part series of a genre I'll call (non)fiction.
INTRODUCING: HARLEM EATUP! 2017
11 hours ago