The Lovebird

The Lovebird by Natalie Brown

Book: The Lovebird by Natalie Brown Read Free Book Online
Authors: Natalie Brown
Tags: General Fiction
“ocean” sounded so much better than “airport”),
and an adorable pet rabbit named Charlotte. School is fine, and San Diego is as paradisiacal as ever. I’ve spent time on the beach
(I didn’t mention that my time on the beach consisted of releasing live lobsters kidnapped from a fancy restaurant),
and in the country
(I decided to leave out any references to fur farms, rodeos, puppy mills, and the like),
and seen some dazzling, exotic birds in a multitude of hues
(I thought it best not to note that I’d witnessed those birds flying out of Azar’s Pet Palace).
    What’s new, Dad? How’s work and how’s home?
    I stopped writing and tried to think of what else to ask him, but nothing came to mind, and I grew more and more melancholy with the waiting. That was all Dad had. Work and home. He didn’t even have me. I was away. And I had not visited for over a year.
    Well, Daddy, I just wanted to say hello. I hope you are well. I don’t need anything
    The cap of my previously pristine pen was completely chewed up. I wanted to add a P.S. I never wrote a letter without doing so. A P.S. could be the very best part of a letter. Once, I’d had a pen pal in Tokyo with whom I’d connected through a free pen pal matchmaking service that advertised in the back of a magazine. As our correspondence progressed, I developed a habit of writing my pen pal very brief letters of only a few lines, followed by postscripts five times as long. She eventually wrote me saying she wished for a pen pal who wrote in a more traditional American style and did not want to correspond further, at which point I determined to try and shorten my postscripts, but vowed never to eliminate them.
    I couldn’t think of the perfect P.S. for Dad, though numerous possibilities came to mind:
P.S. Is this what heartbreak feels like? P.S. Am I going to end up like you? P.S. What makes a man want a girl and then not? P.S. Did you ever not want Rasha? P.S. What’s wrong with me?
Exhausted, I put the unfinished epistle under my pillow and slept on it, fitfully.
    Every morning I rose early and, smoking cigarettes I’d stolen from Simon before my move, drove puffy-eyed and perfunctorily groomed to campus for my classes. I transferred out of Simon’s Intermediate Latin class, in which I had been earning an A (for effort, though not for ability), into the only other comparable course offered—one taught by the English fellow whom Simon had so dismissively dubbed a “summus maximus bore.” Simon approved the transfer and so did Summus Maximus, who, when I entered his classroom for the first time, said with a smirk, “Yes, you’re not the only person I’ve met who has experienced difficulties with Mr. Mellinkoff’s teaching style,” and my eyes welled as Iremembered Simon the way I always would: seated on his desk in his black-and-white-checkered trousers and canvas slip-ons, with his shirtsleeves rolled up, telling us with his sweetly stilted semi-smile about Lesbia insulting a tormented and lovelorn Catullus in front of her husband.
    But then I saw a familiar face in the back row—Jane, my old classmate and study partner, with whom I had once commiserated about Simon’s crush-inspiring characteristics over cups of PG Tips. We’d lost touch after I’d grown involved with Simon and the Operation. “What are you doing here, Margie?” she whispered as I slid, sighing, into the desk beside her. Her smile dimmed when she studied me closely. “You’ve gotten so thin,” she said, soft-eyed as ever.
    “What are
doing here?” I whispered back.
    “After Mellinkoff gave me such a bad grade last semester, I decided to try Professor Weatherbury. He’s a lot easier—though not nearly as easy on the eyes.” Weatherbury cleared his throat at us.
    After class we made plans for a study session at my studio. Jane wrote down the address in bubbly cursive and tried to temper her excitement at the prospect of finding out all that had happened

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