FINGERPRINTS

Breathless from the hike in heels and the unsolicited return of memory, I stood at the bottom of Taylor's apartment complex. Or, at least, I stood below what I believed to be his apartment complex; he could have moved or died or something drastic like that. Cautiously, I sauntered up to the reinforced glass doors and looked up his name on the wall.

The one thing I hate the most about New York is that one can never actually enter a building without someone else's permission. My brilliant plan was to actually sneak up to his door and knock on it there in fiery, sentimental passion, but instead I was reduced to button-pushing and standing in October wind.

I watched my finger shake as I pushed the white button beside his name.

And static.

And, "Hullo?"

And a pause.

"Um, hi."

"Hi?"

"I, um, can I come up?"

"I'm sorry, who is this?"

And panic.

"It's Kate."

And silence.

I backed away from the intercom, afraid that he was ignoring me.

And then buzz.

I pushed the glass door open, leaving my fingerprints on the freshly washed surface. This place was foreign and familiar; the fifth step still creaked when I stepped on its center, but the walls were a new shade of burnt cream, reminiscent of long stretches of hallways with poor lighting. I ran my fingers along the pores of the painted cement bricks as I ascended to his floor.

When I reached the door to his level, I stopped. Suddenly rendered immobile by fear and pessimism, I took a few breaths and looked down at my chest. Jesus Christ, the red was blindingly visible through the white shirt I'd so ignorantly chosen to sport.

"Fuck," I held my bag in front of me to hide the dirty lingerie and pushed open the fire door.

His place was almost at the end of the hall, which seemed much farther away than it had before. Perhaps it was merely the increased amount of blood pumping through my body or the sweat acquiring in all the wrong places that slowed me down, but it took longer than usual to reach his black door labeled 7F.

I knocked, regretting it immediately.

I closed my eyes and stepped back, hearing the faint rustling of papers I imagined still cluttered his floors.

He threw open the door and stared at me.

"Hey." Thrust out the chest. Thrust out the chest.

"What are you doing here?" His arm was propped against the right side of the threshold, his body on the left, blocking the entrance.

"I'm not sure, actually."

"That's a surprise."

We lingered in awkward silence for a few seconds. I hadn't actually planned on getting this far and now that I was standing before him I had no clue what to say.

"Nice pants," I offered.

"I hate them."

"Then you should get new pants."

He shot me a glare, still barricading the doorway; I faked a cough and asked for a glass of water just to get inside his apartment again. He was suspicious of my ailment, but complied and fetched a small glass to fill only halfway with water.

I helped myself to the broken couch where I had spent my last night there. Making myself comfortable on the space between two of the cushions, I slowly drank the bitter water. The longer it took to drink, the more time I had to come up with something marginally worthwhile to say.

He stood on the opposite side of the room with his arms crossed, begging with his eyes for me to finish the water and leave. I only smiled and commented on the warm October weather. Perhaps my awkwardness with Taylor could be blamed on the fact that I never watched soap operas when I was younger. Or maybe it could be blamed on the fact that my mother was never one of those mothers who encouraged inter-gender fraternizing.

"Listen,"

"You should leave. I have a lesson in twenty minutes."

I threw back the rest of the water and set the glass on top of a pile of old newspapers. "I went to NYU," I stood up and thrust out the pseudo-perky breasts in a last burst of hope. "And I'm a reporter." Sort of.

"Good."

"I just wanted you to know that."

"I'm glad you realized what you wanted to do."

I laughed morosely and looked away, "I didn't. I just ran out of options." I started walking out the door, but stopped myself. "Listen, if you ever want to grab a cup of coffee sometime I have an amazingly lengthy lunch break."

He walked to the door, placing his hand on the knob. "I think you should go. I have a lesson soon."

I nodded and sluggishly tore myself away from his doorway. Before I could verbalize a goodbye, he closed the door.

That bastard didn't even notice my breasts.

The second I returned from work, I stripped off the red bra and pitched it into Molly's room, cursing its fabricator. As usual, no one reacted to my violent demeanor, which only made me angrier. Molly kept stretching out the skin on her face and Bea just sat in the kitchen drinking my stale coffee from earlier that morning and reading the same Cosmo she'd been reading all month.

I stood at the entrance of the living room watching Molly, then watching Bea, then watching Molly, and then watching Bea. "God damnit! What is wrong with you people!?" I grabbed the stack of ancient Cosmo's and threw them on the floor. "READ SOMETHING ELSE!"

"Did you know that the female orgasm is like 90% emotional?"

I tossed one of the magazines at Bea's head and disappeared into my room. Behind locked doors, I could have whatever emotional breakdown necessary to get Taylor out of my system. My only problem was I couldn't muster up the strength to actually have one such breakdown. I just sat in the center of my bed, crossed my legs, and watched my reflection in the mirror in front of me.

I was emotionally dead. I was physically unable to cry over anything: hating my roommates, the trash in the kitchen, and the hardcore rejection from my object of lust. But I needed to cry, I needed to scream and tear things from the wall and rip holes in pants, but I couldn't. Desperate for a maudlin outlet, I began forcing myself to watch sappy movies about family and love and talking dogs to release my sorrow. It wasn't uncommon to find me curled in the corner sobbing in the fetal position over Hallmark commercials either. No matter how hard I cried and how loud I screamed and how many Cosmo's I burned I still couldn't shake him.