Charlie was a moody boyfriend. He couldn’t control the sweep of emotions, mostly negative, that washed over him without warning. Eleanor quickly became skilled at registering his emotional temperature from a distance. She knew instantly by the slouch of his shoulder, the shape of his lips whether or not now was a good time to bring up say the issue of prom or where to go for lunch. Every Monday Charlie gave Eleanor a new mix tape wrapped inside a jewelry box that he tied somewhat clumsily with a bow. As Eleanor didn’t own a Walkman, she never knew exactly what Charlie was communicating to her through the selections, but she imagined that in these tapes he was expressing his romantic yearnings, secret fears and deepest fantasies. So Eleanor got a job at a Bakery, which in its own way put additional strains on her relationship with Charlie. No longer was she available to walk with him to and from school. Still she persisted at her job until she had saved up enough money to buy a Walkman and listen to Charlie’s impressive collection of mixed tapes made just for her. She had decided long ago that she would listen to them chronologically, but when the moment actually arrived, she abandoned her plan and listened to one tape after another in a random fashion. Sitting on her bed, earphones covering her ears, she missed the call for dinner. When she came down hours later, dazed and disappointed, she walked straight past the cold plate of pasta that her mother had left for her on the counter, picked up the phone and broke up with Charlie. His play list, a churning urn of bad disco and Van Halen contained no secret messages. Enough was enough.
March 26, 2014
by Lee Eiferman