| Her laugh fills my ears and makes my heart sing. I'm so thrilled to be with her.
Cera came to Portland first to get away from her family and second to attend the University here and become an actor. However, she didn't know anyone living here so she's been exploring the town on her own for the last couple days. Luckily, she met me. Or perhaps, luckily, she sat across from me on the bus.
No, not perhaps. Definitely. I'm definitely lucky that she sat across from me on the bus.
I offered to take her out to the local malls before we parted ways the night before. I usually go to Washington Square. It's easy to become immersed into the surroundings and you can usually find something new in each store. There's a Cheesecake Factory that sits next to it. I should take her there sometime. She likes sweet food. It would go over well.
While we walk through the mall--I offered to take her to Macy's first to scout the price of clothes--she talks about Reno. It's always lit up at night and the town itself is beautiful during the day time. There's a welcome sign on the city's limits that say "RENO: The Biggest Little City in the World" in large, neon-lights. I tell her I bet that looks really pretty at night.
"Oh, yeah! It looks marvelous. It's not exactly a dull town, either. I don't think any town in Nevada is."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Well, take your pick. Murder, rape, property pillaging...the list can go on." She laughs as she says this, shrugging off the actual gravity of the topic of the conversation. She's a very interesting character.
We get to Macy's and she's thrilled about the price tags she can find. Cera immediately begins to grab several different pairs of jeans and pants, along with several comfortable looking jackets, some lined with faux fur and others that are meant for comfort, some meant for appearance, and some that I don't know how to describe. She starts handing them to me and eventually the pile becomes too large for me to hold without stumbling over my own feet.
"Wanna start trying these on instead of just grabbing them?" I ask nervously.
"Yeah. I probably should!" She hands me another pair of skinny jeans and swiftly moves towards the changing rooms.
A clerk from behind a jewelry counter calls to me. He compliments me, says I'm a good boyfriend. I laugh, and move on toward the changing rooms where she waits, tapping her foot with a smile on her face. People can already see us being a pair.
"Took you long enough." She says, still smiling. I can tell she's joking.
"Sorry about that."
She tries on everything. I stand there for well over forty minutes, handing her jacket after jacket, pair of pants after pair of pants as she changes in and out of them, and models for herself in the mirror.
She looks wonderful in everything she wears.
She looks wonderful in everything that she does.
She smells wonderful all the time.
She smiles wonderfully all the time.
She talks wonderfully about everything.
Her laugh, above all, is the most wonderful thing I've ever heard.
I'm so glad I talked to her.
But how long will this last?
You know she can't stay here forever. She's here for college.
"But certainly I can make her love me back?"
As if. You couldn't make a dog love you back.
The left side of my head feels like it's on fire; I catch a quick flash of a puppy baring its fangs and looking up at something, its tail between its legs.
She'll never love you.
She probably thinks you're annoying.
It's because you're so weak and worthless.
Who do you think you're kidding?
Scared of the truth?
I SAID WHAT'S WRONG?
A LITTLE SHAKEN UP?
YOU'RE FUCKING TRASH. THERE'S NO WAY IN HELL SHE'D LOVE YOU BACK.
I SAID COME ON.
"Come on, Xander!" Cera snaps me out of it.
But what's "it?"
"Sorry about that. I guess I just spaced out." I smile weakly, looking her up and down. She has a couple of bags. I've been standing next to the mirror for a short while, it seems.
"All is well! Ready to go?"
"Sure. What time is it?"
She tries to check her watch and keep her new clothes from falling out of the bags, a sort of awkward--but cute--effort. She looks back up at me and grins. "Only seven! A few minutes after, anyway." She laughs and whirls on her heels, her long hair spinning with her and falling back in place as she stops.
We leave the mall and wait for the bus. She hasn't brought a car with her, and I would rather take the bus than drive. Driving causes me to be a little more anxious.
It's only been a few minutes before the bus arrives (7:15), and we both find ourselves alone with the driver. We sit in the back, talking idly. The entire time the sun catches her eyes just right and they look like emerald beads. Her smile shines, her teeth like pearls. By the time we get to the college campus it's about eight. I waved goodbye as she got off. The bus doors closed and I turned around. The driver was grinning at me, her teeth a lightly stained yellow, her skin brown and her eyes a very deep brown. Her short, neck-length hair was mostly covered by a blue conductor’s hat.
"I took a few extra turns. She's sweet. Keep her." Her voice comes through raspy; a cigarette smoker's voice.
"Thanks...I hope she likes me back."
"Oh, sugar, I'm sure she does. Ain't no girl alive I know that'd talk with anyone like that unless they liked 'em back."
"Yeah! You're right!"
"How long you known her, sug?"
"Just a week."
"Well, sug, I can tell you this. Don't rush it. Just let everything fall into place. You'll know when the time is right. That's how love works, honey."
"Now, I know for a fact you don't live near here. I'll take you to your apartment."
"Breaking regulations is sure fun, isn't it?"
"You wanna go home, or not?"
"Thanks. I just don't want you getting in trouble."
"Oh, sug, I been doin' this awhile. Don't worry about me. What's your name, sug?"
"Xander. What's yours?"
"Edith. Go on, siddown, sug. You'll be home 'no time."