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"Kabuki Theater"
by Daniel Friedman

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Eric Weinblatt
Catamaran Literary Reader Editorial Intern

My Future Ex-Wife

            The very image of her aches. It burns right through the retina, reflects off the mirror of the brain, and begins to seer each ventricle of the heart. The golden streak in her otherwise midnight hair is the beacon of hope that there will be a clear day in her stormy eyes. The metallic stud through her right nostril serves as a perfect contrast to her blood-red lips, the stain that breathes the essence of humanity through her porcelain doll complexion. Unlike her flawlessness, there is some tragedy that comes with being a writer: we can see windows of the future. They’re never clean-cut images, just echoes of ideas that hold some invaluable truth. They often come in the form of snapshots, one-acts or poems that tell of some plausible future, and the deeper they rattle us writers, the truer they inherently are.
              When I first thought of Hana the images were endless. What I couldn’t see was our first encounter. This was nothing short of chance. Slinking around the café of our local bookstore, I was working up a brainstorm and she was nothing short of pleased with herself. For whatever reason, I had found myself inspired that day, and had been busy plotting the framework for my latest attempt at a novel. She was humming Imelda May’s “Meet You At The Moon”. She was clearly lost in the chords of her solo ensemble and wasn’t paying attention to the very full cup of coffee in her hand. I was too busy charting out my ideas to watch the flailing of my writing arm. Click-clack went her heels on the tile. Scritch-scratch went my pen on the paper. Crash-Splash went my elbow into her arm, and the coffee onto my jacket.
            So scribbles and spills aren’t the greater of first impressions. It does however make for an interesting conversation-starter. Once we got through the apologizing and making sure we were both unscathed, she had the keen eye to ask what I was writing, and I had the sense to entertain her while I replaced the beverage I had knocked from her grip. I told her I was thinking up a tale about letters left in dusty boxcars, about cowboys and princesses, of the deepest seeds of evil and love. I conceded to her that I was caught up in her humming, that I was not used to hearing one of my favorite tunes echoing through the halls of this downtown shop. For a split second, Hana’s pale face had a tint of pink.
            The first blush became a first rush and we talked until the sun went down around the café we had planted ourselves in. When the servers whisked themselves around the vacant table as a gentle reminder that the doors were locking soon, we made plans to catch a film at the smallest, most run-down theatre in town. While I was pushing for a classic like The Cat People she managed to twist my arm into seeing a Korean feature, 싸이보그지만괜찮아 /I’m A Cyborg, But That’s O.K. A gentle reminder that an avid part of writing was reading was just the push I needed to buy into her exotic taste in film. The frames developed our time and the film served as a gentle reminder of the insanity that comes with falling in love. I brushed away the message that was spelled out so clearly before me as I walked her home that night. Sometimes being truly innocent is just plain crazy. I stole just one quick kiss; as I knew I could certainly get away with it, before wandering off on my own.
            The following months proved as trying as any epic. I attempted to balance my writing with a hectic work schedule and both seemed to crash. I was perplexed by the latest plotline I had stumbled across, this woman whom could only have come crashing into my life, and the array of futures this foretold. Of course all of these whirred by in a most uncomfortable blur as I attempted to balance plates on my forearm and conversations with customers at work. Being a server can be quite lucrative for a writer’s career, provided he can hold onto the dishes he was running. Sadly, I was frankly so lucky. The lucrative cost of these dishes? Approximately one job.
            Being on the down and out career-wise left me with a lot of time to ponder the images that had started coming to mind: A midnight starlit rendezvous, a well-catered and exquisite dinner, hours of conversations without audible words &c. It was overwhelming to take them all on alone. I debated discussing these visions with the woman who was the only subject linking them all together, as perhaps she could make sense of them all. I would chalk it up then to being afraid of scaring the girl off after one date, but now I would say it was a fear of commitment. No matter how old I get, the very notion of being hitched to someone ‘til death do us part after a single date will consistently give me cold-feet.
            What’s the natural response to cold feet? Shatter them to pieces and brush said pieces under the rug. This translates to me not calling Hana for a series of three days also known as the longest seventy-two hours I had experienced in a long time. After they passed, I resolved to tickle the fancy of the budding romance that refused to stop beating at the walls of my cranial temples. What should we do for our second date? Dinner and a movie? Scratch the movie; let’s play the getting-to-know-you game.
            Over a gourmet dinner on our beach town’s wharf, we indulged each other over with the friendliest conversation two people could have without being overly intimate. Still being rather embarrassed by my recent financial shortcomings, I focused my portion of the conversation on playing Sherlock Holmes with her life. Where did she grow up? A few miles north of me. What were her interests aside from Imelda May and foreign films about the psychology of cyborgs? Painting, playing jazz on her upright bass, and dabbling in a few artistic ventures. Was she close with her family? As close as any rebellious Japanese girl in her early-twenties could be, she supposed. The interrogation I held over the plate of grilled salmon lasted over three hours. When I asked Hana about this night months later, she said she never once felt like I was digging. She said it was a welcomed change of pace to be out on a date where someone took a genuine interest in her life, instead of trying to show off in hopes her pants would reciprocate in that fashion. The night came to a close with a kiss, and future plans already made.
            On our third date, things got raw. It was a night or so later, and this time I could not avoid the questions that had been building up in my head. I would love to say I built up to them slowly, but the reality is I blurted each of them out. What are we doing here? How far will this go? Where do you see us going from here on out? &c. Hana nearly choked on her sushi, but revealed the sweetest smile I had ever seen. As it would happen, even after my lengthy questioning over our last meal, she still had some secrets. The big reveal? She too was a fiction writer, and she too was getting similar images: a mid-day rendezvous, trips to Big Ben, conversations without images &c. She confessed they were never so clear, but it was quite a relief to have met someone who saw everything the same way, yet so different.
            A year down the road, I found myself looking at diamond rings. In all my years I never imagined finding someone quite as perfect as Hana. She was my muse, my confidante, my push to go out and be a better person, and most importantly, she had become my best friend in the world. I thoughtfully browsed the selection the tiny downtown jeweler has to offer. I found a perfect ring, one with five small diamonds set into a crescent. True, it wasn’t a traditional engagement ring, but we were far from the traditional couple. The generous clerk was nice enough to let me hold it for a closer inspection. I closed my eyes and as per usual, the images came rushing. These images, however, were most unsettling.
            For the first time in many years, I felt heartache. I saw myself propose. I saw her say yes, in a thousand places, in a thousand ways. I heard the wedding bells. Then I saw the crash. I hear her fret over the bills. I see her slam the door. I feel the rain on my skin as I run after her in the wrong direction. I smell the salt of my tears as I pine for her. I snap back to realty as I hear the ring hit the counter. In that moment everything changed. I couldn’t hold onto a ring, how could I ever plan to hold onto the woman of my dreams.
            I took her on one final outing, beneath the clock tower in our town. Our words were few and far between, and our gazes hardly met. She kept either three steps in front of me or two steps back. When I finally had the chance to look in her eyes, I could tell she had seen the corresponding images and felt the same rush of sadness I had earlier that day. It only took one word, “Goodbye” to solidify everything but the fighting. From that day to this one, the sentiment remains the same: There goes the woman I’m never going to marry. The one I will never again argue with. The one who’s path I will forever remain clear of…
The very image of her aches…


Eric Weinblatt is an author attending the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is a third-year student working on his BA in Modern Literature. He has a background in creative writing and contemporary fiction, and aspires to be an author in both print and digital mediums himself. He is currently working as an editorial intern at Catamaran Literary Reader.

Mary Allen
Elizabeth McKenzie
Catherine Segurson
Eric Weinblatt

Candace Calsoyas
Molly Doyle
Zack Rogow

Andrew Beierle
Tom Christensen
Alyson Lie

Daniel S. Friedman

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