The Fool

A blue eyed baby doll with a chewed up foot and smudge of dirt on its head is loosely wrapped in fairy lights, like a kitten playing with yarn, over a pink rose with a purple cloth backdrop.

Friday, January 12th, 2007

I finally have something to write about, that isn’t some stupid poem about how the scent of cut grass is from the chemicals it releases when it screams, or the geometry of pine cones, something like that. Something people don’t usually want to talk about. After class I went to Maverick’s, to my table under the speakers. They weren’t doing a good job of covering the noise today. There was a group of women having a late lunch, and there was a lot of laughter. It made me miss Mom. The guys at the office don’t exactly joke around with me. I don’t know if it’s because of Dad, or if it’s just me.

It made me miss more than Mom. Maybe it was their laughter, maybe it was the music, but I started really missing Jeff. Not the wisest thing to dwell on, but that’s how I was feeling. Lost. Used. Something worth nothing more than a good time, destined to be discarded. Foolish.

Jeff made me feel funny, pretty, smart. I really thought he liked me. I should have known better. I guess it’s not a good idea to be hanging around Dad’s employees anyway, it’s just that I don’t have any time to date, I barely have enough time to study, with all of Dad’s paperwork. If Mom were alive, it would be different. She could have done the books while I focused on school, and had time for a life. But Dad needs someone to help him, he’s worked too hard to watch everything fall apart.

I don’t like the way Dad talks about her, but sometimes I think maybe he’s right, maybe she should have eaten better, been more healthy. But here I am, doing the same thing. Eating greasy restaurant food, never cooking, never going for a jog. It just seems like there’s never any time. Maybe if I was better at what I did. Dad is always talking about how Mom was never very efficient either, I wish I had taken more after him. If something happens and I have to take over the business as well as take care of him, I’d be lost.

Here I am again, feeling sorry for myself like a pathetic lump. But, I shouldn’t feel that way now. Besides, Dad is healthy and strong, he should be able to keep up the business well into old age. I don’t know what I would do without him, he’s right that I probably wouldn’t be able to take care of myself.

Anyway, there I was, trying to get the books done so I could go home and write my paper (okay, I admit it, I was moping and tracing the patterns in the wood grain with my finger), when a man came up to me. A good looking one! He said his name was Stuart. I was so stunned, he just slipped right into the booth and started talking about how he likes women with a strong work ethic. And he didn’t seem to think I was being a nerd, with my paperwork and calculator. I was so shocked, I must have missed part of the conversation. He ordered me a Mimosa, and I don’t even remember telling him what I was drinking.

He said I had a warm smile. That was different. At work there are whispers that I’m a bit of a snob, a cold fish. But it was like he looked in my eyes and saw deep into me. And he was so nice, asking about the books I was working on, as if my father’s business was interesting to anyone but the family. We have so much in common too, he said he does the same thing, likes to go to a bar during off hours just to soak up the atmosphere while he works, he just usually goes to the one on the other side of town. He said he gets too busy to really go out, just like me. A hard worker. And we like the same music and books.

He’s so much more together than I am, so much more capable. He’s charming, I could never do that. His smile could get a girl to do anything. He reminds me of Jeff a little, but Jeff was more into just having fun and teased me for working too hard, like I was supposed to just ditch my father and not show my gratitude for all he’s done for me. Stuart admired my loyalty to Dad, said too many women don’t want to work hard, just want a man to take care of them while they sit around the house.

I didn’t have to talk a lot, which is good. It always feels like whatever comes out of my mouth is weird and stupid, and it’s embarrassing. He seemed happy to carry the conversation. When I did talk, like when I said that doing the books soothed me, just a big predictable puzzle where I could easily check if I was right or not, he seemed to understand instead of saying I needed to get out more. He did say that math wasn’t his strong suit, but he at least seemed interested in how it made me feel.

He might not be good with numbers, but he seems to know the other aspects of business, like Dad. I can see him working hard at networking, he does seem like he would be good at it. He said something about helping with a few fundraisers for a couple of local charities, he has a good heart.

He understands people more than I do. He asked me if I was on that Twitter thing, said he has a lot of followers, but those sites just make me feel more lonely. I wish I could be like him, he makes it all look so easy. It was a lot of fun hanging out with him. I lost track of so much time that Dad even started texting me asking where the books were. I had to make up an excuse. Stuart was even nice enough to start helping me a little, once I explained part of my system, something I thought he could handle with a calculator. I was a little uncomfortable with how close he was sitting, especially when he started lightly touching me. I’m not used to that. I kind of wished I had room to scoot a little further away, but I guess maybe I am a little too stand-offish at times.

Maybe it will be okay if I have to stay up late working on the paper. Even if he doesn’t call, it ended up being a really nice night. I just hope it doesn’t end up one of my crushes that never goes further than my daydreams. I hope this is the start of something new that I can cherish, and I don’t end up just feeling like a fool again.

– From the journal of Lillian Anderson

P. S. – This is part one of four. I contemplated four tarot cards (selected, not pulled) while playing with the images I released under Creative Commons, and a part of a character’s background decided it wanted to be told for Valentine’s Day. The full story is over here.