Cheryl Leibovitz and DJ Asson

Cheryl Leibovitz
Unrequited Love

Acrylic mixed media

By DJ Asson

Inspiration piece

Quin knelt down by her chair, collapsed really. He knew he shouldn’t have drunk so much. But, it felt right. Being with her at this moment felt right. Without looking up at Teagan, he placed his head on her knees, tilting his face ever so slightly so his cheek rested against the worn blue denim of her jeans. There was an intimacy about it, but it wasn’t sexual. It was something different, something better. It was like home is supposed to be, where happiness is the norm and feeling safe is taken for granted. Quin’s home life wasn’t like that, but before his melancholy could cast a gloom over the evening, he tried to focus on the present moment. He wanted to savor every second, every feeling, all the while desperately trying not to black out.

He lay still, feeling the room spin, but not so much as when he was leaning against the bar. And it was infinitely better than when he staggered to the bathroom a few minutes ago. Thankfully, that confined space kept him from falling down while he relieved himself of several bitter pints. He practically took a swim in the stained and chipped basin that once passed for a sink. The cool water helped steady him, temporarily, for the short shuffle back to the table.

He’d gotten drunk much too quickly tonight. Teagan and he came here directly from the office, joined by two colleagues. They were simply four friends coming into a dark bar on a nondescript street for a few drinks to wash away the fatigue of performing monotonous tasks for slow-witted managers. They stood at the bar for the first round, since it was quicker to get drinks but also because there were no free tables. After ordering their second round, they scored a table and ordered a large pizza with pepperoni, some fries and the best damn onion rings in town.

That was hours ago. The sunlight shining through the cigarette smoke-discolored windows had been replaced by a dirty yellowish light from a few streetlights and the occasional set of high beams from cars turning around outside Finnegan’s. Quin’s world, however, was focused solely on Teagan. He sighed, sure that his breathing registered on her body. She put her hand on his head, slowly tracing circles in his hair with her long fingers. As if a threshold had been crossed, Quin relaxed, stress seeping away from his body as his neck loosened and his shoulders dropped. He’d have gone completely limp but he knew he’d fall to the floor. He tensed his knees and thighs just enough to keep him from falling so as to let this moment last as long as possible.

“You know…” she started to say, still moving her hand through his brown hair. She relaxed her legs, ever so slightly, and his head sunk a little deeper into her lap.

“Mmmmmm,” he muttered, more a vibration from deep down his throat, resonating on her leg, rather than an audible sound.

“If only we’d met earlier, before…”

Quin mustered all his strength, physical and emotional, to pull his head up so he could look into Teagan’s eyes. The floor spun and the room was fuzzy, but he concentrated and her face came into focus. Even from this extreme angle and seen through the haze of a long night of drinking, she was beautiful. Her dirty blond hair shimmered on the left side of her head, highlighted by the diffused light from the neon advertising sign over the bar. Her mouth was still slightly open, her lips parted from uttering her last words. She was looking in his direction but she wasn’t looking at him or at anything else, really. It was as if she was remembering something past, something important.

Or, he hoped, she was savoring this moment as much as he was. He loved her but never said it directly to her. They were just colleagues who went out for drinks regularly. She meant so much to him and at times he sensed a reciprocal sparkle when they were together. She’d catch his eye for a private laugh when they were in a meeting, or she’d purposely bump into him in the hallway while he was talking with someone. She’d flip her head over her left shoulder and look back at him and her lips would curl into a slight smile. Then she’d be gone and he’d be left to figure out what his conversation partner had been saying in the previous few moments.

Teagan closed her lips and furrowed her eyebrows. She looked directly at Quin, locking eyes for the first time since he knelt down beside her. Her brow relaxed and her lips curled up ever so slightly into a contented smile. It was like they were in a hallway at the office again, but something was different. Gone was the playfulness and simple office flirtation. It was replaced by an intensity of emotion. Even more, her eyes conveyed that she’d come to a realization. Quin was certain it was about him, about them, and he struggled to stay coherent for a little longer. He was desperate to know what happens tomorrow, when the bar would be closed and the alcohol gone from his body. Where, if anywhere, would their relationship be when the sun’s light replaced the bar’s neon glow?

He kept his eyes locked on Teagan. She slid her hand down the back of his head to his neck and then around to cup the side of his face, his chin resting on her wrist. He was startled by the contrast in the heat emanating from her fingertips and the icy coldness from the silver knotted bracelet she always wore on her wrist. She widened her eyes, took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. “I love you,” she whispered and then slowly turned to look down at the floor, away from his face.

He knew that she meant it. He also knew that she was closing the door on anything between them. They both knew it wasn’t going to happen; they’d met each other too late. But she wanted Quin to know that he was important to her too; that there was something they shared. She needed to vocalize it.

Quin returned his head to her lap. He sighed once more and closed his eyes. The room wasn’t spinning as fast as before. Teagan put her hand on his head, keeping it still this time. Her bracelet dangled just above his skin. He felt neither warm nor cold.



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