He had wanted to watch Ladyhawke, that little loved 80s fantasy movie with Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer in it. “Sure,” she said, always open to seeing something she had never watched before, especially if it was something of the 1980s that had somehow evaded her. Yet, from the moment the titles began with their endless display of the sun setting and the moon rising, she felt a sense of portentousness wash over her. As though to see the entirety of this movie would somehow result in her own bad end. But she said nothing to Luca, who seemed particularly excited to revisit this staple from his bizarre Italian childhood (for all Italian childhoods were bizarre in terms of what pop culture was spoon-fed to the youths).
And as Phillipe (Broderick) asked, “Are you spirit or flesh?” to which Isabeau (Pfeiffer) answered, “I am sorrow,” Christine could certainly relate. Being with Luca had brought out a certain sadness in her that she had tried her best to tuck away while doing the whole “single, independent woman” shtick after the heartbreak of her last relationship. It was easier to feign the happiness that came with liberation then. But with Luca, the oppression of monogamy was too strong to allow her the luxury of lying to herself anymore. She was still hurting, and probably always would be as a result of the tragic end to her mid-twenties romance with Emory. Emory who, like Étienne of Navarre (Rutger Hauer), would essentially make it impossible for her to be with him. “I have to go to Georgia, he said.”
“As in, the South?” she asked, hopefully.
“No. As in the country that confused every dumbshit American that one time Russia went to war with them for a hot second in ’08.”
“Oh… But… Why?”
He sighed. “I got accepted to the medical university there. I can’t pass up the opportunity.”
She glared at him. “You couldn’t study in the Bahamas like all the other jank doctors?”
“It would seem not,” he assured, caressing her cheek in a way that came across as condescending rather than comforting.
She hated him in that moment. All of her love melted into sheer vitriol in the space of those few sentences. This was what all her passion and concern for him had dissipated into: a grand nothing, a huge waste of time. She wanted to slap him, scratch him, rip him to shreds as Selina Kyle (another Michelle Pfeiffer character) might. Instead she just stood there, lamely. It was a flaccid end to their so-called monumental affair. But all eras of magnificence are doomed to suffer a coda, usually of the tragic variety. It happened with the short-lived reign of Kennedy and now it was happening with her and Emory.
He told her that she could come and visit anytime she wanted. That was as good as putting the same curse on her that the Bishop of Aquila (John Wood) put on Isabeau to turn her into a hawk each day and her true love, Navarre, into a wolf each night so as to prevent her from ever truly coexisting with him. To prevent her from knowing the simple joy of his touch. Except it seemed, in this case, Emory was both the Bishop and Navarre, damning her himself to never see him again. Georgia? What in the actual fuck? And if he was going to try to “play up” its cachet by talking about its “medieval charm” and “great wine,” at that rate, why not at least move to France or Italy? It was, at the bare minimum, slightly more accessible to her from her hawk’s perch in New York. But no, he wanted to run freely in the far-removed woods of this earth instead.
She bid him adieu with no tears at the airport (though it would appear almost as though she wanted to cry based on her decision to accompany him there). While he came across as hopeful, elated even, she looked at him somberly and said, “Keep in touch when you find the time.”
He scoffed at her. “Of course I’m going to find the time for you.” With that, he pecked her on the forehead and headed toward the departure gates. Naturally, she didn’t hear from him for weeks, not even a token text or email informing her that he had arrived. Oh how she would have preferred his brutal honesty as opposed to his kind and pathetic “we’ll still make it work” spiel. Alas, she was the sun and he was the moon, and they could never truly or properly coexist with one another in the same realm.
As this epiphany dawned on her while watching Ladyhawke with Luca, she resisted the urge to let out a deplorable sob. For what was the point of lamenting over it now, years later? And though Luca had fallen asleep–the harsh glow of the screen washing over his shiny forehead–and she might have cried without any fear of being asked why, she did not. In lieu of this, she turned the movie off at its halfway mark, got up to go to the bathroom and decided to run some cold water on her face. Yes, cold water was always the most sobering thing. She needed sobriety–clarity–more in this moment than she had in a long while.
Upon returning to the bed in the darkness, she plopped onto it without realizing her miscalculation in positioning her head on the pillow, resulting in it hitting against the cement-like wall the bed was propped up against. She could see stars, as they say, the blow lulling her into a blackness she mistook for sleep when it was, in fact, complete unconsciousness.
When she awoke the following morning, she turned over to see a man she did not recognize. As she scanned the room around her to appraise her surroundings, nothing looked familiar. Had she had too much to drink again and awakened in the home of a stranger? And if so, why did it feel so particularly scary this time? The last thing she could remember was being out at a bar, complaining to someone of how Emory had abandoned her.
Figuring the best thing to do would be to slink back to her dingy Lower East Side apartment (one of the few not in a building that had been converted into a sea of overpriced condos) and cobble the pieces of what had happened together via the IV injection of coffee, she slowly started to creep out of the bed and tiptoe away. But Luca stirred at her faint noises, opening his eyes to call out, “Hey, where are you going?”
She turned sheepishly toward him and said, “Um, hi. Sorry… This is just so awkward and I didn’t want to be here when you got up to, like, feel obligated to ask for my number or–”
Christine was now confused by his own very overt confusion. “Uh, look it was just a one-night stand. It doesn’t have to be a big deal.”
He jolted upright. “Christine, what the fuck are you talking about? Is this your idea of a joke?”
She was getting nervous now. “Oh, so you know my name?”
“Yes I know your fucking name. We’ve only been living here together for the past year.”
Christine felt as though the room was spinning and the bottom was falling out from underneath her. What was going on? She couldn’t make sense of any of it. She stammered, “I don’t know you.”
Luca jumped out of bed and made a beeline for the table in the entryway that featured numerous framed photos of the two of them and their various exploits. “You don’t know me? Then what the fuck is all this evidence?”
She felt sick. And she couldn’t explain anything logically to him. That she had never seen him before in her life and that there must be some huge mistake. He didn’t even look like her type. All she wanted was to run into the arms of Emory where it was safe and recognizable. Maybe only safe purely because his arms were recognizable. Unsure of how to proceed next or what she could say without causing further offense to this person who was very clearly a madman, she decided the best thing to do would be to play along with his game.
All at once, she burst out laughing and said, “Oh my god. I got you so good! You really believed me.”
Luca softened, though he was still irate with her. “Are you serious right now?”
“I just wanted to keep things interesting, that’s all.”
He tittered. “If that’s what you think you just did was, sure.” He set down the picture he had urgently been using as evidence of their alliance and casually asked, “So do you want to finish Ladyhawke?”
The name sounded familiar, but she couldn’t quite place it. “Um…yes. Definitely. But I really want to go out and bring us back some croissants and coffee first.”
“Wow. You should pretend to have amnesia more often if it makes you this generous.”
She “teehee’d” in her best attempt to play along, agreeing, “Yeah, totally.”
It was in this “I’m so nonchalant and not terrified at all over the fact that I have no idea who you are” way that she was able to slink out of the apartment without causing Luca any alarm or suspicion over the notion that she might never return. Which, of course, was precisely her plan. She was ready to take flight now, back to her wolf love. Unbeknownst to her, however, he hadn’t stayed in Tbilisi for very long before defecting back to New York without ever telling her. It was a big place, after all. As big and wide as her heart felt as she soared to Georgia.