As a person with glasses this gave me anxiety but was also cute.
I’m VERY sorry it took so long, this part has been very hard to write // feedback always appreciated <3
I take a long bath while the party goes on.
I literally eat cigarette after cigarette, hot water stings my skin, I stare at ceiling, steam and humidity and smoke fill the air. I sink down in the bathtub, surface above me, Ezra’s whispered words are still ringing in my mind. You look fantastic in this dress, Michelle, it looks nice on you, Michelle, you should buy it, Michelle, was he complimenting me or Ralph’s design? His undecipherable behavior and unreadable words are probably the most intriguing part about him, and that’s the part of him I hate and love the most.
I gasp for air. I cover my face and bring my knees to my chest when it’s time to think about Chris. I did the right thing. Did I? I don’t even want to think about it, it’s useless, nothing happened, just some drunk guy that won’t make me wallow in self pity when bubbles surround me.
When I go back to my room, the music dies down, but loud chattering continues. Whatever.
It rains of Manhattan, thin drops of water run down my window, cars drive fast on watery streets. I turn the heating on and shove a random compilation of classical music in the cd player and close my eyes until sleep takes over.
One soft knock in my dream turns into multiple knocks at my door. It’s 5am, it must be Paul the doorman telling me there’s a fire. Whatever. I wouldn’t care.
Messy hair, stupid grin.
"Hey, Michelle", my name rings in the roomy hallway.
I’m still asleep. I’m dreaming. I’m sure this is a dream.
"What are you listening to?" It’s fucking 5am and he’s knocking at my door and he’s curious about the music I’m playing.
"Schubert. I guess."
"Can I come in?" What.
Peppermint and cologne is now wine and a hint of weed, I can’t answer because my brain can’t process what’s happening, he’s crossing my threshold, barefoot, it’s not happening to me, his new shirt is crimpled and sparcely buttoned, I feel self conscious in my thin summer pajama, shorts and chemise.
"What were you doing?", he smirks and scrutinizes my apartment, withering flowers on the shelves, books scattered on the table.
"I fell asleep and forgot the cd player on. I’m sorry if it was too loud." He shakes his head and keeps on scanning my havings, stopping when he finds the record player. Now he knows I bought ‘Bows + Arrows’ by The Walkmen, he smiles to himself, I still find it hard to believe I’m wide awake.
"I’m sorry I woke you up, I’m gonna leave, like, now" he slurs. Don’t leave, don’t leave. He looks down at his feet, he’s probably wondering where his shoes went.
"Stay, you can stay. I don’t mind." We meet eyes for a split second. He then gradually scans my outfit. Stop it, stop it. "Do you want anything to drink?" He shakes his head, I proceed to the kitchen and pour a glass of water, I down it and blankly stare at the postcards and magnets from places I’ve never been to, little faint thuds on the glass, it’s still raining. When I’m back in the living room he’s on the couch looking through my notebook. Fuck. No no no no. Not that. "You’re very good at drawing." I gently take it away from him, he doesn’t seem to be sorry after he just invaded my personal space. I hope he didn’t see the doodles I drew today.
"Thanks." I ignore his last action, sit down beside him, far enough to avoid any contact. I need a cigarette.
A thousand words can escape my mouth right now. Why you knocked at my door, you could stay beside Sara and hug her and cuddle her and fuck her, it’s your birthday and she’s the best birthday sex you can dream of, you could watch tv or go out with your friends til morning if you were bored, but you’re inexplicably here, right now, on the couch I usually sleep on when I’m too weak to get myself up and get in my bed, and you have very bad hair right now. Your gold chain and strange pendant and your shirt reeks of wine and girl perfume and all I want you to now is to kiss me touch me fuck me right here and now, kiss my neck and suck the skin right under my ear and tell me I’m beautiful, tell me you’re here for this and not only cause you were bored and forgot your phone in your small apartment in Morningside and had no one to call and didn’t want to wake Sara up.
"So, you’re also a fan of baroque music…"
"Romantic. Schubert belongs to romantic music," how unpleasant of me, fuck.
"So, you’re also a fan of romantic music?" He fidgets with the wristband from yesterday night’s concert and doesn’t look at me.
"Yeah." I fiddle with my thumbs, silence falls between us.
"Your apartment is amazing, I like your taste in furniture, it’s all so…"
Mia Wallace hated uncomfortable silence, but this one is beyond uncomfortable. He’s sitting barefoot and cross-legged on my couch after his birthday party, he could do a thousand things, why me?
"Sara’s apartment is very big, but not this nice" her, again.
"I find it cool," I lie, I hate it. He nods and scratches his elbow, eyes closed.
"Ezra…" his gaze flashes at me, waiting for me to speak. "What’s the matter?"
He plops back on the couch, sighing. “I couldn’t sleep. And I wanted to talk to someone.” He passes his tongue on his teeth, chews his lower lip and holds the bridge of his nose between his fingers. Typical. I nod, it’s okay. It’s okay, he doesn’t want to talk to me, I just happened to be here. “I promise I’ll behave. I’m not that drunk. Or high, for that matter.”
"It’s okay. I don’t mind, I-"
"I’m glad you came to the party," I stare at his necklace as he plays with it and think about all the shit that happened a few hours ago, Chris shamelessly hitting on me, him completely ignoring me.
"It was nice. I had fun." Another lie. It was the lamest party ever. I scratch my neck nervously, urgency for nicotine is rising.
"If you had fun, why did you leave so early?"
"You left early."
"Oh." So he noticed. "I was tired."
"Don’t worry, you only missed the embarrassing moment of me perfoming a keg stand," he chuckles. God. Damn. I did miss something there.
"Well-" that’s it again, I don’t know what to say. It’s always like this, I don’t know how to keep a conversation with anybody, I need an idea. I don’t want him to go away. "Do you want to watch Seinfeld?"
He checks his wristwatch, “Why not.”
I stand to get the remote and turn on tv and dvd player, setting on a random episode. I sit back on the couch next to him, Ezra is still quietly cross-legged on his spot and follows my moves with a blank and kind of lost stare. Throughout the episode he occasionally chuckles, head tilted back, hands folding and unfolding nervously, cracking knuckles and fingers tapping his knee. I hunch forward, hands glued tight between my knees and can only barely concentrate on Jerry and George’s shenanigans.
For a whole week I fantasized about something like this to happen, for a whole week I thought about his looks and his stupid sleepy grin when we rode the elevator together, If I concentrate enough I still feel the cold air that hit my legs when we lingered on the sidewalk before parting ways because I was so eager to share five more minutes with him, his hands gesturing wildly when he tried to explain how hard it is to teach in a public school and how excited he was when a label finally decided to sign his band up, his eyes were full of life and his manners too old school for a young man, his speech too perfect for someone who breaks the stereotype of the dirty tattooed rocker.
"This is my favorite part ever, oh my god," he whispers as Jerry calls 911 cause Kramer is accused of being a serial killer. We share a small laugh and his restless hand crawls to meet my leg, his bony finger strokes the side of my thigh and leaves burning traces, I pretend I’m not feeling anything and I hope he doesn’t see my eyes squeezing shut, forcing every single bit of me to not fall apart under his touch. He doesn’t break away, tracing small circles on my bare thigh, he lingers there, hinting the will to crawl underneath the fabric of my shorts. "Michelle." Michelle Michelle Michelle, say it again. He keeps torturing me mechanically, he doesn’t retreat, but he doesn’t advance either. Vicinity becomes closeness, one shy finger becomes five fingertips stroking and caressing and torturing again, still dwelling on the same spot, and the tv becomes silent as his warm hand is on my chin and pulls my face to his. Alcoholic breath meets years of cigarettes, aftershave lotion and my heart races and this is not happening. Blood rush and soft lips, my hand on his shoulder, his running up and down my thigh, he’s hunger and lust and I’m need and guilt and shame. I shouldn’t know how his skin feels under my fingertips and how he tastes like, he’s cheating and it’s wrong.
“Stop, stop. Stop.” I break contact, his chest slighlty parting away from mine, his body between my legs. I feel weak as his breath meets my neck, I stare down at the popped collar of his shirt and the small stubble on his cheek, he’s taken, his girlfriend is sleeping meters away from here. She doesn’t even know he’s here. He’s just playing with fire, and I don’t know if I’m ready to play along with him. “You should go”. He retreats enough to face me, “What?” His eyes stare at my lips, I pretend I’m not feeling my heart that pounds hard in my chest and sticky palms and his sweet smell stabbing my guts. I focus on my breathing. Calm down. “Please, go.” He stares at me and I don’t know if it’s disappointment or guilt or pity. “Are you serious?” He doesn’t move away from me, my eyes land on his crimpled shirt and the wall behind him. “Yes, leave now.” He chuckles, “Chris was right.” He laughs. He’s laughing at me and I feel small and worthless, I can’t find my voice, but I also can’t find anything right to say. I just stare back at him as he stands up and smooths his white jeans. “What?” I sit up and I know I’m going to break into tears if he keeps looking at me that way. “He said you’re a cockteaser.” He fixes his shirt, buttoning it properly, lowering the collar.
"I…" - I look down at my feet and I can’t let out words from my mouth, I don’t even know what to say so it’s useless, this is what I deserve. End credits roll on the screen, I can’t look at anything but my hands. He’s waiting. Say something. Say something. "I need a cigarette." I stand and stride to my bedroom, frantically looking for my bag and my precious nicotine. Fuck Chris. Fuck his worthless opinion on me and fuck Ezra and his smooth hands and his soft lips. "Michelle." He calls from the living room. "Michelle." He calls from the hall. "C’mon." I light a Cartier facing the window, his footsteps are closer and closer and his bare feet are on the parquet, his arms around my body, his chest pressed against my back. "Michelle." His voice is just whispers in my ear, sending electricity down my spine. His hand grazes my belly, his teeth gently bite my neck, I squeeze my eyes and entwine my fingers with his, short breath and his bites become vicious, his touch meets my wetness and my mind goes blank and I let smoke out of my mouth, a small cloud dances in the darkness. "Goodnight, Michelle." The air leaves the room, seconds later Ezra leaves my apartment.
Not unless the magical homework elves come and finish this project for me. If work isn’t busy tomorrow I should be able to write there though!
"You get Eva." You yell as you jump out of the car and make a bee line to the trunk. You can get the bags. Ezra yelps in protest but you silence him with a stare.
"Those are heavy!"
"So is our toddler. Don’t even pretend like you don’t want to stop everything and cuddle her right now."
He doesn’t have to be told again. He scoops Eva into his arms and dances her up and down the driveway. His features soften as he coos in her ear. He needed this. You weren’t supposed to see him again until next month but you could feel him getting cagey even though he was on the other side of the country. You’d expected him to tell you to stay home when you brought up an unplanned visit. Instead he bought you and Eva first class tickets.
He doesn’t stop her when she pulls at his slightly too long hair. Instead he nuzzles his face against her chest and sighs.
"I missed you princess. Daddy missed you so much. You’re so big! You’re not allowed to grow anymore until I get home, capiche? You gotta wait for me to get big. I want to be there."
He stopped halfway down the driveway and somehow managed to peel his attention away from Eva for a few seconds to smile at you before showering Eva in little kisses.
"Are you hungry? I think uncle Rosty might have ice cream?"
"She’s probably not hungry yet hon. She had cereal a bit before we landed."
"I just want to spoil her." He admits as Eva laughs. He tickles her side and she shrieks in his arms.
"I know. We’re here for three days."
"That’s not enough time."
You were right to have him grab Eva. She’s all giggles and smiles with Ezra. She always has been. You don’t know what he’s talking about. All this ‘she doesn’t remember me’ stuff is crap. It’s obvious that they’re both ecstatic. He just needed a reminder.
You must spend too much time pondering how to prove to him that he’s being crazy because before you know it Rostam is poking you in the back and taking all your bags from you. You let him usher you inside while Ezra continues to bounce Eva on his hip in the high California sun.
"Is he okay?" You ask him as you make quick work setting up a make shift crib in the guest room.
"He misses you guys is all. You’re all he talks about. His darling wife and precious daughter."
"Can you get him off the bus more? Keep him distracted? He’s breaking my heart right now."
"Girly we try. Him and Baio spend a lot of time comparing baby pictures, though I think Ez is having a harder time with it. He doesn’t like being away from you in your condition."
"I’m pregnant, not breakable." You say as you snap the last piece into place.
"I know. He knows too. I think he just feels helpless. This wasn’t part of his plan. He wants to do something special for Eva before the new baby comes. He’s been obsessing for a week over it."
You continue to unpack. Little dresses and jeans end up what appears to be a brand new dresser. Your clothes get thrown in the closet.
“What’s he planning?”
“I don’t think I’m supposed to tell you.”
“He’s not supposed to keep secret.”
“Don’t think of it as a secret. Think of it as a surprise.”
“Ros.” You’re jetlagged and sore. The last thing you need right now is a weird game of secrets.
“I know. Communication is big with you two. Just give him a bit and I’m sure he’ll tell you himself. He wants to make Eva knows she is important and loved. He doesn’t feel like he’s been able to do that lately. That’s all this is about.”
You slam your empty suitcase closed and push it by the window. You can just make out Ezra rocking Eva on the porch. You don’t have to hear him to know he’s telling her how much he loves her, how perfect she is and how much he missed her.
“That’s insane. We talk to him every day. He doesn’t need to spoil her just to show he cares.” You say, more to yourself than to Rostam.
“You might have to talk to him about that.”
“It’ll hurt his feelings. He’s trying. I know that. I don’t want him to feel like he isn’t important to us.”
Your husband disappears from the porch and a cry rings through the house. You can just make out Ezra chanting “it’s okay” as the cry grows closer.
“You’ve got your work cut out for you.” Rostam whispers in your ear and then opens the door to reveal you’re red faced daughter in her dad’s arms. With a hopeful look back Rostam disappears and you’re left with sad eyes and chaos.
“I don’t know why she’s upset. Bambi I don’t even know how to take care of her anymore!”
You pluck her from Ezra’s arms and her cries grow more annoyed. She’s sleepy. You’re sure of it. She doesn’t understand time zones. All she knows is that today there was no naptime. You set her down in her crib and her cries turn to soft fussing as she settles down.
“There. All better.”
“I…I should have known she was tired.”
“You didn’t know she didn’t sleep on the plane.” You find Eva’s favorite blanket, the one Ezra’s mother made for her when she was born, and cover her with it. Her fussing stops and her eyes flutter closed.
“But she dozed on the car ride here! I woke her up! I should have put her right down for a nap. I was selfish. She was tired and I kept her up.”
You shake your head, loop your arm through his and half guide half pull him from your room. Once you’re away from your sleeping daughter you twist to face Ezra. You pull him in for a deep kiss and rub your thumbs along his cheeks.
“She wouldn’t have gone down until you played with her. Honey she missed you. I missed you. You’re being too hard on yourself.”
“I used to know what all of her cries meant.”
“They’ll come back to you.”
“She’s so big.”
“She’ll get bigger.”
“And I won’t be there.”
There’s no point in telling him that in six months he’ll be done with touring, shows, appearances. He’ll be home working on a new album. He won’t have to worry about Eva or the new baby growing up without him. The best you can do is wrap yourself around his shaking body and pray that soon he’ll actually listen to you.
You’re making me blush! I’ve got an update coming your way soon :D
It starts with a letter.
Ezra’s not usually one to snoop. But he’s just moved in. Its a nice place, more post grad than the flat he shared with his now ex. It hard to think of this place as home when he’s never here. It maybe he doesn’t want to accept that he isn’t in college anymore.
Either way, a funky envelope address to someone named Francis Araya-Porter makes its way into his mailbox.
It doesn’t feel right throwing it away. Someone might come looking for it, so he sets it aside and forgets about.
He takes to glancing at it wistfully, wondering who Francis is. Which wrote a letter? Especially in this modern age of email and twitter. Mostly twitter.
He imagines Francis to be an older cat. Mid sixties? Maybe never got the hang of computers. So his favorite niece, an art student or maybe an aspiring writer, writes him…because…international calling is expensive.
Or maybe its an old lover of his. That didn’t work out. So they’ve kept in touch, wondering what could have been.
All these what ifs end up becoming lyrics. Its really helpful.
Finally, Ezra’s curiosity gets the better of him. He’s eating cereal, wishing for some blueberry pancakes, when he just opens it.
I’ve missed you so terribly much. It’s been dreadful back home. As much as I love the old hound, I can only stand Tata for so long. I know she’s ill and everything, but can’t she at least give it a rest while she’s recovering. Robin’s home again. She always was Tata’s favorite. She tells stories of Ireland I’m rather inclined to disbelief. Then again, we never did share each others taste in lifestyles. Is it really so hard to shower once a day? Week? The hound finds himself well as per usual. I suppose it has to do with business. I never had the head for that. It bored me to tears and you know how that goes over. Its rather good of me to stay away from that wouldn’t you say? I’m sad to hear about Milly, I was rather fond of her. But you are right in leaving her if its only a fling for you. There’s nothing worse than draging something out when one has more feelings than another. Poor Milly though, I could tell she was all heart eyed. The hound’s proposed to Blue, about time too wouldn’t you say? Everyone knew they’d end up together. Except for Britty, but he is as always the downer. Britty got accepted to Dartmouth although I’m sure you’ll hear before this letter reaches you. He’s going into surgery, which sounds like quite a bore to me. Not that I’m not happy about it, but well…it’s rather 9-5 isn’t it. I do think the old sport would be proud. I’m well if not dying of boredom but that shall pass upon my return to Amsterdam, or perhaps I shall accept the offer in london? I do rather miss my place though. This has gotten rather longer than planned, it was meant to be a quick note really. Do write Tansy. I’d prefer if you visited though. You are my closest companion and I have lots to say to you in person.
Some Polaroids of flowers feel out including one with a young girl maybe his sister’s age? She had long dark hair and heavy lidded eyes.
Ezra was left more puzzled and curious than before and reread the letter several times before deciding to mail the contents back to this Mimsy.
of course bb. Anything to distract me from doing actual productive work!
A quick note: This takes place after Lullaby but before the epilogue. Hopefully the time frame doesn’t make it too confusing.
LAX is hell. You’ve always thought so. Now you’re sure Dante was right because struggling to baggage claim with a two year old is obviously the tenth circle of hell. You’re not sure how single parents do it.
Eva whines on the moving walkways. She doesn’t like the noise but you’re too tired to care. Actually she whined most of the trip. Planes rides aren’t easy on toddlers and you curse yourself for not being more sympathetic. Only you’re still having the rare bout of morning sickness and your whole ached constantly. Sometimes you couldn’t tell if the all your pains were from the new life growing inside you or from the little one you had to chase around 24/7.
You finally make it to the carousel where your bag will hopefully appear and you immediately sigh with relief. He’s here. He’s already here and pacing and looking and you know that the second he spots you everything will be fine.
You’re right. It takes a moment but Ezra picks you out of the crowd. He runs to you. He doesn’t care that he looks slightly manic or that he bumped into a businessman and knocked his latte to the floor. He only has eyes for you and…
“How’s my princess?” He coos as he plucks Eva out of her stroller. He covers her tiny face in kisses before pulling you to him with his free arm. You can feel tension leave his body as he holds the two of you.
“I’m so glad you’re here.” He whispers against your hair, giving you a final squeeze and letting his hand fall down your side over the slight pooch of your belly before reluctantly handing Eva back to you and grabbing your bags.
He borrowed Rostam’s car to pick you up and as you climb into the passenger seat you get the feeling that he’s up to something. He buckles Eva in with a silly grin and you’re sure you’re right.
You poke at his arm as he drives and he laughs. You’d almost forgotten how rich he sounds in real life. Three weeks with nothing but work and Eva has drained all of your senses. You start to tap fake morse code messages on his forearm and he wiggles when you find a ticklish spot. He can’t seem to stop smiling. You’re not even sure if he’s trying to.
“What’s up?” You ask quietly. Eva fell asleep as soon as she hit her car seat. You’re thankful for small mercies – like a half an hour drive without her crying.
“Nothing.” He shrugs but his smile stays in place.
“You’re grinning like a crazy person.”
“Can’t a guy be happy to see his wife and kid?”
“Of course, but I don’t think that’s it…Seriously, What’s going on?”
His eyes dart over street signs as he drives and you wonder what he’s planning. Ever since your blow up right after Eva was born you agreed no secrets from each other. You’d been through too much to put your relationship at risk over things that had been left unsaid.
“How was Eva on the flight? Any tears? I know the pressure makes her little ears hurt.”
“She was fine. You’re avoiding my question.”
He laces his fingers through yours and pulls them up to his mouth. He dots your knuckles with kisses as speeds down the highway.
“I missed you.”
“You can’t distract me like this.” You breathe out. His lips tickle your hands and you feel yourself beam.
“So you didn’t miss me, Bambi?”
“I never said that!”
“You’re breaking my heart!” He laughs out but you squeeze his hand.
“Hey. Don’t even joke about that, okay?”
“I know. We’ve been apart too long.”
“Two and a half weeks.”
“Exactly. Eva’s bigger than I remember. You’re bigger than I remember.”
“I meant.” He frantically gestures to your barely there bump as his cheeks flush red. “I don’t think I left your side the first four months you were pregnant with Eva. I feel awful about not being around for K squared.”
"You’re working. We don’t blame you for being away."
He doesn’t look at you. His eyes focus on the road and you’re reminded of all the times he’s driven with you and Eva. He’s cautious. You know he misses New York and public transportation and not feeling responsible for all of your lives. You sit in silence while you zoom down the highway. Ezra’s hand squeezes at yours and you rub your thumb over his to try and sooth him.
"Eva barely recognized me." He admits quietly. You struggle to hear him. You knew it was hard for him to be away but you never thought he’d think that. Eva’s a daddy’s girl through and through.
"Stop. She was so excited to see you Ez. The whole flight she kept asking me where you were. She missed you. I did too."
Your words don’t assure him. His brow kits together and his forehead is all worry lines.
"She acted like she didn’t know me at baggage claim."
You don’t know what to do. He’s projecting his worries onto Eva. She was ecstatic to see him. There was a lot going on but you’re sure she was happy to be with Ezra again.
"She was overwhelmed. She loves you."
"I felt so far away from my girls."
"We skyped you yesterday!"
"From New York. I was in San Francisco."
"Hey, be glad we live in a time where you can watch your daughter waving from a thousand miles away."
"I am. I…This already isn’t how I wanted this trip to go…Let’s start over." He chances a glance at you and your heart flutters. The combination of Eva plus distance and the last bouts of morning sickness made you forget how special he could make you feel. "I’m so glad you’re here Bambi, how was your flight?"
"You’re still upset. You don’t have to hide that from me."
"I do when we only have a few days together."
"For right now. You’ll be home for good in three weeks."
"By for good do you mean a month?"
The carefree attitude he had when he picked you up is gone. He’s all hard edges now. You don’t know how to sooth him. You can’t wait to be out of this stupid car so you can wrap him in your arms and hold him until he believes that things will be okay. It still feels like he’s hiding something from you.
“And Eva and I already have tickets to visit you in Spain for the next tour.”
“I’m missing her whole childhood.” His excitement is replaced with melancholy and you curse yourself for thinking a trip, especially one with Eva, where you’re visiting Ezra while he’s working, could be easy.
“The new baby isn’t even going to recognize me.”
“I want to be there for you. All of you.”
“No. Not enough.”
That’s crazy. He comes home often. He’s almost been late for performances because of delayed flights. He sends you flowers and trinkets. Eva gets toys from all over the world. True those things don’t make up for the distance, but they prove he cares.
“Close Ez. This isn’t going to last forever.”
Silence fills the car. Ezra pulls of the freeway. He turns, then turns again. You faintly recognize your surroundings. As the car slows he clears his throat and you chance a glance at him.
“I can do better.”
You don’t tell him you know and you don’t say that you understand, it’s hard. He pulls into a driveway of a large white house and words fail you.
Aww, I’m actually from Michigan (went to school in Chicago though) and was in Milwaukee to see Lorde last Friday. It was a really beautiful city though! I was super impressed and had a hella great time.
I cannot remember