The sister-editors in Oakland, CA are starting their own magazine, The Crux, and desire to pay their contributors [bless you, Katie and Jennifer]. This is my second time getting paid for work—the first time I earned $0.015 AUD per word at 994 words.
Never did the math.
Didn’t give up writing either.
The essay depicts the story of my girlfriend leaving me behind at Heathrow for a guy she met on the flight from Boston. It does not have a happy ending.
For me or her.
We arrive at Heathrow with less than thirty minutes to departure. Nebraska throws money at the cabbie and engages a porter to manage the baggage in an act of efficiency that surprises me. I stand there, holding my gym bag to my belly, a pacifier of sorts, pleading silently at Lexi. Eye contact, Lex, make eye contact with me. She doesn’t. Nebraska takes hold of her arm and whisks her through the retracting doors and into the terminal. I watch them, a good-looking couple, scurry and break through the pockets of people — Michael Cole and Peggy Lipton of the Mod Squad. The porter trots after them. I follow in their wake.
A boarding call for the flight penetrates the PA system. Nebraska and Lexi stand before a pre-ticketed counter. They’re changing her flights. She is reaching into her purse, the two of them conversing to one another and an agent, then she starts back to where I’m standing in the midst of the foot traffic, being bumped and fumbled about in a state of befuddlement. Once before me, everything around her blurs into gray, chaos goes underwater. I gaze into her face wide-eyed, imploring, Lexi, let’s go back to the inn. “His name is Lane,” she says.
“You keep calling him Nebraska.” Her expression is dead serious. “His name is Lane.”
She just said Lane two times. Her processor is defunct.
“Here’s some cash.” She stuffs a wad of green into my hand.
“Lane has invited us to a small family wedding in the Botanic Garden in Meise.”
I already know this. She points to a ticketing counter with a queue that zigzags around four times.
“Lexi, you don’t even know ‘Lame’ and have no business attending the wedding. Where’s your head? What about our plans?”
Her eyes well-up. I’ve never seen anyone look so much like they’re going to cry but the tear doesn’t swell over their lower eyelid. I tell her, “He’s short-tempered and an asshole.” Football players saunter by and I’m clobbered on both sides by equipment bags—balls and cleats. I elbow away the last of it. “What if he hurts you?”
Lane appears. The tear at last makes the leap over Lexi’s lower eyelid and tracks down her face. He takes her arm, pulls her away, as if we’re not in mid-conversation, as if we didn’t share profound intimacy the night before. Lexi knew my true intentions all along, and she created Nebraska, Brussels, and the trashy getup to sabotage my own manifestation.
The two of them dash toward the departing gate. “Lexi, don’t go.” I say it in sotto voce, it’s all I got.
I watch them until they become smaller and smaller and finally disappear. Lexi didn’t look back.