Her manicured and painted fingernail circled the cocktail glass. It wasn’t empty, she wouldn’t need another yet. Still the bartender’s waited, so did the two men in fitted suits down the bar. Best to leave the glass filled. Isra ignored her audience in favor of the paramnesic lapse in sanity she was currently indulging.
The chillwave in the back of the lounge was designed to fade into the background. Isra wished the synthesized music could be a little more distracting. Waiting around was unpleasant, waiting to eat eating crow more so.
The song ended. Isra tapped her nails on the bright steel of the bar top wondering if she had time for a trip to the bathroom. Another inspection, hair, dress, make-up…. would it matter? Isra liked to think it would. Why not look your best? She twisted, ready to extricate her heels from the chairs legs.
And as if cued by Isra’s departure, she was there. “Kim.” Isra said. Already taller than average, her modest heels added an inch of height. Isra recognized the perpetual frown between her brows, it would eventually cause a wrinkle when she got into her thirties. But then, Kim wasn’t the type to give a shit about that. Mousey fair hair still fell over her shoulder long and wavy, she’d always threatened to cut it. Isra wondered why she hadn’t.
“You leaving?” Kim raised her eyebrows.
The question was accusatory. With a sinking stomach Isra realized she’d already made a mistake. “No. Can I get you a drink?” She asked and slipped back into her seat.
Kim took a deep breath. “Sure.”
Isra didn’t like the reinforced calm in the other woman’s voice. But then this wasn’t going to be painless. She’d known that the moment she started remaking memories in her head. Still Kim sat. “You look good.”
Isra felt some of the tension ease as she smiled at the compliment. The bartender wandered over and Kim asked for a martini. Isra kept herself from commenting like she would have a year ago. Kim always ordered beer at dive bars, wine at restaurants, and classy classic liquor at any place she thought might have a price tag. Kim didn’t like being judged for her drink choices. After the bartender set the glass down Kim took a sip and made a face, she’d never enjoyed hard liquor. Isra contented herself with a really? look. It was returned with a good natured glare.
Kim broke the nostalgia of old habits a moment later. “I am surprised you contacted me.”
Really? Isra thought. Had she left it that badly?
“I was in town. Thought we might catch up.” I missed you. Isra added silently. Kim was silent. It gave Isra a chance to notice how she’d changed. A small bronze stud pierced the cartilage of her right nostril. It gave Kim’s wide eyed prettiness an attractive rebelliousness. She was tanner too, maybe a little more toned than Isra remembered. Had she started jogging? Another thing Kim had always talked about doing.
Finally Kim sighed. “I’m not here to catch up. I’m here to get closure. So we can talk, but I am not leaving with you.” It was hard for her to say. Kim didn’t enjoy conflict and was almost never this blunt.
“Okay.” Isra was a big girl, now disappointed and a little surprised at the uncharacteristic directness, but she could handle this. Besides she owed Kim this at least. “I know the way I left was horrible. And I’m–”
Kim was shaking her head and Isra stopped. “It wasn’t how you left. That, that made a lot of sense.” Kim said.
“Did it? I assumed it was…unexpected. I didn’t think things were bad between us before that.” Isra leaned in a little, trying to decipher what used to be a familiar face. Had she really deluded herself this much?
“They weren’t.” Isra felt an odd sense of relief at Kim’s words. “You were perfect. Charming, considerate, and you knew everything about me. Not a day went by without you asking about my column, or how my yoga class went, or whether we should sign up for another goddamn cooking session because you could tell how much I loved them. And I did love them”
Isra took a pointed sip of her own drink. She was confused. “Um..”
“I have a point here. You met my friends, you met my mom. You remembered their birthdays. You held my hair when I was drunk and got me soup when I was sick. Your gifts were thoughtful and personal and I still have all of them because they are still my favorite possessions.” Kim took a breath. She hadn’t touched her drink again. “You knew me better than anyone, you probably still do. But I don’t know a goddamn thing about you Isra. I never held your hair, or met your mom, or heard anything about your job, or saw you cry….” Kim pressed her lips together and closed her eyes. Isra almost reached out to take her hand but stopped herself.
“Do you know how damn weird that is?” The moment passed as Kim demanded the question.
“Kim, I’m sorry…” Isra didn’t know what to say. None of things she’d said were untrue, Isra had always been a private person. But said like that, it made her out to be some sort of machine.
“So when you vanished and people asked whether you were the type, I had nothing to say. Because I didn’t know your type, even after a year of being together. I literally can say nothing about about your personality when it doesn’t come to how perfect you were to me.” Kim ground her teeth. “Even now, you are sitting there understanding me with this perfectly remorseful look on your face. Do you have an actual opinion on this?”
Kim looked almost desperate for something and Isra didn’t know what to say. “Kim, it’s not like…. I just keep things separate. I missed you, wanted to see you. Sorry.”
“I think I missed you too, but I really don’t know. Thanks for the drink Isra. I do hope things work out for you.” She got up. Isra could think of nothing to say to make her stay and didn’t even think she should try. It was a good exit on Kim’s part, no looking back or pausing for any last words. It would give the denouement she wanted.
Isra closed her eyes, giving herself a moment before she took a deep breath and went back to the drink in front of her. This wasn’t how she’d hoped the evening would end.