Shock passed over her features, her lips dropping open just slightly. But it was gone quickly. “It’s not productive to argue,” Lila said.
“I’m not arguing,” I pointed out.
She wasn’t listening to me. Lila folded her arms over her chest, walking back towards the reception desk. “We can’t resolve anything right now, but I have something to tell you.”
Then, as though the scene had been penned by the world’s premier dramatist, the phone rang, and she had to go and get it. Still on the call, my ex waved me over and wrote the name of what I assumed to be a bar and 8:00pm on a post-it then handed it to me.
Fighting the urge to do a little jig, I slipped out of the building. At least I would get to see her again.
I got to Sure Thing Graphics only twenty minutes late, and I knew Camilla wouldn’t rat me out. She could be a bit tough sometimes but knew how to pick her battles. It was also the first time I had been late since she started there.
Settling into my cubicle, I put on my headphones and cranked up some Social Distortion:
I was wrong/Self-destruction’s got me again/I was wrong/I realize now that I was wrong.
I just about jumped when I felt the tap on my shoulder, whirling around to see Cooper standing behind me.
“You’re wearing it again, huh?” Cooper asked.
The ‘it’ in question was my TSOL T-shirt featuring skull and crossbones in the middle of the band’s name. We’d had words about it before. The manager thought it was a bad influence on the other workers. Though for some reason, Aden’s “Question Sleep” shirt slid right by. Not that Cooper really had any more power than I did. Technically I was more important than him. He was one of many digital artists. I was but the only copywriter. Cooper and his ilk made the images, but they would be little more than pictograms without my words to go with them. While, on the other hand, there had been words-only ads on the radio for decades.
“Yes, I am.” I raised my eyebrows at him, ready for a fight.
“Why?” Cooper asked, in that way of his that tended to make people want to break his nose.
“A newfound inability to give a fuck,” I said, looking right at him, making him take a step back.
To my surprise, Coop sighed. “What’s on your mind, buddy?” he asked.
I guess my work friends had gotten to know me better than I thought. Running a hand through my hair, I relaxed, sitting back into my chair and putting my feet up on the desk.
“I’m sure you heard about what happened yesterday with the fainter at Camilla’s desk.”
Camilla was Cooper’s sister. They were very close. There was no way she hadn’t told him.
“Sure.” He nodded, taking a seat on the desk corner.
“She’s my ex. I left her when I went to rehab. I don’t mean we broke up. I just left her behind. Along with everyone else. I didn’t even tell her where I was going. Anyway, I found her office and went down there this morning. Lila was understandably pissed, but still wants to meet me for a drink tonight.”
Coop hummed as he thought. “Does she know you’re on the wagon now?”
“No, I’ll get something non-alcoholic, though that’s not really the point is it?”
“No, I suppose not. I knew you went into rehab, but I didn’t know you had a girlfriend you left behind. You must have screwed up good.”
It was true. I had screwed up so bad, I had basically tried to become another person. Now my past was back, and I didn’t know what to think or hope for.
“I did, but now she wants to see me, and I don’t know why.”
“Do you want to get back together with her? If that turns out to be an option?”
I didn’t really have to think about that one. I wanted it more than anything though I also knew that it was possibly too late.
I had picked the bar because it was close, only a few blocks from Aria’s house. I needed to stay close to home. It gave me a sense of security. I also didn’t feel like being far away from Billy right then. Even though seeing him reminded me of what had happened before, I still loved my baby, but I couldn’t help but notice how much he looked like Carl, or Jinx, or whatever he was calling himself these days. I had called him both for most of our life together, but I switched to mostly Carl when we feel in love. Jinx was a nickname his father gave my ex when he was a toddler, so it was almost like his official name, Carl “Jinx” Willcox. It sounded like an Irish mafioso. The fact that his dad owned a chain of casinos didn’t help that impression. However, he seemed to have stopped wearing three-piece suits.