A Bad Dream – A Place to Stay – The Obvious Dog-Sitter – Who's a Bitch Now? – Playing 'Remember When'? – What Ex-Boyfriends Are For
At around six am on a Tuesday morning, Nicole awakened to what sounded like a small waterfall flowing through her kitchen. She had been in the middle of a recurring dream she'd been having for at least the last decade. In it, she was always at a large high school that looked nothing like her own leafy alma mater. Even though she was enrolled there, she was lost, looking for a class she had neglected to attend all year-some nights it was science, other nights it was math, once it had been a ceramics class-and she had to show up and get a perfect score on the final in order to graduate. Nicole was still trying to figure out how best to describe the anxiety it caused her for her dream journal when she opened her kitchen door to find a pipe had burst and the ceiling had caved in.
She shut the door, blocking the gap between the floor and the bottom of the door with a few towels, and started making the necessary phone calls. Debbie, her landlady, had offered to put her up at hotel in downtown Brooklyn while her apartment was being fixed, but Nicole found Marriotts depressing. Plus, Darshan was going to her family's house in Vermont for two weeks and offered up her loft.
"You're going to love it," she said. "I made this insane indoor yurt for the living room. It's perfect for meditation or making out." After her loft had been shot for The Selby, Darshan had decided that she felt "really exposed" by so many people seeing her bed and couch and had devoted much of August to redecoration.
But first, Nicole had to drop off Toussaint at Jared's because Darshan didn't want dog hair on her Kazakh blankets. She had been avoiding Jared ever since Eva had attempted blackmail at the Tea Lounge. She told Eva that she didn't really care if Jared knew about the pregnancy scare. This was sort of true, but, at the same time, Jared was the child of therapists and had a penchant for processing one's feelings. At least Eva would be at work.
"I'm on the phone, come on up," Jared said when she buzzed. She stood in the living room feeling distracted. Seeing her old apartment with the furniture in a different arrangement, photos of the happy couple on the wall, and a "For Like Ever" poster that was no doubt Eva's doing was never something she would get used to.
"This day already sucks," Jared announced as he walked in from the kitchen.
"I know," Nicole said. "My apartment is two inches deep in water right now."
"I'm sorry," he said, putting his hand on her shoulder. "It sounds like you're having a hard week."
"Eva told you," Nicole moaned. "God, she's such a bitch. Why are you even with her?"
"I like that about her." Jared sounded chipper. "I liked that about you."
"I am not a bitch!"
"Remember that time you wouldn't even pretend to eat the chicken at my mom's birthday because it wasn't free range?"
Toussaint darted down the hall and she and Jared followed the dog as he ran into Jared's room. He jumped up on the bed, rolled on his back, and stuck his feet in the air, which indicated that he wanted to be petted. Nicole sat down and started petting Toussie's belly.
She noticed that Jared was wearing a Spiritualized t-shirt that was over ten years old. "Remember when we saw them play in San Francisco? And we ended up sleeping in your car on the way home?"
"We had fun," he said.
"We did." She could feel herself blushing.
Jared cleared his throat. "You know, Nicole, sometimes I miss you."
"Well," she tried to answer but instead looked around at the dog, the ex, the former bedroom. "I don't really know if we should be having this conversation."
"Then why are you sitting on my bed?" he asked. And with that, Nicole raised her leg toward Jared, who began to unlace her shoes.
OMG, just two more installments! Are you behind? Catch up!
Marisa Meltzer lives in Brooklyn. Her next book, "Girl Power," will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in February.