There are so many "should haves" in everyday life. I know many people who should have but for various reasons they can't. Take Chloe for example. My friend. She comes over all the time to my blank and tiny studio. From work, after hours, she shows up unannounced because she's accepted I will always be here. Four flights up, two buildings down from a tattered corner store, and the downstairs lock is broken. Its door is narrow and fit for an alley way. I can hear her coming from four flights down.

She rants around my room while I, usually tuning my guitar or peering over bills, sit in the center of it like the eye. It kills her that I am so calm, but it is the reason she comes by.

"Well, I got this job at 371, mostly murals for downstairs." This was her first line as she entered, no greeting or inquiry as to what I was up to. She and I cited places in the city with their addresses only, for the streets stopped mattering when we both gave up cars. "They want me to do, God, a freaking Delorean for this theme night: Back to the Future." 371 must be a club. She looks over the new shift of drawings I have taped up on various walls to grasp the limited lighting from the two windows I have that overlook the old Mint.

Chloe don't know better *
Chloe's just like me, only beautiful
A couple of years' different
But those lessons never learn

Chloe should have been an artist. She's the one that taught me to see figures in forms, people's hands and the lines in their face. When she goes over my sketches, she is kind. The bottom edges are not even taped down, so they flutter when winds gust up from below. She also should have been mine.

"Is that what you want?" I look up from a paper mache balloon I'm working on, sprawled on the floor with newspaper strips. I like the way the flour base feels when it dries. In the afternoons before work, I never attend to logical matters, because I know Chloe will come, so I do art instead. Mindless, thoughtless abstractions. The balloon isn't really for anyone, but for Chloe, I like to stay seated. I like for her to whirl about me. I also like to ask questions that she can't answer.

Chloe does the tables
In the French Quarter
She's always forgiven
But I can't always make her laugh

"I don't know, Trey. It's work. I get to get all messy. It's...something." She shrugs in her polo shirt, yet another uniform gone bad on her pleasant figure. I mean, I'm no artist; everything I learned, Chloe taught me because, well, it was something to do. Meeting Chloe was like walking into an airport bar and running into a guy you went to high school with and haven't seen since then. When you talk to him, you are tempted to use the past as reference, since the past is all you have in common. When Chloe started frequenting the bar I tended months ago, we found out we're both from Richmond. It was soothing, but she was never "into" me. She likes me because I listen.

But I'm proud to say
And I won't forget
The time spent laying by her side
The time spent laying by her side
Dreams like this must die

"Why are we still here, Trey?" She blew a puff of smoke against the screen. I looked up at just the right moment to see her in profile. I would have attempted to draw her if she had stayed that way. I shrugged.

Why, you want to take me away from this place? "Why are you asking this all of a sudden?" My eyes followed her as she came towards me, scooting the one ashtray I had with her foot across my unfinished floor. Bump, ba-bump bump.

We had been avoiding this question, because just like the past, linked to a place, was all we had in common, we had a hard time having the present in common. This is where she starts talking and I'm not listening.

She never wears lipstick. Maybe lip balm, maybe. But, God, if she did, I would melt right through the floorboards. The top lip has the peaks but they're very defined; if she'd lined them, they would be arrows. I remember her teaching me that drawing lips wasn't about a horizontal line through two half ovals, but the corners made the mouth, framing which direction the mouth would go in the smile, the muscles surrounding.

I am sorry but when you were talking I was admiring the shape of your lips and evaluating their kissability.

"Huh, what?" I have found myself sitting Indian style, my hands pressed and folded under my chin, seeing her feet where her knees once were.

"I said, you're going to be late for work." She pointed at the wide face wall clock as she headed down the hall.

And this is my kind of love
It's the kind that moves on
It's the kind that leaves me alone
Yes it does

* Lyrics cited from here down are from the song Chloe Dance | Crown of Thorns by Mother Love Bone, which can be found on the Singles movie soundtrack.

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