'"Excuse me, where are the boys’ books? I’m looking to buy for a 16-year-old."
This is what sparked my idea for the latest
Kill Your Darlings column.
She stands up and takes a step toward me, and as the light filters down through the hole above us, like artificial moonlight on a movie set, I can really see her eyes for the first time, big and gray flecked with shimmering hints of sky blue, like someone bottled that moment when Dorothy steps out of her black-and-white farmhouse and into Oz.
That’s the moment I know I’m in trouble.
I want to stand up and burst into applause – people do it for all kinds of lesser miracles: when a pilot lands a plane, when a pre-schooler bangs tunelessly on a piano; when sweaty men manage to throw a ball into a metal hoop, so why not now? Why not for this miracle? There is life in this room. A new life. And I saw it happen.
It’s funny; I forget sometimes how I might look to other people. I could be reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ on the 3 train, or walking down the street listening to a podcast on my phone, or coming out of my orthodontist’s office with Invisalign braces feeling like the biggest nerd on the planet, but some people don’t notice anything but an almost-six-foot-tall black man. After Trayvon Martin got shot in Florida, Mom wouldn’t let me wear a hoodie for six months.
“How does it feel to be a minority?” I ask him as we pass a big store called Judaica World.
“Fine,” he says – the only answer that a privileged white kid can give to that question without getting a beat-down.
The next few days are unsettling.
Josh is aware of me.
Whenever he enters a room, an unmistakable mass of chaotic energy enters with him. It rattles the air between us. It buzzes and hums. And every time we surrender – every time our eyes meet in a flash of nerve – a shock wave jolts throughout my entire system. I feel frayed. Excited. Unravelled.
My confession leaves him stunned.
“There’s no story,” I say. “I saw you one day, and I just knew.”Josh stares at me. He looks inside of me. And then he kisses me with more passion than he’s ever kissed me with before.
It’s a monster.
It wants me to cower. It wants me to weep. It wants me to save my soul from hell. Gaudí started work on this church in the late nineteenth century, but it won’t be finished for at least another decade. It stretches twice as high as the tallest cathedrals of France. It looks like a fantasyland castle – wet sand dripped through fingers, both sharp and soft. Bright construction lights are everywhere, and workers are tinkering around its massive spires in dangerously tall cranes.
“About my new man,” she said. “I need someone hot and romantic and intelligent with a great sense of humour who can cook and is also a cowboy or a firefighter.”
Faith snorted. “Okay, I’m thinking … uh … cowboys are pretty scarce. And for hot firefighters, we only have Gerard.”
“You know what would be great? A tragic widower type, like Jude Law in ‘The Holiday.’ Definitely my type. Or Hugh Jackman in ‘Les Mis.’ Le sigh!”
“Right, right. Impoverished fugitives who burst into song. Coming up empty, Coll.”
“Hey, placenta hog. Just because you were born three minutes sooner doesn’t mean you know everything.”