"We write to live twice, in the moment and in the retrospect."
Author of The Famous Man
Another Month, Another Story
Because I write a lot of memoir, my significant other assumed this was a true story and I was the protagonist. He even thought he knew what man in my past it was about. I found that amusing. Does that mean my skill as a fiction writer is sounding more, I don't know, real?
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We’d only been seeing each other a couple of months, but he’d given me a key to his place. “Here Babe,” he said one night. “In case you ever need it.”
He said it casual, just like that.
We were standing by his car, a 1990 silver Toyota, outside a Chinese restaurant where we sometimes ate dinner. I didn’t know what to say. I took it, put it in the pocket of my brown leather jacket, and changed the subject. His face had a questioning look, but he grabbed my hand and walked us into the café, holding the door open like he always did.
I hadn’t used the key yet, even though I stayed at his one-bedroom condo several times a week. His place was close to my job as a secretary. Convenient. And I liked staying there. It made me feel like a real couple, knowing where everything was, and having a spot for my toothbrush on his bathroom counter.
I figured I’d surprise him tonight. Cook for a change. Why not? I pulled the key out of my purse while balancing the French bread, Chardonnay (his favorite), bottled pesto sauce, spaghetti and salad fixings, plus fresh flowers from the shop on the corner. Flicking on the living room light, I put everything on the kitchen counter and turned on the radio before noticing the open laptop on his desk.
Maybe I’ll check my emails, since I left work earlier than usual.
I knew his password; I’d used it before. But I was shocked to see what lingered on the screen:
Tall, attractive, professional man looking for an attractive woman who loves movies, traveling and fun. Maybe commitment as time progresses.
My heart stopped. That’s the same ad I answered. What the hell was going on?
F**k dinner. I sat on the couch, angry, ready for a confrontation. Minutes later, a key turned in the lock. There he was, with a woman standing next to him. She was gorgeous: long blond hair, tall, curvy. They were laughing. His hand was on her shoulder.
“Well,” was all I got out. My heart pounded. I couldn’t speak. I stood up, reaching for my coat.
The two of them looked startled.
“What the hell’s going on?” he demanded.
“Me? What about you? I…I saw that ad. The same one I responded to. On your computer.” My voice rose to a high pitch. “I’m not good enough for you, I guess?”
“You’re spying on me? Looking at my personal email?” His eyes glared at me. He was clearly pissed.
I’m angry too, but my voice came out pleading:
“You’re looking for someone else? I thought we had something going!” My hands are shook, my voice trembled.
He stood there, looking furious, his forehead wrinkled, his voice louder.
“And” he said, “for your information, this is my sister! The one I told you about!”
“Your sister? But the ad…”
No one moved.
Silence hung in the air.
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