Marek couldn’t decide on which new pot Circe would like best, so he brought three home for her to choose from, as well as some fresh potting soil and one of those plant vitamin things you tuck in around the roots. He didn’t want Lachesis mad at him; that woman literally had his fate in her hands. If anything had happened to Circe…it didn’t bear thinking about.
“Circe! I’m home” he yelled from the front door, “Look what I’ve got for you!”
He walked through to the kitchen and set the pots on the edge of the kitchen sink so that Circe could see them. One was the pink glaze she’d asked for, but Marek thought the color verged into the Pepto-Bismol zone, so he brought a silver sparkly one as well, and still undecided, a third pot which had caught his eye on the way to the checkout line: a sort of Grecian urn affair with dancing satyrs and wood nymphs all over it. If Circe didn’t like that one, he was planning to plant some ivy in it and put it in his livingroom. Of course Circe liked the Grecian urn best.
“You did well with the pink one, but I’m not so sure that color is “me” anymore. What possesed you to bring the sparkly one? My name isn’t Kirce Kardashian! New potting soil, hmmm, well Marek you do know how to treat a girl when you put your mind to it, but no vitamins, ok? They really taste bad.”
“The vitamin is good for you.”
“I know, which is why I know it tastes bad. Go ahead, you try it.”
“No thanks. Can I move you to the table?”
Marek collected a sheet of the morning’s paper from where he’d dropped it on the kitchen floor, snapped it open on the table before moving Circe there and remarked, “This is going to be a messy job.”
“Are you upset I don’t want the vitamin?”
“No, but I don’t want this to be an all day project.”
“Are you sure you aren’t upset? You look upset. I mean, I appreciate the thought…”
“Shaddap while we get you repotted.”
“Ok. I’m done. No more talking.”
“But I just have one question?”
Marek stopped trying to open the bag of potting soil with a kitchen knife, sighed, and asked,
“What is it?”
“Would you tell me about Smitty?”
Marek sighed deeply, sank the knife into the bag of potting soil, ripped it to the right, glared at Circe, sat down on a kitchen chair with his arms folded and stared out the ruined kitchen window.
“I’ve upset you for real now, haven’t I?”
“s’okay. I might as well talk to you about it. You won’t gossip. You don’t know anybody I know. Well, you know Lachesis and Al but they know everything anyway. I’ll pot you first, but be quiet because I have to think about what I want to say.”
Marek filled the Grecian urn with a bit of potting soil, lifted Circe out of the pail, put her into the urn, added more soil, tamped it down with his fingers, dusted the edges of the urn and stood back to admire his handiwork.
“Well?” he asked.
“I’m thirsty. You forgot to water me.”
Marek filled the coffee pot with water from the tap, pulled himself a beer out of the fridge, sat down, watered Circe and twisted the cap off the bottle.
“About Smitty…” began the plant.
“About Smitty…where to start?”
“I ran into her a while ago….”
Sometimes I don’t think about her at all. Then I hear something, a song, something someone says, I get a whiff of her on the breeze, catch a glimpse of someone who looks like her…but it’s never her and I’m back to square one. I was doing ok again then I ran into her for real, for the first time since we split up, and she kissed me then she just disappeared.
We were, I was, it was, we were in love a long time ago. We met at the mysterious apartment.
“The mysterious apartment?”
Yeah, it was some party. Smitty thought it was downtown, I’m sure it was in Bristol but we could never figure out where it really was afterward. There was a party in an apartment. It was a door between two store fronts, probably led to behind the shops, it doesn’t matter. I didn’t know her, but I’d seen her around campus. I walk in and she’s sitting in one of those hanging basket chairs, know what I mean?
“No. What’s a hanging basket chair?”
Its not important. Anyway. She was smoking and I remember being surprised by that. She looked like she’d stepped out of an old-fashioned painting except for the cigarette. I was glad when she put it out. Some people I know were in the kitchen so I went in there and lost sight of her.
You know about beer now; I was looking for the bathroom at one point and my friend John Bresznan was coming down the stairs. “Watch out for the birds, “ he said. I figured he was stoned and I went upstairs. There was a hallway with 3 or four doors. I opened the first one and three white cockatoos flew out at me, circled the hallway then flew back again. The second door openend on a room with black lighting and weird posters all over the walls, obviously not the facilities. I found those behind door number three.
When I came out into the hall again, the three cockatoos were sitting on stair railing. I was a little spooked about walking past them, then I see Smitty coming up the stairs.
“Are these the birds I have to watch out for?”
She had, she has an amazing voice. I couldn’t believe she was talking to me so I didn’t answer right away.
“I’m sorry, do you not speak English?”
“Uh, yeah, sorry, you um, you startled me. Yep. Those are the birds. I must’ve let them out by accident, wrong door.”
“Ah. Which one is the right one then?”
“Bathroom’s the third one.”
Then she walked to the second door, opened it and went in.
I waited wanting to see who would follow her in there. I stood there for 10 minutes before I decided to knock on the door.
“Yes, “ she said, peeking down the hall.
“Are you ok?”
“I’m not sure.”
Then she pulled me into the room, shut the door and kissed me.
“You’re in here on your own?” I asked when she pulled away.
“Not anymore, Marek.”
“You know who I am?”
“Oh yeah. Boy wonder of the physics dept. Surprised when I saw you come in. Didn’t think this was your scene.”
“ Bresznan, Skidmore and Dave Levy were invited, they asked me to come along…”
She kissed me quiet.
“I’m Grace Smith. My friends call me Smitty.”
“Nice to meet you, Grace.”
“We’ve swapped spit, Marek, I think you should call me Smitty.”
The night spun into a flash of neon and desire. Nobody disturbed us, and we must have fallen asleep at one point. When we stumbled down the stairs and out the front door later, it was still dark but graying up into morning.
“Call me, later,” she said as she walked away down the street to her car.
I was so dumbstruck, lovestuck, in luck I didn’t realize that I didn’t have her phone number.
Suddenly I had a girlfriend. Love of my life, bane of my existence.
Funny thing though. The next day, which went down in history for a number of reasons, nobody could recall who threw the party or exactly where it was held. We’d sometimes look for the apartment, downtown, or in Bristol, but we never found the place again.
* (image from Google)