Fiona, and Mira's legs
The sadness of the fall mornings just before the winter, when the cold drizzle falls before it can become snow, afflicted me more than I cared to admit, while I walked through the streets, cursing the weather and the earliness of the time, and wondering what made me go to Fiona's house now instead of just walking on to my obligations: perhaps the fact that I would do anything to not face the sameness of every day of work, the people that I saw more as robots--or even plain machines--than as real people, and that I treated in a less than friendly but completely professional way, noticing constantly that I was not part of something that they were, it beats me what; perhaps it was her quietness the other day, when we talked and her eyes seemed distant and opaque, giving me the feeling that they had been turned off somehow, to stop bothering her other thoughts.
I called her yesterday, for that small talk that we always have, but she hung up after a couple minutes. ``I've got a headache,'' she said, forcing the `ch' with her characteristic accent. I asked her if she was having problems with something. ``No, no. It's just a headache. You know.'' I know, I said, wondering if she was telling the truth--at least the whole truth.
I knocked on her door, wondering if she had already left. No answer. I'd call her at work when I got to mine, probably late. James would probably complain to me, ``You are late'' and all that shit that I hear without saying a word, waiting for the paycheck at the end of the month. He never accepted my refusal of his invitations, for dinner and an awful fuck. Whenever he comes to talk to me I remember this girl from high school, Mira, the slut of the class, who once said to me and a group of friends that there was nothing that a spread of legs couldn't fix. Maybe she was right. Probably, even. I can't do it, however, not because I'm a prude, but because giving someone that is pissing me off and behaving like a pig what he wants seems to me a sure way to make him continue to behave that way. It's like being the good daughter, like me and my siblings: I behaved well and, as result, I got more responsabilities and less care, because I could take care of myself.
I called Fiona's office later, they said that she was sick and didn't show up to work. I called her place, no one answered. While I pretended to be busy with lot of paper spread over my desk, I wondered if she had called sick and was spending that awful day doing better things, going to a mall or somewhere. I called her again, and a third time, nothing.
Maybe she was really sick, and went to a hospital.
At night, after I left work tired and spent, I took a cab to go to her place, feeling a little guilt for spending all that money for a bit of comfort, instead of facing the cold rain. I knocked, and after a while, she opened the door.
``Are you OK? I called work and they said you were sick. I called you all day.''
She let me in, wearing an awful pink robe that I would not have been caught wearing dead, over something that was probably what she slept on, a pair of greenish paints and a shirt. ``I'm just tired, that's all,'' she said. She had dark shadows around her eyes. I asked her if I could do anything, but she said no. We talked for a while, I tried to help her to cook her dinner or at least drink a cup of tea, but to no avail. ``I'm not hungry. I slept for most of the day and just ate.'' I wondered if she was in love but she was too dark to be in love. Lovers often have a glint of--not sure of what, but a glint--even when they are feeling ready to die after being rejected by their love. I left her alone, and she said she was going straight to bed.
Next morning I called her at work, she answered the phone.
``How are you doing today?''
``Better,'' she said, not meaning it.
``Want to meet me for lunch?''
``Sorry, but not today. I have a ton of work from yesterday to catch up.''
She quit the very next day, leaving her job two weeks later. She said she was too tired, and went back to her hometown. I cried when I left her at the bus station, she was a good friend, and the only one I had now that didn't care more about money than she cared for me. That's why she left, I guess, this place was not her place. As I walked out of the restaurant, yesterday, with Paul--James's boss--waiting for a cab to take me to his place, I realized that Mira was right, and that this is my place, after all.