Kara knew it wasn’t over; a two and a half year relationship didn’t end with a five word proclamation and a hasty exit. She knew he would call, and if he didn’t call, then she would call. It wasn’t over, but it was close. It was almost over, which, in some way, was good enough. It was enough to feel relieved that she’d had the guts to stand up for herself that half a second before she’d fled.
She wished she weren’t such a coward. For all of Alex’s hiding, at least she’d been brave enough, eventually, to come clean, to be honest, to face her fears. She wished she saw herself being that brave someday. Perhaps, tonight, had been a step in that direction.
The apartment was dark, empty, when Kara stepped inside. She was relieved not to have to face her roommate and the bombardment of questions that would surely follow. Yet the stillness unsettled her; she didn’t want to be alone.
From the fridge, she grabbed a bottle of grape juice and took it with her to her room. She dropped her messenger bag – the closest thing to a purse she carried – by the door. Outside, a car passed by, horns blaring, kids yelling. She sat at the edge of the bed and uncapped her drink.
Mozart’s “The Turkish March” began to play from somewhere in her bag, and Kara stared, but made no move to answer the cell phone. It was Mike, and it was too soon. She needed more time to prepare her closing argument, to build a better defense against his case.
She sighed against the silence, held her breath against the chance that it might ring again.
When it didn’t, she relaxed, looking around the room, sipping her juice. She needed new posters, she decided after a moment of reflection, or maybe just more of them. The ones she had were starting to wear at the edges, and they did little to cover the ugly walls behind.
Her laptop, which she’d forgotten to turn off before she’d left, whirred softly behind her, and she turned to look at it. Had her email been answered? she wondered, having forgotten all about it until that moment.
Dali’s Swans Reflecting Elephants stared back at her from her desktop wallpaper and she clicked into her email client.
While her email loaded, the cell phone began to chime again. Kara rolled off the bed and picked up the bag. She dug her cell phone from its depths and glanced at the screen for a moment before shutting it off.
Back on the bed, she looked at the monitor. The name ‘Tess Thorul’ stared back at her from the inbox. She smiled as she clicked on the email.
When she was done reading, she clicked ‘reply’ and bit her lip thoughtfully as she began to type.
I’m glad to know that I pass the non-pretentious test. Since you’re such an expert and all, I guess I’ll have to trust your judgment. :)
Please don’t ever think that I regret you buying my artwork or that I want it back. I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have it, honestly. It’s just a strange thing, I think, selling art.
There’s really just the one, you know? And when it’s gone, you have no idea where it is, or who has it, or if they even appreciate having it. Perhaps, they just gave it to someone as a gift (a just-got-back-from-NY memento) and that person hated it and threw it away.
Sometimes I worry that’s what happens. And so, when it comes to a piece that really matters to me – like ‘Shadow’ – I can’t bear the thought of someone, somewhere, tossing it in the trash.
It means a lot to know you like it. Not because it’s flattering to my ego (though it is) and not because it gives me some self-confidence (though it does), but because I know it’s safe and appreciated, and not sitting in a landfill somewhere.
About the scattered/stuck question, I don’t know how to answer it. I’m really bad at self-analysis. The past few months I’ve mainly just felt like everything I create is entirely lackluster. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything I really cared about.
The truth is, I’ve been feeling really numb. Not just in my artwork, but in general. My relationship is in a nearly-over status (as of like, two hours ago), and my family drives me insane.
But I really don’t want to bore you with the details. It’s sweet of you to ask, but I imagine you have better things to do than read about my problems.
There is, however, a question I have for you, that I’ve held back on for fear of crossing that line you mentioned. I really hope I don’t offend you in any way. It’s just that, well, you said you bought ‘Shadow’ and the day you bought it, it was my best friend at the table selling it.
She said, though, that the person who bought it was a guy, whom she gave her number to. And... well... I hope the nature of my confusion is clear enough.
I probably sound like a jerk saying anything. But, since you were brave enough to ask me a somewhat personal question, I figured I’d take that chance too.
It’s now your turn to tell me to mind my own business. :)
“She’s going to think I’m such an ass,” Kara muttered, reading over her email.
Regardless, she hit send.
When the message disappeared from the screen, she glanced through the rest of the messages in her inbox. Her father hadn’t replied, but the GAP was having a sale.
Absently, she spent the next half an hour surfing the Internet, visiting her usual websites, though little held her attention. The Internet, she found, was only interesting when she was procrastinating on something. Otherwise, it was an endless source of pointlessness.
A ‘new message received’ flag popped up on her task bar, and Kara clicked back over to her email client. She was surprised to find that Tess had written back.
You know, it never occurred to me that it might be hard for an artist to part with their work.
I mean a musician can listen to their own music whenever he or she wants and still share it with the world. A writer can always make copies. But an artist creates one beautiful thing at a time and then parts with it. It’s sad to think about. I’m not sure I could do it (assuming I had any artistic talent whatsoever – which I assure you I don’t). I think I’d end up hoarding all my own work. How’s that for mature?
I’m glad, though, that you feel your work is safe with me. Would you like me to take a picture of it so you can rest easy at night knowing that it’s in a nice home, with a nice person that promises to clothe it, and feed it daily? ;)
Seriously, though, I do love it. I spent most of last night staring at it. Is that weird?
Before I go on, let me answer that question of yours since I’m a little worried about what you’ve come up with to justify my seeming dual-gendered existence. I didn’t buy the picture myself. I was with my friend and he’s the one who did the actual purchasing.
Now you’re probably wondering why my friend didn’t call your friend after getting her number, and all I can say to that is that he’s an idiot. I apologize on his behalf. I told him to call, but we were leaving New York the following morning and he thought it was pointless.
Hopefully that clears up any confusion you may have had on the matter. I’m sorry for confusing you in the first place. :)
Regarding my ‘having better things to do than read about your problems’ comment, the truth is, I don’t. Not really. I mean, there was a very good book I was in the middle of reading when your email popped up on my screen, but I think it will keep. The truth is, if you want to tell me more about your ‘nearly-over’ relationship or your insanity-inducing family, I’d be happy to listen (read?)
On the other hand, I don’t want to pry, and if you were simply trying to be polite because you really didn’t want to get into your personal life with me, I completely understand. I just didn’t want it to be because you thought I didn’t really mean what I said about wanting to know.
I’m not in any kind of relationship, so I can’t relate to your situation, but if it makes you feel any better, my family drives me insane, too. :)
Until next time,
Kara found herself smiling, and hit ‘reply’ again, wondering if it would seem strange to reply so quickly. She decided against caring. If Tess didn’t feel weird about it, why should she?
Lena knew that refreshing her inbox every few minutes bordered on pathetic. She’d felt self-conscious for replying immediately after reading Kara’s email, not wishing to give off the impression that she had nothing else to do; but the thought that the artist might reply just as quickly encouraged her. As time passed, however, Lena began to feel uncomfortable with her own impatience.
She pushed the laptop away and tried to concentrate on the book she was reading, but after a while the words swam together and her thoughts wandered back to the matter at hand.
She’d promised herself that she would stop replying, and yet she found she couldn’t. With every email sent and every email received, the opportunity for a casual disappearance grew dimmer. Where before it might have seemed natural not to reply, now it seemed impossible.
Maybe she’ll stop writing to me, Lena considered, though the thought bothered her more than she cared to admit.
Anonymity was a luxury she had given up on long ago, but now that she was experiencing a small taste of it – however wrong it felt – she couldn’t let go. It was the reason why, against all common sense, she couldn’t help but email the artist. She was curious about Kara Danvers. A part of her, however small and seemingly illogical, wanted to be her friend.
Lena sighed and put the book on her nightstand. After a few minutes of staring at the wall, trying to think about anything but her email, she finally gave up and grabbed the laptop. The inbox took a several seconds to reload, but when it did, Lena was surprised to find an email waiting for her.
Allow me to admit that I’m rather relieved by your ‘dual-gendered existence’ explanation, as my friend and I had come up with quite the creative take on the subject. I don’t think you want to know.
Anyway, whether staring at my art piece for a long time is weird or not I can’t say. I’ve been known to stare at art for long periods of time (though not usually my own, unless I’m in the process of creating it). Weird or not, it’s nice to know. You do amazing things to my self-confidence, just so you know.
I never really thought as parting with my art work as a sad thing, really. Usually I’m so pleased when someone likes it enough to buy it that I don’t care that I won’t have it any longer. It’s when I start to think about what they may be doing with it that I worry a bit.
Generally, though, I try to think of all my sold art as framed somewhere beautiful. With the proper lighting, of course. It’s all about lighting.
I think I trust you to be taking proper care of my piece without the picture evidence to prove it. You don’t seem like the art abusing type. :)
So, about my life...
My boyfriend and I have been on a bumpy road for a while. I’m not sure if it’s his fault, or mine, or both of ours together. He’s ambitious in a Harvard Law School kind of way, and I’m ambitious in a Dreams Happen kind of way, and I guess we don’t see eye-to-eye on most things. He values ‘the proper career’ and money above all other things, and I’m just not sure I can go along with that forever.
Tonight, we went to dinner at my parents’ and he basically told my family that we were engaged (which we aren’t) and that he didn’t mind me being an artist because we’d be married by the time he finished Law School anyway. My parents were all thrilled with the idea, like we were living in the 1950s or something.
I just sat there in shock. Do you ever find yourself thinking, “What the hell is going on here?” One second I was amazed because he actually said he supported my art studies (something he had never done before!) and the next he was dragging me down the isle while our kids yelled, “Mommy! Mommy!” in the background. I had a moment of sheer terror right there in my parents’ dining room.
On the drive home we had a horrible fight which concluded with me yelling that we were over. I’ve been sitting in my room ignoring all of his phone calls since.
And you know, I just keep thinking, “Where did we go wrong?” We were so good together once. He was so sweet and supportive at the beginning and slowly he transformed into this other person I no longer recognize. Is it me that changed? Did we both change? I don’t know...
I’m not even sure what to say when he calls. Are we really over? Is that what I want?
I know you said you couldn’t relate because you’re not in a relationship, but maybe any of your past experiences can help me out. As an impartial observer, what do you think? My best friend, my usual confidante, is entirely too biased to be of any use to me. She’s been bugging me to break up with Mike from the start, but the thing is... I loved him once. I keep thinking that that feeling will come back. Love doesn’t just vanish into thin air, does it?
Lena stared at the email for a long time. Instead of replying, she shut the computer and rolled out of bed. She crossed her bedroom and stepped out into the balcony. The breeze scattered her hair the second she walked outside and she smiled briefly against the wind. It felt good to be outside, she decided, and leaned against the railing.
Below, her pool glowed turquoise in the increasing darkness. She stared out at the ocean, at the fading colors in the sky. She’d missed most of the sunset, she realized, and felt annoyed with herself for letting the time slip by unnoticed. She never missed a sunset if she could help it.
“Look for me in the clouds at sunset,” her grandmother had said in the moments before she died. “I’ll be waving.”
Lena didn’t like to think of that moment, avoided the memory and the pain of losing her grandmother at all costs, but she did turn to the clouds at sunset, when she could. It made her feel less alone.
Love doesn’t just vanish into thin air... Does it? Lena wondered. She didn’t know. There were few people Lena could claim to love, and she didn’t imagine that it was the same kind of love that Kara felt for her boyfriend. How could she help Kara? She had no past experiences to go on, only fictional ones.
She sighed deeply, the sound carried away by the wind. What was she doing with her life? A twenty-five year old with no past relationships, no true prospects. Was her career really worth it? Was there really that much to lose?
And even if she were open to love, to the idea of a relationship, how would she ever find someone to love? How would she find someone to love her for her?
If love did in fact just vanished into thin air... why bother?