“I think he’s offically insane” and/or “Gravy. That’s right, I went there.”
A risque photograph and/or umbrella
I run into my bedroom, throwing myself on my neatly made bed face-first. I begin kicking my feet and shoving my fists into the plump white comforter, not screaming quite yet. I continue this ordeal for about thirty more seconds, and then I decide it’s time. I breathe in a fair amount of hot air, bracing myself for what’s to come. I open my mouth, but nothing comes out. After a good amount of time wasted on trying to scream, I force myself to look around me. Nothing has changed. Same walls, same pictures, same mirrors, same plasma television my brother talked me into buying. Same me. But why didn’t I feel the same?
I had seen the picture hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. Why did it suddenly make me want my life to end in some dramatic way like deaths always happened in the movies? Maybe I’d hire a hit man to kill me. That’d be cool. No. Too expensive.
What the fuck? Get a grip, Molly.
I prop myself up on the goose-down pillows placed neatly along my cherry wood headboard that had cost me more than my college tuition. He had always told me that my taste was too materialistic. Why did I need all of these fancy things when he was perfectly fine with a mattress on the floor and a sleeping bag for covers? I run a hand through my hair, remembering what I had done. He always said he liked brunettes better. I promised myself I wouldn’t change myself for anyone, but I did for him. Fifteen minutes after he left, I ran to the closest Walgreens and bought my new hair color out of a box. Maybe then he’d realize that I really was willing to make things work.
Shit. Stop thinking about him.
But I couldn’t. Ever since I opened that e-mail today, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. My friends always sent me the most ridiculous things while they were actually supposed to be doing their job. Some of them actually made me laugh, but not this one.
Subject: Remember these guys, Mol? From: firstname.lastname@example.org
I was bored, so I decided to surf the internet. Remember those Hanson guys? LOL, take a look at this picture. I wonder how long ago this was…
And then there it was. The infamous picture of Taylor, Isaac and Zac in front of a blue background. Taylor smacking his ass while Ike did a kung-fu move he probably thought was hilarious at the time, Zac with his long hair, barely an adult.
I forgot how to swallow as I stared at the picture. I had worked so hard to keep them a secret, to keep everything a secret. As far as I could tell, it still was. But somehow I felt like Tara knew. Like she had sent me the picture just to spite me. Like she was laughing at me for losing out on one of the best things that had ever happen to me. Well, two of the best, but the second one hadn’t come crashing down on me completely yet. Yet.
“Yeah?” I whipped around, trying to look like I was doing something.
“Do you have the file for the Martin’s divorce case?” one of my long-time colleagues, Ryan, asked.
“Oh, yeah,” I began shuffling through the neatly stacked manila folders on my desk.
“Is that…Hanson?” Ryan asked, peaking at my computer screen.
“What?” I stopped looking through case files to glance back at him.
“Hanson, you know, that one band. The brothers with the long hair?”
“What?” I asked again.
“Your computer…” Ryan pointed at the screen behind me.
“Oh!” I placed my hand on my chest, my face flushing, “yeah,” I nodded, “one of my friends sent me that picture. We always send each other things throughout the day. It’s something that cures our boredom for the moment,” I laughed, slapping my knee.
“Oh,” Ryan nodded, “I see.”
“Yeah!” I grinned, focusing my attention on finding the divorce case.
I rolled my eyes at myself as I found the folder, handing it to Ryan.
“Have fun with your e-mails or whatever,” Ryan smiled as he walked away with the case, possibly a little too fast to make me feel normal.
What the hell is wrong with you, Sterling? Pull yourself together.
And that’s what had landed me here, on my bed, still in my work clothes, staring at my cat.
“Mr. Whiskers, has he turned me into a crazy cat lady?”
She walked towards me, rubbing herself against my thighs as she purred. I sighed as I pathetically petted my female cat with a male name. He really had turned me into a crazy cat lady. Before him, I hated cats. When he left, I magically decided that I loved them, and decided to go buy a kitten from the local Petco.
“I don’t care if he made me into a crazy cat lady,” I said in a baby voice, “I love you,” I cooed, pulling Mr. Whiskers onto my lap.
I closed my eyes and leaned further back into the pillows I so desperately needed at the time. I remembered the way he smelled when he was laying in my bed the next morning. I remembered the way he would play solitaire on my laptop while I studied case file after case file, and how he wouldn’t complain when my work went well into the night. He’d make me hot cocoa and let me rest my feet in his lap. He’d eventually fall asleep after hours of sitting and doing nothing. I would place a blanket over him and turn off the light, not wanting to wake him. He’d come and sleep in the bed with me once he realized he was no longer a duo.
I remembered the things he’d always say to me just to get me to talk to him again. He’d make me so unbelievably angry, but then he’d call me up and leave me ludicrous messages, like the one time he went on and on about Thanksgiving. He’d talk about mashed potatoes with tons and tons of gravy. “Gravy. That’s right, I went there.” making me laugh so hard that I didn’t have a choice but to give in. He’d come over twenty minutes later with Chinese food. We’d eat it out of the cartons with forks. Neither of us had mastered the art that was chopstick handling.
I remembered the way he’d pick me up and spin me around while I was trying to make him dinner. How I’d yell to put me down, but he wouldn’t listen. He’d throw me over the couch and gently climb over me, resting his weight on his elbows as he kissed me until my lips were pink and swollen. Dinner would burn and we’d end up calling for pizza, but neither of us cared. It was likely you’d always find us eating from a box or paper bag, and it was likely the reason was because we were too horny to concentrate on fixing a proper meal.
I remembered the way he loved to smell my hair and twirl it between his fingers. He called it golden silk. I remembered his reaction when he walked into my apartment only to find me with a darker hair color. He placed me in the middle of the living room, pushing the coffee table out of the way. He walked slowly around me, evaluating the change. He’d back up slowly, then run around me a few times. I kept my giggles concealed as he placed his finger on his chin, “hmm-ing” and “mhmm-ing” with a stern look on his face.
“Molly?” he’d ask after a good five minutes.
“Yes?” I raised my eyebrows.
“I have decided…” he dragged out as he took his time circling me once again.
“Okay, you are officially insane!” I threw my hands up in the air.
“Wait! I’m not finished!” he’d yell as he placed his hands gently on my shoulders.
“Then just spit it out!”
“I have decided…” he placed his hand on the top of my head, “that you are ridiculously hot with brown hair,” he’d grin so wide it’d look like his mouth was detached from his body.
I’d laugh, bringing his head down so our lips touched for the first time that day.
“Can we have sex now?” he’d ask.
“Sure,” I let out a hearty laugh, my legs wrapping around his waist as he lifted me up.
I grinned as I remembered how good he was in bed. He’d take his time, making sure that I was completely satisfied before he was. He’d wrap me up in his arms, whispering things every girl had always wanted to hear coming from a gorgeous man she knew she was in love with. He was the type of person you’d make love with, not just have sex with.
I remembered the time he found the risqué pictures of me buried in my underwear drawer. He danced and waved them all over my room, posing just as I had in the photos. I rolled my eyes and hid under the covers until he jumped on me and stated that he was just kidding and he now had to go find the man who invented ten-second timers on digital cameras. I rolled my eyes and asked him where the pictures were so I could burn them, but he refused to tell me. He probably still has them hidden somewhere to this day.
I opened my eyes, the buzzer to my apartment waking me from my memories. I got up, Mr. Whiskers stepping off of my stomach, “Sorry, girl,” I muttered, running a hand through my hair. I brushed the cat hair off of my stomach as I made my way to the door.
I looked through the peephole, my heart racing. I took a few deep breaths before pulling the door open a little too wide.
“Taylor…you’re home early,” I looked at him with a confused look on my face.
“I know. I wanted to surprise you,” he grinned, stepping into my apartment, embracing me in the biggest hug I had received in a while, “I’ve missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you too,” I awkwardly hugged him back.
“So have you told your friends about me yet?” He laughed, pulling out of the hug.
“No,” I shook my head, remembering the e-mail from Tara.
“You know, we are kind of official. So you might want to like, get on that bandwagon or something…”
“I’m not in love with you, Taylor.”
“You don’t have to be,” he laughed as he walked into my small kitchen. I heard him rummaging through my refrigerator.
“I’ve been cheating on you with Zac, Taylor.”
As soon as I heard the carton of orange juice hit the floor, spilling all over his vintage Keds, I knew that all of my worst fears and biggest dreams had manifested into the puddle forming on my hardwood floors. I hadn’t been nervous about the picture because of Taylor. I hadn’t become a crazy cat lady because Taylor. I hadn’t told my friends about this new guy I was dating because of Taylor. I hadn’t dyed my hair because of Taylor.
I did it because of Zac.