After I get to Indiana I go straight to a cabin on some lakefront property Dana knows nothing about. I lie in bed for days and am too depressed to get up. Finally I do and take a bath because I can smell myself. When I was a man I might go for a week or a month without bathing if there were no others around. But a woman really stinks when she doesn’t shower. So I take a bubble bath with my hair pinned up in the big lion’s claw tub.
This chickie luxury seems out of place without Dana. She’s the only one I have to look or smell nice for. I shave my legs and get out and dry off and put on Balmain but it seems pointless. Still I feel better just by moving around.
Outside on the porch the clay soil hangs musty and airless above the stench of the woods. There’s a path down the hill to the lake and I walk it without any particular reason. Soon depression will set in again but right now I don’t want to think about Dana or whether she will have me back or if I can live without her. Who am I kidding? I know the answer to those questions. Maybe what I need is a gf.
Maybe things will get better. The sun doesn’t shine up the same dog’s ass every day after all.
I’ll be alright.
Bullshit. I am fucked. The only good thing is that I have all the money. Without it Dana will be broke. I left her enough cash in the hotel room to clean up the bills. She’ll have to go home to the farm and find a way to live.
I am out of shape and huffing and puffing when I get back to the cabin. When I walk around the side to the front I see something moving on the porch and freeze. Wary, I ease up the front steps. And see a puppy. Looks like a Rottweiler puppy and it must belong to somebody, which means I have neighbors I didn’t know about.
The dog whines and circles and looks at me. I go up on the porch and look at the collar and see a cell number.
That was easy.
I go inside and get some dog food I keep for the raccoons and feed it to the dog on the porch. Then I go inside and call the number and a girl that doesn’t sound very old answers. She says she lives in a cottage down the road and apologizes and will come and get the dog right now. I sit on the porch and wait in the dappled sunlight.
A subcompact pulls up and the dog looks at it and whines and wags its tail and jumps straight up. What mustve been the girl I talked to gets out of the car and looks at me and smiles and suddenly I am so wet.
Oh, honey. She looks to be the age of a college undergraduate. Dana would have a seizure if she saw this little black haired girl. She is perfect. Even a little plaid skirt. Hair tied back with a scarf. Brown eyes. Two inches shorter than me and not so thin. I hope when I talk to her I don’t stammer.
Hiii! She says cheerfully to me as the dog skips over to her.
Hi, I say shyly. I’m Erin but everybody calls me Fanci.
I’m Trudi, she says. Do you live here?
Not often but I own the place, I say, wishing i’d put on my face. My heart is slamming in my chest and my glands raging and I am so in love I want to cry.
We just bought the shack down the road a year ago and fixed it up, she says.
We? I say, my heart dropping.
My parents. In the summer when i’m not in school I come up here to look out for the place. I take Buddy here for company cause I don’t want to be here by myself. Is your husband with you?
I shake myself out of a trance and say, What?
That ring on your finger, Fanci.
Oh, this, I say, tugging at the Marquis diamond. No, we’re-we’re separated.
I’m sorry, she says. For good?
I’ve got lots of food and beer down there. You look lonely. Why don’t you come down tonight?
She moves closer to me and I think, Don’t stand so close. No, please, come closer and hug me before I die.
Any time. You know where it is?
I know where it is. Where do you go to school?
IU Bloomington. How bout you?
Why do you think I go to school at all? Because I have Monroe county plates?
Well, uh, yeah.
I got my master’s a long time ago.
Well, I guess I thought maybe you were a graduate student…she shrugs.
Flatterer, I say and smile coyly. And damn if she doesn’t return the smile and get just a little flirty.
I was a graduate student before you were born, I say.
She laughs. I doubt that, she says. Do you mind if I ask how old?
I’ll be thirty three this fall.
Oh, that’s not old, she says. I thought maybe you were twenty five.
I am going to kiss you, I say.
And damn if she doesn’t kiss me on the cheek. She even lingers it just a moment longer than she should. I have died and gone to heaven.
My head is so in the clouds that I have to say, Huh?
I hope the puppy didn’t bother you, she says.
No, he was fine.
You look so sad, she says. I’m sorry.
How about if I come down at seven?
Any time, she says.
She puts the dog on a leash and walks to the car and then turns back and smiles and flips her hair. OMG. That’s what a girl does when she’s interested in a guy.
When she is gone I sit on the porch and think, I’m dreaming. This is out of a Harlequin lesbo novel.
No. I’m not dreaming. I wanted a gf and here she is.
The sun doesn’t shine up the same dog’s ass every day.