CHEEKS, BUTTERFLIES, CHOCOLATE AND CARS

by Samar Sawaya


I'll give you till the count of ten. If you don't realize that I'm not next to you anymore, I am going to kill you. I'm serious; I am going to kill you. I will be the last one you love and make love to...1...2...3...4...5...6...6...I said 6...7...7 and a half...8...9...My Cheryl is dead. It all started at this stupid party we both went to. Actually, I'm the one who insisted on going I ended up regretting it: We met this guy, Bob...

"So, what do you do Bob?" I asked. He seemed to be a nobody. He did turn out to be one, but my dearest Cheryl acted so stupidly that night, I couldn't understand why. Was she testing my temper ratio, or was she really interested? I know her; passion fuels everything she does. Without it she will try to look for it anywhere out of this world: she will either attract some unfortunate disease and die or eventually kill herself. She's been my girlfriend for quite some time now, but I never know what to expect from her. If you ask her, she doesn't even know what she's going to do next! Everything was so terrible that night; I'll never forget what happened...

* * *

"So, what do you do Bob?" He asked me with his stupid mannerism.

"Oh, yes, I thought I already told you that, I'm a director." I never believed she would be so radiantly surprised: "Oh my God! A theater director or a movie director?

Theater of course.

Oh my God! Honey, did you hear that?" Arthur barely smiled to her when she said that. "It's is so wonderful... I love theater," she went on. "It's a passion, you know what I mean, it's a bit more than a hobby...Oh I'm so thrilled to be chatting with a director! What was your last play?

Oh... An Awaited death.

Oh my God! It's my favorite this year! I love it I just loved it, it was so brilliant... Congratulations, oh I have to tell you I came out completely mesmerized..." But he had to interrupt her:

"I don't seem to remember that play my darling.

”Of course you don't... it's the one I went to see with my sister, you were busy." She said in the sweetest viperous way. Thank God this made him shut up and leave her alone! So I quickly engaged in a conversation about the issue:

"So, since you loved it so much why don't you tell me what you really liked and disliked about it?"...

 

And there she was talking to me...yes to me and me alone. It was as if she had completely forgotten about her Arthur. Objectively, I really mean objectively he's a boring creature! I don't seem to know what this princess is doing with him. What does she see in him? He doesn't even accompany her all the time, so why doesn't he leave now? She's so different. Is she the one? Yes, she's the one I saw a couple of days ago. Maybe I should ask her! Yes, I will as soon as she finishes talking about theater. My God I could spend the whole night just listening to her, to the music in her voice, to the trills of her laugh. It was as if she was telling me things about my job that I had never heard before. She talked about my play criticizing it in a very delightful manner.

"In that case," I ingeniously proposed, "would you like to come and see the actors, you know talk to them, maybe give us some new ideas? Or even help me in my next play... I'm in the process of writing and directing a new one. Would you like to help me? I could use a female touch..."

Had I offered her the world, she wouldn't have been so amazed. She blushed. She really blushed, too much I believe. Then she threw me a "this is too much for me" smile. It wasn't too much for her; it was too much for me. The more she spoke, the more I dreamt. I was very conscious of what she was saying and yet in my head all the crazy, weird ideas were flashing. This blush...it was her at the café the other day.

"Tell me something, I said again, were you by any chance at the café de Paris on Thursday morning?

Yes, I was actually. I always go there in the morning; it's such a lovely place to be in. Why do you ask?

Oh, well I think you're the one I sat at the table with." She tried to remember... Oh, so it wasn't her! Never mind she's better anyway. Then she said:

"Oh! Thursday morning! Yes, yes it was you then? Oh, it's such a small world! I'm sorry I didn't remember you. Usually in the mornings I don't pay much attention to anything..." She was justifying herself. She didn't have to. She likes me.

 

It was a very usual Thursday morning. Really, nothing was happening. Nobody was even writing a critique about my play in the paper anymore. I passed by this café. It looked nice. Suddenly, it didn't just look nice, but rather spectacular. My focal point zoomed to a particular spot in the scenery. She was there...alone reading the paper...a cup of coffee, or was it chocolate? Yes, it was chocolate...she had her hair, I don't remember...but the sunlight added glow to its ribbons. She was wearing this blue silk shirt... she looked so fresh like she was covered in the petals of a violet. I found myself standing right at her table. She didn't even realize I was there. She was so busy reading a specific article. Then I said: "Excuse me miss, would you mind if I sat here?" She looked at me, then with a blush "Of course not, please do." But she kept reading and didn't speak to me once! I sat there amazed by her. Do you think she didn't realize that? She didn't seem to. She wasn't beautiful! But there was something about her. This divine air, this peaceful agitation in her being...Oh, she just sipped her chocolate. I was afraid with every sip she took: this meant she would be leaving soon! Mary...no, no too banal. So Jennifer. No, too modern. Annabelle! Too silly...what could possibly be her name? She inspired something, but what name does this belong to? I wish I could talk to her, say something you silly fool! I just couldn't. I am not the shy kind! Was it this first sight they talk about so much? Or was it her? She seemed to enjoy being alone, I felt I had no right to enter this "secret garden" of hers. Suddenly, my daydream was interrupted by a slight horn. It was a beautiful black car. She jumped off her chair with the most admirable lightness, finished her chocolate quickly and ran to the car. Oh, her bag, she forgot it. This was my chance! As I was getting up to fetch it and run after her, I barely saw her running back and leave with it again. She seemed to be from another planet where time is much ahead of mine! I couldn't follow up with her. She was much too quick a vision. Was it he in the car? I think so; he keeps spoiling our moments!

* * *

"So, what do you do Bob?" I asked. He seemed to be a nobody.

"Oh, yes, I thought I already told you that, I'm a director." I knew it; he was a nobody!

A director, Ha! ... He can't possibly compare to me!

"Oh my God! A theater director or a movie director?" I never expected Cheryl to act so vividly about his stupid job!

"Theater of course." He answered because of the way she reacted. It boasted his self-esteem!

"Oh my God! Honey, did you hear that?" I tried to smile to her when she said that. I wasn't expecting her reaction. "It is so wonderful... I love theater" she went on. "It's a passion, you know what I mean, it's a bit more than a hobby...Oh I'm so thrilled to be chatting with a director! What was your last play?”

Oh... An Awaited death." Ugh! What kind of a play is that? Already the title of it is...

"Oh my God! It's my favorite this year! I love it I just loved it, it was so brilliant... Congratulations," BLA BLA BLA "I came out completely mesmerized..." What? She must be joking! I never heard about that play! I had to say it in some way: "I don't seem to remember that play my darling.

Of course you don't... it's the one I went to see with my sister, you were busy." Oh, Great! Of all plays we went to see together, it had to be this one! Oh, look at him, just look at him smile. He's happy? So what? So she saw your play, and she liked it too! She's not the kind to give compliments just like that; she's a political critic for God's sake! That means she really did like it. I knew she loved theater, but that much? Besides, of all jobs a person could have, did he have to be a director?

"So, since you loved it so much, why don't you tell me what you really liked and disliked about it?" Yeah right...Just go on...try to get her to like you more! Play the modest! You're a director, so this means you're a better actor than all the ones who work for you!

Well, at least the party is nice. Sue Ann is known for organizing warm gatherings, so why did she invite this "marvel"? Yes, I'm worried. I AM WORRIED! I feel horrible. My Cheryl...this is my Cheryl, I found her first! She's mine, so leave her alone. Look at her, oh, she's so spirited. She's really a darling: if I was he, and she was talking about my play this way, I'd fall in love with her instantly. What can I say? I can't say anything: I never saw the play, never heard of it...I don't like him...I adore her...Oh that's Brian, he's still as idiotic as ever. Is that his girlfriend? What was her name...oh, Madeline. What did she do to her hair?...Cheryl, I hate how you're talking to him. OK, you're getting back at me? I know I shouldn't have told you. Now, I understand what you meant by "I can hurt you so bad you'll never believe."

 

I shouldn't have told her this morning. But I felt I had to confess: Cheryl, I have to tell you something... "What is it?" I...I... "What's wrong? What are those tears for? Stop the car, stop it now!...Come here, you need a hug...shh...shh, everything will be fine...come on tell me what is it?" The more she did this the more it hurt, she didn't deserve to hear what I was about to say. I can't let her hold me; I wasn't worthy of it. Cheryl, last summer, I was seeing someone else... "Oh, well it's alright...last summer? Who cares about last summer? ...but why tell me now?" Because I love you Cheryl and it felt so bad not to tell you and ask you to forgive me... "It's alright darling, really." Then, when I calmed down, she fell into this scary state: it's when she starts to think very hard and her face freezes as well as her eyes, and her vision points to nowhere. Then, "I thought I had told you that if you ever betray me, don't let me know." I couldn't Cheryl, I just couldn't. "Can I know something? Just one thing: did your friends know about her?" At that point, all the "alright" "it's fine, honey" were overshadowed by "just one thing". And when she says that, it means trouble! So I found myself saying: Yes, we all went out together once or twice, and I took her to Peter's. "Peter's? Your best friend? Where we both go so often? And what the hell do you mean by we all went out together once or twice?" Then she got out of the car and disappeared...she disappeared... she melted in the crowd and yet she was still there...like a grain of salt when it dissolves in the water, its taste remains...I thought it was over for me...she hates me...I shattered the "me" she knew! I saw this coming...I shouldn't have told her. She knew what she was saying: If you betray me don't let me know. I shattered us, I shattered me, I shattered her image of respect and pride in front of my friends...Clap...She knocked the door so hard when she came back into the car. She starred into my eyes "it's alright this time. But I swear I could hurt you so much, you'll never believe if this happens again. I told you not to tell me, so don't! Just listen to me once for God's sake!"

 

So is she trying to show me a sample of the ache she's willing to inflict upon me? What is that Bob talking about? The Café de Paris? I didn't even know she went there!

"Oh, well I think you're the one I sat at the table with." You jerk! He even had the nerve to do that!

"In the mornings, I don't pay much attention to anything." Thank God she doesn't! Good, at least she ignored this man. So go away, she didn't notice you in the first place.

"So Arthur, I suppose you have a black car." He asked me.

" Black? No, I hate black; I have a Champaign colored car. Why did you think my car was black?"

He looked perplexed. I mean, of course he would, why black? What kind of a question was that? Did I inspire this to him? Am I the kind of a person that will make you think "black"!?

 

"Oh, well my mistake. There was a beautiful black car parked in front of the house here, I thought it was yours.

Well, it's not." I couldn't help being mean. Cheryl was about to pierce my eyes with her scolding look, she was going to say something...God, I hope she doesn't humiliate me in front of him. "Honey, would you like to have a drink with us?" Us? Who are us? So now she and Bob are Us? And what about Us, us? But I found myself saying: "I'd love to". And so, like any normal gentleman would do in his girlfriend's presence, I rushed to get her a glass of her favorite kind. But to my surprise she wanted to have a taste of what Bob was having. And it had a silly name too, drambouie! I burst into laughter, I couldn't help it, it was too much for me to resist! Then I said: "Cheryl darling, since when do you like to taste anything new? Well Bob don't try taking her away from me now! She seems to like you!" And I kept laughing; hysterically. He joined my round of merriment, but completely spoiled it with his donkey laugh.

 

The evening was cheery, simple had it not been for someone's presence. Cheryl was as scintillating as...a black car, Ha, ha ha! It's really funny, Ha ha, that question about the color of my car! I mean, I could've understood had he asked me about the brand, but the color?! What a funny man.

 

"What's making you smile so much?

Oh, nothing Sue Ann, I just remembered something that happened earlier today.

So what is it? I've been your friend forever, come on tell me." She's always so insisting.

"No, really, you won't understand. By the way, nice party, I loved your beef stroganoff, did you make it yourself?

Yes, Thanks. I hope everybody is enjoying the party. I can see Bob's interested in your Cheryl. You don't seem to be reacting!

Oh, it's nothing, I trust Cheryl.

I know, I was joking you silly thing." I hate it when she does that.

 

"Heaven, I'm in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak. And I seem to find the happiness I seek, when we're out together dancing cheek to cheek...Oh, I'd love to climb a mountain and to reach its highest peak, but it doesn't thrill me half as much as dancing cheek to cheek"...

I was dying to dance with her, if only I could talk to her...I was waiting, ardent for her to look at me with those long eyelashes like wings of a butterfly clapping against each other. I was waiting for someone to introduce us...for me to be able to touch her hand so delicate... The first day I met Cheryl, she was wearing her pink dress: she had her hair up, thus uncovering a spectacular neck that millions of sculptors sought to carve. As for her dress, it only covered half of her breasts, leaving the best part mysterious; then float fairly until her knees paving the way to impeccable legs, carefully finished with slightly varnished toes. It was hopeless. This girl of my dreams was to remain a vision, until: "Excuse me, could you please pass me one of the glasses next to you?" Finally, the butterflies flew towards me.

"Of course, what would you like to drink?

Oh, some wine...

Please, allow me!" I tried everything I could to talk to her, only to learn that her boyfriend Claudio was among us. But this didn't stop me: "I'm Arthur, Arthur Lenczowski." "Arthur? My father's name is Arthur...it's one of those names that mean a lot to me...I'm sorry, I'm Cheryl". Cheryl...Cheryl...How beautiful and yet not so grand: it was one of those names you don't come across very often, but when you do, their resonance is so suave that you just love to pronounce them as much as you can. Cheryl...Cherry...Cheryl...This "L" at the end, made the whole difference; at least to me.

"So Arthur, what do you do?

I'm a computer engineer.

Oh, how interesting." She didn't seem very interested though. So I thought I'd tell her about something I was sure she heard: You know, a year ago, I invented a math theory...

Oh my God, it can't be you! Oh, I'm talking to a genius! I heard all about you, I followed your news every single day... You are so incredible, I'm sorry I didn't recognize you!" She didn't have to justify herself. Yet, I wasn't expecting her to be so overwhelmed with joy and passion about the issue! And so this was the starting point to our endless run towards becoming lovers. Back then, she wasn't on very good terms with her boyfriend, and I became her friend and confidant: all the little untamed secrets were revealed to me. This intimacy-loving creature would tell me everything. She became a friend, an excellent friend I would say. I was hoping for more, and yet, she was just perfect that way: she would laugh at my jokes, listen to what I have to say, make me have the greatest times of my life...by just being my friend. She never saw my intentions, and if she did, she had a great way of concealing it. The D-day came. This was the day when she broke up with Claudio. It was the happiest day of my life, because she cried on my shoulder. It was too much to ask; she was hurting when I was about to fly. Then, as the time passed, we gradually became lovers, and have been the best for two years now.

 

Suddenly, Sue Ann's party looked so dull.

"Heaven, I'm in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak. And I seem to find the happiness I seek, when we're out together dancing cheek to cheek"... There goes our song, it's all over for us...I'd love to climb a mountain, and to reach its highest peak, then jump because we can't be out together dancing cheek to cheek. What a horrible party.

 

"You look sad...I've noticed something, I don't mean to intrude but is it about Cheryl?" Lewis asked. He was a good friend of ours; he would always accompany us to the movies and spoil our intimacy.

"Yes...but I'm not sure she's leaving with me tonight, if you know what I mean. I don't know what to do. What do you think Lewis, could she leave me for another guy?"

"Oh, come on Arthur, it's not as bad as you might think it is! Never mind, let's go pour ourselves a drink, others will take her place..."

 

But will Bob take mine? Will he be the next Arthur, while I become Claudio? The next "honey"? The next "little genius"? Will he be the one to touch your lips, taste them and devour their essence? Will he take over to fulfill your dreams and with no remorse, drive you into destroying me better? Will he be this other, this intruder when I cease to exist? Will he cover our days with the sweet blanket of forgetfulness? Will he do our same gestures and take my place around your neck? Will he get to know your scenes of sudden fury and anger? He will first take away "I love you" from you, and then, I know it, he will take your lips and the rest of you. Thus, he will bury me forever in the back of your head, in this world you can only remember if you're old enough to forget.

When I think about all this, I get jealous. Is it over? It can't be, we were great...It's making me go insane. Cheryl, I got the message, just stop sitting with him, stop being interested. I'll give you till the count of ten. If you don't realize that I'm not next to you anymore, I am going to kill you. I'm serious; I am going to kill you. I will be the last one you love and make love to...1...2...3...4...5...6...6...I said 6...7...7 and a half...8...9...My Cheryl is dead. "Honey, why are you sitting all alone here?" What, she's here? She's going to die anyway. I can't stand her. "I'm tired." "Then let's go home." Perfect, I have to finish her immediately, "yes, let's go home."

 

While we said our good-byes to all the people at the party, including Bob, I was thinking about the perfect crime: a car accident? Stab her in the back? Rape her? Make love to her then break her neck? Yes, that’s the perfect one, I'll certainly be the last. I won't talk to her in the car, she's such a ... I can't stand her. Still I had to open the door for her in front of everybody else. Clap! On the road, she wasn't saying anything. Even if she does, I thought, I won't talk to her. But why isn't she talking? How come she's not as excited as ever? How come she's not laughing because she remembered something funny that happened during the party? Did she realize she did something wrong? Did she know that she has torn me apart? Did she feel her end was near? Then, suddenly, her toxic voice came out of nowhere: "I had a good time, the party wasn't brilliant, but it wasn't so bad. The food was Ok. I mean, at least I'm not going home hungry. Sue Ann is always so nice, she's very funny, I always enjoy chatting with her...I can't wait to get home, and my shoes are killing me. I feel so drained! I had a very long day today; it's good we're going home early, I need some sleep. You could've told me that you were tired earlier, we didn't have to stay so long. So my little engineer, did you enjoy your time?" I found myself saying: "Oh, it was wonderful my darling, just wonderful had it not been for my headache."


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Cheeks, Butterflies, Chocolate and Cars, 28 October 2001