This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. At all. Not at all. There should have been trumpets, sirens, howling wolves and wailing women. Not a lawnmower. Not a dog yapping (my god, couldn’t it have even been barking?) yapping in the background. The soft breeze. The warm blue sky. Puffy clouds. All wrong.
She didn’t have the chance to send out the email, the email she had just written to the guy she had been dating for a few weeks (what the hell was his name?), the one asking him if he wanted (“I had the time off, thought you might be interested..”) in a weekend getaway to a film festival. Maybe they could stay over? They had sex, sure, but it was never romantic. Never candles and soft music, or music at all. He had a tendency to strip off her clothes like a 4 year old on his birthday, ripping. She wanted to be carefully untaped, so the wrapping could be used again. Carefully untaped and then folded up. A film festival and a bed and breakfast seemed like the perfect opportunity to gift herself.
Now? Too late. Dead. Tripped (over what? A sandal? Goggles? A floatie?), head hit on the cement around the pool, too woozy to stand, and the sun beaming down at her.
She could feel the blood pool around her, sticky, salty, lots and lots of it. Just like she imagined it would be like in the movies, the movie blood that she saw when she watched the gory camp with Richard, her ex, this is how she imagined it would taste like. She wished she could tell him, call him and tell him, “Richard! I was right! You were wrong, it’s not sweet, it’s salty and thick! HA!” Tell him that much, at least, how right she was. The other things she was right about? Yeah, why the hell not, tell him about those too, how she was right that it could have worked, he could have learned to love her, he could have learned to love the city, the life they had made for themselves. He was wrong. She was right.
But now she was dead. It was too late.
Shit, why hadn’t she sent that email? Now it was going to look like she ignored him, that she hadn’t liked him enough (Jesus Christ, what was his name??) to get back in touch. It had been a few days, she had been busy. Work. Work was overwhelming her. The project needed three people, at least, and it was only her working on it. Times were tough, sure, cuts and layoffs, she was lucky to even have a job. But still. She needed to set boundaries, otherwise they would expect her to keep doing the work of three people solo forever, never rehire the help she needed. She had finally finished it last night, clocked overtime (what, 65 hours that week?) and stayed up until 2am, but thumb drived it and stuck it in her boss’s mail slot before leaving the office and driving home.
It was the wine. She never should have had that wine when she got home. It made her way too hungover this morning, she was dehydrated already when she had it, and now look what happened? Came out into the morning, the glorious morning, calling in sick because she deserved it damnit and wrote the email and then looked out at the pool calling her name and decided to go out, naked, in the buff, to her pool at her house, the house that she worked hard to buy, the one Richard always felt out of place in (intimidated by her, that’s what her mom said, he couldn’t stand that she was the breadwinner). So she slipped off her bathrobe and left it in the chair by the computer and never hit “Send” and got a glass of water and her sunglasses and then she tripped.
And was naked. Shit, she was naked. shit shit shit. This was all wrong. Completely wrong. And her shades were still there, on top of her head, all she was wearing was a pair of Ray Bans. She would be found naked, God knows how many days later, by her pool, baked in the sun and the lovely breeze and the puffy clouds.
The project was completed, she deserved to celebrate. She decided to drink the red, even though she preferred white, even though she hated red, because it was the bottle Richard had been saving, and had forgotten to bring with him when he left. She never called to tell him he left it. The lovely red, the cabernet, the one he was saving for a special occasion. He never said what the occasion may be. The special one. The one so special that it required saving for. Obviously not a proposal. Obviously not that.
Why was she even obsessing over this? Wasn’t this over? Shouldn’t she be reliving the good times, having things flash by? Her first steps, her first word, her first orgasm (oh, wait, Richard gave her that, no good), her first kiss? Devon. Devon McGuire in the sixth grade.
He had tasted like a ham sandwich, only natural since they had just shared one, his, so she guessed she probably tasted like a ham sandwich too. It had been a lovely kiss. All of her friends recounted horror stories, sloppy tongues and slobber and even some teeth and even some blood (blood? Really? What sort of pornos had those boys been watching?), but not Devon. It was soft and sweet and so so charming.
Actually, one of the best kisses she ever had.
She wished she could tell him. Right then and there. Devon, you probably don’t remember me, we didn’t even date, just kissed, but remember? In the sixth grade, I guess towards the end of the year, we shared a ham sandwich underneath the tree outside the school, the big one right in the front that so many kids tried to carve their initials into (RB + FT 4ever, etc), and it was one of the best kisses of my entire life. And I so so wished we had stayed in touch, had remained friends, even best friends, the kind in the movie, maybe even wound up like When Harry Met Sally.
Devon was probably married by now. Why wouldn’t he be? 35? Married with a kid, or two. Not lying naked beside a pool.
Shit, this was taking a long time, She shouldn’t have the time to think so many thoughts. After all, how much blood had she lost by now? Enough that she could see it start to drip into the pool itself, start to turn the water around the edge a little pink.
Richard, he was a good kisser too. A little rougher, a little more take charge. Of course he would be, he wasn’t a shy sixth grade boy, but still very adept. Never out of control or over the top. Just enough passion held back by just enough reserve so that things stayed interesting. What would he do this time? Tongue? Hold back? A little teeth? A little sigh? What what what?
She loved anticipating it.
She should never have bought the house. That’s what did it. That stupid house, that stupid fucking house with the stupid fucking wrap around porch and the stupid stupid fucking fucking pool. Why did she need a pool? She didn’t even like to swim. She didn’t even own a lot of bathing suits. But she could afford the pool and the porch and shit, she could afford to buy some bathing suits, so why not?
The more she tried the more he danced away, side stepped and back pedaled and eventually left with nothing more than a letter (he was a writer after all, a struggling writer, an undiscovered writer, a failed writer, why not a lovely letter, a masterpiece, something to remember him by?) on the mantel.
He didn’t have much. It wasn’t hard. Only clothes and toiletries and his laptop and his rubber duck collection (she still found it endearing, charming, never tired of the ducks on the shelf in the bathroom) and his few bottles of wine.
She couldn’t believe that he had left the Cabernet. The one they picked up in Napa Valley, right after Sideways came out and she thought he would enjoy the trip, he had been a little down lately (this was after the first promotion, but way way before the house), so why not treat them both to a weekend away in glorious Napa Valley?
It was perfect. He and she and them together. Just like she finally (finally) always wanted. No worries, no cares, just like when they first met, just conversations and kisses (my God he was a good kisser) and making love and lots and lots of wine. She white and sweet, he red and sour.
When he tasted the Cabernet, he said it was the best wine he ever tasted, ever, his eyes went wide and he looked at her and he didn’t have words, he just held it out for her to drink. And though she didn’t get it, didn’t even really like it (she hated reds), it made him so happy that he wanted to buy a bottle of it right there on the spot.
But then he passed at the register. Said something to the girl (she must have been a college student, there for summer work) that he changed his mind, what he really wanted was the _______ instead.
She went back after lunch, said she was going to the restroom, she would be a minute, and rushed back in and bought it and hid it in her humongous bag (“Cheryl, that Mary Poppins bag is one of your most fantastic qualities”) and brought it out that night when they ordered room service in their little fantastic room.
He seemed nervous. It turned out to be one of their very best, and it was a well respected vineyard, and to be honest she had no earthly idea how much a bottle of wine could cost.
Why did she have to be naked? Couldn’t she have at least had on her robe, her lovely 100% silk italian robe, one of the many many things she bought to fill up her closet, her bedroom, her bathroom, her three other bedrooms, her chef’s kitchen, her other bathroom, her other other bathroom, her study, her office, her full basement, her den, her foyer (yes, she had a foyer, she loved to say it to herself as she passed through it, “This is my foyer”), her sunroom, her pool. Her 100% silk robe, now discarded and sitting in the computer room.
Next to a computer with an unsent email to whats-his-name. Maybe someone would tell him that she had that email up, that she meant to hit send. Maybe whoever discovered her would see it, track him down, tell him. Maybe whoever wrote her obituary (would she have an obituary?) that she meant to hit send, a tragic love story, love caught short in death.
She always meant to hit send.