Saturday, July 06, 2013

How busy I was in my mind

Settled in with my grilled cheese sandwich and beer, I'd watch Lex gamble away the morning, study the faces of the other players, and flirt innocently with the older man who ran the room. He liked me and gave me menthol cigarettes when I ran out of my regular ones, and then took me aside to a table next to the big one in order to share his stash of hard candy. He pulled my chair out and asked me to tell him all about myself, but then didn't pause for me to speak and began telling me all about myself instead: I was a nice girl, he said, and I shouldn't be hanging around all night with a bum like Lex in a place like this.

"She likes it," Lex yelled over, without looking up from his cards.

I smiled and shrugged and chose a pink candy from the dish.

After a while I'd return to Lex's side where I'd dream about the wonderful novel that might contain us, the sordid romance of Lex and me in the underworld. Wasn't I bored just to sit there? the others asked, not understanding how busy I was in my mind, polishing the night until it gleamed like a rare fiction. Bored? How could I be? I was the heroine of a great book.

— from Iris Has Free Time, by Iris Smyles.

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