Chapter Nine; Part One
“Hey, I woke up, and you were gone. L.” I wake up to a text from Rembrandt. I feel guilty for slipping out, but I irrationally feel irritated as well. We’ve only had one date, and, yes, the fucking was phenomenal, but still. He doesn’t own me, and I don’t owe him anything. Then again, he did just give me the fucking of a lifetime, and that means something.
“Sorry. I sleep better at home with my cats.” I text back, struggling not to feel defensive.
“No prob. Would love to see you again soon.” I pause. Do I want to see him again this weekend? My pussy says yes, but my brain is ambivalent. I don’t like spending too much time with any one person, not even loved ones. Perhaps especially not loved ones. I decide to throw caution to the wind and agree to see him again, but not tonight.
“Tomorrow? Dinner? And dessert?”
“Sounds good. I’ll cook. Unless you want to do it at your place?”
“You cooking sounds great.” I stifle the guilt at leaving my cats for another long night, but I can’t turn down a home-cooked dinner. “I like Thai, Italian, and Taiwanese. Chinese.”
“Lasagna, garlic bread, and tiramisu for dessert?”
“Can’t wait.” With that, I get out of bed and take a quick shower. Then, I check my phone and see that I have two dozen responses on my latest post. Most of them say that I was fortunate to have someone like her in my life. MNsnowbaby says, “I met her once at a Picasso show at the MIA. She was so vibrant and intense. We only talked briefly, but I’ve never forgotten her.” SayItAin’tSo comments, “I have a bestie who I would die for. Or kill for. I don’t know what I’d do without him. I’m so sorry for your loss.” BasalTemp adds, “Fuck. What a waste. RIP, and may you find your peace.” QueenBee writes, “Know you are not alone. I will always be here for you. Always.” I frown. That’s a strange thing to say for someone who’s never met me. Unfortunately, there’s a weird thing that happens when you’re in the limelight in any way, even in such a small way as I am. People who read my stuff on a regular basis think they know me better than they actually do, and it can lead to some awkward moments. I had one guy declare in emails that he was in love with me from reading my blog—my old one. When I had to break it to him that I didn’t feel the same, and what’s more, it was inappropriate of him to say that to me, it got ugly. He emailed me twenty times a day, declaring that he couldn’t live without me. After my initial response to him, I didn’t answer any of his emails, but it didn’t deter him for weeks. Just as I thought I might have to take more drastic measures, he stopped. I was relieved, but I couldn’t help being curious as to what had happened to him. I Googled his name and discovered that he tried to kill himself by eating the business end of his gun. He somehow missed anything vital, but it messed him up pretty badly, obviously. This was a year ago, and I haven’t heard from him since. He’s the reason I closed down my old blog, and I’m wary of having the same thing happen again.
I sigh and shut down the browser with my website. I’m feeling morose, and I don’t quite know what to do about it. I perk some coffee and pour myself a cup. I sip at it while it’s still boiling because I like to burn my mouth. It’s a weird thing, I know, but I find it pleasurable, as long as it’s not permanently damaged. I drain the cup in three gulps, then refill my cup. Onyx and Jet stare at me hopefully, wanting more treats. I’m in the kitchen, so it should be treat time, which is probably their thought process. I give them each three Temptations before taking my cup of coffee to the living room. I peruse the news, but I can’t read much about politics because I start freaking out if I do that. I watch a couple Maru videos instead—one of the cutest cats on the internet. I follow that up with Shironeko videos—one of the calmest cats on the internet. Both of them live in Japan in impeccably-kept houses. Watching Shironeko chill with a cabbage leaf on his head is perhaps my favorite cat video ever. I feel better after watching it, and I decide to do a quick taiji set to keep the mood going. I do a Sword Form and the third section of the Solo Form, plus some stretches and single posture drills. It takes fifteen minutes, and I feel even better once I’m done.
I decide to go for a walk, so I pull on my tennis shoes and a pair of leather gloves. Even though it’s October, it’s been unusually mild, so I don’t need a jacket. Once I step outside, I realize that I don’t need my gloves, either. I stuff them in my purse as I walk at a brisk place. The sun is shining, and I inhale the fresh air. Suddenly, the hair on the back of my neck bristles, and I feel as if someone is watching me. I whip my head around, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary. Yes, there are people walking around, but nobody looks suspicious. I start walking again, but I still feel watched. I scan the area as I walk, catching a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. I whip my head around, but I don’t see anything. Feeling uneasy, I pick up the pace. I don’t feel as refreshed as I once did; now, I just want to get home. When I do, Onyx and Jet are waiting for me. They follow me upstairs and wait while I take a quick shower. After I get dressed in fresh sweats, I go downstairs to check my website again. More comments. More condolences. More shared stories about meeting Julianna. It’s enough to warm the cockles of even my cold heart. I decide to write a quick post of thanks.
I’ve been overwhelmed with my grief. It’s such an isolating and singular thing. I try to go about my day, but then I remember Julianna’s dead, and I break down again. I have people in my real life who have been invaluable to me these past few days, and I have you guys. I want you to know that I’m very appreciative of the support I’ve received from my readers. You guys have warmed my heart with your stories and your well wishes.
I don’t know how to thank you other than to straight out say it: thank you for supporting me. Thank you for metaphorically holding my hand as I grieve. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to read your loving comments when I’m feeling despair.