1:59PM – ‘Hey, sorry I lashed out at you.’
2:32PM – ‘It’s just hard for me. I’m not used to working so hard at getting nothing in the end.’
2:48PM – ‘Can we talk? I’ve had enough time in these passing days to calm down. I know I haven’t been returning your calls or texts since then, but it was only because I didn’t want to lash out at you again.’
4:27PM – ‘Hey, call me when you get home??’
I was getting texts from Daniel like these throughout my entire workday. I was so busy dealing with Frank’s wants and Creepy-Creepersons ‘needs’ (which were basically whatever Frank wanted for his client Mr. Brad Gordon; yuck!) that I barely had any time to check my phone and therefore respond. The more I thought about it though, the more I realised I probably wouldn’t have even tapped a letter in response. Not even a symbol; screw emojis! The more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that I wasn’t going to jump at giving Daniel the courtesy, if he didn’t give it to me.
Fine. So he needed time to cool off. It doesn’t mean he had to completely ignore me. He could have at least informed me he needed time instead of just disregarding my feelings. Shoot me a text, pick up the phone; anything! But no, I get the silent treatment like it was me that did something wrong.
What’s worse is that I feel so guilty. That sucks. His shortcomings bled into me, and even though I had no part in his hard work to attain such a position, I still feel like the bad guy. Like I could have done something to overturn the outcome. Fucking Henry; I bet it was Henry. Just because Daniel’s girlfriend didn’t jump when the trainer said jump, Daniel is the one that gets punished. My only question revolved around the ‘how’; I wanted to know what exactly happened. But all in due time.
“What you need is to go out on the town without your man,” Paul said, sipping on a martini. “That’s the beauty of living separately, you can do things separately.”
Paul was exactly the type of impartial person I needed in my time of need. He barely knew Daniel, and he was honest enough to not side with me immediately just because we’re friends. I wanted his perspective on the matter, no matter how fogged from the martini it seemed. It’s only his first!
“I’m not sure I’m in a party mood,” I mumbled.
“You sound like a dud.”
“I feel like one.”
“Okay, that’s enough,” he placed the martini on the coffee table and held up his hands. “I surrender. You’re sappy little mood is not helping you.”
I shrugged. “Ouchie, Paul. Who said Marilyn Monroe was a tough lover?”
“She was a bad bitch that hid it very well, but that’s beside the point. I know what you’re missing in your life.”
Paul nodded, grinning mischievously. “A little flirtation.”
“Flirtation?” When Paul nodded I asked: “What do you mean?”
“I mean, get your booty in a dress because we’re going out so you can have a little harmless flirting happen to you.”
I scrunched my face. “I’m not so sure about that.”
“Oh come on, Anna,” Paul stood. “Don’t you remember back in the day when you were in the beginning of the relationship and you were having fun? I feel like you need to feel the beginning again. Have a little selfish fun. Maybe it’ll even make you appreciate Daniel more as a boyfriend.”
“Flirting is never harmless. Someone could get hurt.”
“No, no, no, you’re taking this all wrong,” he said, shaking his head.
“Daniel won’t be pleased,” I muttered.
Paul’s eyes widened. “Of course you don’t tell Daniel, are you crazy?”
I crossed my arms over my chest and smiled speculatively. “Harmless flirting, huh?”
Paul sighed. “I promise it won’t go too far. I’ll be there with you the whole night.”
“How about we just go out and I don’t do any flirting?”
Paul slouched, half-closed his eyes in disappointment. Then, as if a thought quickly entered him, he smiled and straightened up. “Okay!” he beamed.
I narrowed my eyes. “You’re not going to do anything I won’t like, right?”
He held my shoulder and looked at me earnestly. “Not if it wasn’t good for you, honey.”
So we were dancing and bumping up against other people in this club that Paul had insisted was a gay club, but really wasn’t. As I scanned the room I noticed eligible bachelors and bachelorettes all on the prowl for the opposite freakin’ sex. But no matter, it was so not going to annoy me. Not Paul trying to trick me or this Guido trying to grind up against me. Pah-lease!
I did a quick shimmy out of the way, miraculously keeping my drink from spilling and dragged Paul with me up one level. A couple steps took us to a platform that housed high tables, some with equally high chairs and some without.
“That guy was cute wasn’t he?” Paul yelled over the music.
I rolled my eyes. “Mr. Guido? Maybe for you.”
He took one sip and laughed. “You didn’t think he was the least bit good-looking?”
I held my guard up with confidence. There’s no way I’m going to give Paul that satisfaction. If he’s really trying to get me to flirt with someone, then he’s going to have to do all the heavy lifting himself. No way am I going to help him out. The Guido was somewhat a nice-looking fella (did I really say fella?). Take away the orange tan, the weird oil excreting from his pores and glands, the gelled hair, and the gold shirt with leopard print pants and a gold chain hanging from his neck; then we’ve got ourselves a winner.
“You’re making this very difficult you know?” Paul said sourly.
“Making what difficult, Paul?” I pressed, brows lifted accusatorily.
Paul turned up his nose at me and blinked poshly. “Nothing.” I smiled victoriously. When Paul noticed he rolled his own eyes and gulped down the last of his vodka. “I’m getting more juice. You want anything?”
I watched him walk away and in the time he was out I scoured my surroundings for a chair. These new Kate Spades, although fiercely glittery and sexy, were killing the ever-loving-shit out of my feet. I pulled one chair in arms reach closer towards me and then hopped up. A droplet of sweat dripped from my temple and I wiped at it with the back of my hand. The electronic beat never ceased thumping my heart; my chest vibrated harder and harder with each bang. Boom, boom, boom, boom; itsa, itsa, itsa, itsa.
After I finished my drink I took in the club and its people. Manhattan may be for the financially-secure and independent, but people from all around New York will come to the city for one night and dance that’s for sure. They flocked to one place, and hopped like frogs to others whenever they got bored or just had a change of heart. It’s pretty amazing.
I didn’t know if the red fluorescent lights glazing the crowd made my eyes blurry or my mind was playing tricks on me, but from afar, across the room, I saw Daniel.
Daniel was dancing.
Daniel was smiling and laughing.
Daniel looked like he was having fun.
And Daniel was with another girl, his hand on the middle of her back.
Oh please let it be a drunken mirage! When Daniel glanced over at my gaping-mouthed face, surprise and confused ridden, his face stilled and dropped. Even though we were far apart, I knew exactly what details his features were transforming into: his mouth closed, lips tight, his jaw tightened and at the corner of which, a ticking occurred; his eyes unblinking, staring straight at me with pure clarity. And even though party goers filled up every inch of the club, we stared at each other without anything or anyone obstructing our view.
“Here’s your drink,” Paul said, placing a glass in front of me and snapping me out of my line of fire with Daniel.
“I have to go,” I quickly breathed.
Paul looked up perplexedly. “What?”
“I have to go,” I hopped off the high stool and started walking away, “I’m sorry. I’ll call you later.”
“What just happened!?” Paul called out after me.
I continued skipping off and took one last glimpse of Daniel. He was slowly making his way over, and with as much effort as he looked like he was giving, he seemed to struggle sifting through the crowd. I, on the other hand, magically made my way through and out the club doors.
I heard my name just before the doors closed. My heart skipped a beat, the cool air of the night not even doing its part in making my sweat dry long enough for me to not slip in my own goddamn Kate Spades.
“Taxi!” I yelled.
One pulled up onto the curb and I rushed in. A man suddenly appeared next to me from out of nowhere mirroring my same quizzical look. He wore dark jeans and boots whipped with what could only be classified as paint, a black V-neck shirt and a grey pea coat over that. He had jet black straight hair, and one blue eye and one green eye over a creamy white face.
He grinned. “Where to?” He spoke with a loose accent I couldn’t quite place. Somewhere between French and Swedish, but he looked Spanish.
“Uhh—” the club doors shot open, and out stood Daniel, turning his head to dissect up and down the street. Until he looked right at me. Bowing his head down and narrowing his eyes to get a better look. Then he started approaching the cab. I turned to Spedench (a cross between Spanish-Swedish-French) “—wherever you’re going.”
Spedench paused, taking me in and then gestured to the cab driver with his chin, his hands underneath his thighs, mumbling out an address. The words coming out like the sounds of gravel when it spits out from a speeding tire, except a little muffled.
“Anna!” Daniel called out. The glass not allowing his voice to enter with the same vehemence as me. “Anna! Anna!” he called one last time before the cab sped off.
“Hi…Dominique,” the man introduced himself. I nodded and forced a smile. My mind was just way too occupied to offer pleasantries and common humane manners. “And you are?” he asked after I said nothing.
“Anna,” I said, thoughts of Daniel and my confusion still occupying my brain, coming out in my monotone.
“Nice to meet you, Anna.”
Under the circumstances, I can only wish I could say the same.