One week without you
Thought I'd forget
Two weeks without you and I still haven't gotten over you yet.

The sorority girl in the wheelchair is turning 21 and she and her sisters occupy the largest table in the house. She sends her boyfriend over to the jukebox about once every fifteen second to request the same damn Go-Gos song. It becomes my job to tell her off, since evidently I am the only bartender with the balls to tell off a girl in a wheelchair.

Her face is Charlotte's face, only fatter and not so tired. I have had about four Charlotte sightings in the last two weeks, only one of which was real.

Even the kids at the record store, who heretofore ignored me, now regard me with uneasy recognition. There are no hiding places in this town. I have never myself managed to disappear, though I'm only inclined to try when my love life goes particularly haywire. Charlotte has nonetheless managed to achieved invisibility, after 28 days of nirvana, on the day of the first morning I made her breakfast.

I look up through a rain-streaked coffee house window and am pretty sure it is Charlotte's wet hair I see being flipped in the rain. I was also sure she served me my coffee and sure, before I put my contacts in, she was the woman curled up at the breakfast nook with my roommate, wearing his T-shirt and boxers.

I am stupid enough to wonder aloud, Was it me or the Belgian waffles she refused to love. By all rights my roommate should greet this with derisive laughter. Instead he says, She licked her platter clean, did she not?

Don't room with an English major. They use obnoxious turns of phrase like "did she not?" on a non-ironic, too-frequent basis, and you don't know when they're talking in metaphors. He leaves me alone in the kitchen with a sink of suds and dishes, cranking the little radio on the counter to full blast. The Go-Gos come on.

The sorority girl in the wheelchair writes her number on a coaster, announcing that she'd dumped her boyfriend shortly after the night I had told her off.

"I like you for taking me to task," she said. "You have no idea how few men are that brave." She grins broadly, her mouth an orthodontic victory. Her eyebrows are just barely darker than blonde and her eyelashes, like Charlotte's, a tangle of mascara. Her skin is a mass of freckles and her smile, though it reminds me of Charlotte's, is not wicked enough to interest me.

I would call her if I could think of her as more than the honest version of the woman who had fled like a cartoon rabbit, perhaps not even bothering to use the doorknob, leaving a huge, woman-shaped hole in my life like a cartoon silhouette.

I never did any of this out of obligation, Charlotte had said. And I believe her. I don't even think she fled out of fear, though that would be the easiest explanation. The greatest trick Charlotte ever pulled was convincing me she did not exist. She had always smelled vaguely of ether and talked like a question mark. I didn't have the right to be surprised when she became thin air, and I knew it. I had seen the whole thing coming like a ghost train. Here I am on the tracks, still bleeding, taking phone numbers, haunted.


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