The Move (pt. II)

Sarah called three times in a week, and they kept missing each other. Angela had a feeling that something was terribly wrong, but when she finally got in touch Sarah excitedly told of her acceptance to UCLA. Angela was standing in front of a sushi restaurant where she was supposed to meet Paul for lunch when she got the call. She leaned against the glass window of he restaurant, searching through her purse for her cigarettes.

She was delighted to hear about Sarah’s acceptance, although it didn’t surprise her in the least. When Sarah asked her what was new on her end, she had nothing to say. She started to talk about a Harvard extension school sculpture class that she had just signed up for.

“You sound distracted. Are you driving?” Sarah asked.

“I don’t have my car out here,” she said evenly. “My purse is a black hole. I can’t find my cigarettes.”

“Maybe you should quit.”

Angela humphed. “Maybe.”

Sarah paused for a moment. “So how is the move going?”

Angela laughed. “Oh it’s good. It’s really good actually. I do wish Paul would shut up about my smoking. I think he never really realized how much I smoke before we lived together. Other than that, everything’s great with us.”

“How are your parents?” Sarah asked quietly.

“Well, my dad is not great in general. Although lately he’s been okay. Honestly I haven’t talked to him in a week, I need to focus on trying to get a job and stuff.”

“How’s your mom doing?”


“I feel like because this has been going on so long I forget what’s going on with them and I don’t want you to think I don’t care.”

“I know. But you know, I don’t expect people to be tuned into it. Paul is though and I think that’s what really matters. He’s looking out for me. You don’t have to worry.”

“Have you made any girl friends there?”

“No—only this professor’s wife. She’s young though, only twenty-six and she has a fucking kid. Anyway, I had a drink with just her one night at a bar.”

“That’s cool.”

“Well—it’s was the weirdest fucking thing in the universe. But yeah, she’s cool. We talked about J.Crew dresses mostly.”

Just as she was taking a particularly satisfying drag of her cigarette Paul turned the corner and ruined it.

“Hey baby,” he said loudly, not realizing she was on the phone. She pointed to her ear. Paul reached over to take the cigarette out of her mouth and she gave him a hateful look and dodged his reach. “I just wanted to kiss you hello,” he said.

“I know, I know, it is weird,” she said, responding to something Sarah was telling her. “Hey babe, I gotta run. Paul just got here and he only has a quick lunch break before going back to work.”

“Oh right, I forgot what time it was there.” Sarah said. “Okay, well give me a call soon. I miss you Ang.”

“I miss you too. Congrats so much about med school. Although I knew you would do it. But still. I will. Okay, you too. Bye bye.” She exhaled and closed her phone. “I’m sorry Paul but you shouldn’t just reach for someone’s cigarette, even if it’s me. It’s fucking rude.”

“You’re right. Honestly, I was not going to throw it out, I just wanted to kiss you hello and you didn’t have enough hands.”

She had to fight the urge to say ‘whatever’. “Okay, well I just feel that you make too big of an issue about this. At some point you’re going to have to accept that I smoke.”

“Wait a minute,” he said slowly. “I’ve just said hello to you, what are you upset about?”

She was about to lie and say that Sarah had been ragging her about smoking but she stopped herself. “Paul, I just feel like you have to accept that I smoke. You’re right this is out of the blue and I’m sorry to just go crazy on a street corner, but you have been bugging me about this since we moved in. I get that you don’t want me to die.”

“You know you have a fucking history of cancer in your family Angela. I just don’t understand how you can smoke when you see all that your family’s been through because of it.”

“I agree. I hate myself about it. But it’s not going to stop right now, so I really feel that you need not to hate me about it too. Can’t you just get over it for a little while?" A hiccup of mirthless laughter escaped from him. “I’m going to quit in the spring. I just need to get a job and deal with my life and stuff. You know moving in together is a huge deal for me.”

“I know.” He looked down. “Angela, I’m not trying to be hard on you. And this isn’t about anything else. And I won’t bother you any more after today.” He paused.

“Just say what you want to say,” she said quietly.

“But you shouldn’t just use stress as an excuse,” he said sorrowfully, as though it pained him. “You know—everything stresses you out. Not that you don’t have real reason to be in pain right now. But I don’t think smoking helps anything.”

He looked up at her. “Are you done?” She asked. She had a brusqueness at times that he found simultaneously appealing and disappointing. Things were never clear cut until she wanted them to be, and then they were.


“Okay. You’re right about everything you said Paul. I’m sorry I’ve been a huge pain in the ass lately.”

He couldn’t disagree with her. But he rubbed her back to be kind.

“It will be better when I get a job and I’m not this disaffected pseudo house-wife any more.” He knodded. “And I really appreciate you letting up about the smoking.”

“Let’s get some food.”

She reached up and put her hands on either side of his face. “Are you mad?”

“No,” he patted her lightly on the butt twice, and said, “but I gotta’ eat quick if I’m going to get back in time.”

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