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.The money he’d poured into his graduate thesis exhibition had left him struggling with rent payments.He lived in a loft over the Chinese restaurant on Main Street and had all the room we lacked.His kitchen consisted of a microwave, a coffee maker, and a hot plate set up on a folding table, his living room of a flower-print velvet couch and a halogen lamp arranged in the corner.He used the rest of the single open room for making and showing artwork.I told Eli I thought his moving in would be a good thing for both him and Kevin, inwardly surprised by the disappointment I felt at the prospect of his leaving.But it was only talk.There was always one or another reason why this weekend wasn’t ideal or the next weekend wouldn’t work.Every night he was in our living room, sitting at his desk preoccupied with another project.The desk was an old drafting table he’d found discarded on the curb and talked Zoë into helping him carry to our living room.In the last week he’d entertained himself by dissecting and reassembling into collage the twenty-five People magazines he’d bought by the crateful at the used bookstore.The collages were expertly detailed and unpredictably bizarre.They featured whimsical landscapes populated by strange little people, segmented celebrities reassembled into disproportionate figures.There was a young man and young woman holding hands against a hot-pink striped wallpaper backdrop.In the next a preacher atop a skyscraper-high pulpit shaking his red tight fist at the city grotesques shopping below.And (his favorite motif) an old man on a bicycle riding through blue skies and puff paint clouds.Since spraining my ankle I’d gained seven pounds.I blamed Michael, who felt personally responsible for my accident and apologized with ice cream.I accepted each gift with more resignation than appetite.Apparently, injury is the shortest route to love handles.Saturday he arrived with two pints of Ben & Jerry’s.“Scoot,” he demanded.I made room for him on the couch.He handed me the Chunky Monkey and a spoon.We took turns eating from the ice cream and the leftover oatmeal cookie crumbs Grandma had sent.His temples pulsed while he chewed.Ironic that the more muscle a man has, the more energy he seems to exert for even the slightest exercise.“Let me have a look at your ankle.” He rubbed his hands together to brush the cookie crumbs from his palms.“But I’m all mummified.”“I want to make sure it’s all right.”He sat on the hassock, facing me, his legs straddling mine.He propped my sprained ankle on his lap.Unlatching the Velcro that held the boot in place, he gently slid it from my foot.“Looks a lot better,” he murmured.“Are you still icing it?”I thought of my toes decorated in fondant and chocolate.I nodded.The slight pressure of his hands on the arch of my foot made me feel somehow undressed, a Victorian lady scandalized by her own exposed ankles.“So how’s Zoë holding up?” he asked.“She’s been icing her legs every night.I think she feels better.I don’t know, she hasn’t talked to me much.”He reached for the brace.“I mean how’s she holding up about her mom.”“What do you mean about her mom?”“She’s back on the drip.”I was stunned.(And annoyed.On the drip.Only Michael could make chemotherapy sound like a street drug.)“Why didn’t she tell me?”He looked as surprised as I felt.“I just assumed you were the first to know.”When Zoë walked in the room my ankle was still on Michael’s lap.Her eyes flashed.I quickly put my foot down.“Was just checking for swelling,” Michael said.But I saw his ears go red.“I didn’t know Michael could be so sweet,” I said to Zoë.We were at the kitchen table.I was grading quizzes.Zoë was painting creek rocks.She had curious ways of dealing with writer’s block.“There’s a lot more to Michael than people give him credit for,” she said.I remembered how she’d once told me she would never be able to marry a man who wasn’t physically attractive.I’d assumed she was joking, but whenever I pointed out one of Michael’s particularly dense comments or dim-witted philosophies, she would always come back with, “I know—but he’s sooo good-looking.”I asked, “Do you think you’d be with him if he weren’t so handsome?”“A person can’t be responsible for good genes any more than responsible for bad ones.It’s such a double standard.Everyone says not to judge a person on their appearance, but they judge goodlooking people all the time.Nice body, handsome face, ipso facto: vapid meathead.”“Don’t get so defensive.I was just joking [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]