13 January 2009

Act I, Scene I

For ten years I was in love with a boy who didn't love me. I said I'd marry him, and once, he even asked me to. We were young then, though, and you say stupid things when you're young. Once we went to the theatre, and the fire alarm went off in the middle of the first act. We all sat there for a while, until we finally realised that it was a real fire- not Act I, Scene III. And, single file, we pushed out of that old theatre and into the streets, and the cold November air slapped us in the face. I remember that day, and I remember not taking his hand. In the second act, he laid it gently on my lap, but I just stared at it. Eventually, he pulled back and I started breathing regularly once more.

Afterwards, he took me home. I remember lying on that old brown couch, my cheeks getting scratched with every move he made, wondering how long we'd carry on. At times, the hum of the vending machine drowned out his voice, and soon he was a whisper. He said a prayer for us and for the birds and foxes too. He was simple and dressed that way too. With his legs beneath me, he reminded me of my father- as if I were sitting on my fathers lap and not the lap of my lover.

The tile beneath our shoes was shiny and gray. And here and there, other sets of boys and girls would walk beside our laying bodies- giving no attention to our posture or our scratched and beat up cheeks. But I remember those khaki pants and his hands, like small trees, wrapped tight around my waist. And perched upon his mound of soil, I prayed, and asked, and waited- till the morning came and slapped across my face.

Days passed and as did the seasons and still I loved him so. I remember traipsing through the fields- milkweed at our knees, electric towers above, and his hand tight in mine. He stood just like those towers, with his great height and strong bones, and he walked just like the breeze- hips buckling and swaying like broken tree limbs. The mud beneath us pulled at our soles and the setting sun made silhouettes of us, a great spectacle to the stars. But we marched on, until the weeds had won, and our battered ankles had had enough.

The next morning I remember crying- weeping like an adolescent, confused in her small world. He had been doing his taxes, until my scratched face appeared at the other side of the door. He let me in and drew me tea and soothed me in those morning hours. And Jesus hung behind us, and all his disciples too, seated at that great long kitchen table- with chalices raised about. I remember liking the feeling of walking past that wall, every time I visited. Like feeling I was Catholic and like I was supposed to kneel or do some hail Mary's- there, on the cold linoleum floor, in the kitchen on the second floor.

But we never made it down the aisle- not anywhere even close. Last I saw him, he drove out to meet me on a motorcycle. For now he's an old man, with a family and a future. He drove up on his bike and parked it out front my house. I thought, even then, that I still loved him. But that was all the past- the trees, the towers, the birds and the foxes, like a story to read at night. And as he said goodbye, he touched me only once. And looking like my father- in his khakis and his curls, he was never meant to be my lover.

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