When the first strands of dark brown hair rose over the stairway's horizon Liam slumped. He no longer cared who this person might be, or what they might think of his disheveled appearance. Liam did, however, wonder briefly if his forehead was frostbitten. He set the injured daisies back on the windowsill and pressed his palms to his forehead in both an expression of exasperation and in an attempt to thaw the still icy bits. Curiosity took the better of him when he realized that he had not even noted the gender of the approaching person before dismissing them as not-Fae. His hands fell into his pockets, and his glance turned to face a commercially attractive brunette. She wore a short suede skirt, neatly laced up mukluk boots and a black t-shirt hidden under a thick furred and quilted denim coat. There were melting snowflakes sparkling in her hair. The skin between the hem of her skirt and the lip of her boots were freckled in olive-hued goose bumps. Liam watched her slide her key into a nearby door knob. She turned to glare at his leering, but it was only when she scowled that Liam suspected he might have been staring. Guilt forced his glance to shift back to the window, but not until after Liam caught a glimpse of her face.
She was as Eskimo as her footwear, with large doe eyes. He wondered if Eskimo-kisses were a real cultural phenomena. He wondered if her nose was as chilly as her legs had appeared to be and if her lips tasted like fresh snow. Liam wondered this not because he wanted to find out the truth; the truth was that he felt no chemistry. He wondered this because he felt obligated by her beauty to fantasize about her. He felt indentured to appreciate her peeking thighs because they peeked. He often felt this way when he went on dates with the girls Fae set him up with. Like he had a duty to like them, because Fae said he ought to, and they were very nice girls. Beautiful, and kind, with expectant yet self-destructive innocence. Girls like this only made him want Fae more. She was a jaded woman with no expectations. Only demands.
Her eyebrows never stopped moving. The way her tiffany bracelet slid up and down her skinny wrist was distracting. She had paint in her hair. When she spoke, sometimes, her mouth opened so wide you could see deep inside.
Liam met Lisa at the studio where she worked at the skilled process of antique furniture restoration. It was Lisa's duty to return the original finish of such interesting pieces as dining tables and china cabinets from the early 1900's. This was a lucrative, if menial job, and so she rented a space large enough to contain a veritable warehouse of furniture and her own personal painting studio. Canvases littered the ground, most unrecognizable as any particular noun. There were splashes of color, muddy mixes that were often gone brown from painting over a layer that was still too wet. There was one of a horse, and then one of a polar bear. Liam was pretty sure these were paint-by-number.
"Do you like it?" Liam's plan for the evening had been dinner and a movie. He would pick her up from work, ride the train with her down to her apartment, and start the evening at an Italian cafe around the corner. Lisa's plan was somewhat more creative.
"I don't...dislike it," he finally said. Liam stood before a painting that was allegedly of himself. Lisa had whipped it up in a bit over an hour. Liam passed the time watching her arms flail around, the paint fall on the studio floor, and the way her lips curled behind themselves to make way for her teeth as she talked.
"Hold still." She had said. His back ached as he sat on the stool, counting the boards in the floor. There were so many layers of paint and stain, it was impossible to discern the original finish. He began to count the colors. The sound of her voice was monotonous, but soothing. Liam shifted his weight unconsciously and she shrieked. Rinse and repeat.
"That's me then?" he asked. Red met blue in dramatic swoops, and a gaudy lavender and gold lightning bolt dominated the canvas. Pink splashes dotted the entirety. The strokes were long and powerful, and had fallen off the edge into puddles on the floor. He cocked his head to one side, and peered down into a large puddle of lavender, and his shadow was cast in it.
"Can't you see it? You're the bolt in the storm and..." She continued, but Liam was looking at the puddles on the ground as he stepped towards the door.
Then came the part of these evenings that Liam dreaded most. Lisa bounced up the steps to her building in a fever that only those in the extended twilight of air-headed adolescence retain. She was wearing overalls, which made her look younger, but they weren't totally inappropriate considering the nature of their evening. Fae always made it interesting, and made sure the girls looked young enough to be carded wherever they were going. This time she was barely twenty, blond and from what Liam could tell so far, a complete twit.
"She's a doll. You'll absolutely love her," Fae swore. Crossed her heart and hoped to die.
Liam was now also hoping to die. He suspected Lisa had gotten red paint on his brown boots and had been too busy to take a close look until now. It was also the perfect excuse to not notice her standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips. She would not let herself go unnoticed.
"Would you like to come in?"
Here it was. As a man, he was expected to jump at the chance to shag this golden buxom thing and relish in the partaking of her flesh. Fae expected it. Lisa asked for it. Even his body whispered a gentle, "C'mon…Why not?" She was beautiful, large breasts making themselves known even under the overalls, and blond locks wrapped up in a messy bun. She had the face of an angel and, he bet, the curves to match. But there was nothing behind those sparking blue eyes besides a misguided vacuum and so, much to his genitals' chagrin, he began to craft a declination.
"Uhh, No." Brilliance, he thought. Absolute brilliance.
"I could make some coffee. Or we could watch a movie."
He lied to her then. "I don't drink coffee." Liam wondered if he still had his latte when he got to her studio. He didn't think so. He hoped not. "And it's getting rather late," he tried to look at his wrist to note the time, of which he had no actual perception, and in mid-gesture, Liam remembered that he had left his watch on Fae's nightstand the previous evening. And he was fairly certain he tossed the latte in the garbage can before hitting the subway.
Lisa was not swayed, nor did she seem to notice his awkward fumbling for excuses and strange sense of manners. "It's only quarter till ten. We could cuddle up and watch a movie, and you could be home before one."
That statement sent Liam reeling further into the obscure for reasons to leave, and he lied again. A reflex. "Well, the train doesn't stop back by the nine this late and…Oh! Damn! Quarter till ten…It's later than I thought. I really better – I had a good time. Honest. But.." and he began to walk backwards, dragging his heels, "I really better go. I'm sorry. Next time?" and he turned on boot heel and began to jog as if he really were going to miss something, but trying to maintain poise at the same time. This dignified half-jog was a familiar thing to New York City.
She called after him then, "Yeah, okay. Next time!" and then a pause. "Call me!"
"No." he huffed to himself. He rarely called anyone besides Fae, and that was only to confirm plans that they had already made, face-to-face. Liam hated the phone, and everything that it stood for. He wondered often what exactly that was.
He shuffled hurriedly halfway down the steps, just in case by some miracle Lisa could still see him, and slowed only when he was safely underground. He slid his metro card and stepped through the turnstile just in time to watch his train pull in. Liam stepped into a mostly empty car, sitting in the seat nearest to the door. He sat with his back to the door, sideways in the seat, pulling his boots onto the seat beside him and knees to his chest. Resting his chin between them, Liam rubbed his eyes in exasperation, realizing then that he hadn't eaten. One of these days, he was going to stick to his answer of, "But, I don't go on blind dates."
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