“You have your mother’s hands,” he said, reaching out to take her left in his right. She felt the first tear try and well up, but she forced it down, unwilling to let this moment slide into mourning someone who was long gone.
In the corner of the pub, three musicians tuned their instruments, laughing with one another. She made a list of fragments in her head-an old guitar. Too shiny a violin. Vibration of a soft alto voice. Scales, up and down, half steps, whole steps, forgotten steps. She wanted to dance but knew he would never join her. The crowd of strangers was too intimidating, too close and judgmental. The father/daughter jokes always lingered in their hushed undertones.
“We won’t be able to talk once they start playing. Let’s go. I should know better than come here on a Friday night, but the food, right?”
They walked out towards the parking lot, where his too expensive sedan waited. Someone recognized him and shouted a spirited “hey aren’t you?” He waved back, then opened the car door for her. She climbed in, the feel of the leather always making her a bit nostalgic. She missed his old car, the hood held down with a nylon cord, the result of one too many collisions with the back wall of his garage. She’d known him before he became wealthy and famous, but that was never enough for her critics. She loved him when he was still a reckless drunkard, but that only cemented her intentions in their minds. She was always too young, too pretty, too manipulative. She had him under her spell, trapped in her web, or one of seventy thousand over-used analogies that painted her as a gold digger, someone to be simultaneously despised and envied.
Next month, she would turn 30. Maybe then they would leave her alone.
“Where should we go? Standby’s? Maybe Storytellers? They always have a quiet corner we can claim as our own.”
She wanted to go home, climb into bed along side him and fall asleep with her head resting against his shoulder. He would let her lie there long past when it was comfortable for him, only nudging her when his arm went numb. Still, she couldn’t suggest that. It was his last weekend before heading out for more appearances, more interviews, more fans and more adoration. He needed the distraction more than she needed quiet affections.
“Storytellers,” she said. At least if they went there, she could pretend they were alone.
He turned the car around and headed south.
They drove with the sunroof open, the night sky a mixture of too much light from the city and the occasional star bright enough to make itself seen against the backdrop of deep purple. She pretended instead of going to another club, they would drive all night away from the city, with nothing but the hum of the radio between them. Words would be unnecessary, the passing landscape taking them farther from what was comfortable, towards something unexpected, something uniquely theirs. The prospect of that unknown place made her skin tingle, and she rubbed her own legs, absorbed in the pleasure of it all.
She looked at him, the strength of his arms as he held to the steering wheel. The curve of his chin, the lips she adored. In the glow of the dash-lights, his eyes sparkled orange and green. She loved him and that was what mattered. She saw the reflection of the city in the window. Her fantasy slipped.
He smiled as he turned into the parking lot.