That Thing Between Eli and Gwen(8)By: J. J. McAvoy
When she stepped out, I saw her short blonde hair was slicked back, and she was dressed in a tailored pantsuit. One word described Katrina Turner: intimidating. Which was why I'd hired her.
“You weren’t kidding,” she replied when I opened the door to the sea of boxes and canvases lining the walls and appliances.
“Yeah, sorry. It’s been a pain moving on such short notice.” In fact, it was pretty much unbelievable. Just a few weeks before, I had been searching for wedding dresses and honeymoon destinations. And now…now, this was my life, in boxes.
“I would have stabbed him,” she said, moving toward the large window overlooking the city.
“I believe you.” I smiled, looking out as well.
She handed me a file. “I submitted this just an hour ago. If he doesn’t let you out of the contract, we can always make noise.”
She'd never even asked me if I wanted to end my contract with Class and Rebel magazines. After word had spread, she had drawn up this proposal. I hadn’t even known he was back at work; I hadn’t dared show my face anywhere near there. Everything was happening too fast, and no matter how hard I tried to stand up, I felt like I was getting beaten into the ground.
“Basically, you would agree to never speak of the incident, and in exchange, they will double your severance. I spoke to your agent; apparently you have more than a dozen offers, not to mention she said you wanted to open a new gallery. No longer being contracted frees up your schedule greatly. You are the winner in all of this.”
If I’m the winner, then why do I still feel still like shit? “Let me know what their reply is,” I whispered, handing back the file.
“Okay. I’ll let myself out. And Gwen.” She stopped at the door. “I know it’s still too soon to say this, but I know you are much better off without him.”
When I was alone again, I glanced back at the window. As I began to tremble, I could feel my body temperature rising. My eyes burned from the tears I fought back.
“No,” I said out loud. I was not going to break down, not right then. I was sick and tired of crying, damn it. Moving to the boxes, I searched for my portable speakers, placed my mp3 player in the dock, and, turning up the volume as loud as possible, snatched a blank canvas from the wall.
I ran for at least two hours, and when I got back, her U-Haul was still open, with three boxes remaining. I wasn’t sure if she was stupid or just didn’t give a damn. Yeah, this was a nice neighborhood, but you still couldn’t just leave things open like that. Stacking them on the corner, I closed the back door of the truck, lifted the boxes, and headed inside.
Why the hell am I doing this? She was most likely going to bark at me anyway. Walking to her door, I could already hear music blaring.
Great, she's this kind of neighbor. Of all the damn places in New York, she had to choose my building.
As I was about to knock, the door creeped open slightly on its own.
“Hello…?” I tried, but my voice was drowned out by music. Her dog glanced up at me but didn't bother getting up. Following his gaze, I saw her. She knelt in the middle of her condo, a canvas lying on plastic over the flooring. She threw paint at it with her bare hands, almost like she was punching it. After a few throws, she would try to wipe her eyes, not seeming to care that the paint rubbed off on her face. She painted and cried, all while on her knees.
Placing the boxes just inside her door, I left quietly, heading back to my place. I took a water bottle from my fridge and tried to not to think about it. This was why having her as a neighbor was a problem! It wasn’t her fault, but just looking at her pissed me off. Seeing her cry pissed me off.
“Ah!” I threw my water bottle against the wall.
I needed a stronger drink.
Science vs. Art
I sat on my bed, staring at the shaking wall with a strange mixture of horror and astonishment. It had been four days since I'd moved in, and it was like this every other freaking night. At first, I’d thought he was shooting a porno.