Westy's baby pictures are all smiles. Twenty-fiveyears later he shows these to Tina and he is stillsmiling. How can this be? He is patient and loving andhas wide, rum-colored eyes.
"Look at this one," says Westy. "It's me sittin' in alaundry basket!"
"You look like a commercial," says Tina. "Acommercial for laundry. Your slogan should be do your laundry!"
Westy does his laundry. He is the neatest man Tina hasever dated. His room is filled with shelves and Jim Morrison posters. He has two hundredand fifty dvd's and glass soda bottles with no soda inside of them. Westy is a collector.
"I can put shelves up for you, too," says Westy.
Tina is not at all organized. She is a nesting doll ofemotions and guilt and fear and a little bitty baby of apathy. She is not the girl for Westy,yet here they are, together.
"This whole thing would be a lot easier if you wouldjust let me in," Westy informs the little bitty baby.
"I told ya I don't want any shelves," Tina sayscrossly, filling out one of her puzzles. She has been trying to figure out a lot of things lately.Like, what's a four letter word for primary desire?
"We need each other," says Westy quietly. They havecome from dinner at a diner. They are sitting inWesty's car now, and he is fiddling with his radio.
"That was good seafood lasagna," Tina says.
"I liked mine, too," says Westy. "The salad was alittle limp, but I really can't complain aboutanything else." He leans in and kisses Tina, and shegoes salad limp in his arms.
"You've gotta stop doing that," Tina says, smoothingher hair down. Tina likes to make messes, but one thing she loathes is being a mess.She is dating a man who is a lot thinner than she is, and this makes her feel self-conscious.
"You make me happy," says Westy. Traces of his littleboy smile are evident along the smooth sides of hisface. Must be those cheekbones, thinks Tina. She hopesthat she has a kid someday who looks like Westy, andthis thought sends a little warning chill down herspine.
"We've only been dating five months," says Tinaairily. Five months, but his baby picture is all shecan see in her mind. I want to have his baby, thinksTina. What the hell is wrong with me?
"What the hell is wrong with me?" asks Tina aloud.Westy's arm is on her shoulder, and she pulls awayfrom him. His face registers momentary hurt, and thenhe is back fiddling with the channels on the radio.Talk news and then a reggae song and then a commercialabout checking your prostate and then a love crisiscall in show and then-
"I love you," says Tina, with her hand closed overher mouth like she is suppressing a cough. The samemouth then displays a look of horror movierealization. Love is the thing that runs up the stairsto the bedroom when the hunter is in hot pursuit. Loveis the big bosomed heaving breath of fresh air in theunderwater fight sequence. Love is the reassuring handon the shoulder that insists it's only a dream, or isit?
"You know what it is," says Tina, "it's that babypicture of yours, Westy. And your soda bottles."
"My soda bottles?"
"What did you do with the soda in them, anyway?"
Westy pauses to consider this. "I guess I drank it,"he says slowly. "Let's go back to the part about youloving me, though. What is this all about?"
"I don't know," sobs Tina. It is a warm evening, andWesty has the top of his car rolled down. Tina looksstraight up and sees the night sky towering over her,with its hidden plans and air of uncertainty. Theuniverse peeks over the top of Tina's head, just likeWesty.
About the author:
Christina Delia has never soberly described herself as a Jersey girl. She has writing, oh does she have writing, in Another Toronto Quarterly, Elimae, The Glut, Happy Woman Magazine, HiNge, Hobart, Juked, Prose Toad, Word Riot, and others. Christina has never been to a singles bar (do they still have singles bars?) If she ever goes to one, she will inform everyone there that she is a Leo.