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The Literary Girlfriend: Keys to the Relationship

August 5, 2013

cover of Ultimate Elektra:Devil's Due and cover of The Awakening

As much as I liked (or was infatuated with) Danielle, I was reluctant to hand over a set of keys.  It was a matter of trust.  I knew that a couple should probably work out their trust issues before they start spending the night together, but I also knew that people sometimes did things out of order.  Danielle and I had been with each other two nights in a row.  She said we were living together.  I hadn’t argued with her about it (whether or not I should have argued is a separate issue).  I had to hand over keys.  Even worse, I had to leave her alone inside the apartment.

On Monday morning, she slept in while I got up at my regular time.  Just before I left, I stared at my second set of keys sitting on the side table where Danielle couldn’t miss them.  She had my work phone number if she needed to call me, but she had said she wouldn’t bother me at work.  I thought “bother” was an odd choice of word.  Even though it didn’t feel right, I left her asleep and alone in my apartment, and an uncomfortable nagging gnawed at me the entire day.

Mondays were usually my most productive day at work.  I was normally well-rested.  I had fresh ideas.  I had a higher tolerance for co-workers.  But because of Danielle and the keys, I couldn’t concentrate on my job.  My work load piled up.  When I called the apartment, nobody answered, and I started to get paranoid.  I didn’t want to leave for lunch and check up on Danielle (and my apartment) because I was behind schedule.  I made simple mistakes that (luckily) my co-workers caught.

Even my boss (a good one) asked if I was feeling okay.  If the boss was asking questions, then I knew I wasn’t on the top of my game.  I was proud that my boss rarely had to ask me questions.  Now I was on my boss’s radar.  I didn’t want to be on my boss’s radar.  Danielle was a walking distraction when she was in public; now she was distracting me when she wasn’t even around me.  Somehow I got through the day without being fired (or reprimanded).

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I returned to my apartment that evening.  Part of me thought my place would be empty, but I knew that was irrational.  Danielle hated my furniture (with good reason), and the only thing valuable I had was my comic book collection, and I couldn’t see Danielle (or anybody) stealing/selling it.  Maybe there would be a wild party going on with a bunch of her topless dancer friends gyrating around.  Throw in a pillow fight, and I wouldn’t mind the disruption in my routine.  On the other hand, I had this paranoia that I’d be greeted by an angry ex-boyfriend who wanted to punch me out.  Danielle had talked about “crazy shit” in her life, and even though she hadn’t gone into details, “crazy shit” could include violent ex-boyfriends.

As I walked up the steps to my second floor apartment, I looked and listened for signs of danger or anything else unusual.  There was no loud music blasting from the apartment.  The door was shut.  Everything seemed normal.  But when I unlocked the door….

“Holy shi… !” exclaimed.

I felt like I had stepped into the wrong apartment.  My television, which used to rest on a small table in the corner, had been replaced by an entertainment center that encompassed the entire wall.  Framed paintings covered the remaining walls.  Two new couches and a recliner crowded the living room along with a dark wood coffee table.  The carpet was spotless.

Danielle sat on the couch, her feet propped up on the coffee table.  She had an exhibitionist/librarian fusion look, her hair pulled back, glasses on, tight t-shirt, and really high shorts.  Out of all of her looks so far, this one was my favorite.  She had been reading (or pretending to read) Sense and Sensibility, but when she saw me, she tossed the book aside and got up to give me a long hug.  A wave of relief calmed me down.

“How do you like it?” she said, standing up with perfect posture and her chest out.  I wasn’t sure if she was talking about her appearance or the apartment.

“Great!” I said, to cover both possibilities.  “But where is all my furniture?” I asked.  I kind of felt bad asking her.  Here I was with a hot girlfriend who just made my apartment presentable, and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful.

“Storage,” she said, and she put a key and a card in my hand.  “I wouldn’t throw it away.”

“My books?” I asked, pointing to the entertainment center which covered the wall where my bookshelves used to be.

“Spare bedroom,” she said.

“You went in there?” I almost felt violated, but I also knew I was being overdramatic.  Of course, she would go in there.  She lived here now.  Her name wasn’t on the lease, but she lived here.  I just hoped she hadn’t gone through all my books and comics too thoroughly.

“I found your porn,” she said (which meant she had gone through my books and comics thoroughly).

I looked down because there really was no good response.

“I didn’t throw it out,” she said.  “But don’t ask me to watch it with you.  And don’t ask me to do stuff that you see.”

I nodded.  Her conditions weren’t ideal, but they were reasonable.

“Look around,” Danielle said, pointing to the walls and the entertainment center.  Taking my hand, she led me to the kitchen and opened up the pantry.  The cans were stacked neatly.  The cabinets were more organized.  The counter was cleared.  She pulled the silverware drawer open, and nothing scurried away.  I finally understood the point she was making.

“No roaches,” I said.

Danielle beamed.  “I had a guy come out.  I told you I could do it.”

“We need to celebrate,” I said.  “Where do you want to go?”

“I have to work early,” she said.  “I missed my lunch shift, so I’m going in early tonight.”

“You work lunches?” I said.  I didn’t know this.

“Peak times,” she said.  “Tonight will probably suck until 9:00, but you never know.  Maybe a dumbass with a big wallet will come in.”

I was disappointed that she was going to work so soon after I had returned.  “Maybe I can go to Nero’s for a little bit, hang out for a few minutes.”  It was a weeknight, so I wouldn’t stay long.

“No!” she said.  “I mean it.”

“Okay,” I said.  It wasn’t a big deal to me.

“I’m serious.  You can’t go there.”

I was surprised at how vehement she was.  “So… you really don’t want me to go?”

“It’ll make things weird,” Danielle said, then she paused.  “I lost… a boyfriend that way.  He wanted me to quit, and when I didn’t, he called me names when he got mad at me.”

“Okay,” I said again.  “I get it.”

“I’m not a slut just because I work there!”

“I know.  I wasn’t thinking that.”  Geez, I thought, that came out of nowhere.

There was a long pause.  I didn’t know what else to say.  Danielle glared at me, her eyes now red and unblinking.

“The only way this works is if you stay away from Nero’s.  Promise!”

“Okay, I promise to stay away from Nero’s.”  That seemed easy enough to do.  It really wasn’t a big deal to me, but Danielle was upset, and I didn’t like it when Danielle was upset.  But once I reassured her that I wouldn’t go to Nero’s, she calmed down.  It also helped that I didn’t tell her to calm down.  Telling somebody to calm down rarely gets them to calm down.

Whatever relationship Danielle and I had, the rules were becoming clear.  Let her pick the furniture.  Don’t lie to her. Let her go to work when she wanted. Don’t ask her to watch porn.   Also very important, don’t go to where Danielle worked.  I could live with these conditions.  There was no doubt in my mind that I was getting the better part of the deal.  But I also knew that in a relationship that could change very quickly.

*****

To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: The Montage.

And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.

3 Comments
  1. ““Spare bedroom,” she said.

    “You went in there?” I almost felt violated…“

    Haha, perfect!

  2. I absolutely love reading these!

  3. I honestly check my email every single day waiting for new posts in this series. I love it so much!

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