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She threw more than forty parties every year, counting having a couple or two of friends over for dinner or post-dinner drinks. Even this involved preparation. To catch a single party requires netting considerable amounts of time, food, alcohol and assent. Not to mention the work she put into conversation, drawing on The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Economist, all the half-volume talk shows she left on in the background mornings and afternoons, and the NPR released like exhaust from her car. She liked games, too, but not the sort where you tell someone what they're playing - or that they're playing. Her parties were just scaffoldings for games of her invention, or perhaps vice-versa: sans games, they'd not be parties. You'd know a game was in progress when her eyes were suddenly fixed on you, rather than simply passing over your features like a spotlight on its way to scanning the tablecloth for wrinkles or empty glasses. Making you put a suit on your back, gel in your hair and a drink in your hand was all about getting you more and more naked where it counted, and even that would be nothing to her until someone else was also naked across from you and she'd ensured that both of you knew it. No one understood the social rules better, down to the last ghost of a nuance, and no one but her was so certain that their purpose was to trap, tease into rage and then promptly release a basic human anarchy. I don't mean to suggest that she sought to start fights, or even flirtations. The more awkward, the less precedented, the most completely unlike what an Atlantic article could capture in Atlantic language, Atlantic amplitudes of thought, the more potent for her, the more real, the higher she'd run up the score. Her, not you; the one way you'd win was to get her too drunk to remember what game she was playing, unless, like her, you thrived on the sprawl and spill of emotional ectoplasm once customary safeguards were removed. The one way I could ever win, I should say. I lacked the ability, probably the will, to unclothe the inner Anita. But I saw it happen. Twice. Years apart. Effected by the same brown, probing pair of eyes. And never put together they belonged to one she loved.

...

Bleeding into sand you have no idea how many pints you've lost. Combined with the backwards slip of the tide it felt like the primal ebb of time itself. That universal basic outgo. Eyes too dry to cry, mouth stuck shut by shock, I could do nothing but let breathing happen. The breath that seemed pulled out of me, that seemed to pull me with it as it went, kicking me slightly about up above as the weak, lapsing waters tugged at my pants down below. I didn't breathe; I was breathed, was breath, and less and less each time, a gentle hiss of air growing thin at the center. And that's how she found me, mere minutes from death. She'd listened and followed the wheeze.

...

If my lawyer weren't dead across the room I could ask what it legally meant for signed divorce papers to be burnt like that. I'd managed to save a corner near the signatures, but it was blank. She took it from my unconscious hand when she returned later that night and used it to roll the last of her sativa, or so she told me. She'd used the lawyer's lighter, so now joked that that meant we were notarized. I asked her if she was sure her cancer wasn't the moral sort. She replied it was nice to see we could still fail to make each other laugh like no one else.

Date: 2016-12-04 10:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grashupfer.livejournal.com
This leaves me buzzing with so many questions. Wow.

Date: 2016-12-04 07:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] canonfire.livejournal.com
#interrobang

Date: 2016-12-04 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nightspore.livejournal.com
I love this. These?

Date: 2016-12-05 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ensenchiridion.livejournal.com

I like this.

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