CHANEL NO. 5
My throat constricts as Chanel No. 5 enters the room. A woman follows the perfume, goldbangles clanging as she switches her cell phone to the other ear. She pushes a red toned lock of hair behind her ear, but it springs out again its curl unwilling to conform to her wish.“I have to go,” the woman whispers into her phone. “I’m here, so I can’t talk about this rightnow.” The woman smiles at me briefly as she places her voluminous bag down a few seats away.“Do you hear me? Not now. I’m waiting to be called back,” she says.I try not to listen. Focus on your book, I tell myself. It’s none of your business.From the corner of my eye I see her walk away. “It’s none of your business what I’m going totalk about.” Her voice is muffled, harder to hear.“No, not now. Not later. It’ private.” This was hard not to hear.“That doesn’t mean that some things can’t be kept private,” she says. The words in my bookare now meaningless symbols.“That’s not true, Paul. It’s not realistic and I won’t agree to that.”Why didn’t she just hang up, I wondered. She said she couldn’t talk right now yet shecontinues to do so. I lay my book down on my lap and glance at her. She is standing across theroom facing the wall beyond the partition separating the area with the Texas Monthly andNewsweek magazines from the area with the wooden blocks and picture books. I am the onlyother person in the waiting room. I look at my watch. It is 1:55pm. Five more minutes, I think.She turns around facing my direction. I pick my book up and try again to read.“Listen. Paul, listen. I can’t do this right now.”“This. This. Us - I mean I can’t talk about us right now.”So that’s it, I think. She wants out. I feel an inward smile. I wonder what Paul looks like. Ipicture him small, running a hand through a receding hairline. He pretends he is at work, but he isat home. He doesn’t have a job and she’s starting to catch on. He’s starting to panic.“I’ve got to go. Sorry, but I’m hanging up now.Finally. I exhale and look up. She is walking towards me. She smiles and rolls her eyes. I half smile back a her.“Some people can’t hear you, you know?”“Yeah,” I croak and try to clear my throat. I look down towards my open book and mumble,“Or they like to pretend that they can’t anyway. Pisses me off, people like that,” I say raising myhead to look her in the eyes again.“Good book?” she asks.“Not sure - too distracted I guess.”“I’m sorry. I hope it wasn’t my conversation.” She was sitting down now, two chairs away butangled in her chair to face me.