Wren slides her palms down the front of her high-waisted dress before stepping into a pair of Kelly green ballet flats. She’s highlighted and contoured to perfection, her skin dewy and her lashes on point. My sister is one of those people who look flawless no matter what, makeup or no. I like to think it’s her inner beauty that does most of the work. She can be tough on the outside sometimes, her exterior resin-like and hard to crack, but inside she’s chock full of little rays of gentle moonbeams and glittery stardust, and she’d do anything for anyone.
My phone dings from the nightstand, and I stretch across the bed to grab it. “Awesome. Just got a new appointment from the app. Twelve-thirty next Friday.”
Wren gives me an air high five and scans the room for her bag. Last year, we launched an app, Glam2Go, where local clients can schedule their own personal makeup artist to come to their home and get them all gussied up for their big event or date night or whatever they’re doing. We’re growing in sizable increments, building up a solid base of clientele with a few B-list celebrities peppered in.
It’d be nice to have something steady and consistent, but we do pretty well for ourselves. Wren tends to take the daytime appointments so she can be with Enzo outside of school hours, and I take the nights and weekends. Twice a month, Enzo stays with his dad in Brooklyn, and Wren helps me out. We’re starting to book out a couple weeks at a time now, and soon we’re going to need to hire more artists.
“Any plans today?” Wren asks, slinging her bag over her shoulder.
“The usual.” I shrug. “Probably go to the gym. Check the blog. Plan my next tutorial. Order supplies. Maaaaaybe take a nap . . .”
“Must be rough,” she teases, tossing me a wink. Standing in the doorway, she turns back to me. “Why don’t you take that notebook back, okay? It doesn’t belong to you. Go put it back where you found it or else . . . karma.”
Last week I was strolling down Lexington Avenue on a gloomy Monday afternoon when it began to sprinkle. Within seconds, the wind picked up and the rain started pelting me in sideways sheets that wasted no time soaking through my outer layers. Within seconds, I spotted a limestone townhome up ahead and took shelter beneath its covered front steps.
It was there, while waiting for the storm to pass, that I spotted a leather-bound journal lying in the cedar mulch, between the stone steps and an overgrown boxwood. The cover was damp and the pages were starting to curl, so I swooped down and nabbed it before the elements made it any worse.
By the time the rain cleared and the sun broke through the clouds, my phone rang, and I took off down the street, yapping away to my mother about her recent Alaskan cruise, forgetting the notebook was tucked under my sweatshirt.
“Fine.” I exhale. “I’ll return it.”
“Like, today,” Wren says, finger pointed in my direction.
Wren disappears, and within seconds I hear the click and latch of the front door as she leaves and locks up. Lying back on her bed, I hold the journal above my head and fan it open.
“I love this woman. I love her more than I’ve ever loved anything. I love her so much it terrifies me. I’m scared of what I might do to make her mine, and I’m scared of what I might do if I were to ever lose her completely.”
My mouth arches up in the corners. My only hope is someday I might find someone to love me half as much as this man loves this woman.
Rolling to my side, I flip to the next page, and the next, and the next, devouring each page like addictive little love-flavored potato chips.
“Tonight, she cried into my arms. I held her because he wasn’t around to. He never is. But still, she loves him. She loves him and he doesn’t deserve her. If he did, he’d be here, holding her, picking up the pieces of her broken heart.”
My fingers trace a few of his pen-scribbled words, and my lips well along the lower rims. I allow myself just one more page, and then I’ll make my way to Lexington Avenue, I’ll find the townhouse, and I’ll leave the notebook on the front steps.
Inhaling the leather scent once more, I turn to another section and read, “I don’t expect anyone to understand a love that I, myself, do not understand. But here I am, desperately trying. Trying to figure out how it’s possible for the sun to rise and set in her eyes. How it’s impossible to go a full hour without thinking a single thought about this woman. How it was possible for me to exist before she came into my world. It’s only ever been her. I’ve known that since we were kids. She chose the wrong man, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still love her. And I’ll never stop.”
I page ahead, eyes glued to the words, pretending to read them for the first time all over again.
“I feel her pulling away. She says it’s wrong. She doesn’t want anyone to get hurt. But she is my life force. I need her. And without her, I won’t survive. I’ll lead a pathetic, lonely existence. I’ll never love again. And not because I won’t try. But because once you’ve tasted a love so pure, nothing else will ever compare.”
“Poor, sweet Romeo.” I rest my cheek on the worn paper and close my eyes. “I hope you found your happily ever after.”
I’m going to miss this. Reading these words. Feeling the kaleidoscope of emotions that accompany them. I’ve never been so simultaneously exalted and gutted, and at times, I find myself nearly falling in love with a complete stranger. Or the idea of him, rather. Or maybe I’m falling in love with the way he loves her.