Written by Mona Simpson
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Anywhere But Here, 1986
I’d learned when I was young to be very still and not move when I wanted something. I wanted Lonnie Tishman to leave. My knees pressed into each other. Later, I found tender bruises. But he stayed, breathing loudly. Lonnie was a mouth breather.
"So, how are you gals tonight?"
"We’re great, aren’t we, Annie? We were just saying how we love this weather. We’re new to L.A. and we really love it."
"Just got here? Where’re you from?"
"We’re out of Bay City, Wisconsin."
Lonnie slapped his top knee, setting both legs jiggling.
My mother looked down at the table and lifted the tip of her fingers.
"So, what are you two gals doing out here?"
"Well, I teach. I’m a speech therapist in the L.A. Public School System." There was something tiny about her pride. It killed me, I loved her. "And she’s an actress," she said.
I stared down at my ice cream as if eating required all my concentration. They both looked at me hard, as if they were tracing me, drawing outlines on the sky.
Loonnie whistled through his teeth. "She’s an actress." His chin fell down and the way his face turned, I could see, in his cheekbones, he was handsome.
"Mmhmm." It sounded like my mother could say more, but wouldn't. It was her imitation of modesty. Of course, there was nothing more to tell. I wasn’t an actress. I only wanted to be.
© 1986 Mona Simpson; New York: Alfred A. Knopf