“I think it’s best we don’t see each other anymore, Joel,” Marina said, looking him the eye and then gazing back into her coffee mug.
“Oh, okay,” Joel replied, grinning the stupid grin that Marina once found endearing, but now recognized as definitively just stupid. Nevertheless, Marina hoped for more than this response to her pronouncement. She wanted to see at least a tiny bit of pain.
“That’s it? Just ‘Okay’?” she said, once more glaring through Joel with what he once called her “hot chocolate eyes,” because he found their gaze too hot to hold for too long.
“Well sure.You made it very plain my obsessive behavior where you’re concerned made you quite uncomfortable and I guess I’ll just have to live with that. Have you already found somebody else?” Joel said. For the third time since they sat at the table, he sorted the little packets of sweetener. This time in sequences of white, blue, yellow and pink.
“Somebody else? There was never an Us to begin with for there to be a Somebody Else. And yes, I have found someone. Someone who’s not a lunatic like all my friends have pointed out to me.”
“I remember you once called us soul mates. Do you remember that? That had to come from somewhere,” Joel said.
“Yes, it came from me being lonely and vulnerable and I guess seeing something I wished to see. But I was wrong, so very wrong. And the only reason I’m here is because you called me here and you once meant something to me…as a cute and funny friend who shared interests with me, but just a friend, nothing more…and I felt I owed you a face to face explanation of why I don’t want to see you anymore. Please stop that.” Marina said, grabbing Joel’s hand as he reached for the sweeteners.
“It really is okay, Marina. I understand. I’ve kinda found someone else, myself.” Joel said, pulling his cell phone from his jacket pocket. Marina stared slack-jawed as Joel pulled up a black and white photograph on his phone of an attractive young woman obviously from another era. And then he flipped through seven more of the same woman.
“This is Maude. Maude Fealy.,” Joel said. “She’s an actress. Or was. Isn’t she beautiful? She may have the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. And yes, I understand I may have transferred my obsession for you to a turn of the Twentieth Century actress, but I don’t want you to be jealous. You have nothing to be upset about, just as you said I have nothing to be upset about in our not seeing one another anymore. It just is.”
Marina scraped her chair back from the table, tumbling sweetener packets from their holder. Joel ignored the pastel pile of have-to action waiting to happen and continued to flip and stare at Maude Fealy. Maude in a flower garland hairpiece. Maude in virginal white robes. Maude dressed as a newsboy. Maude in a high-necked Edwardian frock.
“What the hell’s wrong with you? You do understand this woman is dead, right? That you can have no relationship with someone who was long dead well before you were born. That, even if she was alive, would probably never know you even existed,” Marina said.
“Oh yes. I guess you could say I have an unhealthy obsession with this woman, or at least her image. But, that said, she will never reject me as you have, never say mean things about me as you have, never judge me solely over my obsessions and compulsions. I know she could never love me and I don’t love her. Not the corporal Her. Just the spirit, you might say, of my ideal woman. And, yes, I guess you could say she looks a little like you and I imagine has a voice like yours, but that’s all,” Joel said, his face splitting into his stupid grin.
“Phil, she’s dead. D-E-A-D.”
“Yeah, and so are we. So are we,” Joel said, placing the phone back in his pocket as he rose to leave the coffee shop. “Bye, Marina. I’ll be seeing you.”
With that, he tapped his fingers against his chest.
I originally wrote this 680-word free write for J. D. Mader’s every-Friday 2 Minutes Go! fun fest. I post it here because I like it and still have an obsession with the face of that woman up there…Miss Maude Fealy.