Harley & Rose(7)By: Carmen Jenner
“Oh, alright then,” he mutters, and goes back to instructing the men banging around in my shop.
“She’s going on his honeymoon,” my mother shouts, as if I’m not standing three feet away. “You cannot do this, Rose. Herb, will you please talk some sense into your daughter?”
“You’re making a big deal about nothing.” I head back to my chest of drawers to avoid her all-seeing stare. The woman throws more shade than the queens in RuPaul’s Drag Race. “He’s my best friend, and he’s heartbroken. He doesn’t want to go alone.”
“So tell him to take Rochelle.”
“Okay, the only thing worse than not going on your honeymoon with your new wife is going with your mother.”
“Why doesn’t he just cash in the tickets?”
“Because maybe he needs a break from all the questions he’s about to face. Mom, I’ve never said a thing when it came to you butting into my life, but I’m putting my foot down with this. Harley is my friend; I’m going away with him in a friendly capacity. We’re just two friends in Hawaii, soaking up the sun, drinking Mai Tais on the beach and trying to forget all about the whore who broke his heart.”
The more I try to convince her, the more I convince myself. We need this. We both work too hard, and since Alecia shimmied her way between us a year ago, Harley and I have been slowly drifting apart. A vacation in paradise is exactly what we need.
My mother brushes past me and grabs my hand, leading me into the entrance of my kitchen. “And I might even believe that, if I were anyone else. But I know you, Rose Perry, and I know you’ve been in love with that boy since the first day of kindergarten.”
That isn’t exactly true. I haven’t been in love with Harley all this time—just most of it. I’d had other lovers, and I’ve had periods when I didn’t even like Harley, much less love him. Granted, now isn’t one of those times, but she’s way off base. Okay, maybe she’s not way off, just mostly off base.
“Have you thought about what this will do to you?”
“We’ve been on plenty of vacations. We’re adults.” I argue, but my protestations sound flimsy, even to me. “He’s broken-hearted.”
“And what are you?”
“I’m fine,” I say, at a much higher decibel than necessary. “And I really do need to go pack.”
“So pack. Don’t let me stop you.”
And I don’t, though I sort of wish I did because every swimsuit I put in my bag my mother wrinkles her nose at over the expensive glass of wine she’s commandeered from my kitchen. The same one I’d planned on opening and drinking myself into a stupor with after this god-awful wedding.
I take the bottle from the nightstand and swig it right from the lip. I’m going to need all the Dutch courage I can get if I’m going to get through the next few hours of this night without giving my mother’s words too much thought.
After my mother consumes half the bottle and I practically inhale the cup of coffee my dad makes me on the store’s espresso machine that cost twice as much as my rent a month, I leave the shop in a cab, and both my heart and bloodstream have sobered some on the way downtown to pick up Harley. When I try to rouse him—the bastard has in fact fallen asleep—he isn’t any more enthusiastic about the trip now than he was an hour ago. Though he has been a little more enthusiastic about the champagne I’d left him with because he’d been out cold with one empty bottle lying on the coffee table and another spilling over the carpet. I pick up his clothes from the floor and toss them into his suitcase. And then I throw him in the shower and go downstairs to get him a coffee and settle the extra on the cleaning bill.