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Dear Mr. Heart On
Author/Writer of Book/Novel:
I make no apologies for the man I am.
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I’m just getting out of the shower when someone knocks on the door of my apartment. Wrapping a towel around myself, I leave a trail of wet footsteps as I hop to the door, calling, “Who is it?”
“It’s your mother. Remember?”
I groan. Yes, I remember. Of course I remember. Every other Tuesday my mother comes into the city to take me to lunch. Which is nice. So nice … and I am grateful, I am … except every lunch includes more than our requisite Cobb salads, hold the meat, with two glasses each of white wine. She also likes to use the opportunity to remind me that I need a man.
Right. Need. As if I am not a successful and capable woman in my own right. What year is this, anyway?
Sure, I do rely on her and my father for rent. And grocery money. And to pay my grad school tuition — but that doesn’t mean she has the right to lecture me on my love life. Does it?
I love my parents dearly but they drive me batty.
I unlock the door and pull it open, the loud clank of the ancient steel echoing the corridor. I can practically hear her wincing from the other side. I live in a studio space that is more abandoned warehouse than cozy flat, but I adore it. I have plenty of room to sprawl out with my canvases and brushes. Whenever a creative mood strikes, my paint supplies are within arms’ reach. Which is the point. I want to be an artist. I mean, I am an artist, but like, being an artist who can support herself with her creative work is the goal.
Mom and Dad don’t exactly get it. They call it a phase. I call it my identity.
With the door open, there Mom is, in her designer pant suit, perfectly coiffed hair and manicured nails. We don’t live in Beverly Hills, but she acts as if she is a cast member of the non-existent Real Housewives of Saint Louis.
“Why aren’t you ready?” she asks, taking in the place. I watch as her eyes travel over my sink full of dishes, the overflowing laundry basket, the paint splatters on the floor. “Reservations are in twenty minutes and you’re still in a towel.”
“I didn’t wash my hair; I can be ready in ten.” I walk to my wardrobe and begin pulling out clothes, shimmying on underwear and a bra, pairing an oversized cream sweater with black pants and red pointy-toed flats.
She scowls. “Are you ever going to grow up, Imogen? It’s nearly one in the afternoon and you’re just getting dressed. You are such a …”
“An ambitious artist?” I ask, not biting my tongue. “I was up half the night working on a piece for the gallery show I have next week. Which I’m really excited about. In case you were wondering.”
Mom purses her lips as if in pain. “Why are you doing this to your father and me?”
I smile. “Mother, I am doing literally nothing to you and Dad except pursuing my dreams. Isn’t that what you always told me to do? Don’t you want me to be happy?”
I grab a can of dry shampoo and go to town on my jet black hair. I roll it into a knot on the top of my head and dig through the make up on my dresser. It’s near impossible to find the lip color I want through the mess, but when I do, I squeal. “There you are!” Mom watches as I apply ruby red lipstick and then swipe thick black liner across my lids.
“Imogen, of course I want you to be happy … in fact, that’s what I wanted to talk with you about today.”
Reaching under the pile of clothes on my orange velvet chair, I grab a red scarf dotted with black hearts and wrap it around my neck. Plucking my purse out from under the bed, I toss it over my shoulder and march to the door.
“Under nine minutes, Mother, told you I had plenty of time.”
She sighs with exaggeration, “It’s about time, darling!”
If anyone wondered where I get my flair for the dramatics — they wouldn’t need to look very far.
With salad and wine before us, I begin to relax. “So are you still working on the charity event for the hospital next month?” I ask Mom. Her favorite two things — besides giving me a hard time for being single — are coordinating auctions and attending them. I give her credit — for all my parents’ wealth, they make donating to charity a priority.
“Yes, I’ve nearly ironed out every kink, so that’s good.” She lifts her wine and take a sip, looking around the French restaurant, hoping to find something worth gossiping about. “Your father has been working so hard lately, I told him: after the auction, we need a vacation.”