“La seriously, slow down, baby. I can’t understand a word you’re saying.”
I’m yelling and cursing. My Atlanta accent is pouring out so thick I barely recognize my own voice.
“La! LA! What the fuck is goin’ on?”
I stop. Not slow down, I all out slam on brakes.
“You with me?”
“You wanna talk?”
“Come see me tonight. Downtown. I’m at a club on Main. I’ll text you directions.”
I keep driving. The wind whips my hair in my face. I never blink. I’m driving like I’m possessed. The speedometer lays over to the right. 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95. I’m damn near flying but I’m going nowhere.
My phone rings. I look at the screen. Not where the call should be coming from.
I hang up.
I push the pedal down harder.
I feel unsettled. I’m thrown off center. I feel like someone has set me on fire from the inside. My hands are shaking on the steering wheel. I’m whipping in and out of traffic, music blaring. The phone rings again.
“La don’t hang up-”
“What? WHAT?!?! WHY do you keep CALLING me?!?!”
A pause on the other end.
“You don’t even fuckin’ know me to be worried.”
“But I am.”
“Well, then know that I can take care of myself.”
“You coming out tonight?”
“Come on. Come let me make you feel better.”
“Bring Katy Girl. Y’all’s name is on the list.”
I hang up again.
At dinner my food barely has a taste. I’m throwing back drinks. I’m fidgety. I’m so damn angry.
After dinner and dropping off my mother and her boyfriend she swears isn’t, my tires screech down the road. My mind is on fire.
The text messages keep coming.
Call me if you need me.
You coming down tonight?
I’m worried. Call me. Got my BB on me.
You want me to meet you somewhere? I can slip outta this party.
I don’t answer. It just makes me even angrier.
Still no word from the right coast.
Later that night, I lay in bed, contemplating the last month of my life. I’m searching around inside of myself for remnants of that woman I was just thirty short days ago. I can’t find anything. I can’t find her. I curse out loud.
I put on clothes and meet him where he designated.
“You look like hell La.”
“Is this your idea of foreplay?”
“No. Not even a little. Let me buy you a drink.”
I’m sullen, irritable, snapping at the waiter and I’m always nice to waiters. He’s watching me with curious eyes, the edges of his mouth turned up in what might be slight amusement. We sit in silence.
“Okay. let me just have one inappropriate moment.”
I swallow my drink just in case I need to curse him out.
“Go,” I say, weary of what is going to follow.
“Is it wrong that I’m finding you really attractive right now?”
I stop and stare at him. He’s such a… well, a man.
“I should go.” I gather my things, throw a couple bills on the table to cover my drink.
“Don’t La, I got this.”
“Are you gonna stay here?” I ask him.
“No, I’m leaving right behind you. I’m just gonna sit here and watch you walk away first.”
He leans back in his chair, his mouth half turned up in a cocky smile. My body temperature shoots up another ten degrees. But for a very different reason.
“Go ahead, baby. Leave.”
He’s testing me. I’m not slow. I may have sat on the bench for awhile but I’m still an MVP in this game. I smile just slightly and laugh to myself. He thinks he knows, but he has no idea.
I turn and walk away, anger peppering my stride. I feel his eyes burning holes in my back. I will not turn around.
Once I get to my truck the phone rings.
“You didn’t turn around to see if I was watching you.”
“I didn’t have to.” He chuckles soft and low to himself, deep in his chest, almost a growl.
“Aight La. Let’s play.”