I should probably tell you what Claire was feeling, but the fact is I really don’t know. When she was having the terrible nausea, I could relate to it, since yeah, that’s something I’ve felt. But I didn’t have anything that I could relate to what was happening to her overall. Plus she was very well medicated. Now that I think about it, I suppose that was a feeling I could relate to all too well.
We arrived in Boston in the morning before Courtney’s graduation. That night there was going to be some kind of reception she wanted me to be at if possible, but that was way in the future compared to the logistical task of getting us from airplane to taxi.
A flight attendant with a scarf tied around her neck told us to wait and they’d bring us a wheelchair. All I could think about was that the scarf looked dangerous. You could strangle, you know? That tells you where my head was, trying to shepherd Claire.
“Couldn’t we just walk?” Claire asked. “There’s nothing wrong with my legs.”
“It’s further from here to the taxi line than it was from the car to Dillard’s,” I pointed out.
“I wasn’t that wiped out by the walk to the dress department,” she insisted.
“If you really want to hoof it, we can, but to do it with our bags?”
“Oh, that’s true.” She sniffed. “I suppose we could wait. I just hate the thought everyone will be looking at me like I’m some kind of invalid.”
“Um…” What did Janine say was my secret superpower? To just say what other people would only think? “Well, you are a cancer patient.”
“Yes, but they don’t know that.” She’d taken great pains to do her makeup and hair so that she’d look as healthy as possible. “What if they think I’m just being lazy?”
“Claire, I am pretty sure they don’t bring someone a wheelchair just because they’re lazy. And who would think that?”
She wouldn’t meet my eyes, and it occurred to me, of course, Claire was the sort of person who would think that. She would see someone in a wheelchair and decide they were lazy. My mother was the very definition of judgmental bitch and even having cancer didn’t change that.
She stayed quiet for the rest of the wait and the trek across the airport and the taxi ride to Allston.
I had never seen the house so clean. I think there was a new Persian-type rug in the living room, or maybe upon cleaning the old one was such a drastically brighter color that I didnt recognize it. Same with the blinds. Hard to tell.
Court came bounding down the stairs in T-shirt and shorts, a bottle of Windex in her hand. “You made it!” She set the bottle down on a side table as she crossed the living room and gave me a huge hug. Then she gave Claire a much more gentle embrace and kissed her on the cheek. “Was the flight okay?”
“It was perfectly fine,” Claire said primly, as if she would have been insulted if it had been any other way.
“Are you okay with stairs? We have a guest room upstairs, or we can set you up down here in the weight room, but the upstairs room is nicer and much quieter.”
“I keep telling people there’s nothing wrong with my legs,” Claire said with a huff.
“Upstairs it is, then.” She picked up Claire’s bag. “Follow me.”
“We should get my dress hung up as soon as possible.” Claire was saying as they went up the stairs.
I stayed where I was and felt like with every step they ascended, the more weight was lifted from my shoulders. Whew.
I sat down on the couch and just sat there for a while. I wasn’t the one with a big health crisis going on but I had that feeling of breathing being plenty to keep me busy right then. The feeling didn’t last, of course. After a few minutes I started to feel antsy and I looked around for what I was supposed to be doing with myself.
I could take my backpack upstairs to my own room and get ready to go over to the sublet to pack up, or I could go down into the basement to read my email. I hadn’t looked at it a long time. I remembered Court saying it was time for a new Mac, and I wondered if we should try to get it through the college to get it cheaper, which was how that worked back then. If so, did we have to do it before her graduation ceremony? In which case it might already be too late…
I looked up as someone came down the stairs. Colin. He froze halfway down as he saw me. I sat just as frozen, each pinned in place by each other’s gaze. His hair was glossy blue-black, loose and hanging to one side, showing a freshly shaved section of his scalp around one ear where a new tattoo of some kind was curled. He was in a black tank top and ratty shorts.
Do I have to say it? He’d never looked better to me. There was some latin phrase Jonathan used to say. I never remember the latin but I remember the translation and I think it’s applicable here: Hunger makes the best sauce.
“You okay?” He finally asked.
“I’m great, How about you?” I replied on autopilot.
He came the rest of the way down the stairs, looking more edible and desirable with every step. I felt like I’d taken a hit of a drug–gravity had stopped working and my whole body was electrified.
That’s why they call it “turned on” — right?
I stood as he neared and a moment later we were in a kissy clinch like neither of us gave a damn about cliches.
He let go of me suddenly. “Damn. I was going to ask you first if it was okay. But I forgot.”
“It’s okay. But maybe not in front of my mother. Who’s upstairs at the moment.” I had forgotten what such intense sexual attraction felt like. It had been two months since my birthday and Ziggy’s visit to the bungalow: that was the last time my engine had revved this hard. And maybe not even then. “What are you doing today?”
“Well, now that your slave-driver of a sister’s mission has been accomplished, I’m at loose ends.”
“To clean the house. She’s been working me and Chris to the bone. The bathtub has never looked this good. It’s, like, gleaming. Why, got something in mind?”
“Come help me get my and Ziggy’s stuff out of the sublet?” I realized I was tugging on the loose edge of his tank top with one hand. Trying to tell him what I really wanted.
“Sure.” Colin understood me perfectly well. “You got condoms there or should I bring some?”
I racked my brain, trying to remember when the last time I was there…
“I’ll bring some,” he said gently, and kissed me on the hair. “Just let me get my shoes.”
* * * B O N U S S C E N E * * *
(NEWS FROM CTAN: Okay, yeah, I’ve been keeping a week or two ahead lately so when I had some time last week after making word count I went ahead and wrote the sex scene that takes place immediately after this chapter. if you don’t know the drill by now, here’s how it goes. If you’d like to read the bonus scene, which by law is intended/available for adults 18 years of age or over only, either Join My Patreon [https://www.patreon.com/ceciliatan/] or make a one-time donation via Paypal [https://www.paypal.me/daronmoondog]. Patrons will be getting the content via Patreon, and Paypal donors will get it via email. Thursday we’ll return to a regularly scheduled all-ages chapter! By the way, if Paypal donations bring the tip jar total to $100, we’ll have a Saturday post this week, too! -ctan)
NOTE FROM DARON: I picked this song from its title without remembering it, really. Turns out it’s not the most memorable P.I.L. song, but P.I.L. did make a rather memorable late night TV appearance with Dennis Miller in which… waitasec… did Johnny Lydon actually call Dennis Miller a wanker? And did he just yank a used condom off his dick and throw it into the audience? I think he did. So it turns out to be more apropos than I thought. And a great illustration of how weird the media was in 1992: