My body was unusually tense, elbows locked in, looking with my eyes first before safely turning my head in any direction, as I walked through the Meyer’s house. Craig stayed outside. He was a pussy for not going in, but that didn’t make me feel better. I walked towards the kitchen where I was supposed to see the Furor. I really hoped to not hear any cupboards being slammed. The Furor was sitting at the table ahead. He looked calm, blank, and silent, as he always was. I tried to convince myself I was just paranoid and over-analyzing the situation. “Katherine Harvey, calm down. He just wants to have a talk with you.” I told myself. Then I started thinking, “Katherine Harvey, that man is going to stab you in the throat with a salad fork.” I always did that, assumed people had the worst intentions if I didn’t have a clue to any of their intentions. No matter what I did or told myself, seeing Craig’s dad sitting so composed, so placidly made me feel like a freshly cooked meal, walking itself to the kitchen table.
“Have a seat Katherine.” said Edward as he stood up, directing his hand to the chair next to him.
“Thank you, Mr. Meyer.” I said as I hung my purse on the chair’s backrest. The kids were in the living room doing their own things. Donnie was watching Vincent, who was cutting the seams off stuffed animals, then neatly pulling out the internal cotton with a plastic fork. Diane was having a conversation on the phone. Edward’s wife, Emmaline, was having tea and was immersed in a biography on Fredrick Douglass, the African American speaker and slave abolitionist. The scene was as normal as usual, except it seemed like I was watching them through a glass, and not one of them noticed me in the kitchen next to their father. Edward, the Furor. I was overwhelmed with questions.
He looked deeply at me and nodded slightly, as if he had decided to ask me a question. “Can I, ask you, a question, Katherine?” he said as he looked at me whilst making small gestures with his hands like a politician giving a speech. Edwards hands were clenched as if his hands were handing out business cards.
“O… Okay. Sure.” I gave a little cough to clear my throat which suddenly dried.
“You’re too pretty.” he said. No movement. I began feeling more confused, waiting for a question. “You’re too pretty. Okay?” The skin on my forehead crinkled in befuddlement. I had deduced he was referring to me when he kept using the word pretty. I’d always been passive about that word being directed towards me. I was a tomboy growing up with two males, spitting contests, surprise farts. Fuck, shit, cunt, and bitch, were regulars in my vocabulary. I had only started wearing make-up a year before. Was, ‘Okay?’ his question? I thought to myself, ‘This can’t be the first fucking conversation I have with this man.’
“Too pretty? Are you talking about me, Mr. Meyer?” I asked in the most courteous way I knew. Edward nodded his head, and did nothing else. I might have had a slight ugly duckling syndrome, but I couldn’t believe that this momentous occasion was initiated because the Furor thought I was pretty. The was like humans and aliens making contact because Earth, intergalactically, had the best surf spots. If he was trying to make a point, then I was miles away. It annoyed me terribly when people didn’t get straight to the point. Their A.D.D. clashed with my own A.D.D. The worst part was; after I figured out what he’s saying, I’d probably have to figure out why he said it.
“I don’t think I’m too pretty,” as I said that, I realized the only logical explanation had to be this: he was paying me a compliment! Over-analysis never did help, “but thank you very…”
“You’re too pretty for my son. You know he’s been in love with you for an entire year right?” interrupted Edward. His business card hands were really distracting.
“Which son?” I cleared my throat again, drier than before.
“Don’t pull that with me, I can see that you’re pretty, but the fact is, you’re too pretty, Katherine. P-R-E-T-T-Y. Too.” he sternly said. Emmaline and the kids turned towards us. I couldn’t understand why he kept saying I was too pretty, and as if wasn’t already lost, he’s made me sound like I was a criminal for the crime of being pretty, which, made no sense because I was fairly sure I’d be found not guilty. I’d been in weird situations before, but the conversation was getting out of hand. I waited patiently for him to talk to me for so long, clenching my fists when he’d walk by, biting my lip shut to to prevent a sudden outburst, pistons in my heart on all 8 cylinders, and he’d just keep walking by, until the next time I see Mr. Meyer. Him talking to me would’ve felt like winning the lottery. But now that he had, I felt like I was being taxed for it. I became so mystified with the direction of the conversation that I didn’t realize my jaw just dangled off my face.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying to me. What are you saying? Are you talking about Craig?”
“He has to pretend not to be in love when he’s around you. You’re always here forcing my son to lie.”
“We’re just friends, Mr. Meyer. Craig knows that.”
“You’re too pretty.”
“What? Why do you keep saying that?”
“It’s the truth. You also come from a broken home.”
“What?!” I was more shocked than I was angry he said that. My family had nothing to do with this situation, but he’s attacking them.
“Your family,” he paused, “is broken. Statistically, people from those homes will go on to break other homes. And you’re too pretty.”
“Wha…” I had no idea what to say. I thought the Furor thought I was going to destroy his home, I wasn’t sure. I also wasn’t sure why the pretty part was such a fucking big deal. However, I did know one thing; it hurt so much to watch Mr. Meyer, my best friend’s dad, someone I waited so long to befriend, vilify my entire family without any reason other than I was too pretty. I felt exhausted, I wanted to leave, my chest got tighter, my eyes started to water. I didn’t want to talk anymore. I wanted to go home. Out of this kitchen.
“Katherine, do you know where your mother is?” my heart stopped. Ravaged with a powered chainsaw, I didn’t stand a chance. Why are you saying this, what did I do? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know! The pain was excruciating, then exacerbated because I didn’t know why it was happening. My face crinkled into a frown, but the last and only thing I could humanly do with the little bit of dignity not stripped of me, was to try not to cry. Not in front of the Furor. I stared outside the window, incapable of responding, I couldn’t even summon the strength to stand. Why? I was so exhausted, every cell, every atom, fighting a single teardrop. If words could hurt this much, inside out, I’d rather the sticks and stones.
“Do you know why she left?” asked Edward. Every cell and atom within my being, simultaneously exhaled in defeat.
“…SHE… DOESN’T … WANT …ME…” I felt the teardrop making a run for it down my cheek, its friends following after. An alarm sounded in a mixture of whale and seal noises. “WHY…ARE…YOU…DOING…THIS!?” I whimpered out, having to inhale a pocket of air before each syllable.
“You’re. Too. Pretty,” the Furor said, one syllable at a time, while stamping those syllables with gestures of his fucking business card hands, “and what level-headed person would live on the beach, I can only imagine what kind of person your father is.” His derision of my father ushered the last bit of strength I had into defense.
“MY FATHER IS A GOOD MAN!!” I roared back at him with the viciousness of a lion. Or an asshole not caring about flaring a hemorrhoid.
“Mr. Harvey is a good man, dad!” yelled Vincent as he ran through the back door. Donnie and Diane joined in to defend daddy. Craig had taken them all down to my house a few times for a beach outing. Daddy knew how to have a good time and more importantly, he knew how to bring it out in others. I started crying again, though this time, it was because everyone in the Meyer family helped defend me against the fucking Furor.
Just then Vincent burst through the door and pointed at me, behind him was Craig. He took one look at me, and bolted towards the kitchen without any hesitation, leaping over obstacles. Why did he look so… majestic? What was he going to do? Why was he running in slow motion? I could watch his cheeks jiggle with each step all day. It felt weird during the last few seconds, but as it turned out, I was blacking out and eventually fainted.
Was I really hurting Craig? Did the Furor let this build up an entire year before finally firing a cannon at me? This fucking sucks, I thought to myself. It only does after discovering someone so close to you had been harboring a repulsion towards you, while you simply enjoyed yourself. It seemed like there there was one of those in everyone’s circle.
I remember the day my mother left. My daddy, my anchor, was hurt. After that day, I told myself I won’t let anyone I love, hurt like that ever again. It was idealistic at the time, but I really hadn’t cared about anyone who wasn’t in my family. Not until Craig. I had forgotten what I told myself, but here he was. I did love Craig, and I was the one who hurt him.
I had written him off so many times, that I never realized he never quit. He was always doing these little things to make me feel like royalty, and I had never even noticed. And I was supposed to know, more than anyone, that it was the little things in life that mattered, nothing could ever be bigger.
When I came to, I was in the passenger seat of a moving car. It was Donnie’s car, but Craig was driving. No Surprises by Radiohead was playing and the sun was setting over the pacific coast highway. ‘What the fuck is going on? Waaas it a dream?’ I said to myself. ‘Such a pretty house and such a pretty garden. No alarms and no surprises.’ said Thom Yorke over the radio.
“Hey, what the fuck is going on?”
“We’re going to Canada, don’t tell me you forgot.” said Craig. I punched him in the arm.
“Stop joking around.” I took a breath, “Did that really just happen at your house right now?” he didn’t respond immediately.
“Yeah.” he said after taking a deep breath. “I’m taking you to your dad’s.” I nodded, because I already knew. The car was silent as the rest of the song played. I looked out the passenger window at the ocean leaning against the headrest. I had plenty of questions, but I didn’t want any answers. I just wanted to grab the steering wheel and steer the whole debacle back home into the sea. Maybe a bath, or a shower to wash it off. I gulped down Craig’s water bottle without a word, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“I always feel relaxed when I see the ocean. Like jumping into my own bed after a long day at school then practice. Just looking at the water was instant satisfaction. You know what, Mick Jagger could finally get some satisfaction, he just needs to go to Orange County.” said Craig suddenly. I wanted to respond. I wanted to tell him I agreed. I wanted to laugh, despite the joke not being particularly funny. I wanted to laugh because I realized how happy I was to be exactly where I was. The ocean, the random car I’ve never been in, Thom Yorke, the hijacked water bottle, the ordeal, me, and Craig. No alarms and no surprises. The joy burst through my tightened lips into full blown laughter.
“Geeze, for a second there I really thought it was a stupid joke, crickets.” Craig exhaled. I kept laughing. “Katie, it wasn’t that funny… Was it?” The laughing dimmed with bits of aftershock chuckles then a smile as I looked at him. I just stared as he looked forward. Then I caught his eye. He smiled. I felt so relieved to see that smile. No Surprises ended. I wanted one more.
“Pull over here!” I shouted.
“Do it! NOW, BITCH!”
“Okay. OKAY!” he pulled over in a state of panic.
“Get out of the car. Quick!” I shouted as I unbuckled and hopped out. He left the radio on and the car running and ran after me. “I gotta show you this, I haven’t shown anyone this in a long time.”
“What is it?” Craig asked as we neared the edge of the highway that peered over the beach, fifteen feet below. He looked over the edge and saw shattered glass, fast food cups, and other crap atop the beach sand. I watched him as he stared at the California shore. “I’m so… so… OH! It’s just too darn beautiful for words!”
When he turned towards me, I leaped into his arms, and he caught me as I knew he would. We stared each other in the eye, dissipating every molecule of doubt, then shipped it all away with a first class kiss. Expensive, but it’s a guaranteed satisfaction. The rest of the world kept spinning, but in our world, it didn’t matter. The pacific ocean cheered louder than the ocean of cars passing by, the orange mango smoothie sky with scattered clouds of whipped cream, stopped to take our picture. I didn’t know what song was playing on the radio in the car, but it sounded like Maple Leaves by Jens Lekman. The ocean of applause, the random car I’ve never been in, Thom Yorke, the hijacked water bottle, the California smoothie sunset, the ordeal, me, and Craig. No alarms and no surprises. Maybe one more.
“Katie.” Craig said, looking at me. “I gotta tell ya something.”
“Shh… don’t fucking ruin this, I already know.” I leaned forward on my tiptoes to kiss him but he pulled his head back.
“I don’t think you do.”
“What is it?”
“When I got you out of my kitchen and into Donnie’s car to drive here, I didn’t exactly have time… well… here.” Craig reached to the ground and picked up a piece of a mirror and showed me my reflection.
“You fucking asshole! I look like a fucking coal miner! …Mining for crack! Why didn’t you say anything?!” I grabbed the piece of mirror from his hand and pushed him. The eyeliner had dribbled down my entire face, some of it had smudged and smeared. “I can’t believe you didn’t say anything. But I’m too pretty!” I mocked the Furor. Craig kept laughing, then walked over, and shut me up when he held me. Then kissed me slow.
We started dating after that for a couple of years and I still went to the Meyer’s house. The Furor had rescinded his radio silence and started giving a simple ‘hi‘. Only every now and then though, but it’s still pretty good improvement. It wasn’t until I was much older, before I finally understood what he meant that day he kept saying I was too pretty. Nevertheless, everything seemed pretty good until one fatefully ironic day, Edward had all the kids in the living room, including me. His hair was uncombed, which never happens, and he looked terrible, distraught, wearing the same clothes for days, and might have been drinking a little.
“Here ye. Here ye! Attention ladies and gentlemen, gather ’round! I, Edward Meyer, have an announcement to make on this unfair day on September the 10th, 2001!” he said as he held up a glass of something. He definitely was drinking. “You’re mother, Emmaline Meyer, and I, drum roll please,” he mimicked the drum roll by blowing raspberries, “are getting a divorce! …Cheers!” Everyone was confused and shocked.
“What?! Why?!” Shouted Diana.
“Becaaaaaause, your mother doesn’t love me anymore, and insteeeeead, she wants to fuck black people!”
“Dad! What are you talking about?!” Shouted Craig.
“I have love letters and documentational-izing…? Eh? Proof! Of your mother’s new hobby, which wasn’t so new after all! Just get ready for the party tonight.”
“Dad, what party are you talking about? Where’s mom?” asked Vincent
“She’s prooooobably in the ghetto looking for her knight in sweaty and slash or shiny black armor. But thank you Vinnie, attention, your brotha just reminded me of the party being held tonight! Bring your friends, buuuuut,” the Furor whispered, “not the dark ones.”
“Stop dad! There isn’t going to be a party, and stop saying those things!” shouted Diane, “David is half black.”
“Oh that’s right, I’m sorry sweety, tweety bird, I didn’t mean to make you go… BANANAS!” Edward proceeded to laugh uncontrollably. Then he started coughing and flung half his drink on his pant leg and carpet. “Yo mama loved this carpet, but boy did I love these pants too.” His face was flushed, his eyes couldn’t focus, he then suddenly erected his posture straight and froze there. We all watched in horror and disbelief. This man, the Furor, has never been like this. His body slowly tilted backwards but he regained his balance, but suddenly fell down. Faced down in to the stain on Emmaline’s beloved carpet. The boys dragged him to the couch and tossed him on top of it. I never pictured the Furor making an exit like that. That day turned out to only be a prelude…