I sleepwalked through the next couple of weeks, with no interest in bon voyages. Once I touched down in L.A., I headed to Torrance, home of a thousand car dealerships and my stepsister, who had graciously offered her couch as refuge. I burrowed into it, rousing myself only to job hunt. Naturally, I got a call from the place where James was working. In no position to turn down the project they offered, I went in for a consultation and ran into my friend Katrine in the parking lot. "Have you seen James yet?" she asked innocently. "Maybe you’ll get to meet his girlfriend today." "His girlfriend?" I said. "Ohh, riiight. "
James was at the far end of the hall when I walked into the lobby. He was frantically corkscrewing his forelock, in animated conversation with an orange-haired, kohl-eyed pop tart. They beat it around the corner almost instantly. There must have been an all-points alert. When we did cross paths, James barely made eye contact with me, except to introduce his new friend (though how new she really was, I do not know; perhaps someday one of them will tell me while hanging from a bridge or tied to a railroad track as the train is coming around the bend).
A few weeks later, she wordlessly tossed a package on my desk; it was a book I’d sent to James’s address two months earlier, when we were still planning to live together. What was that book? Remembrance of Things Past, maybe, or The Picture of Dorian Gray? Or perhaps Frankenstein — I really don’t remember, though it probably had something to do with never growing old or getting a second go at love. It might even have been a book my mother and I had read together, just a lulling fairy tale, back when I was a girl.
Jane Monroe is a nom de plume.
Originally published in MORE magazine, February 2008.