Noah by Merriam AlFuhaid

In order to understand this, you must first learn who Noah really is.

            People who didn’t know Noah laughed at him if he complained about his job. “Someone pays you to introduce strippers? Pays you? What a hard job you have,” they would say, and then five minutes later they’d realize they made a pun and start cracking up, and Noah would fantasize about putting stilettos through their foreheads. 

People who knew him better said, “Why don’t you leave?” He would fumble on his words in reply, usually muttering, “It’s not that easy,” maybe throwing in a sentence or two about how the strippers were like his family. A family who knew what he was. “You’re just like one of the girls,” Lilith, the one he was closest to, would say.

But he couldn’t help but think, every time she passed by, Not quite. Not the way it matters.

He saw the way they looked at her. The glittering lights and loud music never distracted Noah from the expressions on their faces, particularly not those of the man in front who came every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. He sat alone in the same chair by the stage, his ice blue eyes veiled by a haze of cigarette smoke, his chiseled lips emotionless above his square jaw. He never brought friends. Noah wondered if he had any. He wondered a lot about this man, but all Noah really knew was that he never came unless Lilith was working, that he always came when Lilith was working, and that his name was Nick.

And that she had slept with him once. Lilith thought he would ask her again because he seemed rich enough to afford it. She would know. Half of her income came from him.

“Do you ever think about love?” Noah had asked her.

Love? The question had danced on the surface of her round blue eyes like the distorted image on the back of a spoon. No, she’d said. She wasn’t interested in love. She was sick of men who cared far too much about controlling women and nothing about controlling themselves.

She was smart. Nick probably liked that.

Yes, he liked and got the very best; it was apparent in the brand of the coat slung over the back of his chair, in the cigarettes he smoked, the drinks he ordered, his always shined shoes, his Ritz privilege card that peeked out whenever he opened his Gucci wallet, his belt that looked as though extra holes had been punched in it for a perfect fit…

People changed their minds. Noah knew this, and he could see in his own mind the image of them together, Lilith running her fingertips down Nick’s chest and over his face, not for the money but because she wanted to. Noah knew she had the option. If she took it, it would be the best thing that ever happened to her.

You’re supposed to want good things to happen to people you care about, right?

Noah’s real friends, the ones who knew, realized he wasn’t leaving his job and said “It can’t be healthy, keeping this bottled up inside.”

Get it off your chest. Tell. You never know.

            But you do know, Noah thought. When you see the way his eyes run up and down her body, over every unmistakably feminine curve, when you can almost hear his pulse quicken with every lacy layer she drops to the floor, you do know. There is no point in saying anything. You know he’s never going to love you.                   

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