george and liza

i am in love with these characters, this story. because this one made my heart gleeful and then yanked it right out of my chest. i swear. very few books have managed to evoke such emotion in me before and continue to do so.

this from ellen shanman’s right before your eyes.

so what do you do, george?’ i asked.

‘i’m in m’n’a. that’s mergers and –‘

‘acquisitions, yeah, i know what it is.’ i was grateful he didn’t say ‘consultant.’ 

‘of course. and you?’

‘i’m a writer.’

‘for whom?’ he questioned.

‘a playwright.’

‘ah. for no one.’

‘yeah, i’m having cards made.’

‘so what kind of plays do you write?’

this is one of those questions i hope people will not ask in a bar because then i’ll have to say something like ‘well, right now i’m working on a piece about the perfect suburban widow and the way the neighborhood destroys her when she falls for the wrong man. it’s a little bit ibsen, a little bit alan ball.’ inevitably the other person will draw some parallel to ‘desperate housewives’ and i’ll have to explain why that’s completely off base without sounding affected and nasty.

‘gee, george. i’m sure you’d much rather tell me about you. what kind of mergers do you aquire?

‘point taken. so what do you actually do? for money?’

‘i do administrative work.’ i would not say the word ‘temp’ to this man.

‘you temp?’

i hated him.

‘what agency? we’ve always got temps in my office.’

so much.

and that is pretty much how the story of george and liza begins. that is what made me like it.

this is what made me love it.

‘i was scared, george. i was just scared. why don’t you get that?’

he looked at his shoes for a long time. i willed him to raise his eyes and look at me, but he wouldn’t. i was saying it. i was saying everything i’d been unable, too afraid, to say for so long … but he wasn’t looking at me. i prayed silently. please, i thought, please, please, please …

‘sometimes,’ he finally said, ‘people should go with their instincts.’

‘george. this is what i’ve been trying to tell you! my instincts were –‘

‘not yours.’ he paused. ‘mine.’ he looked me in the eye for the first time. and there was a wall where i’d never seen one before.

‘i don’t…’, i stuttered, not knowing what to say. ‘i don’t think i understand.’ … i opened my mouth, but i couldn’t make a sound. i wanted to evaporate, to lose consciousness, to sprain my ankle so he’d have to take me to the hospital and we could start all over again and this time i wouldn’t fuck it up.

but i just stood there.

he turned away.

‘george…’ it came out as an eerie, choked animal sob.

he stopped. he started to turn back to me. and then he changed his mind.

the first and last person i had wanted to see that evening was actually standing there waiting for me. i knew i had to walk past him to get out, but for a second i couldn’t move. and then without even wanting them to, my legs started to carry me toward him. i stopped a few yards away.

he just stared at me.

‘what are you doing here?’ i asked.

‘i don’t know,’ george said. ‘i just couldn’t miss it.’

‘you watched?’

‘you’re extraordinary.’

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