The Middle East / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 20 days I’ll be posting 500 words a day as part of a creative writing challenge. You can join the fb group here. **

Does anyone else do that thing where they procrastinate on writing, or even not procrastinate so much as finally sit down to write, look at the clock and then think, I’m going to do this in thirty minutes? I always make deals with myself even though I am a habitual under-estimator.

What the ever-loving f*ck. Stop reading and just write.

Acck!! I meant to re-use my old The Time I Almost Got Killed By My Airbnb Hosts in Antwerp draft post, because it’s already 1am and I haven’t started writing and I have to go to that stupid Pilates class in the morning. I just looked through my drafts and it’s gone! Sadly, I think I deleted it the last time I was tempted to use it because I didn’t want to cheat. I hate myself. You guys, I don't really hate myself.

Once, when I was dating the leader of the yoga cult, I ran into him in Central Square while he was on a date. I was with my friend Dan, who has since become another name but not because of an operation. We were on our way to a see a band that I’d hoped would make me forget I moved to Boston. I saw him walking down Mass Ave. moments before he saw me. He was next to a woman I didn't recognize. The sides of their arms were pressed into one another, his head leaning towards her as they were laughing. I remember him being funny sometimes.

The streets were otherwise bare and covered in piles of snow, and the four of us collectively stopped the way acquaintances do when they see each other. The trick to putting up street art in the middle of the day without getting caught is to act like you’re supposed to be there. I think the same is true of lying.

He made small talk and casually explained to his date that he knew us from yoga. She was vaguely pretty. Her exact words escape me now, but I remember her answering with the confidence you feel when you meet another girl and don't suspect you have anything to worry about. I avoided eye contact. I can still see the pink hue of the overhead streetlights and the way time seemed to hang in the icy air. I needed to be anywhere but on a lonely street in the middle of winter interrupting two people on a date. 

Eventually we parted ways and Dan and I walked into our show. I spent the rest of the night ignoring his spiral texts, but also my friend. Maybe because of shame or because of misplaced obligation, I couldn’t admit what had happened. Instead I feigned exhaustion while the music droned on.

The thing is, when you don’t want to believe something, neon signs can be flashing in your face and the only thing you’ll notice is how nice the weather is.