The Intern Pt. 03

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There’s nothing like being left alone. It can feel great when you need it, and it can rip your guts out when you don’t… even though it’s the very same thing. I had messed up my unpaid internship by accidentally fondling the ass of the CFO in the elevator, on purposely giving him a blowjob in his office, and then recreationally doing an on-camera remote masturbation session with him… in his bed. Then, I told him about the fun facts of my freakish bear trap vagina that closed up whenever anything tried to penetrate it, because he was too good of a guy not to tell him and let him get involved with someone like me. Then, nothing. I was left alone. Again. Life went on. I delivered food, pretended to be on important calls with audiobooks, and counted down the days until I could get control of my trust fund. It wasn’t even that hard. I had nothing left. I just didn’t care anymore.

I know you’re wondering about the stick he gave me. The thing he gave me to care for. Believe it or not, it didn’t die. I changed the water a couple times. I didn’t have anything to mist it with, so I just ran it under some water every day and that seemed to be good enough. It hadn’t changed much. It certainly hadn’t changed into the beautiful flowering branch that Forrester drew on the sheet of paper with my name on it at my cubicle. His kind gesture in the vase at my desk was still just a stick. Sometimes, despite our best intentions and all the faith in the world, a stick is just a stick.

Forrester had ghosted. A week had gone by and I never saw or heard from him. He never called me after I turned off my phone and left his condo without the shirt I’d come to get. No chat notifications, no flirty texts, not even a lunch order… and that was good, of course. That was great, even. It was just what I wanted. I was fine with that. I never had patience for that whole thing where two people who didn’t connect had to pretend at the office that everything was fine. Why can’t it be fine that everything isn’t fine? What is it about a workplace that requires fake fineness?

You know who else didn’t play the fake fineness game? Trudy. That woman? She just let her not-fine flag fly. “Where’s the shirt?” she asked one day, as I handed her her Strawberry Poppyseed with Chicken salad.

“What shirt?” I asked, too thrown off to remember to be on a call with Valerie Solanas.

She raised a skeptical eyebrow at me. “The shirt Mr. Forrester lent you. The shirt you were *supposed* to leave in his bathroom. The shirt you *said* you would bring back a week ago. Mr. Forrester keeps six white dress shirts in his cabinet at all times. There have been only five there for a week now. So, where is the shirt?” she snapped.

I shrugged. “I dunno. Ask Forrester. It’s his shirt.”

“I can’t. He’s been working from home and is only available for emergencies. So, you’re saying Mr. Forrester knows where the shirt is?”

I sighed and pinched my nose. “He asked me to go to his place for a shirt. I went. If it’s not in his cabinet, that’s his business.”

“He had you go to his place?” she said, her eyes sharpening as if she had finally caught the lie in my dastardly shirt plot. “Alright, then… what is the doorman’s name?”

“Daryl was on duty when I went,” I said, picking a sleep seed out of my eye with my middle finger. “Big guy. Looks like Idris Elba. Hates durian.”

Trudy’s face changed slightly, concern coloring her eyes. “You really have been there, then…” she said. She shook her head. “He’s never worked from home this long before. The last time he disappeared this long was when his wife…” she trailed off.

My stomach lurched. “When his wife what?” I asked. Not that I really cared about what Forrester’s wife did. A wife which Forrester apparently had. Not my business, really. It’s just that the wives of gods tend to take it badly when mortals grab their husband’s ass, give them a blowjob, and then masturbate in their bed. Other than that, I was fine with Forrester’s wife. Fine. Fine, fine, fine.

Any charming and informative answer Trudy was getting ready to give me about Forrester’s wife was pre-empted by her phone ringing. She answered it and I began pushing my cart away to go hand out more lunches. The cart was stuck, though, because for reasons unknown to me, Trudy was holding onto it.

“Yes, she’s here… no, she didn’t bring you a Green Goddess… yes, it’s been piling up – do you want me to… okay… okay, will do. Say, did she ever return your shirt? Mmm hmm… uh huh… yeah… say, are you going to end this bullshit story anytime soon? Yeah, I didn’t think so… I’ll send her over with it this afternoon, she can pick up the quarterlies then and bring them in tomorrow. Anything else? Okay… yeah, well not if I see you first.” Then, Trudy ended the call and looked up at me. “Come back here at 4:00 – you’ll be bringing his mail to his place, picking up the quarterlies and bringing them to me tomorrow. Tell Daryl you’re there for the arm-wrestling championship.”

That Escort Küçükköy evening, Forrester’s door opened before I even knocked… Daryl must have told him I was coming after he showed me how to ‘hook’ to leverage my opponent into using their bicep instead of their pectoral muscles to keep their arm from being pulled down. Daryl also clarified for me that kicking your opponent in the balls was not regulation play in the world of arm wrestling.

“Here’s your mail,” I said, holding it out to Forrester and keeping my eyes fastidiously on the hall outside of his apartment. I felt him take the bundle from me, and then it somehow felt right for me to examine the rug in the hall. Yup. It was definitely a rug. I noticed in my peripheral vision that his feet hadn’t moved. He was also barefoot. It’s strangely intimate to see a person’s bare feet after you’ve only seen them in the armor of business shoes. Why hadn’t he said anything yet? Was he looking through the mail?

I chanced a look up to his hands to confirm the mail theory, but they were just jammed in the pockets of his jeans. The mail sat un-examined on a small table next to the door. He really should say something, I mean, this was just intolerable. Even if you’re pretending everything is fine, you say something when someone comes to the door with a bundle of your mail. How was I supposed to know whether to be on the offensive or defensive if he didn’t say anything?

I thought about just leaving, but then I remembered that I needed to get the quarterly reports for Trudy, and somehow telling her that I didn’t get them was a fate worse than standing in front of the bare feet and jeans of the man who last saw me masturbating in his bed. I wasn’t sure if the rest of Forrester’s body was even there, really. I looked further up his torso, and saw he was wearing another dress shirt, but this one was looser… because it was unbuttoned completely, showing his chest and stomach with a slight line of hair going from his navel down under the band of his jeans. Holy mother of god. A slight whimper came out of my mouth, but I coughed quickly to cover it and went back to examining the hallway.

“Um… Trudy said you had the quarterlies for me to take back…?” I said, now completely unable to focus on any particular feature of the hallway, so my eyes were just flitting around like a butterfly jacked up on espresso. What was wrong with him? Say something you freakishly sexy psychopath! Don’t just make me stand here and look at this stylish, yet inoffensive, hallway! I took a deep breath, looked up to his face, and got ready to give him a profanity-laced etiquette lesson when I froze.

Forrester was grinning. Then, laughing softly, he pulled his hand out of the pocket of his jeans and checked his watch. Then, he nodded and put his hand back in his pocket and looked at me again, this time not grinning, but smiling warmly at me, as if I was his favorite thing in the world. “I was wondering how long it would take for you to look at me. Come in,” he said, and then turned around and left.

Off-balance and still a little perturbed, I stepped out of my shoes and padded after him. The place felt different with him there, still mysterious in a way, but less forbidding… like the place knew its master was home. I followed the noises and smells of cooking to the kitchen, where Forrester was moving a pile of chopped tomatoes from a cutting board into a pan sizzling with onions, garlic and olive oil. I stood in the entry to the kitchen, uncertain of what to do. “Trudy’s worried about you… you haven’t been in to work,” I said.

“I haven’t,” he said, pouring some wine into the pan and giving it a slight shake. “I suffered an acute bout of priapism after our last phone call and it seemed a good idea to work from home until my condition stabilized.” Worried, I quickly looked up “priapism” on my phone and blushed as he stirred the pan with a smirk.

“I would think your wife would have helped you with that,” I said when he turned to look at me.

His smile faded slightly, then returned with a wistful look. “I daresay she would. Mind you, I never looked twice at another woman while she lived, but she did love a good hard cock.”

“You’re widowed…” I said, stunned and at a loss.

“Yes… cancer,” he said, turning back to the tomatoes in the pan.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know… I just didn’t want to… you know,” I said, sliding onto a stool near the kitchen island where I could watch him cook.

“I know. Context… one of the many benefits of having dinner before orgasms… that’s why we’re eating together now,” he said, taking a wineglass down from a rack, filling it and placing it in front of me. “When Kelly died three years ago, I couldn’t seem to look people in the eyes without randomly breaking into tears, so I just stayed home for a while. It was Trudy that gently facilitated my return to the office,” he said, suppressing a smile.

“Gently? How? Mecidiyeköy escort With a pitchfork?” I muttered.

Forrester nodded, laughing. “Pretty much… Trudy also got me involved in some volunteer work to keep me busy. Something different to get me engaged in life again. I’m grateful she did. Here, tear these up, big pieces…” he said, putting a pile of green leaves in front of me.

I began tearing the soft leaves and a wonderful fragrance wrapped itself around my head. “Basil. Mmmm…” I said, quickly tearing the rest of the leaves as he drained pasta into the sink and dumped it into the simmering tomatoes. Forrester took the basil away and put it in with the pasta, tossing all of it together in the pan with an expert circular motion.

I sipped my wine as he turned and poured the pasta onto two plates, sprinkling shredded cheese over them. He didn’t fumble or hesitate in the kitchen, but every movement was efficient and precise, like he had done it hundreds of times.

I followed him out onto the terrace where he put our plates onto a small table set for dinner in front of a curved and cushioned loveseat. We slid down onto the seat next to each other and leaned back, enjoying the view. Well, I enjoyed the view… for reasons I didn’t understand, Forrester just looked at me. After seeing me becoming self-conscious under his examination, he smiled again and began eating, nudging me to do so, as well.

“Oh my god…” I moaned after the first bite, “this is so good.”

“I know,” Forrester said through a mouthful of pasta, “I’ve never had basil torn this well before…” I giggled and bumped his shoulder with mine. He grinned again, and I noticed the fine lines beginning to form around his eyes and I found them comforting and warming me at the same time. They told me that he was no fool, that he had seen life and life had seen him, that he knew what he wanted. Sitting so closely, I could smell his freshly-showered scent… the only time a man smelled better than he did while he slept. Had he been thinking of me while under the hot spray, soaping his body? It just didn’t make any sense. I needed this to make more sense.

“I’m sorry, but… um… we weren’t cut off the last time we talked, were we? You heard what I said after… you know?” I asked, unable to bear my confusion any more.

Forrester stopped eating and put down his fork. “We were cut off… but only when you ended the call. I heard… and I’m so sorry,” he said, turning to look at me. “I can’t imagine what that’s been like for you… or how hard it must have been to tell me that.” He took his wine and leaned back into the seat with me. “Gillian that’s… that’s not something that… what I mean is, you deserve more than that. Have you talked with a doctor about it?”

I gave a mirthless laugh and took a drink of my wine, leaning back into the seat facing him. “Let’s say I was brought to doctors about it,” I said, seeing a shadow cross his face at the way I phrased it. “Some said sex always hurt for some women and I just needed to accept it, some prescribed anti-anxiety meds that didn’t work, another thought a numbing cream would do the trick…”

“Yeah, but what would you even feel if…” Forrester began.

“I don’t think my sexual pleasure was at the top of anyone’s mind at the time,” I said, drawing my legs up on the loveseat, hugging my knees to my chest. “And after I was no longer… I mean, after I was on my own… I just didn’t see the point.”

Forrester frowned, then pulled my legs across his lap, looking at me to see if I was okay with it. I nodded and sipped my wine. “I heard what you said… and that was the real reason I stayed home this week. I wanted to learn and understand more, so I took some time off. I needed more data… and you really shouldn’t sit around googling “vaginal spasms” on your work computer if you don’t want a visit from HR,” he said. I chuckled, and he pulled my feet up into his lap and fed me some pasta from his plate. It tasted better than the pasta on my plate, somehow.

“You’ve been googling about vaginas for the last week?” I asked, incredulous and strangely touched.

“Well, yes… and what you described sounded a lot like a condition called ‘vaginismus.’ It’s when the vaginal muscles spasm when something penetrates… or tries to penetrate. It can be triggered by emotional factors, painful sexual experiences, or things like sexual abuse or trauma,” he said, looking troubled and then glancing over at me. I, in turn, kept my face as impassive as a dead high-stakes poker player and didn’t offer any explanation of which of those things might apply to me. He took a breath and nodded, taking a sip of wine before continuing, “So, then, after that, I started calling around to gynecologists to try to find one that knew about vaginismus and sex-related pain – and not just in theory, either. I wanted someone who really seemed to be personally pissed off at it.”

He paused. Why had he Merter escort bayan paused? I’d stopped breathing waiting to hear what he said next, and he was just sitting there looking at me hesitantly, like a dog expecting to be kicked. “Well?” I prompted.

“I think I’ve found someone who can help you. When I spoke with her, she said that if it is vaginismus, it could be months, maybe years of therapy, but that many people overcome it. And in the excitement of things, I’m afraid I overstepped and I… I booked an appointment for you next week.”

I exhaled. My carefully crafted plan of avoiding people for the rest of my life was crumbling before my eyes. Relationships, a family, a real sex life… all the things that were torn from me in the education of my youth, suddenly spread out before me like a feast. The fluttering, chirping hope of all these precious things handed to me in a few easy words. Shaking my head, I clutched the neckline of my sweater and pulled my head inside it and screamed through my clenched teeth.

“You’re… upset,” he said, from outside of my sweater cocoon.

“I’m furious at Emily Dickenson,” I seethed.

“Yes… well, naturally…” he said, obviously humoring the crazy girl who had her head inside her sweater.

I explained. “She wrote this fucking beautiful poem about hope, like it’s a bird and singing inside us and lifting us up, never stopping, no matter what comes. Then she wrapped up the thing by saying that the bird never asked anything of her. Like it doesn’t cost you anything to hope,” I said, poking my head turtle-like out of my sweater and looking at him. “That’s a fucking lie that an agoraphobic shut-in told herself. It costs you *everything* to hope… especially after you’ve given up on hoping… because it means you’ve got something to lose again… that you can hurt even more than you have already.”

“But, isn’t it better to have hope of having something worth losing than having no hope?” he asked, just like a rich guy who knew nothing about real loss. Before I could say something snarky about privilege, he continued. “What I mean is, when Kelly got sick, she was stuck at home. No energy, low immunity, you know? When she’d just had a chemo session especially, she was just wiped out – physically and emotionally. After a while, she just wasn’t herself. And no wonder… I mean, she couldn’t do most of the things that she used to enjoy. Watching her disappear like that was almost more frightening than the cancer, because the spirit that was inside her – the thing that I loved the most – was fading. And without that spirit, what was the point?” he said, looking at a spot on the sofa near the window looking out onto the rooftop garden. Looking at the garden, I noticed that all of it seemed to be designed to face that one point where he was looking.

“So, that’s when I started this garden. Just that hibiscus over there at first,” he said, pointing to a potted bush. “I wanted to give her something to look at other than videos or an empty rooftop where we couldn’t throw parties anymore,” he said, looking around at the rooftop, as if remembering it filled with people. “When I got home from work, she told me about a hummingbird that came to it… and she was smiling,” he said, a proud look warming his face. “This garden didn’t extend her life, it didn’t make her suffering disappear, it didn’t fix anything, really… but it gave us hope. She had hope of getting a picture of a Baltimore Oriole in the bird bath, or watching the baby robins fledge from the nest they built… little things like that. I had hope of seeing her eyes light up as she told me about something that happened in the garden each day. Hope feeds the spirit… draws us out of ourselves… even if it doesn’t always fix things, hope gives our lives worth, no matter how short they may be.”

We sat quietly for a while, him gently rubbing my feet, and me feeling weird… humbled. I had been through so much that I felt like I was the world’s only authority on pain and loss, but talking with Forrester made me realize that maybe I wasn’t all alone. Maybe it was a crowded field of expertise. “So, that’s why you tried to help me… to give me hope,” I said, quietly.

“Well… I did it because I could. We can’t always do things about the suffering around us. I watched my wife die, feeling so horribly useless that it made me realize what a gift it is when we’re actually able to help someone. I have the privilege of being able to do some things that not everyone can… like call doctors and have them pick up the phone. I did it because I cared about what you said. Caring is the blood that flows through the spirit. It’s good to care, even if it makes you hurt… or even bleed sometimes. I did it because… it shouldn’t hurt you to let another person inside.”

“And here I was, just thinking you wanted to have sex with me…” I said, looking up at him over my wineglass.

He acknowledged my point with a head tilt and a wry smile, taking my hand and sliding my legs off his lap, “Well, for tonight, how about a dance?” he asked softly, standing and drawing me up with him. “Alexa, play Sting’s ‘A Touch of Jazz” album,” he said in a louder voice. Alexa acknowledged his request and a quiet jazz song that I didn’t know began playing softly all around us.

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