Blue in Green by Kirsten Larson

Editor Kirsten Larson, Fiction, April 22nd, 2015

"I chose the outfit to meet with my ex-husband’s hooker..."

fiction kirsten larson nailed magazine
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I chose the outfit to meet with my ex-husband’s hooker like I was going on a date—jeans, tight fitting right to the ankles, with black boots. I tried on a plain tee shirt that hugged my breasts, then a gauzy, pretty top gathered at the waist, but chose a simple black tank top instead.

My outfit made me look how I didn’t feel—confident, like I was someone. It felt like a sort of armor.

Uptown Indigo prefers to be called an escort. She and I met on the Internet six months ago. The Internet is also how she met my husband, Adam. And like Adam, I contacted her first:

Email Subject: Stay Away Request.

Dear “Uptown Indigo,”

I don’t know who you are and I am not interested in hurting you but because my husband is a lying snake I installed spyware on our computer and saw your email asking if he’d like to schedule another “Girlfriend Experience.” I know what this means.

You should know that in theory I am not opposed to what you do and I don’t judge you for it. But because of women who do what you do our marriage is over and a lot of people are hurt.

I am not some bon-bon eating, rich housewife. I work too. I am still attractive. There’s no reason I can see that he’s chosen to pay for escorts. And by the way, you are not the only one—there have been many.

I am sorry if this makes you feel bad, that’s not really my intent. I don’t know why I am writing this. Our marriage is over. I am alone and I feel like dying. I just wanted to be able to tell someone about it.

Regards,

Melissa (Adam’s wife)

Indigo chose the restaurant, Fenouil, in the Pearl. I got to Fenouil forty-five minutes early, which feels like some kind of advantage.

Fenouil is one of those clean, airy, industrial-looking restaurants. When it opened a few years ago, someone had to teach me how to pronounce the name, fen-ooh-ee, which I guess is the point. Some sort of secret password test for the well-to-do.

Galvanized steel tubs planted with bamboo trees grown up to the metal I-beamed ceilings sit between tin topped tables full of first-marriage-looking couples with straight white teeth, shiny hair, and expensive clothing. They pick at small plates of French food with upside down tined forks in their left hands, knives in their right. I’ve been here for dinner before with Adam, but restaurants like this make me feel left out. I always order food by which words I can pronounce rather than what I’d like to eat.

I hook my right heel onto the barstool, cross my left leg over my thigh and order a whiskey, straight. I chose to sit at the bar because I couldn’t see Indigo and me at one of these tables among all these couples. I couldn’t see us facing each other.

The advantages I don’t have over Indigo are many: I’m nowhere near thirty, Adam wanted her and not me, and then there is her ass. How I know about her ass is because she has a website with photos. She is always turned away from the camera, long, soft hair falling to the curve of her waist, and below that, double dimples and her perfect, heart-shaped ass.

Most of the escorts Adam hired had websites that highlighted their best features: perfect breasts, long, long legs, and shiny sheets of hair. I stopped looking at them after I clicked on a picture of a young woman who looked like she could be a model, and found myself looking at a close-up of her vagina. Shiny, purple nails stretched scalloped, brownish labia all the way over to her spread-apart thighs. Between dark, coarse hair was the exposed raw, red center of her. She was attractive, long, dark hair and perfect features, but I suppose a woman’s vagina rarely matches her face.

I knew Adam could not tell my most intimate parts from someone else’s and now that our relationship was over he never would. Being worshipped by my husband is a small part of everything that no longer exists for me.

There was nothing I could have done to make Adam want me other than to be a different woman every few weeks. It got so that after a while it was like every woman I saw was the enemy. I’d see a woman on the street and wonder what it was she had that he would want. Once, while having a drink with my friend, I looked at her slender wrists and wondered if he would prefer them to mine. I couldn’t see my friend for who she was when I was always lacking.

The more I looked for what was missing in me, the more alone I became.

+

Miles Davis’s trumpet cries from the speakers somewhere above my head, low and sad. “Blue in Green” is the song. I pick up my second whiskey, lift it toward the bartender and then drained the glass. If there is a god that wanted songs about all that is bittersweet and untenable, he created Miles Davis.

I should have planned what I was going do when I first saw Indigo. Maybe I should throw the drink in her face. Maybe I should hug her.

Like all good bartenders this one doesn’t look me in the eye or talk with me. He takes away my empty glass and sets down another drink. I take a sip that burns behind my throat, feel my neck let loose.

Twenty more minutes until Indigo arrives. We’ve been writing to each other for over six months, but she doesn’t know what I look like.

After my first email I didn’t expect to hear back from her, but a week later I got a reply written in all small case, the equivalent of a puppy rolling over and peeing on itself:

Email subject: RE: Stay Away Request.

i wouldn’t usually respond to anything like this, please understand i have to be discreet, but something about your letter got to me. i‘m sorry. i recently emailed all of my past clients because it’s tax time and typically really slow for us workers. i want you to know that it’s never about anything other than sex and to be honest it meant nothing to him, it never does. he didn’t seem like a pervert or in anyway looking for kink or anal, if that helps. the men who do this, they love their wives. i am so sorry about what you are going through. sincerely, indigo.

There is power in pity. But I’ve taken comfort from her. I told Uptown Indigo that Adam was married to someone else when I met him. His first wife was a woman 12 years older than me who stopped eating when he left her. She decided to live again sometime after she was hospitalized, when they cut through to her empty stomach and put in a feeding tube.

I wonder where she is now. I wonder if she still hates me. I wonder how she learned to go on with her life.

Every time someone asked, “How did you two meet,” my bones hurt. Adam never talked about his first wife, but I thought about her. I thought about her when things were good and he’d look at me for too long and then say, you are so beautiful. Had he looked at his first wife like that, had he told her, you are so beautiful? Still, I hung onto all of his empty words.

Feeling like I had nothing to lose, in email after email, I told Indigo only the truth. All Adam wanted was a child. I told her that I took birth control for all of the years Adam thought we were trying to have a baby. I told her I was relieved when discussions of whom our baby would look like thinned out and then disappeared all together. I told her I pretended not to see the sadness on Adam’s face and then eventually, I didn’t see it.

Of all of the places a secret can hide in a marriage, between each other, from each other, and from ourselves, the ones that tore me up the most were those I kept to and from myself.

Indigo and me are not like other women. We have become epistolists, early morning writers of gospel, friends. I figure she drinks like I do. I figure she sleeps like I do. I figure we both have our demons.

She doesn’t always write truth but I don’t care. She wrote that her real name is Mindy then Rachael then Debbie. She is from Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee. I will be disappointed if she’s Debbie from Arkansas. She wrote to me that she has a degree in marketing then it was business. She makes over five thousand dollars a week as an escort, but she can’t afford a car. She has a 401k but no health insurance. She has a mother and a father and has never been abused sexually.

Indigo says that she does exactly what she wants every day of her life.

Some of what she wrote to me I believe.

Most men really only want to be held for fifty minutes after five minutes of bad sex. They only want someone to tell them how wonderful they are, strong, handsome, good in bed. She said some of them are good in bed.

Indigo has a married boyfriend who is a lawyer. She loves him but he will never leave his wife and children. She told me she doesn’t have any girl friends. She told me that sometimes her job makes her feel afraid. She told me she goes to church. She told me she is lost.

Indigo is Catholic, but I’m the one who needs to be saved.

Once I suggested a different career for her, suggested she get an education. It must have sounded like I felt sorry for her. I didn’t hear from her for days after that mistake. An old loss crept in then, made me sadder than sad. Some time went by, I emailed her just “hi.” She responded, “hi.”

That’s what passes for I’m sorry when you are a couple of broken women, out of possibility, talking about anything other than a solution.

I stay away from advice-giving now. Maybe Indigo really has done exactly what she wanted to do while I waited to hear from my divorce lawyer for a verdict on the 20-piece bone china set or the oriental carpet.

But she gives me advice too. Her prescription for my sadness is always to just go fuck a stranger. Let someone hold me for a night. If I like it, go back until I get bored. I know enough about myself to know I don’t have any more of myself to give away.

Marriage had a way of taking all of me out of me.

Indigo comes on to me. Mostly it’s subtle. Other times it’s obvious. She writes fantasies that she thinks will flatter or scare me, like how good she is at going down on women. It’s just who she is.

And I am just who I am.

I wrote Indigo an email about how bored I had gotten with Adam, that most of the time I didn’t think of him at all unless he was standing right in front of me, that I had imagined my life without him many times. I wrote her how I wished I had, even once, held him and told him how wonderful and strong and handsome I thought he was.

That’s the lie I regret not telling. Not that it would have changed anything, it’s just that I would like to think of myself as that generous. If I had been a different person maybe he would have never cheated, maybe we’d still be married, maybe even happily married.

+

The whiskey has turned my neck liquid and the music is working on me in a bad way, turning out all that is wrong at my core. Five minutes until our scheduled meeting.

No sign of Indigo so there is still time.

I unhook my heel from the barstool and put both feet on the ground. I take three twenty-dollar bills from my wallet and put them between the small, dry cocktail napkin and the under-edge of my empty glass.

The first lie I will tell Indigo is something about why I wasn’t at Fenouil on a cold October day.

There is a whistle of air sucking in or out when I push open the big glass door. Outside, dark, dark grey has blown in. Cold wind cools my hot face and pushes red and yellow leaves at my feet. It’s going to rain and the ground feels shaky.

I’m relieved to leave Miles Davis behind.

There are reasons you shouldn’t see the face of your Confessor. I have taken from her some absolution or salvation or revenge that I don’t know how to pay for, and I don’t want it to end.

 + + +

Header image courtesy of Sarah Anne Johnson. To view a gallery of her Wonderlust series, go here.

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Kirsten Larson

Kirsten Larson is a Contributing Editor at NAILED. She lives near Portland, Oregon. She loves words and is very curious. She received her MFA in writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles. She writes for The Huffington Post, and is an Adjunct Instructor at Portland State University. Her work can be found in NAILED, Huffington Post, Pathos, M Review, and several other places. She is currently working on two books.