She had waited until the end of dinner to tell him, but Ingrid was
about to put an end to things with Dimitri.
"Dima," she said, "That's it. I am leaving you now.
And I think you know why, you bastard." With that she took a final
bite of the gimletchops, downed the last of her Becherovka and turned
to walk out.
Dimitri, being a hottie and a bit of a smart-ass, was unaccustomed
to hearing this sort of talk from anyone, much less some two-bit Czech
skirt. So she had a nice body. As if that and her nearly-completed
doctorate in geophysics gave her permission to judge anybody, especially
a rough-hewn post-soviet academic stud like himself.
"What are you saying, my love?", he ventured. But he knew
that it was probably over. Maybe it was for the best: she was a good
scientist, but dating her was an emotional roller-coaster ride. There
were the candlelit dinners, the flowers, the constant letter writing,
the unbearable guitar love songs. So he wasn't at all surprised that
his paper on igneous geometries had set her off.
"My love is like a volcano, a terrible seething volcano. It
burns inside of me, waiting and wanting to erupt. But you...you are interested
only in your work. You have no time for love, for romance, only sex.
You are just some piece of Russian hot ass from Odessa that happened
to be giving a paper on X-ray crystallography, and..."
It was silicate geometry, he reminded her, and technically he was Ukrainian.
"Whatever! I knew as soon as you explained your ideas about felsic
magma viscosity and plagioclase feldspar tetrahedra
that I could love you, that you had a mind like no geologist that I had
ever met. I was wild about you and your ideas. I thought we would be partners,
that we would share our love, our minds and our work. Then yesterday I
read in Bundesgeophysik that you have published part of my findings
on igneous geometries! That was months and months of my research!"
He shrugged. "I came up with those same conclusions nearly a year
ago. Here." He retrieved a notebook from his bag and opened it
to one of the earlier pages. "Look at the table there. See the date
in the corner? If you are going to publish in this field you are going
to have to allow for the possibility that your radical ideas about igneous
petrography have already occurred to others."
He signaled the waiter. "Mehr gimletfleisch, bitte" he said
through a mouth of food. The Frankfurt geophysics conference was a bit
of a bore these days, but a few of the local restaurants really knew how
to prepare chops. And then there was the dessert.
"I thought we would be partners," she said.
"Lovers, my dear. You knew from the start that academically
I work alone. Personally I thought we had a good thing going: we have to
go to these conferences anyway. Then we have dinner, some drinks. We
talk about our work. Finally, we spend the night together. We shouldn't
ruin what we have."
"Don't force you're relationship philosophy on me", she retorted.
"We have nothing. I understand now that from the start you haven't
shown an interest in making this relationship work. I am ending it.
Now I go."
"Ingrid, dear, if you feel you must go, then go. But why ruin
such a nice dinner before it is over? At least stay for the pie, it's
really quite good." She left despite this.
Two weeks later Dimitri found a letter from Ingrid in his mail. He
could tell even without looking at the name that it was from her: the paper
was from the same nice stock she always used, and the envelope smelled
like cigarettes and Obsession for women. Inside was a sheet of music.
Jesus Christ, he thought, another guitar piece. It was some sort
of love song or ballad; he couldn't really tell because he had never
learned to read music. Above the handwritten tablatures he read the title:
"The geometries of our volcanic love". Also a note: "This
is how I want to remember you."
He smiled, and then thought about trying to patch things up. She certainly
had passion, something that was perhaps missing in his life. Nobody had
ever written him love songs before. Plus, the Milan conference was next
month. Maybe they could collaborate on a journal article or two, and
things would be fine again. He lit a cigarette, and considered calling
her. Then, after staring at the phone for a while, he crumpled the music
into the ashtray and set it on fire. I'll miss her, he thought,
as he watched the yellow flames engulf the paper.
Another nodeshell with an irresistable title yanked from the abyss.