I have written three chapters of “Coming Into Focus” so far. The book is supposed to be about falling in love and figuring out that sex is not the same thing as love. When someone falls in love, they take chances, they put their heart on the line for someone they really care about. Sex is something you can have without feelings for someone. That’s why making love is different than having sex. It has feelings all wrapped up inside of it. And you can only truly make love if you are in love.
The nerves hit me after a few more miles of driving around the city. I didn’t have anything to do until the lunch, so I had just continued to drive around. After much thought, I decided I wanted to look my best when he saw me at the cafe.
I went back to my apartment, and got out my nail polish kit. Right now, my nails had splotches of blue left over from when I did them on Christmas. It was now summer. I was surprised there was any left on them. I chose a light pink nail color that would match the sun dress I intended to wear.
After applying two coats, I picked out some strapped sandal flats to go with my dress. I put my dress on the bed along with my shoes. I went into the kitchen, but realized I shouldn’t eat until our lunch date so I sat on the counter, waiting for the nail polish to dry.
Once it did, I went into the bathroom and took another shower-so that any extra nail color would come off my toes. Once out, I blow dried my hair and stood there deciding between an up do or a pony tail. I never wore my hair down outside the house. I decided a pony tail would look better, since I didn’t want to get dressed up too much.
I went and put on my dress, but left the sandals on the bed. I put my hair up and didn’t think it looked right so I did it again. Then, I went back to get my nail kit, deciding if my toes were going to show, that I needed to do those nails, too. After they dried, I put on my sandals and noticed the time. I was going to be late if I didn’t leave now.
I rushed to grab my brown purse and dumped all its contents into a small purple one to match my dress, then grabbed my keys out of it and headed out of the door. I praised myself for getting an apartment on the first floor and ran out the front door, locking it back behind me.
I rushed to my car, started it, and headed toward the coffee shop. I had to stop at six stoplights on the way and knew I would end up late, but as soon as I got to the shop, I saw him parking his cop car in an available space across the street. I was so glad that he just got here. I parked at a spot next to him and looked in the mirror and checked the makeup I had applied in the car. It looked good, so I slowly got out of the sudan and headed towards the door of the coffee shop where he was waiting.
Cole pulled out my chair as he asked, “What should I get you? I hear they have wonderful vegetable soup.”
“Yea, I know. I work here. I’ll have a gyro sandwich-the special for today.”
“Oh wow. I’ve never seen you here, before today. I probably come at the wrong times.”
“Yea, I work weekdays usually and Sundays, both in the afternoon.”
He looked pleased as he walked to get the orders.
He returned a couple of minutes later, carrying a tray of food and two drinks, “I forgot to ask what you wanted to drink, so I asked them what you liked best. The cashier said you were ‘addicted to the mocha frap’. So I got you a mocha frap.”
“Sounds good-what did you get?”
“The same as you. I trust that since you work here you know what’s good and what isn’t.”
“So what do you do besides work here? I mean what are your interests?”
“I paint and go to the beach. Sometimes I go to the gym or take bike rides with a borrowed bike from my neighbor, Sam.” And have random sex with multiple guys, I thought, but that’s not going to happen anymore.
“Wow, sounds fun.”
“What do you do, besides be a cop.” I asked.
He laughed. “I also go on bike rides and swim a lot. I go to the gym across the street every afternoon after work. I haven’t been to the beach in a while, though.”
“You do, eh? Maybe we could go on a bike ride next time we hang out.”
He blushed and looked down, as if he were covering it up, but then I noticed something on his face that said ‘this isn’t just hanging out, I really like you’, and blushed myself. “I didn’t mean it that way.” I corrected myself, “I just meant next time we see each other. I didn’t know you wanted this to be a date.” But I did know, I was just being casual.
“It’s okay. I’m not used to this kind of thing. I’ve been too involved in my work to really even look at women.” He blushed again.
We talked on for another hour. And then another hour after finishing our meal. He was a really sweet guy, with bright blue eyes and longish brown hair. His muscles were thick in his chest and shoulders, moving as he talked, but thick enough to make him look scary. His face was soft and thin. Every time he smiled at me, it reached his eyes. He had a small dimple on the left side when he smiled and his eyes crinkled at the sides each time he did this. He was much more handsome than all those other guys that came into her life for a short time and left and something told her he was definitely the relationship type. She hoped, too, that he would stay in his life for a while.
“What time do you have to work?” Cole asked.
She hadn’t noticed she was staring at him and just barely caught the question. “I don’t work today. It’s my day off.”
“Oh okay. Sounds good. I just got off work before lunch. I was wondering if maybe you’d like to watch a movie sometime? I would say go to the movies, but they’re too expensive nowadays.”
“Sounds good. I’d love to watch a movie sometime.”
“Oh and when we do, just know that I have a dog. I hope you like dogs.”
“Of course I like dogs! Who doesn’t? What’s their name?”
“It’s a girl and her name is Shawna. She’s a german shepard. I got her when she was sent to be a police search dog, but she’s retired from that now, because she hurt her hip. She walks with a limp sometimes, but is still the happiest dog I know.” He chuckled.
“Sounds great! I’d love to meet her.” I said with pure enthusiasm.
“Well that’s good. I have to go soon. I just noticed the time. I have to go soon. I need to walk Shawna. Sorry to have to leave, but I don’t want anymore spots on my carpet” He said after glancing at his watch.
“That’s fine with me. I was planning on going to the dog shelter sometime this week to look at the pets. I just moved to an apartment that allows dogs. Since I moved out of my parents house four years ago, I’ve always wanted my own pet.”
“The best shelter to go to is the ASPCA. They have all the nicest dogs.”
“I’ll be sure to check it out.”
There was a small silence after that. I didn’t know what to say or how to say goodbye, so I just looked at him. It wasn’t an awkward silence, or to me it wasn’t. I just looked into lose beautiful blue eyes and waited for him to say something.
He finally did. “I had a really nice time with you today. I hope I can get your number and hang out with you sometime soon. Maybe we could go for that bike ride.”
“That sounds great. I had a good time, too. I’m sad you have to leave so soon.”
“Yea, but it’s apparently been two hours. I didn’t know until I looked at my watch.”
“Oh wow. I didn’t know that.”
“Yea. I really need to walk Shawna now, so how about I call you tomorrow?” He took out a pen from his pocket and a receipt. He wrote down his number and then tore part of the paper off and handed both to me, including the pen.
I got the gist and wrote down my number on the second half of the paper and handed the pen and paper back to him. I put his number in my wallet for safe keeping after realizing I’d left my phone at home. We both stood up. Cole walked around the table and kissed me on the cheek, then headed for the door while waving goodbye.
I headed to the restroom, first, but afterward I headed out the door. His car was gone once I got outside. Once I pulled out of the parking spot, I headed for the ASPCA.
Seven days had passed since the incident. I had gone about my normal routine-doing laundry on Sunday, working Monday through Friday, going home at 7 pm and reading my romance novels, but I noticed everyday that something was missing. I thought at first that it was the guys and I decided to let myself just miss it because I knew I wasn’t going to let that happen again, but realized that it wasn’t. It felt like there was a big, empty gap in my heart waiting for the right person to come along and fill up that empty space.
I am lonely. More lonely than I’d ever felt, but I still wouldn’t back down. The night of the seventh day, I got my old stuffed animal lamb out of the back of my closet, dusted it off and took it to bed with me. I needed something to sleep with, because I felt bare and alone.
The next day, I got out of bed early. It was my day off, but I still got up early. I felt I needed to. I decided to go to the gym. I hadn’t been to the gym for years, but I put on my sweat-shorts, a tank top, and a sweatshirt with a hood, and walked down the street to the corner, where the gym was located.
As I walked into the gym, I decided I was going to start going to the gym every morning again-like I used to. After signing in with my work ID-I had free admission because I worked at the coffee shop that advertised this place on two of its walls-I climbed onto the treadmill and put up the speed as fast as I could go.
I did that for about four hours and until I could run no more. Once finished I signed out and went across the street to the coffee shop I call work. I got a free coffee-because I work there-and sat at a table in the far corner. I watched the people pass by out the window. Seeing a couple stop to kiss, I decided I wanted to be like them. They had a baby stroller with a pink-cheeked, chubby baby inside. As soon as they started walking again, a tear fell down my cheek. I quickly wiped it away so no one would see.
A finely muscled man stepped into the coffee shop. His police uniform was black like most police in this town, but it was tight on him and looked really sexy. I quickly turned away when I received butterflies in my stomach from the smile he gave my before walking to the counter to order his drink. This man wasn’t like the men I usually had sex with. He wasn’t that type. Somehow I could tell.
After ordering his drink he sat down at a table two down from mine. I tried to ignore him and reach for my coffee to take a sip, but my coffee was empty. I reluctantly left the shop to head to my house.
Once home, I took another shower and brushed my teeth this time. I decided to go for a drive in my beat up mini-van. I drove around the city and got lost in my mind as I went. I heard the sirens after a few minutes of driving down Wentworth Street.
I pulled to the side of the road thinking they were going to pass me, but the cop pulled up behind my van. I couldn’t remember what I had done wrong. So I decided to ask the officer once they were by my window. I turned down the radio and waited as the officer walked up to my window.
When he finally came into view, I rolled down my window. I immediately noticed it was the man from the coffee shop.
“Hello officer” I said in my timid voice. Not meaning to sound shy, I quickly straightened in my seat while he stood and looked at me.
“You?” he said back.
“I’m pretty sure we saw each other in the coffee shop earlier-if that’s what you’re talking about.” I explained.
“Yes, um…” He seemed like he lost his authority then. He looked a little shy himself.
“Did I do something wrong, officer?”
“Your tail light is flickering. Just wanted to let you know it’s about to go out.”
“It always does that. The mechanic can’t seem to fix it. He doesn’t know what’s wrong with it.”
“Oh okay. Can I see license and registration, please?” He slowly went back to how cops normally act.
“Yes, one sec” I handed him my license and went to the glove box to get the rest. Handing it to him, I looked up expectantly.
“Mrs. Granger, I’m going to let you off with a warning. Get a new brake light and this won’t happen again.”
“Yea, never been a Mrs.” I said. Hoping he’d take the hint. I wasn’t really flirting, just humoring it a little.
“Well, Miss Granger, I have one more question. I know I’m not supposed to do this on the job, but just in case I never see you again, how would you feel about meeting me for lunch in about two hours at the coffee shop I saw you in this morning?”
My cheeks were sure to be bright red. I could feel the heat. All I could do was nod.
“Okay” He had a big smile on his face. “I’ll see you then, and I hope you get your brake light fixed. I’d hate to have to pull you over again and give you a ticket.
Okay officer… umm…” I didn’t know his name.
“Cole Perdue” he said with a big smile on his face. “Just call me Cole.”
“You can call my Angela. I go by my middle name.
“I can see why.” He handed back my stuff. “Beatrice is quite an interesting name.” He chuckled.
I blushed bright red again.
He turned to leave, but looked back. “I hope to see you at the shop at 2. Bye.”
I mumbled a good-bye and rolled up my window. It was then that I noticed he never put my name in his computer or wrote up a warning ticket. I smiled to myself.
It all happened so fast. His breath was at my neck as he lifted himself to undo the last thing he had on him-his pants. Once undone, he shoved his large cock into my small sex and lingered there for a moment while his fingers massaged my clit. He began to move as quickly as possible, grunting and moaning as he went.
Usually I enjoyed this. This was normal in my eyes, but in my heart there was nothing for this man. I figured my heart was black by now. It didn’t feel the same as it used to.
He plunged in again and this time he let loose inside me. He collapsed on top of me. I felt disgusted by him and myself. I didn’t really know this man. We had never had a real conversation. He had taken me on a date.
Usually after sex, I would feel powerful-I would feel better after a long day and this pleasure was normally all I needed-but this time was different. I didn’t feel better, I felt worse. I felt like my world was crashing down on me and I felt like the thing I tried to avoid all my life-a slut. I was officially a slut in my own eyes. I was one of those gross people.
This had to change. I couldn’t continue on with this. I pushed him off me and grabbed my clothes while shielding myself with the sheet. I yelled at him to leave. I would never do this again, if my life depended on it.
Once the man left, I curled up in a ball on my bed and cried. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes to my purple and gray room. My painted, gray dresser still sat in the same place it had since I moved into the drab apartment. On it sat a pack of condoms and a lamp. I screamed in fury.
Getting up off my bed, I ran to my dresser and grabbed the condoms. I, then, opened the window next to my dresser and used my good arm to throw them out the window. I felt like I never wanted to see another one again for as long as I lived.
I sat down hard on the floor next to my dresser-in front of my window-and thought. I sat there thinking for a long time, until I realized I was in need of a big change in my life. I was not going to have sex with random men ever again. I will wait for my one. I won’t choose any guy off the street that I’m attracted to, he has to come to me.
I got up and took off my clothes to take a shower and wash off the stench of the nasty man that had left about 30 minutes ago. Walking into the bathroom, I saw another pack of condoms and threw it into the trash can. I took the bag out of the trash can and went to the kitchen to put it in the big waste basket.
Heading back to the bathroom, I thought about my day and how it wasn’t this bad until I decided to fuck some random dude. Man, was the stupid.
Getting into the shower, I turned the water to cold and washed myself over and over until I lost the scent of that awful man. Then, I washed myself three more times.
Once I climbed out of the shower, I still felt dirty, but I knew I was cleaner than I had been in a while. I walked into the kitchen and poured some water in the kettle, then headed to the bathroom to blow-dry my hair. I heard the kettle whistle in its loud way, so I stopped the hair dryer when my hair was pretty much dry and stomped into the kitchen.
I poured this water into on of the mugs I had already put a tea bag in and let it soak while I went to get dressed. I didn’t feel the need to use my toothbrush, because with these men-that I’m never going to “use” again- they don’t kiss you. It’s like a secret and unwritten rule that you don’t kiss the guys you’re just going to fuck once because you could get attached.
I grabbed a blue-green tank top and some gray sweat pants. After dragging them on, I pulled over my head a white sweatshirt. I ambled into the kitchen and drank my tea black for the first time since 2005.
“Every artist was first an amateur.” -RWE
Cursing, I reach around on the floor to find the paint bottle I just dropped. Why do I keep messing up? Crumpling up the canvas paper and throwing it into this trash, seems like all I do lately. I need some muse. I crumple up another canvas sheet.
Putting my hand up, I plop my head down on it, so that my chin is resting on my palm. What could I do to find muse? Where could I go? What could I see? That’s it! I rummage around for my sneakers and socks in my room and when I return with them on, I notice there’s blue paint all over the floor where I had just dropped the paint bottle.
Running to the kitchen, I grab a paper towel, but instead of getting one, I accentually knock over the roll and it unravels throughout the kitchen. I pick up one of the sheets, deciding to get back to picking that up, because this issue is more important and glide over to the sink-well glide is a bad word, because I’m not so graceful-to wet the paper towel.
Heading back to the painting area, I’m going as fast as I can with out hitting something or tripping, and I end up hitting the toe of my shoe on the wicker table in front of the big, ugly, brown couch. Good thing I’m wearing my sneakers, because that would have hurt. I note for the thousandth time that my roommate needs better design skills if she’s ever going to be an interior designer. Reaching the painting area, I try to bend gracefully to the floor-remember I’m not graceful at all-and end up face planting into the blue paint.
I get up on my knees and rub the floor slowly with the paper towel-my face can wait, because it will come off my face later, granted with some scrubbing, but not the floor. I remember my mother’s words of how to get paint off the floor if it’s still wet, Don’t scrub! Move the wet towel slowly in circles around the area of paint on the floor and it will come off easily. So, I do as she would have said. Even if she’s an asshole.
It finally comes completely off the floor, so I get up off the floor and trudge to the kitchen to pick up the paper towels and get this crap off my face. In the kitchen-which, I might add, is only five steps away from the living room and two steps away from the painting area, which is just another part of the living room-I throw away the wet, and now blue paper towel. I bend over, grabbing the roll of clean-but now not so clean-paper towels, slowly, but surely, rolling them back up as neatly as possible, which isn’t very neat, but it’ll work to be able to put them back on whatever that white thing hanging up under the cabinets is called. I hang it back up on the flimsy white thing, thinking, I know I could make a better way to hold paper towels, without it falling every chance it gets.
The kitchen countertops are light green, which I think is probably the coolest part about this apartment, while the decor in the kitchen is drab. Kate, my roommate and, may I add, sort of best friend, says, If you have that bright of countertops, you shouldn’t have anything bright around them, unless it’s in small doses. I kind of agree with that, actually. Maybe she is sort of good at this design crap.
Walking over to the sink again i slowly get a paper towel from next to it, out of that stupid, flimsy, white thing. This time-thankfully-it doesn’t collapse. I, then, wet the paper towel and try the slow circles on my face to see if the trick works on faces, too. Slowly, but surely, the paint starts to come off onto the towel. So, I go do the rest in the bathroom to make sure I get it all.
As I finish getting all the blue off of my face, I notice there still a faded blotch of blue thats not coming off. I touch it with my finger to see what it is. I step back as I poke it, because it hurts. I have a bruise from my face plant, Awesome!
Now what was my plan again? Oh right! I was going to take a walk! “Sparky!” I yell, trying to figure out where my labrador is hiding in the room. She snorts and I realize she’s asleep between the couch and the blue side table-pushing on the floor lamp every time she snores, I might add. That damn thing is going to fall over again. It’s almost as flimsy as the white thingy-whatever it’s called.
I decide to leave Sparky behind, since she obviously isn’t going to move, even if I get a treat. She’s a very lazy dog. I rescued her from a shelter about two years ago, she was malnourished and had been used for dog fighting, but for some reason, even though she was mean to the workers at the shelter, she was really sweet to me. The next day, I went back to see if she was still there and had actually bought her a toy that you can put treats in, so the dog takes its time trying to get out their prize. She loved it. The third day, when I came back, the worker there was the same as the day before. She said that I was the only person that Sparky would play with or even get close to. I fed her for the worker, so that maybe she would eat something. She did. I took her home that day. Never thought I would have adopted a dog, much less her. I usually only go to the shelter to see and pet the dogs and cats, but that day was different, really different.
I walk out the door and then back track to grab my keys off the cute little hooks by the door that Kate just bought at the Dollar General. They were apparently only a dollar, so she had to get them. Finally I exit the apartment, lock the door, and head down the stairs. While making my way down three flights of stairs I think about how it’s a wonder that I haven’t fallen down these stairs. And then I think one word. YET.
I pull open the door to the street. Damn this door is too heavy. Then, I walk out into the cool fall air. I’m immediately glad I took a walk. The air feels good on my face. With what little trees are around, the leaves have fallen to the ground and it smells of fall. I don’t know why, but fall always smells different than any other season to me. It just has a distinct smell. It’s hard to explain.
I attach my keys with my trusty, old keychain hook on my pants and decide to skip down the street. As I’m skipping, I hear sounds of far away traffic and a siren. No one ever comes down this street, because it’s what me and Kate call a useless street. There are bigger streets around it that most people take, because this one only goes one way.
I skip along and then slow down and stare up at the stars. It’s a beautiful night, but you can only barely make out the stars, because of the city lights-even though we’re on the edge of the city. I hear a tingle, then a plop. I can’t figure out what it is at first, but then I realize the trusty keychain broke and my keys fell in the gutter.
I get on my knees, even though the street is wet, and look into the gutter. I would have given up on them if Kate was home, but she’s off with her new fling or whatever they call it nowadays. Pulling open the gutter, I reach my hand in as far as I can and I almost get to them. I can’t reach so I get onto my stomach, disgusted by the dirty street and reach again.
I hear the sirens coming really close, but I assume that they are on the street next to me, so I keep trying to get my keys. Then I black out.
The next day was interesting. Mark made it to the hospital late after traffic was terrible and the coffee stand was too filled with people. He changed into his scrubs in the locker room and made it to the recovery ward just in time to see a few of the new patients entering.
He stopped and looked back at one of the patients. It was the girl. The one who was in a coma. She was still looking a little foggy, but she was being transported to one of the rooms he was in charge of now. He smiled. Mark was glad she woke up. For some reason he just knew she would be a good patient, instead of some of those bratty ones that never use manners.
He took one of the trays of food to her room, attempting to make conversation. She was asleep when he made it in the room. So he left the food for her and went back to the Nurse’s Station.
It was just another day at Good Hope Hospital. Natalie and Michelle were gossiping in the Nurses’s Station about who knows what and Claudia was bringing in new patients to the recovery ward. Mark was sitting at the Nurse’s Station, filing charts. He wished he was off and playing his clarinet at the jazz club two blocks away, but he was here working.
While he was filing charts, he noticed one chart belonged downstairs in the ICU. He told the other nurses he was going to drop it off and headed to the elevator. In the elevator, the music was the same, boring, old song that played over and over again. He knew it by heart and almost started to sing along, when the elevator stopped to let him off.
Stepping off, he saw terror in many people’s eyes who were about to go into surgery or who were injured in ways unimaginable. Then, as he was headed to their Nurse’s Station, he saw her. She was in a coma. She was on a breathing machine. She was the most sad looking of all of them.
Would she ever wake up? he thought as he walked passed. He wondered, then, how many of the patients that were in a coma ever did wake up. It was sad to think of it. He tried to turn his eyes and his mind away from the subject, but he thought about it until he made it back to the elevator after dropping off the chart.