read chapter 18 with greenlydia
It’s deadline day and I’m full of nervous energy, Iris sent me a mail letting me know that she approves and even likes the illustrations but now they have to go through her publisher. This is the biggest project I’ve ever worked on and my nerves are shot. I should mail her back but I think I need to head to the gym first and get rid of some of this energy. I still have the whole Michael thing going on in my head as well. What spectacular timing this has all been right?
Jab jab – so Michael likes me.
Right hook – and I like him back.
Left hook – and he asked me out.
Left uppercut – and I said yes.
Right – what am I going to wear?
Right kick – what are we going to talk about?
Right kick – why me?
Anthony hits me upside the head and I look at him with an annoyed scowl, why is he interrupting my inner monologue, I have stuff to figure out. “You’re not concentrating, I said jab jab” he makes a jabbing motion and I nod my head. Maybe I should try to pay a little more attention before he knocks the last few brain cells I have loose.
I’m sweaty and out of breath but I feel calmer and more composed. I can do this, it’s just a date after all. A date with someone I’ve had a crush on since I first met him at the foster home. Michael and I ended up in the same home the year before he left to come here. We used to sneak out to watch the stars at night and we’d talk about anything and everything, our hopes and dreams and fears. He’s always wanted to be in publishing and he’s always encouraged my illustrations so when my turn came to leave the home I followed him out here, not that he knows he’s the reason I ended up here though. But in hindsight I’m glad I did, if I hadn’t I would never have me the Mateo’s and found the family I always wanted.
I let myself into my apartment, chucking my gym bag near the washing machine and untying my hair so that it can dry. I’m so glad the gym finally moved to a building that has showers, no more coming home smelling like a locker room. I stop as I notice there are a bunch of daisies on my kitchen table, I go to the lounge and bathroom to check and see if he’s still here. The apartment is empty so I head back to the kitchen, there’s a note with them in Michael’s terrible scrawl.
Looking forward to tonight.
I hope this isn’t weird.
You should lock your window.
Typical, he climbs into my apartment all stalker like and then it’s my fault. Now that we’re dating, shit, is that what we’re doing? Are we dating? Does this make us a couple? I can’t think straight but now that we’re whatever we are this climbing into my apartment has to stop. But at the same time I don’t want it to, I don’t want whatever this is to change the easy going friendship we’ve cultivated. I need coffee. I finish making myself a cup and head on over to the computer to check if Iris has any news on the deadline meeting. Nothing yet, may as well answer her email. I had such a laugh about her office antics, I could almost picture her perched up on a photocopier making out with the hot guy in the office.
Subject: Office sex and deadlines
I’m not sure if you noticed but I did mark out spaces for the wording, I left the actual type out as I wasn’t sure if you wanted me to do it or if we should wait until hearing what the meeting results are as I’m sure they’d have a better idea of what font to use and so on. Speaking of, have you any news on the deadline approvals? How did the meeting go?
Therapists are… I’m not sure what they are, they’re these strangers we pay to listen to our problems and then tell us we’re slightly cooked and prescribe drugs. They’re drug lords. Legal drug lords whos drugs I love. Wait, that sounds wrong. Anyway, I think it’s perhaps that we’ve never met, though at this point I feel like we’ve been friends for a really long time, it’s just easier to talk to someone in an email where you can first think about what you’re going to say and then not have the fear of being judged as crazy with a side chance of being institutionalized.
I laughed so hard at you getting lucky in the office, not that you getting lucky is a funny thought but more so that I can actually picture you making out with the office hotty in the copy room. Not that I think you’re easy or anything. This email really isn’t going so well is it. And Michael cock blocking you… the little shit! Michael and I, we’ve known each other for a number of years now, we actually met before he moved here and started working for Colour House Media and until this very minute I actually hadn’t put two and two together and realize you’re in the same office. Small world!
You had me at coffee lovers! Flat white concepts you say? I’ll have a look and pop them an email, always keen to do a little work. Thanks for the heads up!
Good luck with the book submission
I hit send and check through a dozen more emails, picking up my coffee mug I get that “I’m sure there was at least one more sip” feeling and sigh. I grab my phone as I wait for the kettle to boil.
Michael, stop climbing in through my window you weirdo.
Thank you for the daisies.
Now what am I supposed to do between now and tonight’s date? I guess I could get to work on adding colour to the drawings. May as well get a head start on them just in case they made final approval and then throw us with another short deadline for the finals.
It’s seven and I’m pacing around my apartment like a nervous school girl. I try and calm myself by reminding myself that it’s just Michael after all but that just seems to make it worse. I walk to the mirror to check my reflection for the umpteenth time and startle as I feel my phone vibrate
He’s here, oh shitty shit shit he’s here. No backing out now. I check myself in the mirror one last time, I think I look alright, simple black dress and my curls all pinned up messily. It will have to do, no time to change now. I open turn and open the door and there’s Michael looking completely fuckable. Stop it. Can’t think that. Why am I thinking that? Fuck it’s been a while.
Michael looks down at his phone and I can feel mine vibrate again.
You look amazing.
I look up and smile while signing thank you. He steps forward and awkwardly gives me a kiss on the cheek. I quickly turn to grab my purse and keys and hope he doesn’t see me blushing like a teenager before closing the door behind me. He hesitates but takes my hand in his, it’s so big and warm and I feel tiny in his presence even though I’m not exactly the smallest of people. Short yes, petite not so much.
I ask him where we’re going and he just shrugs and signs back “you’ll see”. I love how when we met he decided that we’d be best friends forever and so took it upon himself to learn sign language, over the past few years he’s become fluent but I still get butterflies every time he does just like the first time he signed hello.
The night was perfect, conversation flowed and the silent moments in between weren’t as awkward as what I’d expected them to be, it had been like any other time we’d been out except that this time there’s that good night kiss hanging over us. How does this work, I haven’t been on a real date ever before so I’m not sure, I’ve hooked up with people occasionally but dinner and a meal and dropping me off at my doorstep? Never. We look at each other nervously and I turn to put my key in the door when he takes my hand and turns me to face him, putting it on his chest, he’s so close I can feel his breath on my cheek and I can smell the faint lingering scent of the rolled cigarettes he smokes. I love how much taller than me he is and how he has to sort of lean down, he runs his nose along my jaw-line and I try imagine hearing him breath in deeply, scenting me, as I feel him take a deep breath under my palm. He looks up at me as if asking for permission before hesitantly placing his lips on mine. It feels like coming home. His mouth is perfect and he tastes divine, like mint and whiskey. He pulls away far too quickly for my liking but smiles and gives me a kiss on the forehead before turning to go.
I unlock my apartment and do a little dance of happiness once safely back in its confines. Best night ever.