Christopher Morris

Derek says, "Why aren't you getting ready?"

Moira sits on the red leather couch and watches the ash grow on the end of her cigarette.  She stares at it, transfixed, watching the red glow.

Derek says, "Damn it, Moira.  Baxter said he'd hold a table for us.  It's after six as it is."

Even though Moira is trying very hard to be motionless, she can see the curl of ash begin to crumble.  She waits, watching it, trying to will it not to fall off.  The white rug looms below.  She tries not to breathe.

"Jesus.  Will you at least look at me?"

A crack appears atop the tube of gray ash and the whole thing, half a cigarette, slips soundlessly to the carpet below. If Derek notices this, he doesn't say anything.  Moira lifts her face and finds Derek's eyes.

"You're so pale," he says.  "What's wrong with you?"

*  *  *

Moira is standing outside of Saks, holding a shopping bag, waiting for a taxi.  The weather is windy and cool and she pulls her small wool coat more tightly around her.  The last time she was here, she thinks, it was warm outside.  She tries to think if things were better then.  She can't remember.

A man in a brown suit approaches her.  "Excuse me,"  he says.  "Can I have your autograph?"  He holds a pen up to her, a scrap of paper.

Moira looks at him closely, thinking she'll recognize him, thinking this might be a joke.  She studies his face.  She doesn't say anything.

"You are Christy Turlington, right?  The model?"

Moira smiles at the man.  She doesn't recognize the name, but she understands it's someone important.

"Yes," she says.  "Of course."

"Wow.  It's so cool to meet you," the man says.  "Could you make it out to Jim?"

She takes the pen and scribbles, holding the paper in her palm.  She writes: To Jim.  Nice to meet you.  Kristy Turkington.

*  *  *

"There's someone living in my apartment," Moira says.  She's sitting in a plush leather chair.  Across from her is her therapist.  The room is mahogany and brown.  Someone has smoked a cigar in here, but not very recently.  Odors linger.

"You mean someone other than your boyfriend," her therapist says.

"Derek doesn't live with me," she says.

"So someone else."

"Derek has his own place.  He just sleeps over.  Sometimes.  Not very often."

"Who is living in your apartment?"

"I don't know."

"Moira.  What makes you think someone else is living there?"

"I don't know.  Sounds.  Movements.  Little things.  Nothing.  Forget it."

*  *  *