Thursday, March 18, 2010

4: two months after

when milo's father, lukas, divorced his mother, sylvia, six years ago, he spent a lot of time fucking around with really young girls. the youngest was nineteen. when milo asked his father about this lukas said, "son, i feel like i wasted my younger years and now i'm trying to make it up by fucking hot young women." it was the most truthful thing his father had ever said to him, and it was also the primary reason he moved away from idaho.

(milo had asked his father once why he had moved to idaho from greece and his father said, "i'm sick of the fucking ocean.")

lukas is now engaged to a 25 year old model/actress/professional bore from salt lake city, a former mormon with that bouffant hairstyle and far too much makeup. milo cringed at her name -- amanda -- and her sickeningly fake smile. she had great teeth though. lukas seemed to love her, and that was enough for milo, even though he was only three years younger than she was.

i love you.

really?

of course.

you say that, milo, but one of these days you're going to look at me and you're going to get bored with me.

what makes you say that?

i don't know. i just feel it.

milo walks through a copse of freshly-planted trees on his way to class, thinking about his father and his new mother-in-law. at thanksgiving last november, when he met her for the first time, she tried to call him "son" halfway through the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes and humous and spanikopita meal. it made milo go crazy in his head but he kept his temper anyway. sometimes he just didn't feel the need to pick battles like that one.

i won't get bored with you.

you mean it?

i mean it.

there is an acrid smell of smoke in the air, probably from the construction going on on the other end of campus. they're expanding the student union building. maybe they're burning the excess wood for warmth. milo finds himself back on the walkway, in the sunshine and the cold bitter wind that is blowing less and less as spring rears its beautiful head.

i just want you to be happy.

i am happy.

really?

... are you happy?

the liberal arts building is the oldest building on campus. built at the turn of the 20th century, it houses the oldest books, the oldest foundation, and in the oldest faculty, with about 2/3rds of them being over sixty. milo's professor is one of the 1/3 that is under sixty: a young lithe woman named tabitha. she teaches a special topics lecture called "21st century literature: a look into the future of creative writing." she wanted to call it "who is going to write the great 21st century novel?" but the rest of the liberal arts faculty -- stodgy, stoic, aloof -- did not approve.

tabitha is a recent graduate of ucla's mfa in creative writing. she rides her bike to work and thus has amazing calves. she wears colorful sundresses to work that are just short enough to show off those calves. and when she talks, milo listens. she couldn't be more than thirty years old. maybe less. she does yoga and speaks three languages, all fluently. sometimes in class when something screws up she swears in french and it makes milo's heart flutter a little bit.

but then he remembers that he is an undergrad from podunk idaho and everything slams back into reality--

"MILO."

milo turns around. avery is walking behind him.

"milo you goddamned idiot, i've been calling your name for like five minutes. everyone was watching me shout out 'milo! milo! milo!' it's stupid."

"sorry."

avery looks like he just woke up. while not in the same class (avery is studying agriculture), avery does have a class in the liberal arts building, a class on critiques of british literature in the modern era. "it was the only class that wasn't full," he said of it.

what are you reading?

pride and prejudice.

what is with women and that book?

i'm sorry, i like it.

i thought it was shit--

"MILO," avery shouts.

"sorry!"

"so are you?"

"am i what?"

avery stops in the middle of the walkway. he puts his hands on his hips. "going to the party on saturday. god, you do not listen, do you?"

milo isn't the kind of guy who likes to party. the last real party he went to was two years ago, at the house where he met her.

what are you drinking?

uh, beer?

oh, i mean, we all have red cups, i don't know what's in what.

it's beer.

okay.

... my name's emily.

milo.

nice to meet you.

"listen," avery says, hurrying back up to milo and putting his arm around his shoulders. "it's been two months. it's time to go out and have some fun. know what i mean? get away from your thoughts for a while. who knows, maybe you'll meet a girl who's got some armpit hair. that's really distracting."