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CHAPTER ELEVEN (( confrontation @ anything ))

Katya peaked around Jayson and smiled bashfully before striking a weird pose in some joke of a gesture. Whether it was intuition or the knowledge that he had ignored all those calls after breaking her heart or that Katya was just that transparent, Mikhail didn’t know, but he certainly knew that his ex was fucking furious. Her surprise and subsequent movements were aggressive, even as anyone else would probably perceive them as playful...Katya was livid. “Buy me a drink,” she said. “Buy me a drink,” he said. “Someone, anyone, buy me a drink, “ Jayson said. As unlikely as it was, Mikhail hoped that Katya would disappear by the time he got back from the bar. He ordered everyone’s favorite mixed drink—his without the mixer— and threw all of his energy into the feasibility that Katya would be gone by the time he turned around. He tried to will a 144

reality where he’d have to drink her Smirnoff and cranberry— with a twist of lime—after he finished his Jameson rocks. Painfully, Katya still hovered around to bust his balls once he turned back towards the party that he didn’t even RSVP for. He handed them their respective glasses and Mikhail drank most of his, rather furiously, before anyone could even think about toasting the occasion. One fell swoop and Mikhail was left with nothing but ice. It was cold in his hand. “Listen to this insanity. So this guy at work who obviously likes me dropped off a box at my desk. It kind of freaked me out because, well, he’s a little creepy and might be stalking me, so I wasn’t too anxious to check it out,” Katya said. Mikhail was reading all the pomp and circumstance in each of her words and between every line, no matter how hard he tried to ignore her real meaning. She stared deep into his eyes while he looked at the angry creases in her forehead. A pissed-off fire burned deep there, especially as it occasionally evaporated into a forced smile. “So, finally I open it and it’s nothing but hard candy. Gross, nasty, cavity-uprooting candy. I was sure he was lurking around somewhere, you know? I touched every single piece, looking for a soft one, but there wasn’t one that wasn’t rock hard. But he’s sweet enough and kind of cute, so I tried a 145

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piece, what the hell, right? Then I had to chew on this non-malleable wad of sugar, but yeah, that was my day.” “I’m sure you got it malleable,” Mikhail said “I’d bet on it. You always had strong jaw muscles.” Competitive “I was wondering how long it’d take you to turn into a shithead.” Rates! “I’m just making a joke, laugh a little.” “When did you turn into such an Because, you asshole?” know, there’s “Whoa, whoa,” Jayson said. a recession, “My virgin ears can’t take all the or something obscenities.” like that, and “Just because you’re not getting laid, Jayson, doesn’t mean that your then there are ears are virgin.” all those other “Damn, Katya, that’s a low blow,” competing books Mikhail said, wondering if he’d laugh accepting advertisements...

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had Chevy made the joke. “Leave his sex life out of this. He just doesn’t want to hear us bicker.” “Who’s bickering? Just because I’m cursing doesn’t mean this is some sort of fight. Are you trying to make this into some sort of fight?” “Jesus, are you listening to yourself? Everything is so angry. You’re the one who called me an ‘asshole’ and a ‘shithead’ while drinking a vodka-cran that I bought you,” Mikhail said. He turned back to the bar and angrily ordered another drink, a double, without providing for anyone else’s thirst. Katya rolled her eyes and started talking quietly to Jayson. She secretly hated Jayson while dating Mikhail, saying that Mikhail could do better for a best friend, but there she was, grossly flirting with him, deep in a conversation full of LOLs, while Mikhail stewed and sipped at the bar. Bridget was still there and she subtly leaned over to Mikhail. 147

“Ex-girlfriend?” she whispered. He smiled, snapping out of a temporary funk, and nodded. He looked back to where Katya and Jayson were standing and immediately caught a splash of liquor and ice in the face. It sizzled on his cheeks like fermented carbonation. It was followed up by the palm of Katya’s hand, turning his face to the side, back towards Bridget. “Is this the skank you’re fucking now? Why don’t you just lift up her dress and fuck her right there on the bar, why don’t you do that, huh? Just be a man about it for once, you fucking coward.” “Who the fuck are you calling a skank? You got drink on my dress,” Bridget said. “I’ve fucked up lesser bitches for a whole lot less.” 148

“How long you been fucking my man, you homewrecking slut? He pay you? You look like—” “—enough, enough, just chill the fuck out,” Mikhail said, stepping between the girls before they could inch any closer. “Don’t be stupid...” “If this is the skinny skank you left me for, then you’re the stupid one.” “Ask yourself, did you taste my pussy on him? He said you sucked him off not two hours after we fucked last week.” Mikhail started laughing. He couldn’t help himself. Katya had gone down on him exactly twice in all their time together and stopped short of completion on both 149

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occasions. She said it was demeaning, a step back for feminism. Mikhail always felt that it was a strike against his masculinity and just another constraint on their relationship. Nevermind that he hadn’t so much as spoken to Katya last week. Nevermind that Bridget was suddenly sexier than ever. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t put this pale sack of skin on her flat ass,” Bridget said. “Because she’s not mad at you,” Mikhail said, still chuckling a little bit. The situation was turning absurd. “She hates me. Besides, it’s too early to get kicked out. Give me a gonna be around?” “You’re not that cute...but whatever, you’ll have to be real charming the next time around. Just make sure that pale bitch ain’t with you.” “I’m gonna leave too,” Jayson said, as Bridget walked away. He lightly punched Mikhail in the arm. “Y’all are too much for me, man. I’m gonna go see a man about a horse, or a squid about a man, or anything else besides this. Take care, Katya.” “Why do you hate me?” Katya said, giving no notice to the sudden departures. She was seething, enveloped in jealousy 150

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and abandonment, and putting all her negative energy into making sure that Mikhail knew it. She embellished the look and Mikhail cowered beneath it. Even in the best of times, it was a look that he was familiar with. Sometimes, when they were happy, he attributed that look and the accompanying argument to a combination of boredom and insecurity. Other times, his heart truly was astray and he probably deserved it. But this time, he was just plain gone and he really thought she knew it by then. “Why do I mean so little to you?” “Why do you need to break down everything into this set of extremes? Into this dissection of my humanity? Every misstep I ever made was armageddon with you, even though I always walked straight. I never strayed from the path I promised, we just ran out of road.” “You pulled the rug right out beneath my feet. You said you loved me. You made me believe in you. 151

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And then you woke up one day and you decided to leave me. You. You. You. Always you, Mikhail.” “That’s the same lie we lived for months. It was never me. I was always dancing around your feelings. I almost lost my job to make sure that I was at your apartment before dinner. I’d go weeks without seeing my own place, just so you could take advantage of our time together. I was starting to lose who I was, what really mattered to me. Ending us was the first thing that I ever did for myself.” “Fucking Saffron wasn’t selfish? Why couldn’t you be a real person with me?” “Are you still on that? I haven’t seen her since we got back together over a year ago, Katya, come on now. I didn’t even fuck her then, even though we were on a break. And on that whole second run through, you pushed me towards screwing someone else, anyone else. Your accusations, your 152

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mistrust of all the trust I tried to build for us, the constant attention and affection you need, it nearly pushed me there. You were so paranoid that I was cheating that it made me feel like something was wrong because I wasn’t. But I never even kissed another girl, I still haven’t.” “Except the time you kissed Saffron in the break room.” “Still? She was a shawty I flirted with for a few days over a year ago. And that’s all moot now anyway.” “Just a shawty? If I hear that degrading word one more time, I will knock it right from your vocabulary.” “It’s just a word, Katya, a simple word.” Her name felt strange, using it in front of her. It’d taken on such an air of disdain over the past few weeks, but he wanted to find the familiar intonation that they were both used to. The syllables were caring and calming, but the pauses were all about settling a dispute in a business-like manner. He tried it again. “ can’t 153

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control everything. Words and pictures and videos and emotions all fly out into The Internet every day, at a rate beyond computation. You can’t just scream and get it back.” “But I love you. And you love me,” Katya said, starting to sob. “I don’t know how to make it any simpler.” “Simpler is without arguments without reason. Simpler is without the hassle on a whim, or because I have to stay at work late or want to meet up with a friend. Simpler is simply agreeing to disagree and then accepting it.” “Simpler is saying those things while we were actually dating. Not after the fact.” And Mikhail was quiet. The club and its participants buzzed about him, unaware of anything outside of their own desires and problems, just as he gave no thought to theirs. The first night that he hooked up with Katya, he told her that they’d never be a couple. Later, he told her that he couldn’t see himself in a monogamous relationship. And then, that their partnership wasn’t one for the record books, as a warning that she shouldn’t fall in love with him. One time, he lied, saying that he didn’t even want kids. Thinking back on it that night, while Katya stewed in his perceived betrayal, he couldn’t pinpoint the moment, but early on, their escalating relationship fostered nights of 154

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fights where he was continually submitting to her will. Yes, they were together. Yes, they were happily monogamous. Yes, their love was infinite. Yes, he wanted to raise children with her. Each escalating declaration of love throughout the months was a necessary trade for pacifying an argument. He didn’t realize it then, but he understood it at that very moment: He always swallowed his pride, lying to himself with each gulp, just to appease her. He loved her enough to do everything he could to avoid making her upset, but never enough to commit to forever. “This has never been simple,” he said. “Nothing about us ever was. Simple is the fact that I never cheated on you. Never. But your lack of trust in me made me question my trust in you. Men find women attractive, even if they’re in a good relationship. You got mad when I said some movie star was kinda hot.” “You were always too much of a wimp to admit anything you really felt. You’re a fuckin’ coward. I could accept it if you were just honest. Go ahead, admit that you think Britney Spears is sexy. Admit that you checked out some slut in a dress as we shopped for me. Admit that you cheated on me with that slut I almost knocked out. Or that you fucked Saffron.... 155

it’d be better if you just cheated on me, then I’d have a firm reason to hate your slimy guts.” “You know better. You know she was full of shit. You’re a fact-based person, even when you’re ape-shit delusional. If there’s one thing I’m proud of, it’s that I never cheated on you. No matter how much you pushed me into it. Part of me will always love you and your complexities.” “You don’t love anything. You’re just making yourself feel good by saying that you loved my complexities, but I need, I deserve, to be nurtured. There are 100 guys out there that would give me that and you won’t give me anything. Why do you hate me?” “This is the all-or-nothing bullshit that I was talking about. That we were just talking about. I was constantly backed into a corner,” Mikhail said, and for the first time, he could feel his voice raising. “My only options were to leave 156

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you all together or take our relationship to the next level. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck, Katya. Go ahead and find 100 guys like me, I dare you to push them like you did me. And see who wouldn’t pop you right in the face for it.” “So now you want to hit me?” She said that and Mikhail listened. He only said it to make a point. He was positive that 85 of those 100 guys wouldn’t be able to put up with her for more than a month and that the other 15 would try to beat her into submission. There was no way he’d ever hit her, he’d never hit anyone at all, and he knew that he’d die without having punched a woman. Instead, he looked beyond Katya’s glowering, deep into the screens of pornography that decorated the walls of Anything. A woman with fangs and pure white eyes was violently blowing her partner, the camera held at his POV. Mikhail could only see the bottom half of the screen. Her fangs delicately next to his shaft and her eyes only occasionally coming into Mikhail’s view. He focused on her hands, as they lovingly caressed her partner’s scalely legs. Mikhail could never, in his wildest dreams, slap the berating off Katya’s face. He didn’t say anything. “You’re a pussy then?” 157

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“I never loved you. I don’t now and I never will,” he said. He wiped the last of her drink from his beard with the back of his hand, flicking the remnants onto the ground. “I can’t talk to you like this.” “I should hope not,” he said. And then everything around them calmed. The music, always in the background, found a softer cadence. The flashing lights dimmed and paused. The room stilled and so did the tone of their voices. “To your credit, maybe this is the first time I’ve ever been real with you.” “So, it’s this?” “It is. It definitely is. Can you stop calling me now?” Katya kissed him on the cheek, just as she did after he broke up with her the first (and second) time. But this action was more definitive than either of those. There was a hesitation in the moisture of her lips against his skin. She didn’t want to lose that moment and Mikhail wasn’t sure if he wanted to either. Katya walked away and she seemed confident in her sway. Maybe even happy. And maybe she finally was, and in the past tense, they definitely once were.



Part two is coming quicker than a 22-year-old virgin screwing 1964 Franรงoise Hardy AND 1997 Tyra Banks.

Ch. 11 : confrontation @ anything