My Clearing

Abby left to go get ready for work. And the two sorta brothers to my boss stayed. Ryan took it upon himself to throw me out of my own kitchen to do the dishes. “I got this. You cooked.”

“It’s my house.” I protested.

“I got this.” He pushed me physically away from the kitchen. “Go keep Alex company.”

I’d rather not. I said to myself, but I went to sit down with him. He didn’t look up as he sipped his fresh cup of coffee I had made him before Abby left. “You have a few landscapes – mostly buildings and statues that are cool.” He pushed a picture towards me, “I’ve never seen this one.”

I turned it to face me and nodded, “That’s one I dream about.” I said. It didn’t look nearly as awe inspiring as it did in my dream. Just a tree in a clearing. The sunset wasn’t really there twilight either. “It’s not so ordinary. I should paint color it in.”

“Make it bigger first, or paint it. I bet it would come out great.”

“You think?”

He grinned at me, “Yeah I think.”

We sat in silence for several moments before I cleared my throat and looked away from him, “I could use with those introductions. Those guys are going to keep bugging my friends and I need to make sure they don’t do anything stupid around here, there are kids.”

Ryan laughed as dried his hands on a paper towel carrying it to the table, “I think we can arrange that. But you shouldn’t go alone.”

“I can take care of myself.” I said vehemently.

Alex nodded, “I’m sure you can.” He stood up. “Thanks for the pancakes Nox.” He started walking towards the stairs, “We should get going, they won’t be coming back today.”

“How…” do you know I started to ask but Ryan was grinning at shook his head and I stopped mid-sentence. The blond caught up to his friend and shoved him in the shoulder and whispered something in his ear.

Alex turned and looked back at me and sighed, “You want to get dinner with me tonight, I know this great place, and I’ll have the contacts you want – even though I think you should stay out of it.”

“Do I get the contacts otherwise?” I asked.

Alex smirked, “No.”

“Pick me up at seven?”

He nodded, “Yeah I should be able to get reservations for then.” Alex smiled and then nodded his head satisfied, and left with Ryan whispering in his ear. They were talking about me that much I knew. I let them go – they could see themselves out.

I looked down at the clearing and thought about what Alex had said. It would make a good painting. But I had never painted before.

I hadn’t been to an art store in the past eleven weeks, but I apparently knew where one was. I hadn’t really thought about where I was going when I left the apartment. It felt strange not going into work, but there was a text on my phone from Rider when I checked it as I left. 

Don’t you dare come in.

So I made sure that I listened. I didn’t go to work. I would attempt to paint. The art supply store was like any other store in New York. Small and quaint and the guy at the counter looked at me without questioning why I was there. I picked up a hand held basket and I browsed the whole store once before I went back for the supplies I had come for. 

I was killing time I didn’t have anywhere to be until seven. Which meant I needed to start getting ready at 5 and before I left it was only 11 am. I had plenty of time to kill. Too much time for an idle mind.

I thought about the guy in my dreams and how he’d looked hurt when I said he didn’t want me. Like I had said I didn’t want him, when that wasn’t true at all. But I don’t think I’d ever told him about my bosses boss and my wandering eye. At least I knew his name, what he looked like even if I didn’t know him very well. But he was still my bosses boss and that really quashed my feelings for him.

My dream guy was perfect. He just didn’t want me to know who he was. I hated it.I felt like I was being split in two.

I grabbed a bunch of acrylics for painting – a variety of paint colors, canvas’ in different sizes. I picked up an easle and paint brushes of different sizes as well. I spent quite a bit of money on it but what else did I have to spend it on. Food and shelter were taken care of and I still had money left over, I’d purchased clothes so I wasn’t wearing one outfit every day. 

It was nice being able to do nothing. I wasn’t sure I had ever done nothing before. It felt strangely satisfying and scarey too. I didn’t like being busy. I walked home slowly focusing on breathing trying to push the panic away. In eleven weeks I’d only had two panic attacks. The first had been a few weeks in when I had changed up my schedule so that I could see Rider’s sorta brother. I knew he’d be in later, I always caught him walking to the shop when I was walking home. And the second was a few weeks later when I found out I’d changed my schedule and so did he.

Now I saw him everyday. Three days out of the week he came in early afternoon for his and Ryan’s morning coffee. Apparently they slept in late, or went to bed late either way it was still a strange time to say a morning coffee it was almost after noon. The remainder of the days he came in right before my shift ended to bring coffee for the crew at one of the clubs he owned. I never had found out which club he owned everyone including Rider was closed lip about it. No one at Brew told me, and Abby and Will kept with that as well.

Some order or something, I don’t know. I guess it didn’t matter. That made me feel a little bit how the guy in my dreams made me feel. Like he didn’t want me to get too close. But I was having dinner with him later so there was something anyway. I think that was contributing to my panic as I walked. I didn’t do change well. I’d set into a rhythm and I was doing well. Now, things were changing and I wasn’t handling it well.

Something felt right but so very wrong about the racing heart and the sweaty palms.