Noe walked down the hallway of the fluorescently lit rehab facility crowded with residents receiving rehabilitative services, medicine and visits from their families. She held onto a big pile of items her grandmother had requested –including her own ipod, scrapbooks and even fabric to sew. As she walked down the hallway she heard her grandmother laugh followed by another familiar laugh- her grandfather’s laugh. Shit. They got him here. I hope nothing happens while he’s here. That could be overly dramatic and unnecessary. After thinking the worst, but hoping for the best, she peeked her head into the room smiling at her grandparents.
”Oh, Nohua..I’m so glad you made it….” Zulema responded to her granddaughter’s face.
”Where’s dad?” she asked her grandmother.
”He’s talking to the doctors. He’ll be back. Everything is fine, my love.” her grandmother said sitting in her wheel chair next to Bruno in a hard hospital chair.
”Oh, Noe. I’m so glad I get to see you…” her grandfather held out his arms to hug her. She glanced at her grandmother looking for approval. Her grandmother nodded her head telling her it was okay. She put down the items she brought for her grandmother She leaned down hugging her grandfather who held onto her lightly kissing her head. ”You look so much like your mother today, Noe.” Bruno smiled at her as she walked back to the bed where the things she had brought for her grandmother sat.
”Nana…I brought you your things..” Noe said handing her the scrapbook and other things.
”Oh..thank you so much. I needed this.” she responded taking the scrapbook flipping to the middle. ”Oh look….” Zulema said pulling out some pictures.
”What are those, Nana?” Noe asked looking at the pictures of her grandmother sitting on a photo shoot set smiling.
”I remember this one…” Bruno said taking the picture from his wife.
”Shit girl…these boys are finnneeee today. We did a good job casting these ones….” Lisette said to Zulema as they walked into the swanky loft apartment for a photo shoot.
”You say that because you don’t have a boyfriend. This is painful.” Zulema answered her co-worker placing her bags on the side looking at several of the models’ half naked bodies.
”I won’t tell.” Lisette to told Zulema.
”Oh…he’d find out.” Zulema said smiling at one of the boys.
”Don’t be so sure of that.” Lisette answered introducing them to herself and Zulema to the models. One of the boys, Max, smiled at Zulema as he got dressed looking in the mirror. She walked over to him seeing the clothes bunched in a few sections.
”Hang on, let me fix that…” she said running over to him before Kelly could yell at him.
”Oh, thanks so much. I wasn’t sure where that needed to be.” his bright brown eyes lit up as she touched his legs and shirt fixing him.
”Well, that’s why I’m here.” she answered with a laugh stepping away to get a final look at him. ”Okay…I think you’re good.” she said walking to another model.
Zulema took her spot behind the camera looking at the photos as the models started to go to work. She directed the photographer the way that Kelly had taught her moving around the models as the shoot proceeded. After the shoot ended about 4 hours later she started grabbing the clothes placing them on the hangers and setting them up so there would be as much work later for her and her co-workers. She started dancing around humming Grenade to herself as the models started leaving. She turned around seeing Max moving slowly while all the other models left.
”What are you doing?” she asked him.
”Well, what I was going to do was ask you out.” he answered her. ”But I didn’t want to do it in front of everyone.” he admitted.
”Oh goodness. I…umm…Max…that’s….thank you. But I have a boyfriend.” she answered.
”Oh damn. So, some other model got to you before me?” he smiled a cosmetically improved bright white smile.
”Hardly a model, but yeah. I…yeah.” she answered him starting to get flustered. He was so her type- just tall enough, muscles, but not too many, beautiful hair and he sounded ridiculously intelligent.
”What doesn’t kill you, Zulema.” he winked at her. ”We’ll be at Swig later tonight if you want to come.”Zulema shook her head knowing she would be making a horrible decision if she went out, but she also knew that Bruno was out with girls all over him and that she had the same willpower as he did.
”I’ll see what I can do.” she answered walking in the opposite direction as him.
”So you’re going to go out?” Stephanie asked her friend.
”Yeah..I mean..if he can go out after his shows and have all those girls all over him, I can go out with hot models and not be tempted. I’m a big girl.” Zulema told her friend as they walked through the bar seeing the boys she and Lisette had worked with.
Zulema sat next to Max who still looked ridiculously attractive wearing a tight t-shirt and jeans. It’s so different from Bruno. She thought to herself as he continued to tell her about how he went to Northwestern for two years but dropped out because his girlfriend was living in New York and he missed her. Needless to say, they broke up within months of him moving to the city. He was trying to move on…move on to her. She continued to ignore his advances through several drinks seeing that Lisette and some of the interns had paired off almost making out. Ugh. This is so dumb. Zulema grabbed her purse seeing that Bruno had texted her Miss you. She took the phone starting to text him back. I miss you like fucking crazy. I can’t wait to see you. She put the phone down looking at Max.
”So, Zulema…” eww. It just doesn’t sound right. She thought to herself watching him move in closer to her to kiss her. By the time his lips met hers from over their drinks there wasn’t much she could do but kiss him back. He is my type. Bruno isn’t here. He’s with all those girls. This isn’t that big of a deal. He’s just a model. I’ve done this before. She felt all these thoughts run through her head as his lips lingered on hers. She smiled against his lips as they pulled away from each other. He took her hand standing up. ”Let’s go….” he asked her pointing to the door.
She looked down at her phone seeing the picture of her and Bruno from a few days ago. She turned it over quickly trying not to think of him as her hand touched his. She took in the different smell as he pressed against her nearing the door. As they neared the door she heard a familiar tune. Easy come, easy go that’s just how you live….”Shit.” she said to herself. ”No, Max. No. I’m sorry.” she told him letting go over his hand.
”What’s wrong, Zulema?” he asked her.
”I’m not the fucking Grenade girl.” she told him. ”Have a good night.” she told him waving her hand for a cab.
”What the hell just happened?” he asked himself seeing her get in the cab driving away from him.
Zulema took her phone out of her purse looking at the picture of the two of them starting to cry as she neared her apartment. Shit. I’m such a bitch. She thought to herself walking upstairs with tears in her eyes.
”So, what does that picture have to do with the story, grandpa?” Noe asked watching Bruno run his fingers along the print.
”Well, because she had on that necklace…” he told his granddaughter pointing to the jewelry around her neck.
”Aww…that’s so sweet grandpa.” Noe said looking at her grandmother who looked like she was about to cry.
”Z….I dream of you every single night. And I dream of being home with you. But most of all, Z…I dream of being with you every single night and every single day…” Noe’s grandfather said in a moment of clarity.
Noe saw her grandmother start to cry looking into her husband’s eyes that looked deep into her soul.
”I’m still sorry for that, Brunz.” she told him as he started to wipe away the tears.
”I think I can forgive you.” he smiled at her taking another picture from her hand. ”And this one is…this is our dog…” Bruno said looking at a picture of some flowers in Hawaii. He was gone.