Doing Scales

He was a jazz pianist. He was an asshole, if you want to know the truth, but I liked him. I was kind of crazy that summer. He would hunch over the New York Times crossword puzzle, sitting at my cramped table, carving a space out for himself in between the piles of unopened mail. I liked him because he was messy and self-absorbed, and didn’t shame me for the crazy shit I was doing that summer, a lot of which involved riding the subways at 4 a.m., eating takeout Chinese for breakfast, sleeping with him, and never opening my mail so that it would pile up in stacks on bookshelves, my coffee table, my dresser, my windowsills – collection agencies shrieking at me like a bad dream. I made coffee for him, my mascara from the night before still caked on my lashes, and sometimes I wondered who the hell this person was in my house. He used a tiny pen to fill in the blanks of the puzzle, and I found this ostentatious, but also impressive. Especially when it was the Saturday one. The pen was small, like a tiny peppermint stick you would buy in an old-time candy store. He would crack it open, casually, it was just his pen, no big deal, his slender blue-white hands looking enormous against that teeny thing. Scratching in the answers, up, down, across. The pen itself was a deep dark blue, like midnight, with gold flecks in it, or maybe they were swirls. At the time, which was, like I said, a crazy season for me, the pen reminded me of one of those far-out galaxies, a nebula, but a nebula trapped on a tiny pen? It made no sense. There was a scope, a grandiosity to that midnight-blue, it made me think of the empty space between stars. This was not a good thing to think about on a mascara-caked Tuesday morning, when you haven’t slept in 2 days. I didn’t need trapped nebulae. I haven’t seen him in 5 years, I was too unstable that summer to be seeing anybody, and honestly he was kind of a dick. Although he did have his charms. He left the pen behind by accident, or maybe he didn’t find it as captivating as I did. I wondered if he missed it. It’s beautiful. Well, except for the size.

I’ve never really cared for jazz.

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8 Responses to Doing Scales

  1. mitchell says:

    wow..that’s fabulous Sheil!!!

  2. That’s a gorgeous piece of writing. Excellent. Thank you.

  3. tracey says:

    Beautiful …

  4. colin says:

    Your COMMENT POLICY comments roll.
    I just got here I’m doing background reading.

  5. stevie says:

    Love this, Sheila!

  6. alli says:

    Its funny how our crazy seasons get defined by little random things (Mine is by an Eeyore hoodie)

    fantastic bit of writing, red. :)

  7. Ken says:

    Target is comment spammer in the open, request weapons free….

  8. Alex Nunez says:

    Sheila, I love it.

    Ken: fire at will.