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The Piano Teacher

I have these moments of clarity where I see my life is absurd. I will be driving through rows of tan houses with the red roofs, watching men in tan pants and blue shirts get into the white cars.

It’s just for a moment, and then it’s gone.

Sometimes when I’m at that very point of awaking in the morning, my mind will slip out of alignment and the truth will appear. Everything is understandable, if only for a moment.

Then the cat would lick my face and it would all be gone.

Susie liked to be called a midget. She thought “little people” was pretentious bullshit. I was fine with it, until that day she made me say it during sex.

“What am I?”
“No. I’m your little fucking midget.” 
“Yes, you are my beautiful little fucking midget.” 
She pushed me off. “Just midget. Can’t you get anything right.”

My shrink told me I represented the oppressor. I didn’t really need that. I left her, and the cat. It was a shame. I really did think she was beautiful. 

I settled into a small apartment near the Darrington Bridge. It was a nice neighborhood. You know the place, safe enough for hipster coffee, but scary enough to Uber anywhere after 10pm. 

I spent a lot of time at the “proudly independent” bookstore. That’s where I met Megan. We dated for a bit. She told me I reminded her of a piano teacher she had growing up. She said he was the first man she masturbated to. I’m not sure what to think about that, but I liked her. She laughed when I told her my first jerk was to Velma from Scooby Doo. 

I didn’t have the heart to tell her I still had a thing Velma. I guess it made me understand the piano teacher. 

We never got too serious, which was fine with me. I was working out a ton of shit. We would go to art flicks, and discuss obscure French novels like we knew what we were talking about. She would close her eyes when I touched her. I could tell she was thinking about piano lessons. 

My deja vu was really bad then. I would be struck by particular events where I had dreamed of this very moment, this conversation, this car, this person. It had all happened before, somewhere. 

My boss called me “indecisively brilliant.” He got away with it because it sounded like a compliment. It wasn’t. I mean I would quit, but they paid me well, and it was close to my apartment. And the truth is I’m pretty lazy. Finding another job sounds like a lot of work. I liked the “Free Food Fridays” and the refrigerator full of Diet Coke. 

AnI also liked watching the marketing girls jog in the gym. I would listen to the Smiths, walk on the treadmill and watch them bounce in their expensive workout clothes. I wonder what it must feel like to be that perfectly desirable. And then, I would imagine who their piano teacher was. It was not me.

My best friend was Jack. He was an art school dropout who paid for his hipster life by writing code for a ‘boring-as-shit’ medical payment app. He liked single-gear bicycles, colorful wool hats and whiskey.

He said we got along because we had different taste in women. He liked them older and skinny, I didn’t. But really, I think we got along because we could talk. Jack and I could talk about anything. Not many men can do that. It also helped that we were both sarcastic, underachieving and lazy. 

I saw Susie the other day. She averted her eyes and scampered quickly past. It is really amazing how a partnership either brings the best or worst out each other. If you have enough time to bond like that. Susie and I didn’t.  

Meagan made dinner. It was some bean and tofu thing she found on a website. I nodded when she asked if I liked it. We watched a movie and drank a bottle of cheap wine. The credits rolled and we sauntered off to bed. We cuddled for the appropriate amount of time and I drifted off. 

I left my body that night. Hovered over us. It took everything to slide up though the ceiling. The fuzzy yellow glow of street lights led the way. I floated over my high school football stadium.

I thought about Julie. She had deep brown hair and cute dimples. We used to goto every Friday night game. She was my first. Well, I didn’t even get inside her the first time before I blew. I was a boy pretending I knew what I was doing. We cleaned it up and sat on her father’s couch reading his scientific radio magazines. We laughed at it later, well, I pretended to laugh.

I floated there and thought about her. The her then, not now. Now, she was a teacher with a husband and three kids. Or so Facebook told me.

Julie drove an old blue Mustang back then. It was her father’s midlife crisis project he didn’t finish. And when he didn’t have enough money to buy a car for her, he just gave it to her. I think it was the only way he could make sure it stuck around. I bet he still has that car in a garage somewhere.

I can still see her trying to eat a floppy piece of pizza, singing some INXS song while driving us to the game. She loved life like that.

She had this weird habit of turning the car off at stop lights. She said it just made sense. Everyone teased her about it, but she just kept doing it. I bet she still does it in that mini van full of soccer kids.

I liked Julie. She was nice. She helped me see what a woman could be. And when the other girls wore red and black, she wore blue. I wish I hadn’t looked her up on Facebook. She was like so many of my high school friends. Their art died. The got a wife and a mortgage and a couple kids. They went to Olive Garden and played video games in the basement to avoid the reality they created. I bet Julie doesn’t wear blue any more. It’s okay. She wasn’t my piano teacher.

I floated for a bit longer. Then I was ripped from space back into my body. I awoke to Megan’s dog licking the night time toothpaste from the corner of my mouth. He curled up under my arm and we both went to sleep.

Published in Fiction