“Well duh, why would I waste my time being interested when you said yourself you weren’t attracted to – wait a second.”
Mick wondered what the statute of limitations was on dumb fuckery. Why had he ever even talked about other girls with Fran? “I was 23.” That was why. But it had all worked out okay.
“Were you lying when you said you weren’t interested in fat chicks?”
“I never said that. I just said I liked that one girl’s body.”
“You said -”
“I didn’t. That’s what you remember, but it’s not what I said.” Was it important that she understand? Was it important that she not understand? What’s a good outcome here?
She looked at him with eyes full of questions, her thin, pale eyebrows knit together. “This has been an educational fifteen hours,” she said, and sipped her coffee.
Mick wanted to change the subject.
“You were right about that goop. It stayed slippery for a long time. Even in the shower, I noticed.”
“I know! I can’t believe you never used it before!” She rose as she spoke, gathering dishes. Mick watched her moved through the kitchen, watched her tidy and rinse and wipe.
“We haven’t woken up together since the thing. The time after Mandi left, I mean. This is about as different as it gets.”
“Oh my god, so different.” She sighed, sitting back in her chair. “I’m not over Charles. That’s going to take a lot of time. But now my pain is all about the relationship itself and not that awful, noisy, self-hating bullshit that wouldn’t shut up.” She met his eyes and smiled, deep peace inside her, and a tiny fleck of chocolate on her lip. He wanted to lick it. He wanted to grab her hair and arch her back over the kitchen sink and bite into the flesh of her throat. He wanted to fuck her standing up here in the kitchen. Fuck her on the kitchen table, fuck her on the kitchen floor.
“Well I should get home,” he said. “Glad you feel better. You’ve got chocolate on your -” he gestured around his own mouth. She smiled and her her tongue around her mouth. He handed her a napkin.
“Next Friday?” she asked, following him to the side door.
“Oh, actually. Can we skip next week? There this… did you know that if you’re in somebody’s wedding you don’t just go to the wedding? There’s all this other stuff you have to do. I just found out I need to go to a rehearsal dinner on Friday. Why do you have to rehearse dinner?”
She laughed. “Who’s getting married?”
“These friend of mine at work.” He shrugged. “They’re already living together; it’s not news.”
“Okay, see you in two weeks then.”
“You’ll be okay?”
“I’ll be completely okay. The noise is back in the box. The rest of it I can cope with.”
“Okay. Okay. See ya.”
She hugged him for a long, long time and said into his ear, “Thanks, man.” She was soft and warm and smelled like flowers.
When he withdrew from her, the hollow space between them felt so empty, he said “You wanna come to the wedding Saturday?” just to fill the space.
“You’re not taking Christine?”
“Seems like a bad idea, taking a married woman to a wedding.”
“Good point. Seriously, dude,” she shook her head at him. “We gotta get you some therapy.”
“You don’t have to go.” Backtrack. “It’s not a big deal.”
“No, I’d like to! Weddings of strangers are generally hilarious. I’ll take business cards too – people always end up saying, ‘And what do you do?’ and I can very often get a new client out of it.”
“Okay. I’ll email you about it.”
She kissed him on the cheek. He went home.
Sundays were his long runs. Mick put on his shoes at 6am, went out the front door, picked a direction at random, and started running, thinking maybe he’d go ten miles. Ten miles should be enough to deal with Friday night. And, more importantly, with Saturday morning. All that desire. The opposite of what he usually experienced. Usually he was ready to get out the door, and instead he had wanted her all the more. So ten miles. He’d go up the mountain.
Sundays had been his long runs for going on twenty-five years, ever since Mrs. Brindy, his elementary school gym teacher, noticed he was fast. She made it a game, a game for a kid with nothing else to do on Sundays, for a kid with a mom who’d drunk herself into a stupor on Saturday night and then walked out, never to be seen again on Sunday morning. Yeah, that was when he started his long runs.
He’d missed exactly one since he was eight years old – the Sunday after Mandi left. He’d lain in bed with Fran tucked around him, and couldn’t get up, couldn’t get up, couldn’t get up.