BY LUIS PAEZ-PUMAR
I’m not quite sure what just happened, thought James as they walked in deep silence up Avenue A. They had just been sitting on the couch of his friend’s apartment, attempting to block out the noise from the kegger (yes, a kegger in New York City) raging around them. James had wanted to leave, and said so to Laura, who had seemed bored herself. Without a word, she had stood up, grabbed her leather jacket and walked out, leaving James to scurry behind her, accidentally hitting his knee against the coffee table’s metallic corner and ripping his already frayed jeans. As soon as he caught up to her outside, Laura had given him the angriest look of their not-quite three months together. They arrived at her apartment an endless fifteen minutes later, with the only words spoken being “Get in,” as Laura demanded when it appeared that James was going to walk away from her building’s doorstep.
Once inside, however, James prayed for the silence yet again. For Laura had been storing her rage during the walk home, and she proceeded to explode. All James could do was let her. She was frustrated that he had made her leave a party she was enjoying. She was mad that he had flirted with his ex when they ran into her earlier that day. She was irate that he wanted to spend every day with her. James had no idea this was coming, so a part of him shut down. All he could hear after a while was the buzzing sound of her neighbor’s music, an indietronica song from his youth. “So please don’t be upset at this portrait that I paint…”
James had been seeing Laura for about three weeks, which was six dates, or thirteen hours by his count. He had enjoyed every second of being in her presence, even if he had run out of ways to make her laugh. They had held hands on their first date, kissed on their third date, and she had given him a blowjob on their fifth date. She did not want him to reciprocate the oral stimulation. Now, James was preparing for their 7th date; they were going to see Caveman at Mercury Lounge, a show that she had found and bought tickets for without telling him. In fact, Laura was mostly in control when it came to James; he did what she told him to do, without fail. As he put on his shirt and buttoned up his jeans, James realized that he was happy. He wasn’t sure why, but even just thinking of Laura made his heart race. “Relax, J. She’s with you.”
He had to tell himself that this almost every hour he was away from her; there was no way around it, he was smitten. He raced down 1st Ave, listening to Caveman’s album because he had never heard it before and wanted to look cool in front of his date. As he turned the corner onto Houston and Allen, Laura rang him. “Oh hey, dude. I’m not going to be able to make it. Sorry, but I’ll call you tomorrow.” Without letting him say a word, she hung up.
Laura was leaving for the holidays the next day. She had invited James over to cook him dinner so they could have one last night together before being apart for a month. She had told James that she felt horrible about their last fight, and that she was going to make it up to him by baking him a chocolate cake, his favorite. James was skeptical; she had said some painful truths the last time he saw her, and he was half-expecting to go off for break with a bad taste in his mouth.
He walked into her apartment on twelfth at 8:43 PM, at least according to the ridiculous clock that she had in the kitchen. After a hug and a quick kiss, Laura smiled, possibly for the first time since before that party last weekend. “Sit down, babe. The appetizer will be done in like five minutes.” James walked over and sat down in the living room, putting his phone on the table next to hers. “Laur, can I play with your iPhone?” She popped her head out of the kitchen and nodded. James needed a distraction, so he went into Angry Birds to beat his previous high score. After playing for about three minutes, a text noise went off. “Hey babe, you’ve got a text from Colin.” Laura absent-mindedly shouted back, barely audible over the sizzle of the fish she was frying: “Can you read it for me?” It was then that James felt something he was not expecting: unbelievable sorrow. When is he leaving i want to cum over, read the text. James stood up, grabbed his coat and his phone, as well as hers, and walked to the kitchen. Laura’s confusion was short-lived when she realized what the look on James’ face was. “Colin wants to come over, so I’m going to leave now.” With that, James gave Laura her phone, and walked out of her apartment, taking extra care to slam the door shut, quite literally, on the relationship.
Walking up to her, James feels his mouth going dry. It had been a while since he approached a cute girl at a party; in fact, since Emily broke up with him, he had been pretty much flying solo. That was seventeen months and four days ago. Now, here he was at an FIT party, where he was invited to only because his friend Alexa felt sorry for him (at least, that was James’ feeling about the whole thing), and he was going to talk to the cutest girl at the party. Blonde and probably around five feet, seven inches tall, this girl oozed allure. Her clothes were all black, and her shirt had a hole the size of a quarter on its side. This drove James wild.
Somehow, she was sitting alone, by the window, smoking a cigarette. James took a deep breath and walked up to her, this blonde mystery woman, and asked “is this seat taken?” She sort of scoffed but shook her head, giving James all the courage he needed to sit in the chair across from her. She looked him over before continuing to stare out the window. “H-hi, I’m James.” Her head slowly tilted back to look at him, a sense of amusement washing over her face. She switched her cigarette to her left hand and extended her right, whispering back: “Laura. It’s perfectly ok to meet you.”