What Do You Want?
Sitting in the back booth at our favorite dive bar, Sara orders one last shot for the road. I am a bit (ok a lot) inebriated so I refrain from opening my mouth as I may trip over my tongue. Currently I am giggling at a guy at the bar who missed his mouth yet again and spilled beer down his shirt for the third time. I snort laughter and put my hands over my mouth in a sad attempt to stifle myself. It is not working so well. “Annie!” I slide my eyes back to Sara and look at the clear liquid she holds before me. I groan loudly and shake my head. My stomach is telling me not to take the shot but my brain and stomach are not communicating very well as I watch my hand reach for the glass and feel the cold liquid slide down my throat. The world is shifting dangerously to the right. “I can’t feel my lips or my face. I think I’m strunk. Drink. Shhhhip. Drunk.” Yup I have lost all control of my tongue now.
Tom is leaning over me and his hair is falling into his face. He looks funny and I try to reach up to touch him. Wait. Why is he standing above me? “Come on girlie the party is over for you I’m afraid.” He scoops me up and I hear him and Sara talking quietly as we leave the bar. I settle into Tom’s shoulder as he carries me outside where the cool air hits me lulling me into a sweet darkness where I know I will dream of him. Down and down I go.
I wake up with my head and hearting pounding. He has invaded my dreams again. Sleep is something that both repulses and entices me at the same time. I don’t quite remember my dreams only that he is in them. The smell of bacon makes my stomach growl and I shake off my dream. Sara and Tom are making their famous hangover breakfast and though the world seems to be swimming I drag myself out of bed and into the kitchen. A glass of water and two aspirin are sitting on the table along with a cup of coffee. “Mmmmmm. That bacon smells so good. I am starving!” Tom brings a bowl of fruit over and sets it down at the table with a heaping plate of pancakes. I am drooling now. Sara slides two eggs onto a plate and hands it to me. I sit down and pile pancakes on my plate saying a little prayer that it all stays where it belongs; in my tummy. “Dream of the asshole again last night?” Damn it how does she do that? I shrug and dig into my eggs. Tom gives me the look. He and I both know what is coming. She sighs loudly. Here it comes. “Do you want to waste your time crying over some guy who didn’t have the balls to tell you that he was getting married or do you want to get on with your life? What do you want Annie?”
“What do I want?! What. Do. I. Want. I want my heart to stop hurting. I want to be able to rip it out of my chest like Regina the Evil Queen on that show about fairytales. Put it in a lockbox and bury it deep in the woods so that I don’t ever have to worry about getting hurt again. That’s what I want.” I rub my eyes to keep the tears from falling. I hate that I am even crying. Sara sits next to me and puts her coffee down. I can smell the dark roast and caramel creamer she has added. Reluctantly, I look at her.
“Well, I hate to break it to you but that shit isn’t real; it’s a show. Deal with the break up and move forward. You are my best friend but right now I want to shake you like a rag doll to get some sense into you.” A snort escapes me and then I am consumed by a full on giggle fit. I am laughing so hard I am crying or am I crying because I am laughing so hard. Finally I manage to contain my giggles and look at Sara. “I know. I don’t know what else to say other than I know. He got to me in a way that no one else has managed to do in a very long time. I have to come to terms with it. On the bright side you are getting me out of the apartment and meeting new people.” Tom, who has been sitting there silently, watching this whole thing, chimes in at last. “Well thank goodness for small miracles. Of course that doesn’t mean getting fall down drunk every weekend and it certainly doesn’t mean kissing on strangers.” I open my mouth and a squeak escapes. I clear my throat and try again. “That only happened once. And that was three months ago. I was seriously hoping you both forgot about that.” My blush reaches to my scalp.
Coffee and books are my latest passions. They are both safe and I can rely on them to do what they are supposed to do; give me energy and help me elude reality momentarily. Sitting in the café at the local bookstore, I watch all the interesting people pass by. All walks of life come here for the same thing; answers to questions, a chance to learn about themselves or others, or a chance to dive into another realm. An art book sits un-opened in front of me along with a doodle pad which I am doodling on while I sip my coffee and get lost in my own thoughts.
“Hi. Excuse me.” I jump and almost wear my coffee. I look up and see that the voice belongs to a tall, slender guy wearing a black t-shirt, jeans and a dark gray beanie that seems to compliment his scruffy beard. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to frighten you. I tried to get your attention a couple of times but you seemed far away.” He is smiling at me. Nice. I smile back and feel myself blush. “No it was my fault I wasn’t quite here. Apparently I got lost in my thoughts.” He points to the chair across from me and sits down without waiting for me to answer. “Hi, I’m Patrick.” He sticks his hand out and I shake it. His hands are soft yet firm. “Annie. Nice to meet you.”
“I was asking if you were done with that book on nude life drawing. I have been looking for it and the lady at the counter said they had a copy but it wasn’t on the shelf. And here it is.” I am confused for a moment. I have no idea what he is talking about. Then I look down and see The Nude: Understanding the Elements of Life Drawing (The Art of Drawing) and it clicks. “Oh. I. Well umm, it’s not my book.” He smiles again and I notice his brown eyes. He is staring at me and I think I like it. “What I mean to say is that I wasn’t really paying attention when I grabbed the book. I just wanted something to flip through while I drank my coffee, and wow I look like a pervert don’t I?”
He laughs and he has this deep kind of laugh that makes me want to laugh too. “Not at all. The body is a beautiful thing. Drawing it is even better don’t you agree? The shapes, colors, shadows, they are all there waiting to be explored, touched, sketched, and painted.” He has the book in his hands and he is admiring the sketches on the pages as if he were studying the lines not just the naked bodies. It is suddenly very warm in here. “Do you do those things? I mean are you an artist?” I ask him wondering suddenly what he would do if he could sketch me. Whoa what?
“Actually I do all of those things. I run a small art studio and I also teach at the community college here in town. We are working on nudes this semester and I wanted to get some supplemental materials for the students to study especially for those who seem stuck on the nude part.” I can’t stop staring at him. Afraid of tripping over my tongue I sip my coffee so I can gather my thoughts. I don’t want him to leave just yet there is something about him that is drawing me in. I say, “That sounds really interesting. As you can see I doodle but I definitely do not draw.” We start making small talk and he pulls my doodle pad closer to him and takes my pen and starts sketching. I can’t see what he is doing but I am mesmerized by how quickly his hand is moving and his eyes move from the pad to me and back again several times. He doesn’t skip a beat in our conversation which completely amazes me. I am studying him as much as he is studying me. His hair is a medium brown and sticks out from under the beanie just touching the top of his t-shirt. His reddish brown beard is trimmed and frames his face well. His thick eyebrows are furrowed together as he works the pen across the page and I notice that he is chewing on his lower lip. It is sexy and sweet at the same time.
The pen stops moving and he looks at me for a long time and slides my pad back over to me. Staring back up at me is someone I don’t recognize. Curly hair framing the face, lips slightly parted and a lost look on her face. He nailed my emotional state so well. I look lost, haunted almost. “I draw what I see, I hope you don’t mind. Whoever hurt you is no longer in your life? I mean it isn’t my business I just met you but I certainly hope not.”
“No. No he is not. How. How did you do that? You captured me so well.” I run my fingers over the paper. The lines are ridged from the pen strokes. I touch my lips and then the paper again. Patrick gathers the book and starts to stand. “I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-10 pm if you ever want to stop by. I am actually on my way now so I must run. It was truly a pleasure to sketch you Annie. I hope to see you again soon.” As he turns to leave I know that I am going to do something crazy. “Wait. Umm do you need nude models for your class?” Did I just volunteer to be a nude model? “Yes we can always use models. Are you bold enough to try it tonight? You can come and just watch if you want. There are four models scheduled.” I nod my head and gather my stuff. Tonight I am going to get naked for the sake of art and I think I am going to like it. A lot.