Emily returned from having coffee with a friend early, before 9. She’d given him a small, dry kiss on the lips. Somehow she wanted solitude here on this night.
After pulling her mom’s car into their numbered spot, she stared for a second at the front door lock, as if it were rueful or owed her something, then kicked their cat Tommy in endearment. Her older brother Dave named the cat after the album by The Who. Emily sat there on the couch thinking about her brother for a second. He was probably delivering a pizza to some crackhouse while blaring The Offspring in his car. So admirable too, what with being bogged down by the three credit hours per year toward his master’s in Ancient Greek Philosophy. And of course he’d still find something to give it to her for when he came over for Sunday dinner — her iPod selections, the dude she was seeing who wore V-necks.
Emily heard the crisp summons of attention of the refrigerator as she let this all soak in, wondering where Tommy had crawled off to. Yup, Dave. Yup. Who needed friends when you had a brother who doubled as Judge Judy.
He wasn’t gonna be her. She had the teacher’s gene in her. At 23, after just one year off from school working at North Face, she was already plowing through her program to get certified. A job that seemed alright. Life was something that continued to get better.
Still, she had a different sort of feeling this night in early November. In fact, she was the object of attention at this present moment, though she didn’t know this. Because otherwise one is attentive. Which Emily wasn’t. There was nothing to be attentive to. She had an empty feeling where the smiles and playfulness have left the fences and squirrels. You’re sitting there expanding, seeking, dying. It did not cross Emily’s mind that this was just part of life. Instead she went to her computer. Instinctively and begrudgingly.
Dave had a pizza in the passenger seat, going to 1212 Clarke, middle of the ghetto, 0% tip imminent. Sausage and pepperoni. Wow, these people were really living on the edge. The only customers he liked were the ones who got pineapple and something. Pineapple and red onions. What’s not to love about that? Oftentimes they’d be nice and eager young people, or chill older people who looked like they’d seen enough Jethro Tull concerts. Anything helped. Anything to tell to Katherine. His ex-girlfriend. Her music taste was always changing. She always was standing up straight, her pale cheeks with red in them, but yet her fingers relaxed on her study bag, which she often carried around for inexplicable reasons. Neither Dave nor Katherine ever saw anyone else seriously, but neither were they seeing each other. Neither one could bear to do either of these things, but for differing quadrants of reasons in each case and for each objective. Dave had plenty of commitment already — the job, music, feigned duty to the state of mind in the self of marijuana intoxication. But he did miss feeling Katherine’s naked breast against him at night in his room, when his suitemate was away or asleep.
It seemed to Emily that her ocmputer were slowly dying. She was more attentive to it than to herself, in this respect. Christ, she thought, how many more times is this thing gonna turn on? It’s all I’ve got. Which of course was an exaggeration.
She checked a couple music sites, and felt dumb for not enjoying folk more. Her hand shook a little bit as she typed in the URL for the site of one of her favorite bands, Cajunware. Ah, good ol’ overproduction, she aptly thought. Just the way I like it.
The site hadn’t changed much. Still the same ol’ pictures of the band which she felt a little creepy for looking at, over and over. Hmm, what to see.
There was this name down in the corner, always — Beth Noonan. Gosh, thought Emily, who the hell was Beth Noonan? Some writer. Why does this chick get to be on the site? She hoped Tommy wouldn’t come up at this instant, wanting to be petted. She wasn’t particularly in the mood. Something changed in her this night, and she clicked on the Beth Noonan link. She read the writing, after which everything was the same, opposite what one might think, except that the fences and squirrels seemed to have their bounce back in them, and she realized how dorky it was to be sitting at home petting a cat on a Friday night. So it is from time to time with the emergent renewal of fertilized, unimpeachable joy.